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Doha | Barty beats Muguruza to meet Kvitova

Doha | Barty beats Muguruza to meet Kvitova

Top-seed Ashleigh Barty eased into the semi-finals of the Qatar Total Open with a gritty 6-1 6-7(4) 6-2 victory over Spanish 11th seed Garbiñe Muguruza on Thursday, setting up a meeting with Petra Kvitova, who was pushed hard by Tunisian Ons Jabeur, 7-6(2) 7-6(4), earlier in the day.

 

It was frustrating, I felt like I wasn't doing a lot wrong, but I wasn't making the most of my opportunities and wasn't getting opportunities. So, I think, really happy to be able to start the third set well, I think, particularly that first service game was going to be important in the third. Ash Barty

Barty stormed out of the blocks against this year’s Australian Open runner-up Muguruza, racing through the first set in just 25 minutes without facing a break point, but the Spaniard sprang to life in the second.

“I felt like I started exceptionally well and I was able to get the ball kind of in my areas a lot more,” Barty said later. “Then in the second set Garbiñe was able to shift her court position and take a few more risks, put me on the back foot.”

Muguruza broke Barty’s serve for the first time in the match, but the Australian broke back to force a tiebreak, which the 26-year-old controlled.

The Spaniard raced into a 5-0 lead in the breaker and quelled a Barty fightback from behind the baseline to send the match to a deciding set.

“It was frustrating, I felt like I wasn’t doing a lot wrong, but I wasn’t making the most of my opportunities and wasn’t getting opportunities.

“So I think really happy to be able to start the third set well, I think particularly that first service game was going to be important in the third.”

Barty saved an early break point in the third, and broke Muguruza’s serve for a 3-1 lead.

The pair exchanged service breaks and Muguruza, who made 30 unforced errors compared to Barty’s 18, found herself serving to stay in the match while trailing 5-2.

Barty rallied from 40-15 down to break her opponent for the 6th time, claiming the win as the Spaniard sent a forehand wide after an hour and 53 minutes.

Muguruza, who reunited with former coach Conchita Martinez at the end of last year, has enjoyed a perfect slate of quarter-final appearances in her 5 tournaments in 2020, finishing runner-up at the Australian Open, her first major final since winning Wimbledon in 2017.

Barty received a walkover into the last eight from an injured Elena Rybakina.

“It hasn’t happened to me in a long time,” Barty said of the walkover. “I think it’s seldom that you do get walkovers kind of mid tournament without even walking on the court.”

Up next for the top seed is Kvitova, whom she has beaten in their last 4 meetings, most recently in Melbourne, where Barty avenged a 2019 Australian Open quarter-final defeat to win in straight sets.

“I love playing Petra, I really do,” she said. “I feel like she has this way of bringing out the best in me, and no matter the result both of us have a smile on our face and that’s what I love about the contest with Petra is we respect each other, we play well and we just fight and we just see whoever’s better on the day will get the win and I’m expecting tomorrow to be no different.”


Petra Kvitova

© Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Kvitova, the 2-time Wimbledon and 2018 Doha champion, was tested by Jabeur, who played with her thigh heavily strapped to protect an injured hamstring, saving 2 set points in the 2nd set before clinching her win.

“I’m glad how I was able to manage those tiebreaks for sure,” she said. “So, I’m really glad that I improved something.

“It was difficult with the crowd as well, with the wind, different conditions today, for sure.

“So, I’m really glad that with very talented player as she is, with the great touch, I was able to play a good game”.

Meanwhile, Svetlana Kuznetsova, wild-carded into the tournament, upset Belinda Bencic, 6-4 6-4, in an hour and 35 minutes to reach the semi-finals of the event for the first time since 2007, striking 39 winners in the process.

The victory marked Kuznetsova’s 19 match win in the event, putting her on par with Caroline Wozniacki as the player with the highest number of wins.

“I have amazing memories. It was my first time when I beat Justine [Henin] here [in the 2004 semi-finals] and it was like I was a kid, I was 19…” she said happily.

“It was so long ago it was like another life, but it really happened to me – I didn’t watch it in the movies. And here I’m back again in the semis. I didn’t expect it that early.

“I’ve been working hard for this and it’s nice that the work pays off.”

For a place in the semi-final in the bottom half of the draw, the Russian next takes on the 9th seed Aryna Sabalenka, who beat China’s Zheng Saisai, 3-6 7-6(2) 6-3, in two hours and 20 minutes after the Belarusian came from a set down.


Svetlana Kuznetsova

© Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images



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