Barty dismisses Kvitova to win Red Group; awaits Halep-Pliskova winner

Barty dismisses Kvitova to win Red Group; awaits Halep-Pliskova winner

The world No. 1 advanced to the semifinals of the WTA Finals Shenzhen on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over the 2011 champion.

On the last day of round-robin play for the Red Group, Ashleigh Barty used her high tennis IQ to qualify for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen semifinals on Thursday. The world No. 1 took out Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 6-2, to secure the group win and hand Kvitova her seventh straight loss at the WTA’s year-end event.

“I felt like I executed really well tonight,” said Barty. “And I think overall I had to… I knew I had to come out and play aggressively and play to win. It was a really good match tonight and I’m really excited to still have another chance to play on this beautiful court.”

Aiming to rebound from her tough loss against Belinda Bencic, Barty immediately put pressure on Kvitova’s game, forcing the 29-year-old Czech to save two break points in the third game, before securing a break in the fifth game. Kvitova had a chance to retrieve the break right away but she squandered three opportunities, as her unpredictable forehand let her down. Four games later, the Aussie took the set from the two-time Wimbledon champion on her second set point.

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Riding the momentum, the reigning French Open champion put herself firmly in control as she mounted a big lead to go up 4-0 in the second set. Her ability to retrieve balls caused the 2011 champion a lot of trouble. It would have made sense for Kvitova to get coaching advice before things got out of hand, but she did not summon Jiri Vanek for a visit.

Those two breaks of serve were enough for Barty to close out the victory and claim the Red Group. The 23-year-old will meet the winner of Friday's match between Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep for a place in the championship match due to reigning champion Elina Svitolina having already cemented her place atop the Purple Group.

As for Kvitova, she wraps up her season ranked No. 6, one spot higher than last season.