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Kvitova captures Czech tennis exhibition title

Prague, May 28 (efe-epa).- Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova defeated countrywoman Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-3 here Thursday in the rain-interrupted final of the Czech Tennis Association (CTS) President’s Cup.

Playing in her first competition since the WTA season was suspended due to the pandemic, the 12th-ranked Kvitova needed just an hour and 14 minutes to wrap up her victory at this three-day, all-Czech charity tennis exhibition event.

Kvitova started slowly and fell behind 3-1 on the scoreboard at the TK Sparta Praha facility in this capital after sending a backhand far over the baseline.

But she started to gain the feel on her powerful ground strokes en route to winning the next three games, grabbing a 4-3 advantage when the 26th-ranked Muchova dumped a backhand slice in the net.

Kvitova then made it three breaks of serve in a row – and a streak of five consecutive games – by using a deep backhand return of serve to force a forehand error off of her opponent’s racket and clinch the first set.

The 30-year-old star remained focused despite the unusual conditions amid the pandemic, with the court featuring no bleachers and the only people present besides the players being the chair umpire and line judges, some ball kids and a few individuals standing at court level, most of whom were wearing facial protectors.

Kvitova jumped ahead 2-0 in the second set courtesy of yet another cleanly struck backhand return-of-serve winner and then won her eighth straight game with an ace in the ad court a few points later.

The 23-year-old Muchova appeared to be totally outclassed at that juncture of the match.

But she proceeded to get on the scoreboard in the fourth game of the second set and then, following a rain delay of just over an hour and a half, got the set back on serve at 3-4 thanks to a Kvitova double fault.

The veteran star, however, used her crisp ball striking off the backhand side once again late in the set to push her lead to 5-3 and then served out the match on her first opportunity, wrapping up the straight-forward win when Muchova netted a forehand return of serve.

Afterward, Kvitova told Czech website iSport.cz that she was pleased to win the title and to be able to play the sport she loves during the pandemic.

“It was a home tournament, after all. I’m never indifferent to it. It was nice to play, to see smiling people. Maybe I also gave them some reasons to smile,” said Kvitova, who had advanced to the final with straight-set wins over Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

The world No. 12 also posted a message to her Twitter account after clinching the title, saying only “I missed this feeling!”

In the final of the President’s Cup men’s event, 405th-ranked Michal Vrbensky needed to win a super-tiebreaker to defeat 229th-ranked Zdenek Kolar 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 10-8. EFE-EPA

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