Barty, Kvitova through to Australian Open quarter-finals

MELBOURNE, Jan 26 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 1/26/2020 1:01:30 PM IST

Top seed and home hope Ashleigh Barty survived a scare to battle into the Australian Open quarter-finals in three sets on Sunday.

The world number one beat American 18th seed Alison Riske 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 and next plays two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, her opponent at the same stage last year.
Barty, named Young Australian of the Year on Saturday, was broken by the 29-year-old Riske but wasted little time in hitting back for a 4-2 lead.
Barty nailed the first set in 34 minutes on her second set point when Riske shot weakly into the net.
The American had beaten Barty in both their previous meetings, the latest coming at Wimbledon in the fourth round last year.
And the crowd fell quiet in the second set as Barty - who once gave up tennis for professional cricket - racked up 12 unforced errors.
Riske, whose previous best Grand Slam performance was reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year, wrapped up the second set in 27 minutes to leave Rod Laver Arena stunned.
They went to a decider and it was the French Open champion Barty who drew first blood, breaking for a 3-1 lead, but Riske broke back when the Australian planted a backhand wide.
Barty, unflappable in her title charge up until now, kept making errors.
She put a straightforward forehand long and Riske was level again at 4-4. Barty then gathered herself to hold serve. Riske was serving to stay in the tournament - and she lost her nerve at the fatal moment, gifting Barty victory with a double-fault on match point.
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova compared the atmosphere created by Greek Maria Sakkari’s supporters on Rod Laver Arena to “a soccer match” but cut through the noise and battled back from a set down to reach the quarter-finals.
After Sakkari rode that boisterous support to a first set tiebreak win, Czech seventh seed Kvitova came firing back to clinch a quarter-final place with the 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2 victory.
Sakkari, 24, had never been in the fourth round of a Grand Slam before but had won the last two of her three previous matches against Kvitova, all of which were played last year. She broke early but blew her first chance to seal the opening set when she lost serve leading 5-4, but made up for it in the tiebreak when Kvitova wasted an opportunity to go 3-0 up.
Both players lost their serving rhythm in the second set with Kvitova dropping serve twice but also breaking Sakkari on four occasions, the last of which when the Greek double-faulted on set point.
Sakkari’s shoulders appeared to sag during the set and she frequently argued with her support team sitting courtside.
Kvitova jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the decider then let her emotions show for the first time in the fifth game, a bellow of celebration coming after a forehand winner put her 4-1 ahead.

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