Barty loses singles but backs up for doubles win
PETRA Kvitova has ended Ashleigh Barty's dream Birmingham run to seal a fairytale victory of her own.
Contesting only her second tournament since being stabbed last December, world No 16 Kvitova denied an inspired Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2 in an ominous display ahead of Wimbledon next week.
The All England Club champion in 2011 - the same season Barty won junior singles at the All England Club - and 2014, Kvitova suffered significant damage to her racquet hand when an intruder broke into apartment in the Czech Republic.
Jubilant in victory, Kvitova was also relieved to survive Barty after a tense one hour 47 minute battle at Edgbaston's Priory Club.
A weary Barty had only a 30-minute break before partnering Casey Dellacqua to a 6-1 2-6 10-8 win over Chan Hao-Ching and Zhang Shuai in the doubles decider.
It was the French Open runners-up third title of the season.
"I'm a bit tired now,” Barty said before driving four hours to Eastbourne.
"I've played a bit of tennis today. We're really happy with the way the week has gone.
"I'm really excited about going to Wimbledon now. It's just great to playing well against quality opposition.”
Barty will climb 23 places to a career-high No 54 when the rankings are updated on Monday and will pocket $105,000 after her finest performance at the Premier level.
"I think it was a pretty high quality match,” an upbeat Barty said.
"We both started well and I served particularly well in that first set, it gave me the upper hand.
"But Petra came out in the second and found her range a little bit and put me on the back foot pretty early.
"That 2-all game in the third (set) was a pretty big one but I don't think I did too much wrong.
"Petra just made some pretty good returns, put me on the back foot where I wasn't in control.
"She's a champion and an inspiration. It's just great to have her back.”
The first Australian woman to reach the title match at Birmingham since WA's Jenny Byrne lost to Holland's Brenda Schultz in 1992, Barty posted excellent wins over Garbine Muguruza, Barbora Strycova and Camilla Giorgi.
Unranked this time last season, Barty will crack the top 50 with a decent run at Wimbledon.
She stepped away from tennis in 2014 because of motivational issues and says her time in cricket has helped lay the foundation for her current rise.
With singles and doubles success at Kuala Lumpur in February, Barty is in the throes of her best season yet - and she proved her bona fides against one of the best grasscourters in the world.
Barty drew first blood with a service break in the third game as Kvitova netted a sliced backhand before vaulting to 3-1.
Kvitova saved two more break points in the fifth game before Barty strode to 4-2.
Serving for the set, Barty had to stave off two break points before sealing it.
As an indication of how well Barty was playing, it was the first set Kvitova had conceded all week.
Finding range with every rally, Kvitova exploded to a 3-0 buffer in the second set.
The Czech swept to 5-1 as Barty shoved two forehands long to serve for the set armed with a double break.
She moved effortlessly to 30-0 and then choked with two double faults and two unforced errors.
Needing to lift as Barty rallied, Kvitova levelled the match with an ace.
Kvitova and Barty traded service breaks in the decider before Kvitova upped the ante from 2-all, winning the closing four games.