Czech warms up for Wimbledon with Edgbaston triumph.
Petra Kvitova became the first player in thirteen years to successfully defend the Nature Valley Classic title in Birmingham with a 4-6 6-1 6-2 win over Magdalena Rybarikova in a compelling final on Sunday at the Edgbaston Priory Club.
The victory is Kvitova’s fifth WTA title of 2018 and provides her with the perfect preparation for Wimbledon, which starts on 2 July. Kvitova is also scheduled to play in next week’s Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.
“I didn’t expect to come here and winning the title,” said Kvitova, whose run of matches this week included a first round win over British No.1 Johanna Konta. “For me I’m surprised. But on the other hand, I felt good on the court from the first rounds. Meeting Jo in the first round wasn’t an easy draw. That match told me I could play well on the grass again. I was just keeping up the good performance on it. I think today was a great final to kind of fight. We played over two hours, so it was a great final to watch I think, I hope.”
Rybarikova started brightly, with Kvitova showing more nerves than the Slovak in the early stages. Rybarikova, herself a champion here in 2009, stormed to a first set lead before Kvitova began to show the ferocious grass-court tennis that she is capable of.
“She’s a tricky player, so it’s always time to get used to. She has a little bit different serve as well. We practiced one day here one day before the tournament, but still match is match. I needed a little bit of time to get used to spins and slices and volleys and whatever she plays just starting a game. I needed some time.”
Maria Sharapova is the last woman to successfully defend the title in Birmingham, having won in 2004 and 2005. Only three other players – Bille Jean King, Pam Shriver and Lori McNeil have lifted the famous Maud Watson Trophy in consecutive years.
“I think it was at the end a good match, maybe cruel the result,” said Rybarikova. “She put so much pressure. She’s a great player, amazing on grass. That’s why she won the tournament. She won so fast all the matches. I kept her longest in the match today.”
This year’s tournament enjoyed record sales, thanks to one of the strongest player draws in its history and a week of good weather, including a sun-soaked final day.
The crowd was also treated to an exciting, high quality doubles final, with Australian Open champions Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos winning the title via a nail-biting match tiebreaker over Belgians Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs.
Pics – Getty Images for LTA.