Perhaps the biggest clash of the Australian Open so far seed world number one and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty take on two-time Wimbledon champion and last year’s runner-up Petra Kvitova for a place in the last four in Melbourne.
The two met at this very stage last year, with Kvitova prevailing in straight sets following an impressive performance from the Czech. Kvitova, seeded seventh this year, leads the head-to-head between the two 4-3, though Barty’s three wins have come in their last three matches- all of which were on hard courts.
This will be the second quarterfinal of the day on the Rod Laver Arena, with the winner of this match facing the winner of the first quarterfinal between 14th seed Sofia Kenin and Ons Jabeur in the semifinals.
Road to the Last Eight
The top seed this year, Barty dropped her opening set of the tournament to Lesia Tsurenko, though rallied to win in three sets, and then picked up convincing wins over Polona Hercog and 29th seed Elena Rybakina to reach the second week. The Australian then faced her toughest test of the tournament against 18th seed Alison Riske, though rallied after dropping the second set to win in three tough sets, and continue her dream of winning her home Grand Slam tournament.
Kvitova started her campaign with a dominant victory, dropping just one game to compatriot Katerina Siniakova, and then saw off Paula Badosa in two tight sets to reach the third round. The Czech put in another impressive display to defeat 25th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova comfortably to reach the second week. The seventh seed dropped a set for the first time against 22nd seed Maria Sakkari, though found her way through to the last eight.
Both Barty and Kvitova generally have an aggressive style of tennis, though it is Kvitova who is the more powerful of the two. The Czech will look to serve well and get on top early in the rallies, and use her strong groundstrokes to dominate proceedings and pick up easy winners. Barty will also look to be aggressive, but does not have the power that her opponent possesses. Because of this, the Australian will look to slice Kvitova around the court, and use her craft to win rallies.
Consistency may also be key for both. Whilst Barty has played well so far in general, she looked erratic at times against Riske, and Kvitova will attack the Australian’s forehand to exploit any weakness that might appear in her game. The Czech herself will also have to be careful to limit her number of errors, and will likely look to avoid being drawn into lengthy rallies. It will also be interesting to see how Barty copes with the growing expectation around her, and the partisan crowd that will be behind her.
This could be one of the best matches of the tournament so far, and it is certainly a tough one to call. Barty has had the edge over Kvitova in recent meetings and will be motivated by playing at home, though Kvitova has won both times they’ve played in Australia and has arguably been playing the better of the two in Melbourne so far. It could go either way, but it seems that having overcome Alison Riske for the first time on Sunday, Barty could just edge her way through to the last four.
Prediction: Ashleigh Barty in Three Sets