Eighth seed Petra Kvitova powered past local hope Ashleigh Barty to make the Australian Open semi-finals Tuesday in the Czech’s best Grand Slam performance since she was injured in a terrifying knife attack.
The two-time Wimbledon champion broke down in tears after defeating Barty 6-1, 6-4 to set up a final four clash with unseeded American Danielle Collins.
“Thank you guys, I didn’t really imagine being back in this great stadium again to play with the best. It’s great,” said the 28-year-old left-hander, who was attacked in her home in the Czech Republic in late 2016.
Kvitova required extensive surgery after the burglar slashed her racquet hand, leaving her with permanent nerve damage, but she has put together one of the best winning streaks of her career this year.
She has 10 straight victories this year, claiming the Sydney International warm-up tournament and speeding to the Open final four without dropping a set.
She had already defeated Barty — the first Australian to make the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in a decade — and was not intimidated by her opponent’s hometown support.
Kvitova hushed the crowd when she went up a break in the second game then held off a Barty to go up 3-0.
Barty had no answer to the power of Kvitova’s forehand return as the Czech repeatedly stepped in and cracked cross-court winners.
It took the Australian 17 minutes to get on the board, desperately holding serve to make it 3-1 as she searched for a way into the match. Kvitova gave her no openings, breaking again then serving it out 6-1 after 27 minutes.
Barty hit only two winners to 12 in the first set but did not panic, shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly at her box after conceding the set.
She held serve with an ace, energising the crowd but Kvitova responded with two of her own to fend off Barty’s first break point of the match.
A frustrated Barty tried a drop shot followed by a lob against Kvitova’s serve but nothing worked and Kvitova took a decisive break in the ninth game.
First Published: Jan 22, 2019 15:59 IST