Alas withdrawals have become the watchword of this tournament. Not only beset with a raft of withdrawals ahead of the start of the tournament including World No. 1 Angelique Kerber, defending champion Madison Keys, to name but two.
Then we had people dropping like flies during the tournament with two quarter-finals cut short on Friday as first Coco Vandeweghe and then Camila Giorgi pulled up short in their matches. So it was a sad affair when Lucie Safarova failed to halt Petra Kvitova’s own version of ‘La Decima’ as she notched up a tenth win over her compatriot.
From the start Kvitova’s serving was almost always rock solid, finding the lines and the angles but with Safarova struggling to push off a heavily strapped leg there would have always been one winner.
Kvitova said, after her match: “I know that probably she would retire from the rest of the day match, but I didn’t think that she moved badly on the court. 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. And I think she had a great run here for sure. And yeah, I mean I’m happy that I’m in the final, but the way I am going is a bit weird.”
Ashleigh Barty edges Garbiñe Muguruza to reach her first WTA Premier final
There is absolutely no doubt that Ashleigh Barty is actually punching above her weight. Although she is ranked 77 she buckled down and fought back after dropping the first set to Garbiñe Muguruza.
The Spaniard was serving confidently at the start and Barty struggled to make any inroads into Muguruza’s game. In the second set though Barty’s range of shots and her ability to slice and dice undid the Spaniard quite effectively.
She told reporters: “I think in the first set, I didn’t get a look in on many service games, and being able to get a look in there certainly helped my confidence and I think I served a lot better in my second set and was more comfortable in my service game. So that certainly helped a lot as well.”
Kvitova [WC/7] v Barty | H2H: Kvitova leads 1-0
Two stories with just one fairy-tale ending awaits on Sunday. On the one hand we have Kvitova, who has once chosen to take time out from the sport to recover from exhaustion, and now most recently come back to the sport after a knife attack threatened to end her career.
On the other, we have Barty who’s similar decision to recharge and the opportunity came up for her play cricket. Even so her initial comeback in 2016 was interrupted by injury, so this actually her first tilt at a full season.
Now we are set with an intriguing matchup between the two. Barty certainly remembered with a rueful smile what happened the last time they met.
“She absolutely taught me a lesson at the French. I was very young back then, but yeah, she actually wiped the floor with me, so hopefully we can turn the tables a little bit tomorrow.
“I’m obviously I’m in a very different place. She’s also in a very different place. I mean not just from my perspective, but I think from everyone, I think it’s amazing to have her back on the tour, and to be successful straightaway is just phenomenal.”
Barty’s variety will certainly give Kvitova a moment of pause, as she explained in her press conference.
Kvitova said: “Ashleigh, she’s the kind of player for sure with a great touch. She’s making the game, she’s changing direction a lot, slice, some volleys drop shot, something like that. So it will be always interesting to play her because you never know what the other shots will bring.”
But despite being one of the taller players on the tour, Kvitova impressed Naomi Broady on her way past the Stockport lass in the second round. Broady commented on her speed not just laterally but up to short balls which she then just nails.
This has a feel of a three setter all over it, but we would give Kvitova the edge to lift the title in just her second tournament back.
Prediction: Kvitova in three sets.
Kvitova and Barty are scheduled on Centre Court, at 1:30pm BST.
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