World No. 3 Ons Jabeur 'cannot wait' to team up with Serena Williams in doubles

Exclusive World No. 3 Ons Jabeur 'cannot wait' to team up with Serena Williams in doubles
Ons Jabeur teams up with Serena Williams as the American legend Williams makes her first competitive appearance in nearly 12 months at Wimbledon. (AFP)
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Updated 20 June 2022

World No. 3 Ons Jabeur 'cannot wait' to team up with Serena Williams in doubles

World No. 3 Ons Jabeur 'cannot wait' to team up with Serena Williams in doubles
  • Jabeur won her third career title in Berlin after Belinda Bencic retired through injury
  • The Tunisian star says Venus likely to have played a role in Serena asking her to partner in her comeback

With a third career title under her belt and a new personal-high ranking of No. 3 in the world, Tunisian Ons Jabeur has lots to celebrate on the back of a stellar week in Berlin.

But she will have to hold off on any festivities as she quickly switches her focus to teaming up with Serena Williams in Eastbourne on Tuesday, in preparation for next week’s Wimbledon.

American legend Williams will make her first competitive appearance in nearly 12 months when she steps onto the lawns of Eastbourne, where she has chosen to only contest doubles, alongside Jabeur.

The 27-year-old is better acquainted with Serena’s older sister Venus, who sang her praises last year before the Tunisian defeated her en route to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Venus and Jabeur have practiced together on multiple occasions, and the seven-time major champion once described her as one of her “favorite people.”

Jabeur’s previous interactions with Serena have been friendly, but brief, which is why it came as a huge surprise when she received the call last month that the 23-time Grand Slam winner was keen to partner up with her in doubles at the grass-court event in Eastbourne this week.

“I usually speak with Venus more than Serena. I feel like there is a 50 percent chance that Venus had something to do with it,” Jabeur told Arab News in an interview on Sunday, after clinching the title in Berlin.

 

 

“It was great, you would say yes right away of course. It’s a pleasure that she chose me, it’s unbelievable. I was having dinner with Ellen Perez (her occasional doubles partner), and I was like, ‘Ellen I’m not playing doubles with you anymore, it got serious now. Now I’m not accepting to play doubles with anyone with less than 20 Grand Slams.’

“It’s great, I cannot wait to see her (Serena), and I cannot wait to speak with her, it’s such an honor and pleasure,” Jabeur said.

It is unclear exactly why Serena picked Jabeur to join her on her comeback tournament, but it could have something to do with the fact the crafty Tunisian has been in great form and is currently ranked No. 2 in the Race to the WTA Finals.

Jabeur has tallied up 30 victories so far this season, second only to the top-ranked Iga Swiatek, and is one of only three players on the WTA tour to win multiple singles titles in 2022.

“I don’t know honestly why she picked me but I’m glad that she did. Maybe Venus had something to do with it, maybe she was watching a bit of tennis and she saw some North African girl playing good lately so maybe that kind of helped. I hope she was watching the Madrid final as well,” she added.

Jabeur, who made history as the first Tunisian, Arab, or African to win a WTA 1000 title when she triumphed in Madrid last month, said: “Honestly I’m nervous but I’m going to try to focus on playing tennis and maybe not admiring Serena a lot because I’m such a big fun and it’s honestly a huge honor for me to share the court with her and to kind of be part of her comeback journey.”

Jabeur has already won two titles from four finals reached this season and the triumph in Berlin came at just the right moment after she had suffered a first-round exit at Roland Garros, where she was considered one of the top contenders for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

While her early defeat in Paris was clearly disappointing, Jabeur did not spend too much time dwelling on it.

“I think everything happened for a reason. The French Open was kind of tough for me, I had to fail and get up again maybe, that’s how I think sometimes, to come back stronger.

“I’m glad I took some time off to clear my head. It was the first time I felt that much pressure, so it was tough to handle a little bit but I’m learning from it, obviously, and I just focused on the grass season, to get ready and be here; that was the most important thing, to be prepared.

“I took a week off, that helped me recover mentally and we got back to practicing. It was a little bit tough at the beginning but I’m glad that I came back even stronger,” she added.

In her first grass-court tournament of the season, Jabeur knocked out some tough opposition, including French Open finalist Coco Gauff and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, on her way to the trophy in Berlin.

Her early Roland Garros exit gave her the chance to spend more time on grass before competing on it and the work paid off right away.

