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Kvitova holds off inspired Jabeur to clinch Doha quarterfinal meeting

Kvitova holds off inspired Jabeur to clinch Doha quarterfinal meeting

The Czech prevailed in two tiebreakers to reach the last four on Thursday, where she will take on world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.

Eighth seed Petra Kvitova dug deep and drew upon her wealth of tiebreak experience to punch her ticket to the semifinals of the Qatar Total Open in Doha on Thursday. The 11th-ranked Czech fended off inspired wild card Ons Jabeur, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), in an hour and 45 minutes.

The highest ranked Arab women in tennis history, 44th-ranked Jabeur was looking for her second straight Top 15 win, having ousted world No. 3 Karolina Pliskova in the previous round.

Down a double break at 4-1 in the first set, Jabeur—who had her right thigh heavily taped—reeled off four games in a row to take the lead for the first time in the match. The players traded breaks once more in the 11th and 12th games before reaching a tiebreaker, which Kvitova won.

The 25-year-old Tunisian answered back immediately, as she broke the two-time Wimbledon champion and then consolidated in the next game to take an early second-set lead. Despite being bothered by Jabeur’s flag-waving raucous fans, Kvitova managed to stay calm, breaking back in the sixth game. Mirroring the first set, the returner had the advantage. Jabeur broke for 6-5, but the Czech saved two set points and would close out another tiebreaker to advance to her second semifinal at the Premier 5 event.

For a spot in the championship match, Kvitova will play world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty. The reigning French Open champion topped two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza, 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-2, in one hour and 53 minutes. In the deciding set, Barty converted three of her four break points to win the pair's first encounter since 2017 Toronto. Barty defeated Kvitova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to even their head-to-head series to 4-4.

The other two semifinal spots were booked by Aryna Sabalenka, who rallied to top Zheng Saisai, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3; and former No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who upset fourth-seeded Belinda Bencic, 6-4, 6-4.