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28 Jan, 2020 09:27

Australian Open 2020: Ash Barty batters Petra Kvitova to power into Melbourne semis (VIDEO)

Australian Open 2020: Ash Barty batters Petra Kvitova to power into Melbourne semis (VIDEO)

Australian No. 1 seed Ash Barty avenged her quarter-final defeat to Petra Kvitova in last year's tournament by returning the favor in Tuesday's 2020 rematch, defeating the Czech in straight sets to reach the Australian Open semis.

Barty was hammered 6-1, 6-4 by Kvitova at the same stage of the tournament last year as the Czech went all the way to the final. But this time it was Barty who had the upper hand throughout as she turned the tables on her rival to reach the final four in Melbourne.

Roared on by a supportive crowd at the Rod Laver Arena, Barty battled back and forth with Kvitova in a tight, tense opening set that went all the way to a tiebreak, which the Aussie won.

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The euphoria of taking that crucial opening set took over in the second stanza as Barty hit top form to dominate Kvitova and blast her way into the semi-finals, 7-6, 6-2.

"It's been absolutely incredible, I knew I had to bring my absolute best against Petra," said Barty after her victory.

"I think Petra, in my eyes, is the perfect competitor.

"Regardless of whether she wins or loses she's always got a big grin on her face.

"I absolutely love testing myself against her."

Despite dominating the second set, Barty had to overcome a brief wobble when she faced two break points while serving for the match. But, in a display of championship form, she then smashed four first-serves, back to back, with an emphatic ace to finish as the Australian crowd rose as one to hail their hero, who became the first Australian female player to reach the semis since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

She will face America's No. 14 seed Sofia Kenin, who defeated Tunisia's Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day to punch her ticket to the semis.

"Obviously she's having an incredible run, she's really developed her game over the last 12-18 months," said Barty when asked about the Moscow-born American.

"It's about me trying to get my running shoes on again.

"I'm going to have nothing but a massive smile on my face when I walk out here on this beautiful court."