Barty sets up Kvitova semi-final after downing Muguruza in Doha

(Reuters) – World number one Ash Barty eased into the semi-finals of the Qatar Open with a gritty 6-1 6-7(4) 6-2 victory over Spanish 11th seed Garbine Muguruza on Thursday.

The Australian will meet two-times Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the next round.

Barty and Kvitova have met on eight previous occasions and are tied on four wins apiece, though Barty has won her last four meetings with the Czech, including in the quarter-finals of this year’s Australian Open.

The Australian stormed out of the blocks against this year’s Australian Open runner-up Muguruza, racing through the first set in 25 minutes without facing a break point, but the Spaniard sprang to life in the second set.

She broke Barty’s serve for the first time in the match but the Australian broke back to force a tiebreak, which the 26-year-old Muguruza controlled.

The Spaniard raced into a 5-0 lead in the tiebreak and quelled a Barty fightback from behind the baseline to send the match to a deciding set.

Barty saved an early break point in the third and broke Muguruza’s serve for a 3-1 lead. The pair exchanged service breaks and Muguruza, who made 30 unforced errors compared to Barty’s 18, found herself serving to stay in the match while trailing 5-2.

Barty rallied from 40-15 down to break her opponent for the sixth time, claiming the win as the Spaniard sent a forehand wide.

Kvitova beat Tunisian Ons Jabeur 7-6(2) 7-6(4) earlier in the day.

The Czech, who was champion in Doha in 2018, was pushed hard by Jabeur, who played with her thigh heavily strapped to protect an injured hamstring.

Ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka beat China’s Zheng Saisai 3-6 7-6(2) 6-3 and will meet unseeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second semi-final.

Kuznetsova hit 39 winners en route to upsetting Swiss fourth seed Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-4.

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