Aegon Classic: Petra Kvitova wins first title since stabbing by beating Ashleigh Barty

Petra Kvitova wins Aegon Classic
Kvitova is a former world number two, last reaching her career high in June 2015

Petra Kvitova capped her remarkable comeback from a career-threatening hand injury by winning the Aegon Classic.

The Czech, playing in only her second tournament since she was stabbed by an intruder at her home in December, beat 21-year-old Australian Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-3 in Birmingham.

Kvitova, 27, returned to action at the French Open in late May.

"It is something very special - it is like a dream or fairytale," the two-time Wimbledon champion told BBC Sport.

"It has been a difficult time and I wasn't sure if I would play again.

"It wasn't about the tennis, but to come back healthy and alive."

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Petra Kvitova's emotional speech after second Wimbledon title in 2014

Kvitova first picked up a racquet again in March, 12 weeks after the attack, and began practising seriously at the beginning of May.

The left-hander, who has dropped to 16th in the world rankings, served an ace to clinch her 20th tour title.

"Congratulations to Petra. You are an inspiration, a champion, we love you, we missed you and it is amazing to have you back on court," said Barty.

Barty, who returned to the sport last year after switching to play professional cricket in Australia's Big Bash League, was playing in her first grass-court final.

She saved two breaks of serve at 5-4 to take the opening set, the first Kvitova had lost in the tournament.

However, Kvitova broke early in the second set before both players traded breaks as she levelled the match.

She sealed victory by winning 17 of the final 18 points.

"From the first hit on the grass I felt great. I didn't have expectations of any goals or of winning tournaments," said Kvitova.

"I don't care who is favourite for Wimbledon. My view of life has changed a lot and there are more important things about tennis.

"Of course I would like to play my best at Wimbledon but if I don't then I won't worry."

'A genuine Wimbledon contender' - analysis

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent:

Kvitova may only be two tournaments into a comeback which follows the most traumatic episode of her life, but, with her strong grass-court credentials, she now appears a genuine contender for Wimbledon.

She already has five excellent wins on grass under her belt, with more match practice to come in Eastbourne this week.

The circumstances of her enforced absence from the tour were clearly very different to those of Roger Federer, but remember he managed to win the first Grand Slam he played after a similar length break - the Australian Open in January.

There are not very many natural grass court players out there. Kvitova is definitely one of them.

Petra Kvitova wins Aegon Classic
Daria Gavrilova, the world number 21, did not need any words to congratulate Kvitova...
Petra Kvitova wins Aegon Classic
American player Sloane Stephens also praised Kvitova's achievement

Kvitova's career stats

  • Turned professional in 2006, aged 16
  • First Wimbledon appearance as a junior in 2007, reaching the last 16
  • First career title in 2009 - Hobart International, Australia
  • Now has 20 titles with career prize money totalling almost £19m
  • Reached a career high of world number two in October 2011, below Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki
  • Won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, losing her semi-final to eventual gold medallist Monica Puig

Watson wins at Eastbourne

Heather Watson began her Eastbourne campaign with a 6-3 4-6 6-4 win against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko in the Aegon International first round.

The former British number one has dropped to 126th in the rankings after a difficult season in which she has won just six WTA Tour matches.

The 25-year-old from Guernsey has been given a wildcard to play at Wimbledon, which starts on 3 July.

Heather Watson wins at Eastbourne
Watson reached a career-high ranking of 38 in January 2015

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