BIRMINGHAM, England - No.7 seed Petra Kvitova moved into the final at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham for the first time in her career on Saturday, as compatriot Lucie Safarova was forced to retire with a lingering right leg injury in the semifinals with Kvitova leading 6-1, 1-0.
In just her second tournament back following a hand injury suffered in a home invasion in December, Kvitova returns to a WTA final for the first time since winning the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in November.
"I was just thinking about my game, and yeah, I'm sorry for her that she's unhealthy, but I hope she will be better soon," Kvitova said. "I think she had a great run here for sure. I'm happy that I'm in the final, but the way I am going is a bit weird. The hand is good, which is the best news which I can have, and I am not feeling any pain, and that's the best news."
"I couldn't have imagined to have a better comeback than I am having now. You know, Paris was a bit weird and strange, and I couldn't play the best over there. I am happy that I am able to show good tennis here. I played four matches already, so it's a good record and good preparation for the final. I think that my game should be same as every other day, to play fast and aggressive and to show my serve again, and I hope it will help me again."
After just 32 minutes of play, the World No.41 had a quick consultation with the WTA physio before deciding she couldn't continue in the semifinal encounter.
After receiving a medical timeout in the first set yesterday and battling for over three hours in that quarterfinal victory against Daria Gavrilova, Safarova told reporters she was dealing with a thigh strain, and also played her semifinal with heavy strapping on the affected leg.
In the tennis that was played, Kvitova showed glimpses of the form that's now taken her to a 10-0 career record against her compatriot, as she struck 16 winners to just eight unforced errors, won 80 percent of points behind her first serve and struck five aces.
"I think that we have really similar games," Kvitova said about her dominance over her fellow Czech lefty. "I just think that we know each other very well, and it's about a few tight points when you play a little bit better and the third thing that is making the difference in the end."
Kvitova will face Australian Ashleigh Barty in the final, who upset Garbiñe Muguruza in three sets in the day's second semifinal.
"Ashleigh, she's the kind of player for sure with a great touch. She's...changing direction a lot, slice, some volleys drop shot, something like that," the Czech assessed. "It will be always interesting to play her because you never know what other shots [she] will bring."