June 24, 2018 / 4:07 PM / 5 months ago

Kvitova sees off Rybarikova to retain Birmingham title

Tennis - WTA Premier - Nature Valley Classic - Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham, Britain - June 17, 2018 Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova reacts during the final against Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikov Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

(Reuters) - Petra Kvitova displayed her credentials for a third Wimbledon title after beating Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 4-6 6-1 6-2 to defend her title at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Czech claimed her fifth WTA title of the season, as well as a tour-leading 37th match win of the year, as she came from a set down to triumph.

Rybarikova started the contest on the front foot, punishing Kvitova for her whopping 22 unforced errors by converting two break points to take the opening set.

Kvitova, on the back of fine serving, then roared back with consecutive breaks before leveling the match and then moved up another gear to dominate the final set with a string of powerful forehand winners.

“It’s amazing to defend a title,” Kvitova said courtside. “It’s not happened in a long time for me.

“I was too nervous and Magda put pressure on me in the first set. It was tough to fightback but I was relaxed and it paid off afterwards.

“I’m going to Eastbourne (this week) for another tournament. We’ll see how it goes from there... but for sure Wimbledon is the next big one for us.”

Kvitova will be joined by the top two players in the world - Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki - and defending champion Karolina Pliskova in Eastbourne, the final tune-up event ahead of Wimbledon, which begins on July 2.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ian Chadband

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