From A Brutal Robbery To The Australian Open Semis
The story behind Petra Kvitova's win over Ash Barty is one of the great comeback stories in sport.
Czech tennis star Petra Kvitova is through to her first Grand Slam semi final since a brutal home invasion in 2016 left her with multiple lacerations on her left hand.
It was feared at the time that the left-hander may never return to tennis, but the two-time Wimbledon winner regained feeling in the hand within a few days and was back on the circuit in 2017. She even made the US Open quarter finals later that year.
But this is the first time she's back in the semis of a Major since the robbery, in one of the great comeback stories in tennis.
Read on for our full match report.
OUR MATCH REPORT
In two words: Czech mate.
Petra Kvitova, the 28-year-old two-time Wimbledon winner, was just too good for Aussie Ash Barty at Rod Laver Arena in the Australian Open quarter final, winning 6-1 6-4.
And you had to love how much it meant to her.
The Czech came into this match on a nine-match winning streak, and showed why she's been so hard to beat lately from the very first point.
"Kvitova does not like taking backhand down the line," British commentator Sam Smith said at 15-all in the second game of the first set.
And yet, the Czech two-time Wimbledon champ hit exactly that shot to perfection -- rather than her preferred cross-court backhand, before going on to break Barty's first service game and lead 2-0 early.
The Czech barely missed a shot early on, and soon led 3-0 although Barty did have a break point in that third game.
Barty finally got on the board to make it 3-1. And after that? The first set was all Kvitova.
Kvitova, Kvitova, Kvitova. She claimed the first set 6-1 in under half an hour. Power. Precision. Perfection.
Ash Barty's been a witness," Jim Courier said. Which summed things up pretty well.
The 15,000-strong packed house was out of the game too. Dylan Alcott called it right, as he's called things well all week.
Barty came out and won the first game of the second set, as she absolutely had to.
Games were on serve after that, as Barty started to play a bit more consistently. Kvitova was still hitting more winners but the Aussie was hanging in there.
Then at 4-4 in the second set, the decisive moment. Down 15-40 on serve, Barty blew it. She set the point up beautifully to put away an easy volley from the net, but hit it long. That really was disappointing and summed up the night.
Kvitova served for the match and made no mistake. She won 6-1 6-4. Barty wasn't terrible tonight but this match really was one way traffic.
"First of all, I'm sorry guys I beat Ashleigh, She's such a nice person," Kvitova told Nine's Jim Courier after the match.
OK we like you now Petra. You're forgiven. Almost. OK tears from Kvitova now. Yep, definitely forgiven. If Barty had to lose, we're glad it was to someone nice.
Ash Barty was looking chilled before her quarter final against Czech player Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open in Melbourne tonight.
It's the first Grand Slam quarter final appearance for the 22-year-old Queenslander, who is the last remaining Australian in either the men's or women's singles draw at the 2019 Open.
Kvitova, the 6th seed here, is a dual Wimbledon winner. But Barty, the 15th seed in this tournament, is a rising start in red hot form.
As our good mate Annie Kearney reported for 10 news First in Melbourne (below), Barty is the first Aussie woman through to the second week of the Open since Jelena Dokic in 2009.
Meanwhile, Barty herself said "her ears are ringing" from all the crowd support".
YOU GO, GIRL!
Ha! Now they're ringing some more.
We'll be right here updating the match as it unfolds.