Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova, left, withdraws from her match against Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova during their semifinal match at the Birmingham Classic tennis tournament at Edgbaston Priory, Birmingham, England. Saturday June 24, 2017. (Mike Egerto
AP Photo
June 24, 2017

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Lucie Safarova in the Aegon Classic semifinals on Saturday to reach the first final since her playing hand was injured in a knife attack at her home last year.

The left-handed Czech dominated from the start against compatriot Safarova, who retired at 6-1, 1-0 down.

Although brief, it was a useful outing for Kvitova, who once more hit the ball with pace and accuracy with her ground strokes.

Kvitova held her opening service game to love, captured 14 of the first 15 points, and the first five games. The rout briefly halted when Safarova held her serve.

But after losing her serve at the start of the second set, Safarova retired due to a thigh strain and exhaustion, having played two long matches in her previous three wins.

''It's tough to play against a friend like Lucie,'' Kvitova said. ''It's hard to think about yourself and not your opponent ... I'm pleased with how I am playing. I love playing finals, I like big matches, and I've missed it over the last six months. So this is quite a dream.''

Kvitova has made her first final in only her second tournament since returning after a six-month absence.

The tournament's other Grand Slam winner, former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, plays unseeded Australian Ashleigh Barty in the second semifinal.

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