 

 

She said: “I practiced on a terrible court in Paris, so it was great coming here to Berlin because the courts are good, so maybe that helped me play good.

“Physically I was ready, I was practicing a lot of fitness with Karim (Kamoun, her husband and fitness trainer), so that also helped me.

“The confidence and the good pressure of being the No. 1 seed also did help me a lot. And I practiced with a lot of great players here, such as Bianca Andreescu and Karolina Muchova, and I could see myself how I was playing on the practice court, how confident I was, and I think that really helped me bring my A-game.”

With a target on her back entering Paris last month on the heels of winning Madrid and making the final in Rome, Jabeur needed some time to adjust to her new position as a genuine contender at the majors. While winning slams has always been her goal, it is different when her opponents begin to see her as a favorite, and step on court against her ready to play freely as clear underdogs.

“Maybe yes it is a different kind of pressure. I always try to do that in front of everyone; I think everyone wants to play good in front of me, especially now being a top-10 player,” Jabeur, who became the first Arab player – man or woman – to crack that elite ranking bracket last October, added.

“For a while now, I think everybody wants to grab that top-10 win (against me); it’s an extra pressure but I feel like I’m getting used to this pressure. I’m the kind of person that likes a little bit of pressure because when I’m too loose I don’t play really good so to put pressure on myself and to make myself do things, it helps me a lot to play my best tennis.”

This time last year, Jabeur had just picked up a maiden WTA title, on the grass courts of Birmingham, and went on to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time in her career, and the second time at a major.

Ranked 24 in the world at the time, she beat three Grand Slam champions in a row, in the form of Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, and Swiatek, before falling to Aryna Sabalenka in the last-eight stage.

She said: “I feel like now I’m a different player. I am handling much better the pressure; putting more expectations on myself because now, if you tell me I’ll be happy with a quarterfinal at Wimbledon, I’ll tell you ‘no, I want to do better.’

“Also coming as a top-10 player is a much different position than being 20-something in the world. I think now I’ve played even more matches, so the confidence is higher for sure, and so many situations I can manage much better. Like if you’re being up, or serving for the set, or playing someone more aggressive, I think I can handle those matches much better than before.”

Jabeur acknowledges that “it sounds amazing” to hear the words “world No. 3” announced before her name but is trying not to get too wrapped up by this latest milestone.

 

 

“I don’t even have the time to digest all of these things, but I’m pretty happy. I honestly wasn’t looking at the ranking and I don’t like to look at the ranking, but I think it’s all part of the plan and I’m really glad,” she added.

She is within touching distance of second-ranked Anett Kontaveit, who is just 170 points ahead of her, but is still far off the ever-dominant Swiatek, who is on a 35-match winning streak and more than 4,000 points ahead of them both.

“My goal this season is to catch Iga maybe, I don’t know, let’s try it and maybe have a rivalry with Iga; that would be great. I have my eyes on the No. 2 spot for sure,” Jabeur said.

Having learned her lesson from Roland Garros, where she felt she was a bit burnt out after playing too many matches in the build-up, Jabeur purposefully did not compete on grass the week before Berlin and is looking to arrive at Wimbledon both mentally and physically fresh, buoyed by the fact her sports psychologist Melanie Maillard will be with her at the event.

Maillard and the rest of the team will not be the only ones supporting Jabeur in south-west London next week. Throughout her run in Berlin, the top seed celebrated her wins in front of scores of Tunisian fans – their football chants echoing around the stadium every step of the way.

“Allez, allez, forza ragazzi, wahda wahda lel finale,” (come on, come on, come on guys, step by step toward the final), has become a popular song following Jabeur from one arena to the other around the globe, and will no doubt be heard when she steps out for her opening match at Wimbledon.

“They’ve already invited themselves to Wimbledon, everybody is coordinating to come there,” she added, referring to the Tunisian fans who plan on making the trip from Berlin to London to support her.


Veteran Sjostrom, teenager McIntosh complete golden doubles at swimming worlds

Veteran Sjostrom, teenager McIntosh complete golden doubles at swimming worlds
Updated 26 June 2022

Veteran Sjostrom, teenager McIntosh complete golden doubles at swimming worlds

Veteran Sjostrom, teenager McIntosh complete golden doubles at swimming worlds
  • The Swede took her first European title at 14 and her first world title a year later in 2009
  • McIntosh claimed her fourth medal in Budapest in four minutes and 32.04 seconds

BUDAPEST: Sarah Sjostrom, who has been winning world titles for 13 years, and Summer McIntosh, who has been winning them for four days, both collected their second gold medals of the week in Budapest on Saturday.

