Henry Wancke | 9th Mar 2020 | 0
Doha | Kvitova outlasts Barty to meet Sabalenka in final
© Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
In a blockbuster clash on Friday, Petra Kvitova beat the World No 1 Ashleigh Barty for the first time in more than a year, and will now play for her second Qatar Total Open title against Aryna Sabalenka, who saw off Svetlana Kuznetsova in her semi-final.
I tried that she couldn’t have put me away from the baseline that much, so I took time from her and she couldn’t do that much with her forehand. That was kind of the key, to try, near by the baseline, and just play from there and still pushing to the court. Petra Kvitova
Kvitova continued what is one of the best rivalries on the WTA Tour, winning 6-4 2-6 6-4 after a 2 hour battle to end a 4-match losing streak to Barty in fine style.
It was a high-quality affair tin which each player held on to an early break advantage in the opening 2 sets, before Kvitova found an extra gear late in the match to secure victory.
The No 8 seed was the first to break in the decider at 2-2, and although she surrendered serve immediately after for 3-3, she secured the decisive break in the 7th game.
“It was kind of physical. I think Ash started to play more slices in the beginning of the second set, so it took me awhile to get to used to and be back in my game with my aggressive game, which I tried to play in the first set,” Kvitova said.
“The match was pretty exhausting anyway, but I know that I can play those rallies every point, but if I have to, I’m really glad that I am able to do it.”
Barty fought back after losing the opening set, but Kvitova came through strongly in the decider.
“I was just maybe … braver,” said Kvitova, whose win put her ahead again, 5-4, in their matchups.
“I pushed myself a lot to go more deeper to the court, not to flying back on the Qatar sign.
“I tried that she couldn’t have put me away from the baseline that much, so I took time from her and she couldn’t do that much with her forehand.
“That was kind of the key, to try near by the baseline and just play from there and still pushing to the court.”
The victory was Kvitova’s 6th over a reigning World No 1, which ties her for 4th among active players.
Barty didn’t rue the loss too much.
“It’s been a very positive week, it really has, and tonight was no different,” Barty said. “It was an exceptional match.
“Obviously you look at a match and you debrief it to the nth degree, but I think another really great contest with Petra.
“I love testing myself against her and [it was] a match in which she played extremely well and took the match away from me in key moments.
“I think Petra was able to take it away from three at the 3-all game. From, I think it was 15-30, she went two return winners in a row and off of good first serves.
“I didn’t miss my spots, and you tip your hat. That’s high quality tennis and Petra is an exceptional athlete and an exceptional competitor and tennis player, and she showed that tonight why she’s a champion.”
Kvitova will play for her 29th title and first since last April while Sabalenka goes for her 6th after the Belarusian rolled past Kuznetsova, 6-4 6-3.
“I’m really happy to be in the final here, especially because it’s my first time here,” Sabalenka said.
“It’s really nice and I’m really happy with the level I’m playing right now and well, we’ll see what’s going to happen tomorrow, but for sure I will bring everything I have.”
Kvitova leads Sabalenka 2-1 in their head-to-head.
“It will be totally different. I think in this tournament,” said Kvitova. “I played more kind of tricky opponents, like with the slice and drop shots and high balls.
“And so maybe Jelena [Ostapenko] was kind of different, but it was so windy so it wasn’t really about the tennis anyway.
“This will be totally different opponent for me tomorrow, so I’m looking forward for that for sure. Enough of the slices from Ash today, so I’m glad I do have a little bit different opponent.
“It will be a lot of serve and return. It’s the first two shots which is going to decide the match, for sure.
“And we played a few times already, she beat me, I beat her. And yeah, we’ll see, it’s similar game, so who knows who is going to be lucky.”
Saturday’s championship match will be the fourth meeting between the two, who have not played in more than a year, with Kvitova having triumphed during her run to the title in Sydney, while Sabalenka’s victory came at the 2018 US Open.
If Kvitova wins the title, she will return to the Top 10 at World No 10, pushing out Naomi Osaka, while a loss will put the Czech at No 12.
Sabalenka will move to World No 12 should she finish as runner-up, and No 11 if she wins.
© Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images