The unseeded Australian, Ashleigh Barty, a former cricketer, will take on two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the final of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham after she upset Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, the former French Open champion who was favoured to be challenging the Czech for the title
I didn't really get a look in on her serve in the first set and once I knew I was in with a shot it was a little bit of a different story Ashleigh Barty
Ranked 77th in the world, the Aussie kept her composure and took advantage of her opportunities when they arose and claim the final place for herself, 3-6 6-4 6-3.
The first of her opportunities came in the fifth game of the second set when she broke the Spaniard, also a former Wimbledon finalist, to break Muguruza’s rhythm and composure.
“I didn’t really get a look in on her serve in the first set and once I knew I was in with a shot it was a little bit of a different story,” she said.
Muguruza saved two match points in the final set as she battled hard but after recovering from her first set reverse, the Australian, using her sliced shots to good effect, maintained her control.
“For me it is important to use my slice on the grass and I love coming out here, slicing away and getting a bit of purchase on the ball and I was able to do that and it was really pleasing” Barty, who is going for her second WTA title, admitted.
The Czech left-hander’s comeback from a lengthy injury lay-off gathered momentum in the day’s other semi-final after Lucie Safarova retired with a leg injury.
Kvitova, playing in just her second tournament of the year, was 6-1 1-0 up at the Edgbaston Priory Club when her compatriot pulled out.
She looked in impressive shape after her absence from the sport following a hand injury caused by a knife attack during an attempted robbery at her home in December.
“Obviously it’s a big challenge for me tomorrow,” Barty said. “She’s won Wimbledon a couple of times and is amazing on a grass court as well. So it’s going to be a good battle for me.”
Barty said she was delighted to have won through to the final of the tournament.
“It’s nice to be able to string a few matches together and be playing reasonably well and be confident out on court coming into Wimbledon,” she added.
Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011 and again in 2014 and she too is clearly buzzing with anticipation for the return to the All England Club which she has called her “home”.
“I couldn’t have imagined to have a better comeback than I am having now. Paris was a bit weird and strange, and I couldn’t play the best over there,” she said.
“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.
“The hand is good, which … I am not feeling any pain and that’s the best news.”