Top seed Ashleigh Barty has advanced to the Australian Open semifinals with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory over seventh seed Petra Kvitova. The Aussie has run her winning streak to nine matches in a row and will face 14th seed Sofia Kenin in the last four with a spot in Saturday's final on the line.
The first set ebbed back and forth with plenty of chances for both players. At 6-5 down in the first set tiebreaker, Barty won the final three points and followed it up by claiming the first four games of the second set on her way to avenging a loss to Kvitova in this same round in Melbourne last year.
Barty motors past Kvitova to set up semifinal showdown with Kenin
The titanic matchup began with Barty racing out to a 40-0 lead only to see Kvitova aggressively charge to net and create a point, the Aussie rescuing the game with strong serving. The Czech won the next eight points of the match, a searing crosscourt forehand winner on break point giving the seventh seed a 2-1 lead.
Barty broke back, gifted to her with a pair of double faults and an error off the ground from Kvitova. She aimed to stretch her lead, but failed to convert a break chance as the Czech put down a pair of aces to seal a hold and level the set at 3-3. The game of the match followed, Barty saving five break points and surviving seven deuces in a ten-minute game.
Each lady fended off break points in their next service games to put the set at 5-4 for Barty. The quality and hitting remained of the highest order and Kvitova had a golden chance at 15-40, but squandered both of them, the world number one saving eight of nine break points in total to edge ahead 6-5.
Kvitova held to force a tiebreaker one minute short of the hour mark. The first six points mimiced the set as honors were even, a scintillating 22-ball rally going Barty's way. Minibreaks traded, four more points split and a set point saved by the Aussie had the breaker at 6-6. Kvitova was first to blink, overcooking back-to-back groundstrokes to hand Barty a fascinating first set.
The world number one soon found herself on top in the second set. After saving a break point, a second arises and a weary looking shot finds the net. A quick hold to love by Barty made it 2-0 and she raced out to a double break lead, a sumptuous lob on her second break chance landing inside the baseline and giving the Aussie a 3-0 advantage.
Barty found herself down 0-30, but quickly recovered to win the game and extend her lead to 4-0. A mini-revival cut the lead in half, Kvitova's shots now finding the court to hold to love and break, the score now 4-2. The Czech faltered next game, a double fault giving the Aussie her double break lead back and serving for the match, put down three aces from 15-40 behind, including one on match point to secure her spot in the semifinals.