By Ros Satar at the Shiseido WTA Finals 2019 in Shenzhen, China
- Ashleigh Barty  def. Petra Kvitova  6-4, 6-2
- Barty qualifies at the top of the group and faces the runner up from the Purple Group
SHENZHEN, CHINA – World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty cruised into her first WTA Finals semi-final and tops the Red group, while Belinda Bencic qualifies after Kiki Bertens retires injured.
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Ashleigh Barty  def. Petra Kvitova  6-4, 6-2
That Kvitova actually qualified with the strength of her early season – starting the year well (title in Sydney, Australian Open final, Dubai final) she started the clay court season with a win on the slick indoor clay of Stuttgart but there her spring and summer started to go wrong.
A grade two tear in her arm ruled her out of Roland Garros and she also exited Wimbledon a lot earlier than anticipated, and really only seemed to get her mojo back in the Asian swing. The slow surface never seemed to favour the rangy Czech and Barty was quick to punish a litany of errors from Kvitova throughout the match.
The first set saw Barty put Kvitova under pressure before the first sit-down, forcing her to save two set points, before the Aussie broke her the next time around. Although Kvitova had her chances straight away, she could not convert on four opportunities that came her way, allowing Barty to come through the first set with that single break advantage.
From there it was all plain sailing for the laid-back Aussie, who soared out to a 4-0 lead that Kvitova had no chance at all to even try and pull back.
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Kvitova: ‘Glad it’s over’ as tiring season comes to an end
The off-season now beckons for Kvitova, and a time for her to reflect on a season that started well and despite the injury woes saw her qualify once more for the finale.
She said: “I’m glad it’s over right now, for sure (smiling). It was mentally and physically pretty tiring, as every other season. Yeah, I mean, definitely was the highlight playing the final of a Grand Slam again. Being qualified here was great, too. I shouldn’t be that disappointed. But, you know, right now it’s not really easy to take it. Overall definitely I’m happy for everything.
‘I think it will be around two or three weeks (of not playing tennis), which I would like to [take off], and which I think it will be like. We are not playing Fed Cup final, which is one week extra. I need to work again for the next season.
“I’m sitting here talking about the next season already, which is weird. Yeah, I really need to just take time off from tennis and not think too much about it.”
Barty: Kvitova risks ‘worked in my favour’
Perhaps in an attempt to avoid leaving the group 0-3 for the second year in a row, Kvitova tried to mix things up a little with her serve to gain some favour on a court that has universally been labelled as slow.
Barty said: “I think against Petra, that’s a massive thing you have to do regardless of the pace of the court. I think probably my first time playing Petra indoors, as well, is a bit of a difference. I think I had to adjust and take some time to get used to her ball off the court and everything like that.
“But I was particularly happy with the way I was able to return tonight. I think Petra changed her serving spots to her usual kind of serving spots. I think she was trying to take a little bit more of a risk. That kind of worked in my favour a bit tonight. Really happy with how we were able to nudge in front early in both sets and keep the foot down.”
Barty qualifies top of the group and plays the winner of Karolina Pliskova & Simona Halep. Elina Svitolina will face Belinda Bencic in Saturday’s semi-finals, after Kiki Bertens had to retire injured in the second match.
The final round-robin singles matches will take place on Friday from 6:30pm (10:30am).
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