Kvitova faces Rybarikova in Birmingham final

Published 9:54 a.m. ET June 23, 2018 | Updated 12:07 p.m. ET June 23, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Defending champion Petra Kvitova raced impressively into the Birmingham Classic final on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Fourth-seeded Kvitova outplayed one of the most improved players on the tour with strident groundstrokes and uninhibited net attacks.

Buzarnescu, an unseeded Romanian, fought back to 2-3 by breaking the Czech’s serve and briefly seemed capable of the kind of resistance that earned her the first set in their well-contested final in Prague last month.

That, however, was on clay — and on grass right now Kvitova looks better than anyone. If she maintains this high level for another three weeks, everything seems possible for the player whose career looked seriously in doubt 18 months ago after a knife attack at her home in December 2016.

The result earned Kvitova her 36th victory of the year, more than any other player on the tour after overtaking the previous leader, top-ranked Simona Halep.

“I didn’t expect that at the start of the season,” Kvitova said. “I didn’t start well in Australia, but now I can’t imagine a better…

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