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By Kieran Jackson | Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lucie Safarova straddled the tie break tight rope in crafting a dramatic win.

Day two of the Aegon Classic saw a winning return to the grass for two-time former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, a tight straight-sets win for home favourite Johanna Konta, and a few surprising results at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham.

Watch: Kvitova Rolls In Grass Opener

Match of the day was undoubtedly a thriller between third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova and Safarova, who fought off two match points in the second-set tie break pulling off a 5-7, 7-6 (7), 7-5 triumph in two hours and 40 minutes of superb tennis.

The contrast of Cibulkova’s intense character and Safarova’s calm presence on the court made for a fantastic encounter, with the relentless trade of groundstrokes producing some stunning rallies, thrilling the crowd on the Anne Jones centre court.




Safarova saved two match points in the second set tie-break, and converted on her first match point via an uncharacteristic Cibulkova error. While the Slovak, who was understandably fuming following her defeat, heads to the practice courts, Safarova goes on to face Naomi Osaka, the youngest woman in the field, in round two.




Earlier on in the day, Kvitova continued her comeback, from a left hand injury sustained in a burglary at her home just before Christmas, with a comfortable straight sets win over fellow Czech Tereza Smitkova 6-2, 6-3.

After the win, Kvitova said she was delighted to be back on the grass following her return to action at Roland Garros.

“It feels great! I love playing on the grass – it’s my favorite surface. I’m just happy to be here playing tennis, and not having to worry about anything else.”

British number one Jo Konta also came through in straight sets, winning 6-3, 7-6 (6) against Lesia Tsurenko. Though she won the first set with relative ease, some inspired play from the Ukrainian and a drop in Konta’s level led to Tsurenko serving for the set at 5-3. However, Konta found her form at the right time, and eventually came through 8-6 in the second set tie-break.

Elsewhere, there were wins for GarbiƱe Muguruza, Alison Riske, who knocked out last week’s champion in Nottingham Donna Vekic, and CoCo Vandeweghe, who won the all-American clash against Christina McHale 6-4, 6-2.

The main event on Wednesday is a fascinating match-up between British wild card Naomi Broady, who beat Alize Cornet on Monday, against Kvitova, fresh from a straightforward win today.

Remarkably, each match on centre court tomorrow contains a player from the Czech Republic: Kvitova, Katerina Siniakova, Barbora Strycova and Lucie Safarova.

The hot humid conditions look set to continue also, with temperatures set to reach 31C (about 88 F) on Wednesday in the Midlands.

Freelance journalist Kieran Jackson is covering the British grass court summer in the lead up to Wimbledon for Tennis Now.

 

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