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Birmingham | Kvitova on track to successfully defend title

Petra Kvitova rolled in to the semi-finals of the Nature Valley Classic with a comfortable 6-1 6-4 win over Julia Goerges as she continues to substantiate why she remains a favourite to collect her third Wimbledon title.

The Czech has looked in imperious form this week at the Edgbaston Priory Club and has yet to drop a set in the defence of the title she won under such emotional circumstances a year ago. Now she is bidding to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles in Birmingham since Maria Sharapova in 2004 and 2005.

I think in the beginning of the match, we were both kind of finding the rhythm, the serve and the shots, especially on my serve. I think sometimes I was pretty lucky that she missed the return. When I broke her serve, it was a little bit kind of better for me, but was still trying to find good rhythm on the serve which I found afterwards. Petra Kvitova

“I think the score looks a little bit different compared to game. I think I found my game after the second half of the first set,” Kvitova, the Birmingham defending champion said after the match.

“I think in the beginning of the match, we were both kind of finding the rhythm, the serve and the shots, especially on my serve. I think sometimes I was pretty lucky that she missed the return. When I broke her serve, it was a little bit kind of better for me, but was still trying to find good rhythm on the serve which I found afterwards.”

Kvitova has already won four titles and in the semi-finals, she’ll meet Mihaela Buzarnescu who stunned the second seeded Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-3 6-2.

“I think she’s pretty confident right now,” the fourth seed added on learning of her next opponent. “She’s in good form as we see. Until I met her in Prague final, I didn’t really know much about her. Obviously, I heard the name, saw the name doing well in the draw, but I never really paid attention until that time when we play three-setter.

“It was a really big fight. She’s a lefty. She’s playing with the confidence with nothing to lose. For me, she seems to be really relaxed every time she’s on the court.” She is wary of the challenge of playing the 30-year-old Romanian, a player who has improved her ranking this year with a series of eye-catching performances on different surfaces.

“I’m so happy with my game today. I really managed to focus and play well,” said Buzarnescu. “It’s really been an amazing two weeks I’ve had, having played so little in the grass in my career.

“When I came last week in Nottingham, I just had only one day to practice. I only played last year two matches on grass and two years ago, one more time. I just try to adapt and get lower on my feet, use my serve, my left-handed serve, trying to go inside the court a little bit more.”

Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova will take on her old friend Barbora Strycova in the other semi-final.

The former Birmingham champion Rybarikova dismissed qualifier Dalilia Jakupovic 6-2 6-4 and Strycova’s opponent Lesia Tsurenko was forced to retire with a  left hip injury.

“We know each other so many years already. She’s just so normal,” said Strycova. “We go out. We talk about other stuff than tennis. We really get along very well. We have a lot of fun together. We watch every night football here. Going to be today as well. I don’t like football much, but when it’s World Cup, I am expert!”
This week has seen record sales at the WTA Premier event, with crowds flocking to the Edgbaston Priory Club thanks to sunny skies and a star-studded line-up of players.



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