Kvitova reaches first final since stabbing

Petra Kvitova reaches Birmingham final

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova reached her first final since returning from a career-threatening hand injury after Lucie Safarova retired from their match in Birmingham.

Kvitova, 27, was leading 6-1 1-0 in the Aegon Classic semi-final when her fellow Czech quit with a leg injury.

Kvitova is playing in only her second tournament since she was stabbed by an intruder at her home in December.

“I’m enjoying playing again,” said the former world number two.

“I couldn’t play for five or six months and I missed it.

“It wasn’t my choice to have a break but I always try to see positive things. I’m trying to enjoy tennis more and seeing things from a different angle.”

Kvitova looked close to her best against Fed Cup team-mate and close friend Safarova, who was carrying the injury into the match.

Kvitova made an impressive start, dropping just one point as she raced into a 3-0 lead, breaking serve again in the next game before Safarova held at the third attempt for 5-1.

Safarova, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and 2015 French Open finalist, provided some resistance as Kvitova needed a fourth set point to serve out for the opener.

But Kvitova broke again in the opening game of the second set, before Safarova decided she could not continue.

The seventh seed will play either 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza or Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in Sunday’s final.

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Andy Murray to play two Wimbledon warm-up matches at Hurlingham

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Britain’s Andy Murray has added two exhibition matches to his Wimbledon preparations after he was knocked out in the first round at Queen’s Club.

The Wimbledon champion, 30, will feature at the Aspall Tennis Classic in London next week.

Murray, who lost to Australia’s Jordan Thompson at Queen’s, will be joined by world number six Milos Raonic.

“It’s a great setting and an ideal opportunity to get grass-court practice,” said the Scot.

The world number one has added the event to his schedule following his defeat by Thompson, ranked 90th, at the Aegon Championships on Tuesday.

Murray, who is likely to play on Tuesday and Friday, last played at Hurlingham in 2014 after he lost in the last 16 at Queen’s.

He will begin his Wimbledon defence with the opening match on Centre Court on 3 July.

Canada’s Raonic, who lost to Murray in last year’s final at the All England Club, is playing after suffering a first-round loss at Queen’s, while France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych will also appear.

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Johanna Konta loses to Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets at the Aegon Classic

Johanna Konta

Britain’s Johanna Konta was knocked out of the Aegon Classic in the second round by American Coco Vandeweghe.

Konta, who was the highest seed left in the Birmingham tournament, won only 11 points in losing the first set in 24 minutes to the world number 30.

Konta, the world number seven, grew increasingly frustrated as she was beaten 6-1 6-3 loss in 64 minutes.

Vandeweghe will play Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the last eight after the Spaniard overcame Alison Riske 6-1 6-4.

Vandeweghe dominated from the start as Konta struggled to find the form that helped her reach the Nottingham Open final last weekend.

Konta will now go on to play at Eastbourne where she will hope to rebuild her confidence before Wimbledon.

Vandeweghe has started working with former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, and joked: “He finally showed up! I had to get him down from commentating from Queen’s.

“We’re going to give it a try and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll get one of those headbands at the end of the experience.”

Svitolina doubtful for Wimbledon

World number five and second seed Elina Svitolina may miss Wimbledon because of a foot problem sustained in her 6-4 4-6 6-2 defeat by Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi.

“I was really looking forward to this year at Wimbledon but today the court was slippery and it’s so bad for my foot,” said the 22-year-old Ukrainian.

“I will do my best. But for the moment it’s very uncomfortable”.

Giorgi, the world 102, faces French fifth seed Kristina Mladenovic, who beat China’s Zhang Shuai 6-4 7-6 (7-3), in the quarter-finals.

Azarenka beaten in Spain

Former world number one and two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka’s comeback ended in a second-round defeat against 19-year-old Croatian Ana Konjuh at the Mallorca Open.

Belarusian Azarenka, 27 and playing her first event in over a year after giving birth to her first child, lost 6-1 6-3 in an hour and 15 minutes.

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Queen's 2017: Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey reach quarter-finals

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2017 Aegon Championships
Venue: Queen’s Club, London Dates: 19-25 June
Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button, Connected TV and online daily

Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey ensured there will be three former champions in the quarter-finals with victories on day four of the Aegon Championships.

Fourth seed Cilic beat 19-year-old American Stefan Kozlov 6-0 6-4.

“Serving well is they key on grass and I did that really well again today,” said the 2012 champion, who is yet to face a break point.

American Querrey, the 2010 winner, beat Jordan Thompson – conqueror of Andy Murray – 7-5 (7-3) 3-6 6-3.

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, champion in 2014, is already through to the last eight, where he will face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

The 19-year-old beat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2 6-2.

Spain’s Feliciano Lopez plays Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the remaining second-round contest.

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares take on Cilic and Marcin Matkowski in the doubles quarter-finals.

Serve key to Cilic chances

Croatia’s Cilic, 28, is the highest seed left in the draw after Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic all lost on Tuesday.

“It happens quite often,” said the former US Open champion.

“We are playing so many tournaments during the year and it’s very rarely that all the top seeds are going through.

