Match of the Day: Ashleigh Barty vs. Petra Kvitova, Doha semifinals

Match of the Day: Ashleigh Barty vs. Petra Kvitova, Doha semifinals

After dropping their first four meetings, the world No. 1 looks to make it five consecutive wins over her left-handed opponent on Friday.

Slowly but surely, the student has become the master. After four straight losses to Petra Kvitova, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has reversed the order and leveled their head-to-head series at four wins apiece. On Friday, the Czech will look to stop her skid when the two square off in Doha's second semifinal.

Barty defeated Kvitova most recently in the quarterfinals of this year's Australian Open, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Perhaps the WTA's two classiest competitors, there are no secrets on the court anymore after the two played each other five times in 2019, though there is a tremendous mutual respect. 

“Petra always has a way of bringing out the best in me, she really does,” Barty said after defeating Kvitova last October in Beijing. 

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Aspiring players could do well to emulate both players’ competitive demeanor. If Kvitova, the eight time Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award winner would stop hogging all the trophies, Barty would surely have one by now. She certainly seems like the heir apparent for the prestigious honor. 

On the court, Petra will keep doing Petra things. Devastating lefty sliders are paired with pummeling groundstrokes taken uncomfortably early and an intimidating net presence. Barty will use her deft touch and feel to weather the Kvitova storm, something she’s gotten quite good at the past year. It’s important that Barty cracks a few backhands, both on the return and during the rally to mix things up. Barty can sometimes play too defensive for a player of her caliber. 

Although Barty has Kvitova’s number of late, this match is still a toss up. Their trending UTR is nearly identical, and despite being separated by ten spots in the rankings, they are equally matched. But the Aussie has demonstrated a consistent ability to crack the Kvitova code, and is poised to make it five wins in a row.