Sjostrom, a 28-year-old Swede who won the 50m butterfly less than 24 hours earlier, added the 50m freestyle, her 10th world gold.

McIntosh, a Canadian 15-year-old, held off 16-year-old American Katie Grimes to win the women’s 400m medley title.

McIntosh, who won the 200m butterfly gold on Wednesday, claimed her fourth medal in Budapest in four minutes and 32.04 seconds.

Grimes was 0.63sec back, while another American, Emma Weyant, was a distant third ahead of Hungarian 33-year-old Katinka Hosszu, the defending champion.

“I tried to push my body as much as possible,” said McIntosh. “The crowd gave me so much adrenaline.

“I really felt my body in the backstroke.

“Katie is a top competitor, I like racing against her since we are in the same age group.”

Sjostrom finished her sprint in 23.98 seconds, 0.20sec ahead of Pole Katarzyna Wasick, with Australian Meg Harris and American Erika Brown tied for bronze.

The Swede took her first European title at 14 and her first world title a year later in 2009. This was her 20th world championship medal.

“Maybe my mind-set and also a lot of hard work, but also I love what I do,” she said of her longevity.

Sjostrom narrowly missed another medal when she anchored Sweden to fourth in the women’s 100m medley relay that closed the championships.

“It’s been a busy four days for me,” she said.

“I feel like it’s business for me too, I just go in and do my job I guess.”

The US won, anchor ed by 17-year-old Claire Curzan. Australia were second and Canada, with Penny Olesiak holding off Sjostrom, third.

The men’s 50m backstroke gold medal was presented twice, with the US anthem played twice.

In the first race of the evening, Justin Ress was disqualified after video review for finishing entirely under water as he touched the wall first.

His training buddy Hunter Armstrong was awarded gold, winning in 24.14 seconds.

Ksawery Masiuk, a 17-year-old Pole, initially took silver, 0.35sec back, with Italian Thomas Ceccon, who set a 100m backstroke world record on Monday, taking the bronze on loan.

Armstrong wiped a tear away as he stepped off the podium after accepting the gold in the evening’s first medal ceremony.

“I’m very disappointed my team-mate was disqualified and hopefully Team USA’s protest will be successful,” he said.

He got his wish, when a jury upheld the appeal. Ress came out alone to stand on the top step of the podium and receive his medal in the last medal ceremony of the championships.

Ceccon had taken pre-emptive revenge by swimming the breaststroke leg as Italy edged the Americans, the reigning champions and world record holders, in the 100m medley relay final. Britain were third.

That was a fifth gold for Italy after Gregorio Paltrinieri earlier swum the second fastest time in men’s 1500m freestyle history to win his third world title in the distance.

The 27-year-old Italian surged away from the start, setting a breakneck pace.

He was on world record pace for much of the race before fading at the end to finish in 14min 32.80sec and miss Sun Yang’s mark by 1.78sec.

American Bobby Finke was second, 3.90sec back, with Florian Wellbrock third at 4.14.

Paltrinieri said he had been motivated by finishing fourth out in the 800m

“I came out with the mindset that I wanted to destroy the pool,” he said after becoming the oldest ever 1500m world champion.

“I’m 28 in a couple of months,” he said. “But I’m still learning.”

Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte won her first world gold since 2013 when she edged Italian 17-year-old Benedetta Pilato by 0.10sec in the women’s 50m breaststroke final. South African Lara van Niekerk was third.

Meilutyte had not won a major championship medal of any color since 2015.

“It’s nice to be a world champion,” she said.


Chun balloons to 75 as her lead shrinks to 3 at Women’s PGA Championship

Chun balloons to 75 as her lead shrinks to 3 at Women’s PGA Championship
Updated 26 June 2022

Chun balloons to 75 as her lead shrinks to 3 at Women’s PGA Championship

Chun balloons to 75 as her lead shrinks to 3 at Women’s PGA Championship
  • On a day the leaders had plenty of trouble, Chun was holding her own until she made a double bogey on the par-5 16th hole

BETHESDA, Maryland, USA: This was the moment the rest of the field needed: In Gee Chun standing near the trees, contemplating her situation and then eventually heading back to the point of her previous shot.

A shaky third round cut her lead at the Women’s PGA Championship in half.

Chun shot a 3-over 75 on Saturday, leaving her three strokes ahead going into the final round at Congressional Country Club. On a day the leaders had plenty of trouble, Chun was holding her own until she made a double bogey on the par-5 16th hole.

