Barty beats Kvitova to reach China Open semis

Published by Matt Trollope

Petra Kvitova (L) embraces Ash Barty after the Australian won their China Open quarterfinal in Beijing (Getty Images)
Ash Barty defeats Petra Kvitova in a high-quality affair on Friday in Beijing and will face Kiki Bertens for a place in the China Open final.

Ash Barty has recovered to score a big win at the China Open, defeating Petra Kvitova in three sets to advance to the semifinals.

After dropping the first set and staring down five break points in the second set, Barty stormed back to win 4-6 6-4 6-3 in a high-quality, two-hour battle.

Barty lost her first four career meetings with Kvitova but has now won the past two, including at the same stage of the Miami Open in March – a tournament she went on to win.

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She is the first Australian woman through to the semifinals in Beijing – one of the biggest tournaments on tour outside of the four Grand Slams – since Sam Stosur in 2014. Daria Gavrilova reached the quarterfinals in 2016.

Her next opponent will be Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, who ousted No.3 seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets.

“From my opinion, that was one of the highest quality matches I played all year. Petra always has a way of bringing out the best in me, she really does,” Barty said.

“From both of us, I think the level was incredible. Regardless of winning or losing, I think I’d be sitting here with the exact same perspective, kind of the same feeling of the match afterwards.”

The first set appeared evenly match until Kvitova broke Barty in the fifth game – and the Czech would not relinquish her advantage.

She continually overwhelmed the Australian with powerful serving and her pace of shot from the back of the court, and did not allow Barty the space or the time to construct points.

In the second set Kvitova reached 15-40 in the fifth game and held another two break points in the seventh game, which if converted would have put her in a commanding position.

Yet Barty did not fold, producing an exceptional running backhand passing shot crosscourt to hold for 4-3.

The world No.1 neutralised Kvitova’s serve brilliantly, getting 96 per cent of her returns in play in the second set.

In the 10th game, she brought up set point with a lunging forehand volley winner before flummoxing Kvitova with a defensive lob to send the match to a decider.

And while Kvitova broke immediately in set three, Barty broke straight back with an off-forehand winner to level scores at 1-1.

The pivotal moment came in the eighth game, an eight-minute affair during which Kvitova three times held game point, but could not convert.

Barty eventually broke serve, and despite missing three match points from 40-0 up in the final game, closed it out on her fourth with a forehand winner.

“My record against Kiki (Bertens) is pretty good,” said the Australian, who leads the head-to-head series 4-0.

“Obviously some of the matches I’ve had with Kiki have been an unbelievable level. Could have gone either way.

“I look forward to … trying to test myself, again, against one of the best players in the world coming into a couple of big weeks to finish off the year.”

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