Barty beaten by 'braver' rival in Qatar semis


Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic celebrates beating Ashleigh Barty of Australia during Day 6 of the WTA Qatar Total Open

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Ashleigh Barty has suffered a 6-4 2-6 6-4 three-sets defeat to Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open.

Kvitova resumed what is arguably the best rivalry on the WTA Tour at the moment against world No.1 Barty, halting a four-match losing run to the Australian star.

The eighth-seeded Czech now takes on Aryna Sabalenka in a big-hitting final on Saturday in Doha.

Kvitova had won her first four encounters against Barty but the Queenslander turned the tables to win four in a row, including taking revenge in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park last month.

Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic celebrates beating Ashleigh Barty of Australia during Day 6 of the WTA Qatar Total Open

Having exchanged breaks in the first three games of the semi-final, Kvitova settled down to build a 3-1 lead before fending off a couple of break points to claim the opening set.

Barty roared back in the second set, dropping just four points on her first serve and converting two break points to force a decider.

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Despite conceding an early break, 2018 Doha champion Kvitova held her nerve to record her sixth career victory over an opponent ranked world No.1 as she reached her 37th WTA career final.

"It's been a very positive week, it really has, and tonight was no different. 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," Barty said.

"I love testing myself against her and [it was] a match in where she played extremely well and took the match away from me in key moments."

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Kvitova revealed the tactic that helped her defeat Barty.

"I pushed myself a lot to go more deeper to the court, not to flying back on the Qatar sign," Kvitova said after the match.

"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…I did have chances in the last meetings with her as well, but today I was just maybe…braver and that's how it is."

Earlier, Belarussian Sabalenka advanced to the 10th WTA final of her career with an impressive 6-4 6-3 victory over former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Sabalenka attacked Russian Kuznetsova's serve with power and precision to earn three breaks in the opening set.

The ninth seed pressed home her advantage by winning the opening three games of the second set before serving out the match with a blistering forehand winner.

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