“Looking forward to an exciting final round already,” she said. “If it’s going to be too easy, then I feel it is boring.”

It looked like the final round might be boring — or at least anticlimactic — as Chun maintained a comfortable lead through much of Saturday. She bogeyed Nos. 1 and 11 but birdied 2 and 12. Her lead was at five when she had to play her third shot from some tall grass on the 564-yard 16th.

That shot put her in even more trouble, in an area with tall grass and some trees. She took an unplayable lie and went back to the previous spot to re-hit.

An 8-iron from there went over the green, but Chun did manage to get up and down for a 7. The two-time major champion from South Korea led by five shots after the first round and six at the halfway point. After the third round, she had an 8-under 208 total.

Lydia Ko (76) and Jennifer Kupcho (74) — Chun’s playing partners — had their own problems, but Lexi Thompson and Hye-Jin Choi both shot 70 and were tied for second with Sei Young Kim (71) at 5 under.

Thompson will play in the final group as she tries for her first major victory since 2014.

“You always want to be in the final group in any tournament,” she said. “I love that the hard work has been able to pay off for me. I’ve been putting in the time, so to see it pay off and pay dividends means the world to me.”

Ko wasn’t able to take advantage of Chun’s struggles. She bogeyed four of five holes during one stretch on the front nine, then birdied four of the next seven. She wrapped up the round with four straight bogeys.

Kupcho had three birdies and three bogeys in the first seven holes and couldn’t gain much ground on the leader.

Kim, who won this event two years ago, had a comparatively drama-free round with two birdies and a bogey. Choi shot 34 on the back nine while playing in a group with Thompson. They’ll be together again Sunday.

“It was the first time playing with her, and I actually watched her as a fan when I was an amateur,” Choi said. “It was a good experience to play with her. Of course, I tried to focus on my game.”

Thompson made three birdies on the back nine, including a putt from about 30 feet on No. 15. She has 11 LPGA Tour victories but none since 2019. She’s played her way into contention after a first-round 74.

Thompson finished second at Crown Colony in February and at Upper Montclair last month.

“I know I’m in a good state with my game and just my mental state, so going out tomorrow enjoying the walk with my caddie and hopefully a lot of fans out there supporting us,” she said. “Whatever score I shoot, I shoot.”

Hannah Green (72) was fifth at 4 under, a stroke ahead of Atthaya Thitikul (68), who was so far behind at the start of the day she was in one of the groups sent off on No. 10. Brooke Henderson (73), Kupcho and Jennifer Chang (73) were tied for sixth with Thitikul.

NOTES: US Women’s Open champ Minjee Lee (73) was 2 under. ... Defending champion Nelly Korda (72) was tied for 29th.


Schauffele leaves it late to retain Travelers lead

Schauffele leaves it late to retain Travelers lead
Updated 26 June 2022

Schauffele leaves it late to retain Travelers lead

Schauffele leaves it late to retain Travelers lead
  • Schauffele is looking forward to a final round duel against close friend and Ryder Cup playing partner Cantlay

NEW YORK: Xander Schauffele produced a late birdie spree to hold onto a slender lead at the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship Saturday with a 3-under par 67.

Schauffele, who led by five shots after Friday’s second round, will take a one-shot advantage into Sunday’s final round at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

But the 28-year-old from California left it late to ensure he would remain on top of the leaderboard on Saturday with a pair of birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to drop to 17 under for the tournament.

He rolled in a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th and then drilled an iron from the fairway to a few feet for a further birdie on the 17th.

That ultimately allowed Schauffele to finish the day just in front of red-hot Patrick Cantlay, who had a bogey-free 7-under 63 to move to 16 under.

Schauffele is looking forward to a final round duel against close friend and Ryder Cup playing partner Cantlay.

“It will be fun. I’ve been looking forward to playing with Pat in a final round,” he said.

“We don’t get paired together very often in regular tournaments, only in those team ones.

“So there’s a certain level of comfort we have playing with each other and hopefully that pays off and hopefully we can make a lot of birdies.”

Cantlay was similarly enthused by the prospect of a final day shootout with his friend.

“We actually haven’t played that much together in tournament play, maybe only three times in the last three, four years. So it will be good to go out there again with him,” Cantlay said.

“It’s always nice to be out with him, if he’s on my team or if he’s not. I’m going to go out there tomorrow and try as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may.”

