BIRMINGHAM, England - By her own admission, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was not expecting great things from her first outing of the grass court season.
A run of four straight losses saw the Czech arrive in Birmingham in search of some form ahead of Wimbledon. And that is exactly what she found in the serene surrounds of the Edgbaston Priory Club, where she made it all the way to the final.
"I wasn't expecting it at all," she said. "Well, you're waiting for such a result and it comes and I'm very happy, but I didn't expect it."
But while she did not foresee the run, which was eventually ended by top seed Ana Ivanovic, Zahlavova Strycova believes it is no more than she deserves from the hours spent with coach Jerome Adamec on the practice court.
"It means a lot to me to do well here. It means that I was working hard with my coach," she added. "There are a lot of positive things from this week: I was playing tough matches and I think I was mentally very strong. This is important for me. I know I can do it and I can play good tennis."
The Czech defeated two Top 30 players en route to the final, but it was another, less obvious match that gave her most pride.
"I was very pleased with the first round against Naomi Broady, because she's a great player on grass," Zahlavova Strycova said. "It's really tough to play her. She has a big serve, and, like I said, I didn't have a good preparation on grass. It was tricky, and I'm very proud I pulled that one through."
Zahlavova Strycova now heads to 's-Hertogenbosch for more fine-tuning ahead of her return to the All-England Club, where she is eyeing up an improvement on the third round runs she posted in 2008 and 2010.
"Well, Wimbledon is my favorite tournament, and my goal - I want to play as well as I can. If I play the same tennis like I did here in Birmingham I think I can play very well and I can go far.
"But I will take it like match by match, and we will see. It also depends on the draw. I will not be seeded, so it's important who I get for the first round."