World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty advanced to the semi-finals of the 2020 Australian Open after beating seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-6(8), 6-2 in an hour and 32 minutes.
The opening set was tightly contested between the two players but the top-seeded Australian raced to a double-break lead in the second set.
Down 4-0 in the second set, Kvitova found the composure to win her first game of the set and then, break back Barty to narrow the gap between them to just service game deficit at 2-4.
However, the 2019 Australian Open finalist was unable to consolidate and went down 2-5. Serving for the match, Barty suffered no hiccups in clinching the win.
With her win, Barty ended her home country’s almost 36-year-old wait for a female tennis player to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open.
Wendy Turnbull was the last Australian woman to reach the penultimate round in the first Slam of the year, in 1984.
“This is absolutely incredible, I knew I had to bring my absolute best today against Petra,” said Barty after the match.
“It’s a challenge. I love it. I love testing myself against Petra. She has this way of bringing out the very best in me”.
Ashleigh Barty, 23, will want to bring out the best in her once again when she takes on the 21-year-old Sofia Kenin, who beat Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-4.
Kenin trails Barty in their head-to-head 1-4 and pressure will be heavy on her since this is the first time, she has made it this far in a Slam.
However, Kenin said she was trying to keep focusing inwards, on her game.
“Of course, I’m rising, so I’m trying to somehow keep my game stable, just play with stability, just play each match one match at a time,” Kenin said.
“Of course, I’m really happy. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am. I’ve done a really hard pre-season. I knew that it’s going to help me and it’s going to pay off. Thank God it’s paying off here.”
If Kenin were to win Thursday’s clash, she will break into the top-10 of the WTA rankings for the first time.