Sahith Theegala is three off the lead on 14 under after his six-under-par 64.

The highlight of Theegala’s round came with a brilliant eagle three on the par-5 13th, when he reached the green in two before rolling in an 11-foot putt.

The only blemish on an otherwise flawless round came at the 18th, where he made bogey.

Kevin Kisner is one behind Theegala on 13 under after his four-under-par 66.

Scotland’s Martin Laird is tied for fifth with Lee Kyoung-hoon on 12 under. Laird and Lee both carded four-under-par 66s.

Four players including first round co-leader J.T. Poston are tied for seventh on 11 under, while Scottie Scheffler heads a quartet on 10 under after a five-under-par 65.

But there was more disappointment for Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

The four-time major-winner who shot an 8-under 62 in the first round had fallen away on Friday after a second round that included a quadruple bogey eight on the 12th hole.

McIlroy navigated his return to the 12th safely on Saturday with a par, but was already struggling after making a double-bogey and bogey on the front nine.

Two more bogeys on the 14th and 16th holes left him tied for 31st place on six under, 11 shots off the lead.


McLaughlin books athletics worlds berth with 400m hurdles world record

McLaughlin books athletics worlds berth with 400m hurdles world record
Updated 26 June 2022

McLaughlin books athletics worlds berth with 400m hurdles world record

McLaughlin books athletics worlds berth with 400m hurdles world record
  • McLaughlin's performance capped a day of 11 finals and a farewell to the US championships for Olympic great Allyson Felix — 21 years after she ran in her first
  • Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs was not at his best but took victory in 10.12 seconds, four hundredths of a second quicker than second-place Chituru Ali, after posting 10.17sec in the heats

EUGENE, OREGON: Sydney McLaughlin punched her ticket to the athletics World Championships with a world record 51.41sec victory in the 400m hurdles at the US trials on Saturday.

McLaughlin shaved five-hundredths of a second off the world record of 51.46 she set in winning Tokyo Olympics gold last Aug. 4, delivering a dominant performance at Eugene’s Hayward Field that saw runner-up Britton Wilson cross the line more than a second back in 53.08sec.

Shamier Little was third in 53.92. The trio will represent the US on the same Hayward Field track in July — when reigning world champion Dalilah Muhammad also aims to defend her title.

With a bye as champion Muhammad — who beat McLaughlin in Doha in 2019 but took silver behind her in Tokyo — received a waiver to skip the trials to recover from a hamstring injury.

McLaughlin showed she didn’t need her great rival to push her to new heights in this championship season.

Her performance capped a day of 11 finals and a farewell to the US championships for Olympic great Allyson Felix — 21 years after she ran in her first.

Felix finished sixth in the 400m, making her almost certain to earn consideration for a relay at the World Championships.

Felix is calling time on a career that includes 29 world and Olympic medals — including seven Olympic golds.

After a gritty semifinal performance to earn a place in the final, Felix — greeted by a massive ovation — clocked 51.27sec.

Talitha Diggs, daughter of four-time Olympian Joetta Clark-Diggs and the NCAA collegiate champion, used a powerful finishing kick to win the women’s 400m in 50.22, overhauling early pace-setter Lynna Irby and Kendall Ellis in the final 20 meters.

Ellis took second in 50.35 and Irby was third in 50.67.

Michael Norman, seeking World Championships gold to help expunge the memory of a disappointing fifth-place finish at the Tokyo Games, delivered an emphatic victory in the men’s 400m with a world-leading 43.56sec.

NCAA collegiate title holder Champion Allison broke 44 seconds for the first time, taking second in 43.70, with Randolph Ross third in 44.17.

World record-holder Keni Harrison won the 100m hurdles in another world-leading time of 12.34sec. Alaysha Johnson was second in 12.35 and Alia Armstrong was third in 12.47.

World champion Nia Ali opted out of the final but will complete the formidable US contingent in the event next month.

In other events, world 200m champion Noah Lyles clocked 19.95sec to top the first-round times, and revealed he was rebounding from a bout with Covid.

Lyles said he learned after his win in New York on June 12 that he had coronavirus, not realizing until after the event that his muscle soreness and chills were symptoms of illness.

“To be honest I’m so in shape I’m not too worried about it,” Lyles said.

Erriyon Knighton, who owns the fastest time in the world this year of a 19.49, was second-fastest in the heats in 20.08.

Reigning 100m world champion Christian Coleman advanced to the semis with a time of 20.13 but said he still wasn’t sure if he’d pursue a 100-200 double at worlds.

