Tennis

Kvitova wins Eastbourne to bolster Wimbledon hope

Petra Kvitova warmed up for Wimbledon by winning the Eastbourne singles title for the first time with a 6-3, 6-2 rout of Jelena Ostapenko yesterday.

Kvitova needed just 77 minutes to finish off former French Open champion Ostapenko as the Czech veteran produced the kind of dominant grass-court tennis that earned her two Wimbledon titles. The 32-year-old, who lost the 2011 Eastbourne final to Marion Bartoli, ended Ostapenko’s reign as the women’s champion at Devonshire Park in emphatic fashion, demolishing the Latvian with her booming serve and fierce forehands.

“I had already experienced losing in a final, so I guess I am lucky. Playing on the grass is very special for me, especially when you step onto a beautiful court such as here,” Kvitova said.

“It’s really nice to play in front of the people again; in the pandemic it was a really tough time, it’s such a better feeling.”

Kvitova’s 29th career singles title is a major confidence boost ahead of her Wimbledon first round meeting with Italian Jasmine Paolini. Former world number two Kvitova claimed the first of her two Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 2011 and won there again three years later. The Czech last reached a Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in 2019. The last player to win Eastbourne and go on to triumph at Wimbledon in the same year was the late Czech player Jana Novotna in 1998.

Asked about her compatriot, who died at the age of 49 in 2017, Kvitova said: “It’s always nice to think about Jana, of course. “She had so many great matches, not only here but in Wimbledon as well. I’m glad that we are able to play such a great event as here. It’s the best preparation for Wimbledon.”

A bad day for Ostapenko got even worse when a toe injury forced her to withdraw from the women’s doubles final, with Aleksandra Krunic and Magda Linette taking the title in a walkover.

In the men’s singles final, world number 14 Taylor Fritz won his all-American clash with Maxime Cressy. The 24-year-old, who also won Eastbourne in 2019, held his nerve in the final set tie-break to take the title with a 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4) victory.

Fritz is full of confidence ahead of Wimbledon, where he is seeded 11th and starts the tournament against Italian Lorenzo Musetti. “When I got here, I already felt like I was playing so much better than I was before just being here, so this place always has a really special spot in my heart,” Fritz said.

“My grass-court season wasn’t going great before I came here. It feels great to have this confidence, I’ve played really well all week and going into Wimbledon I feel good.”


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