Just seven months after being stabbed on her playing hand, two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has already reached her first final in just her second tournament since making her return. Kvitova is set to take on Australian Ashleigh Barty in the finals of the Aegon Classic, who herself has a very interesting story leading up to this match.
Barty retired from tennis back in 2014 due to the constant travelling and being homesick and traded in the racquet for a cricket bat. She worked her way to becoming a professional cricketer and did really well as she went on to play or the Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League.
She then decided to make her return to the tennis court 12 months ago at the 50k ITF tournament in Eastbourne where she managed to reach the semi-finals. Barty continued her impressive run as she qualified for the WTA event in Nottingham and reached the quarter-finals. While the rest of her 2016 was not great her 2017 has been remarkable up till now.
She reached the third round of the Australian Open, won her first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur as a qualifier, reached the quarter-finals at Strasbourg and Nottingham and to top that she went on to defeat Garbine Muguruza to reach the finals of the Aegon Classic. Barty described her final against Kvitova as a big challenge but said it would be good for her.
"Obviously it's a big challenge for me tomorrow. She's won Wimbledon a couple of times and is amazing on grass court as well. So it's going to be a good battle for me," WTA's official website quoted Barty as saying.
Just like Barty, Kvitova has also made a superb comeback since her knife attack. The Czech Republic is yet to drop a set at the Aegon Classic and could have a slight fitness advantage over Barty as her semi-final match against countrywoman Lucie Safarova was forced to retire with a leg injury.
During her pre-match press conference, Kvitova said her hand is not causing her any pain at the moment and that is the best news for her at the moment. She also mentioned she is in a bit of a shock as she did not expect her to make it to a final in her second tournament back.
"I couldn't have imagined having 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." Kvitova said.
"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."
There is no doubt that both women have had an amazing story leading up to this final and they will be determined to get the win. Because of Kvitova's injury and Barty's retirement, they have only faced each other once before which came at the French Open in 2012 which Kvitova won.
Both players are only just making their comeback and will have a lot to prove today. But as far as who is going to win today, Kvitova hold the upper hand on the Australian as she is far more experienced.
Where to watch
The Aegon Classic final between Petra Kvitova and Ashleigh Barty is set to start at 1:30 pm local time, 6:00 pm IST and 8:30 am EST.
TV and Live streaming information
India: TV: No coverage.
UK: TV: Eurosport. Live streaming: Eurosport player
USA: TV: Fox Sports, CBS Sports
Czech Republic: TV: Digi Sport
Canada: TV: RDS, TSN