“So it’s not easy, especially at a tournament like this where there’s so many great players, great grass-court players.

“Considering also that it’s one of the first weeks on grass, it’s always very tricky.”

Marin Cilic

Cilic has looked sharp in his opening two rounds and goes on to face American Donald Young for a place in the semi-finals.

Querrey ended the hopes of lucky loser Thompson, the Australian ranked 90 in the world who stunned five-time champion Murray.

“I don’t feel like the win from seven years ago has any effect on how I play today,” said Querrey, referring to his tournament win in 2010.

“That was fun to win, but seven years is a long time ago.”

Teenager Medvedev races through

Kokkinakis, 21, had caused a major upset with his victory over Raonic on day two, but could not back up such a strong performance.

The Australian is ranked 698th following a succession of injuries and on Tuesday became the lowest-ranked player to beat a top-six opponent since 1994.

Medvedev proved much tougher opposition, however, repeating his win over Kokkinakis in the Netherlands last week as he fired down 13 aces.

“I’m happy I managed to show a very solid game, I was serving amazing,” said the Russian, ranked 60th.

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Simona Halep: World number two accepts Eastbourne wildcard

Simona Halep

Eastbourne 2017
Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne Date: 26 June-1 July Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online

World number two Simona Halep has accepted a wildcard to appear at Eastbourne for the first time.

It will be the Romanian’s only grass-court tournament before Wimbledon after she missed the Aegon Classic in Birmingham with an ankle injury.

The 25-year-old won the Madrid Open and reached the French Open final during the clay-court season.

Seven of the top 10 women’s players will appear at Eastbourne, including world number one Angelique Kerber.

“The quality of the draw is very high so I’m hoping for some great matches to give me the best possible preparation ahead of Wimbledon,” Halep said.

She reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon last year, losing 7-5 7-6 (7-2) to Kerber.

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Queen's 2017: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga loses to Gilles Muller at Aegon Championships

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

2017 Aegon Championships
Venue: Queen’s Club, London Dates: 19-25 June
Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button, Connected TV and online daily

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became the latest seed to fall at the Aegon Championships with a straight-set defeat by Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.

The Frenchman, seeded fifth, lost 6-4 6-4 in the second round at Queen’s.

Tsonga’s exit follows defeats for Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic – the top three seeds – on Tuesday.

Croatia’s fourth seed Marin Cilic and Bulgaria’s sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov are the leading players left in the draw at the London tournament.

Dimitrov takes on France’s Julien Benneteau later on Wednesday, before Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych plays Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov.

Muller, ranked 26th, is through to the quarter-finals for the third straight year and is now on a six-match winning run on grass.

The 34-year-old, who won the s-Hertogenbosch title in the Netherlands last week, did not face a break point against Tsonga and will next face Murray’s conqueror Jordan Thompson or Sam Querrey.

“My serve is working great, it’s good at this time of the year on the grass – you need a good serve so I’m happy with that,” said Muller.

Tsonga, runner-up at Queen’s in 2011, said: “He just played good tennis. Sometimes you cannot do anything, because the guy in front of you is playing well.

“It doesn’t affect anything for me. Sometimes you play well; sometimes it’s difficult. It’s part of the game.

“I will stay here playing on grass and try to do better next week.”

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Azarenka fights back to win on comeback from having baby

Victoria Azarenka

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka saved three match points before winning on her comeback from a year out after the birth of her son.

The two-time Australian Open champion, who gave birth to Leo in December, won 6-3 4-6 7-6 (9-7) against Japan’s Risa Ozaki at the Mallorca Open.

It was the 27-year-old Belarusian’s first match since losing at the French Open in June 2016.

Azarenka was sixth in the world when she announced her pregnancy last July.

She was a game away from defeat when play was suspended on Tuesday because of fading light.

But she showed her trademark resilience to twice break 74th-ranked Ozaki’s serve when they returned on Wednesday, then going on to fight back from 5-3 down in the tie-break.

Azarenka was given a wildcard to play in the Mallorca Open, which is scheduled to be her only competitive action before Wimbledon.

The former Wimbledon quarter-finalist has used her protected ranking to play at the All England Club in the tournament which starts on 3 July.

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Novak Djokovic to make rare Eastbourne appearance before Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic

Eastbourne 2017
Dates: 26 June-1 July
Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online

Novak Djokovic will play his first pre-Wimbledon event in seven years after accepting a wildcard at Eastbourne.

The three-time Wimbledon champion has not played since losing in the French Open quarter-finals earlier this month.

The 30-year-old Serb has dropped to fourth in the world after a turbulent year in which he has only won one title and split with his coaching team.

“I am looking forward to fine-tuning my grass court game ahead of Wimbledon,” said the 12-time Grand Slam winner.

“This will be my first trip to Eastbourne, I have heard great things about the tournament.”

Djokovic became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time last year, but now does not hold any after suffering a loss of form.

He suffered early-round exits at last year’s Wimbledon and January’s Australian Open, then lost to Austria’s world number eight Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros.

Defeat against Thiem meant he slipped out of the world’s top two for the first time since 2011.

Eastbourne is the final tour event before Wimbledon starts on Monday, 3 July.

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