World No. 1, Ashleigh Barty seeks a fifth consecutive victory over Czech rival, Petra Kvitova when they meet in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open in Doha on Friday.
Barty vs Kvitova is live from Doha in Friday, 28 February from 6:30pm local time/ 3:30pm GMT
Barty is into her third consecutive semi-final, and will attempt to reach her second final of the season on Friday.
The world No. 1 was beaten by Jennifer Brady in her opening match of the year in Brisbane, but she’s lost just one other match since then, winning Adelaide- her first title on home soil- reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open where she lost to Sofia Kenin, and now, making the semis in Doha.
Making her debut in Doha, the Australian opened her tournament with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over German qualifier, Laura Siegemund before moving past Elena Rybakina in the second round via a walkover.
Up against Australian Open finalist, Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals on Thursday, Barty made a flying start, going through the first set without facing a break point, but Muguruza grew into the contest as the match progressed. Both players exchanged breaks midway through the set, but Muguruza stamped her authority on the ensuing tie break, winning the opening five points before sending the match into a decider.
Barty saved a break point in the opening game of the third set, but quickly pulled away after than, winning five of the last six games to complete a 6-1 6-7 6-2 victory over the Spaniard.
“I felt like I started exceptionally well and I was able to get the ball kind of in my areas a lot more”. Barty said after the match. “Then in the second set Garbine was able to shift her court position and take a few more risks, put me on the back foot. It was frustrating, I felt like I wasn’t doing a lot wrong but I wasn’t making the most of my opportunities and wasn’t getting opportunities.
“So I think really happy to be able to start the third set well, I think particularly that first service game was going to be important in the third.”
She faces a familiar foe in the semi-finals as she takes on Petra Kvitova on Friday.
Kvitova also needed to work really hard to get through her quarter final on Thursday coming through 7-6 7-6 against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.
Jabeur held a 3-1 lead in the second set, served for the set at 6-5, and had a couple of set points, but Kvitova rallied back from those deficits to dig out the win in straight sets and proceed to her second semi-final of the season. Her other semi-final in 2020 was in Brisbane, where she was stopped by Madison Keys.
“I’m glad how I was able to manage those tie-breaks for sure,” she said after the match with Jabeur. “So I’m really glad that I improved something. It was difficult with the crowd as well, with the wind, different conditions today, for sure. So I’m really glad that with very talented player as she is, with the great touch, I was able to play a good game.”
Kvitova has made at least the quarter finals in all four events she has played this season, the other two being the Australian Open and St. Petersburg. The Czech was forced to withdraw from her St. Petersburg quarter final due to illness, but she’s returned to the tour in Doha to register quality victories over Carla Suarez Navarro (4-6 6-3 6-0), Jelena Ostapenko (6-2 5-7 6-1) and Jabeur.
She is now on a nine-match winning streak in Doha, having won the title in her most recent visit in 2018. Can she stretch that winning streak into double digits when she comes up against world No. 1, Barty on Friday?
“…she’s No.1, so of course that she has to be in the tournament everywhere, right. But definitely it’s nice to play her anyway”, Kvitova said about Barty.
“She mixes it up a lot. So I did have a good practice today and, yeah, definitely it’s nice to share the court with her. So, I mean, of course about the game, you know, we know each other very well and in the past we had so many matches”.
Barty leads the head-to-head 5-3, and has won the last four meetings between the two players.
“I love playing Petra, I really do. I feel like she has this way of bringing out the best in me, and no matter the result both of us have a smile on our face and that’s what I love about the contest with Petra is we respect each other, we play well and we just fight and we just see whoever’s better on the day will get the win and I’m expecting tomorrow to be no different,” Barty said.
Barty has had the Kvitova’s number in recent times, and the world No. 1 may yet again have too much variety for her Czech opponent in tricky conditions in Doha on Friday.