Fred Kerley, who dazzled with a 9.76sec semi on the way to winning the 100m on Friday, booked his 200m semifinal spot with a time of 20.29.

Abby Steiner, coming off a world-leading 21.80sec to win the NCAA collegiate title this month, topped the women’s 200m heat times in 22.14sec.

Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Gabby Thomas, who owns the third-fastest time in history, made it safely into the semis with the seventh-quickest time of the day 22.59.

Sha’Carri Richardson, who shockingly failed to advance from the 100m heats on Thursday, also advanced with a time of 22.69 — finishing second to Thomas in their heat.

Reigning world champion and Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Grant Holloway and Devon Allen stayed on course for a 110m hurdles showdown with the top two times in the heats.

Holloway, whose American record of 12.81 is one one-hundredth off the world record, won his heat in 13.11sec, second-fastest of the round ahead of recently crowned NCAA champion Trey Cunningham’s 13.13.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Allen, who stunned Holloway with the third-fastest time in history of 12.84sec in New York two weeks ago, won his heat to qualify third-fastest in 13.27.

Olympic champion Jacobs wins Italian 100m title

In Rieti, Lazio, reigning Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs continued his preparations for next month’s World Championships by winning the Italian men’s 100 meters title on Saturday.

The 27-year-old was not at his best but took victory in 10.12 seconds, four hundredths of a second quicker than second-place Chituru Ali, after posting 10.17sec in the heats.

Jacobs, who also won the world 60m indoor title earlier this year, only ran his first two 100m races of the season last month in Savona.

“It was useful to resume competition,” he told RAI Sport on Saturday.

“I’m not yet able to manage a complete 100m, especially with two races in an hour. In training I had to do everything at a moderate pace.

“So it was more difficult to manage at a high intensity. In the closing stages, I had a little more trouble and decided to hold back a little to avoid any fitness problems.”

Jacobs is scheduled to run in Stockholm next Thursday before flying to the worlds which get underway in American city Eugene on July 15.

There, he will lock horns again with reigning world champion Christian Coleman, who he beat to the indoor title in Belgrade in March.


Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, Fritz win Eastbourne titles

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, Fritz win Eastbourne titles
Updated 26 June 2022

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, Fritz win Eastbourne titles

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, Fritz win Eastbourne titles
  • Kvitova earned her first grass-court title in four years — and 29th trophy of her singles career — after breaking Ostapenko, the defending champion, early in both sets of the final and feasting on the Latvian’s second serve

EASTBOURNE, England: Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova tuned up for the Grand Slam tournament by overpowering Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2 to win the Eastbourne title on Saturday.

Also, Taylor Fritz outlasted Maxime Cressy 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) in an all-American men’s final for his second Eastbourne title.

Kvitova earned her first grass-court title in four years — and 29th trophy of her singles career — after breaking Ostapenko, the defending champion, early in both sets of the final and feasting on the Latvian’s second serve.

Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the second set to stay in control of the match at 3-1.

“Playing on the grass is very special for me every time,” the Czech player said on court. “It’s the best preparation for Wimbledon, as well.”

Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, begins another campaign on Tuesday against Jasmine Paolini of Italy.

She is 5-1 in grass-court finals. Her most recent was in 2018 in Birmingham.

The eighth-seeded Ostapenko, a Wimbledon semifinalist four years ago, won the 2017 French Open.

After the final, Ostapenko withdrew from the women’s doubles final alongside Ukrainian partner Lyudmyla Kichenok because of a toe problem on her right foot. The walkover handed the title to Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia and Magda Linette of Poland.

Ostapenko is the 12th seed at Wimbledon and has a first-round match scheduled on Monday against Oceane Dodin of France.

Fritz could rely on his serve in his first meeting with Cressy. Fritz didn’t face a break point in the final, he won 92 percent of his first serves, and launched 17 aces. Even so, it took him more than two hours to get on top of Cressy, who was playing his first ATP final. Fritz didn’t drop his serve all week.

“My grass season wasn’t going great before I arrived here,” Fritz said. “But it is great to beat these players and it gives me confidence. I played really well all week and going into Wimbledon, I feel good.”

Fritz, ranked 14th, won his third ATP title, second in Eastbourne beside 2019, and second this year after Indian Wells in March.

Fritz has drawn Lorenzo Musetti of Italy in the first round of Wimbledon next week.

Cressy, ranked 60th, has sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.