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Bartoli battles hard to win Eastbourne title

France's Marion Bartoli celebrates with the trophy after beating Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova to win the International Women's Open tennis
France's Marion Bartoli celebrates with the trophy after beating Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova to win the International Women's Open tennis

LONDON (Reuters) - Sixth seed Marion Bartoli overcame blustery winds, a groin injury and a determined fightback from Czech Petra Kvitova to win the Eastbourne grasscourt Wimbledon warmup tournament 6-1 4-6 7-5 on Saturday.

After losing in the semi-finals on the English south coast for the last four years, the 26-year-old Frenchwoman held on to win a topsy-turvy final in two hours 15 minutes to complete her preparation for Wimbledon which starts on Monday.

"Winning the title, especially here it was extremely tough," Bartoli told reporters. "I think we had seven of the top 10 here plus Venus and Serena Williams. So it was definitely a very hard task to win the tournament.

"So it's great just to come up with a win. But, you know, it was a huge challenge again today."

Bartoli was the first to master the windy conditions and breezed through the opening set in 30 minutes, with her 21-year-old opponent making a series of loose shots and unforced forehand errors.

The second set started in much the same way with Bartoli, seeded ninth at Wimbledon, one rung below Kvitova, racing into a 3-1 lead and seemingly set for the title.

But the match began to turn when Kvitova's coach David Kotyza came down from the stands to give her a few words of encouragement after a poor start and, whatever he said, it clearly worked.

She began to find her range and form, winning the next three games to lead 4-3 before holding on to take the second set in 44 minutes.

Bartoli's control of the game seemed to ebb further away in the third game of the final set.

She went off for treatment to a groin strain but although she was limping the set went with serve until Bartoli took control again in the seventh game to lead 4-3 after fifth seed Kvitova served three double faults.

Bartoli then had a chance to seal the title on her own serve but Kvitova chose the perfect time to break for 5-5.

The Frenchwoman broke serve immediately to regain the lead and then held her serve to win when Kvitova landed a return wide.

Bartoli, who had beaten Australia's Samantha Stosur 6-3 6-1 in the semi-final earlier on Saturday, said later her injury would not be a problem for Wimbledon.

Left-handed Kvitova was also in her second match of the day at the rain-hit event. She had earlier led Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 4-2 when the Slovak retired with an abdominal strain.

(Created by Mike Collett; Editing by Clare Fallon)