Petra Kvitova is back into the Nature Valley Classic final without dropping a set after powering past the tricky Mihaela Buzarnescu.
June 23, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain - Last year’s champion Petra Kvitova is back into the final at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham after powering past the tricky Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets.

Kvitova has yet to drop a set this week, and she continued her torrid progress against the Romanian, needing just over 70 minutes to notch the 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Read more: Rybarikova returns to Birmingham final

“It took me a while from the beginning of the match to get used to a lefty serve and forehand and backhand,” Kvitova admitted in her on-court interview. “There’s a little bit of a difference, so you just need to think a little bit differently, which I did.

“I’m almost always expected to win, so it’s never really easy going into a match in a semifinal at a tournament that I really like. The nerves are always there, so I just tried to play well and win.”

The No.4-seeded Czech needed a few games to find her rhythm against a fellow lefty, but she finally deciphered the Buzarnescu serve to grab an early break for a 3-1 lead. The Romanian didn’t back down, and kept Kvitova under tons of pressure before finally converting her third break chance to get them back on serve.

Kvitova found a second gear, breaking straight back and rolling through her service games to eke out the set. Fully dialled in during the second, Kvitova won the next six of seven games to notch a double break, closing out the match with an emphatic ace - her sixth of the match.

She was aggressive and dictating the match from the start, firing 24 winners and 22 unforced errors, and keeping Buzarnescu contained to seven and eight, respectively. Kvitova converted on four of her six break chances - two in each set - while Buzarnescu broke just once from five opportunities.

The Czech’s numbers this year speak for themselves - after extending her Birmingham win streak to nine matches in a row, she’s through to her fifth final of the season. The win was her 51st career victory on grass, and she leapfrogs Simona Halep with a tour-leading 36 wins this season.

“Amazing statistics this week!” Kvitova beamed. “I didn’t expect that from the beginning of the season - I didn’t really start well in Australia. So far this season is incredible, and I really can’t imagine a better season so far.”

Standing between Kvitova and her second-straight Birmingham title will be the unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova, whose game thrives on the grass courts. The Slovakian has reached the semifinal here three times - winning the title in 2009 - but trails Kvitova 1-5 in their overall head-to-head record.

“[Magdalena and I] have been practicing here this week, we always practice when we’re in tournaments together,” Kvitova said. “We’re good friends, so it’ll be a fun final. I remember our last meeting was in New Haven in a final as well.

“I know definitely she likes to play on the grass, she reached the semifinals last year during Wimbledon. So it’ll be fun to watch and fun to play, hopefully.”