February 28, 2020 / 7:08 PM / 4 months ago

Kvitova overcomes tenacious Barty to set up Sabalenka final in Doha

Tennis - WTA Premier 5 - Qatar Open - Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, Doha, Qatar - February 28, 2020 Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova in action during her semi final match against Australia's Ashleigh Barty REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

(Reuters) - Czech Petra Kvitova edged a seesaw battle with Australian world number one Ash Barty 6-4 2-6 6-4 at the Qatar Open on Friday to set up a title clash against Aryna Sabalenka in Doha.

Belarussian Sabalenka advanced to the 10th WTA final of her career with an impressive 6-4 6-3 victory over former world number two Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

Kvitova ended a run of four straight losses to Barty, including a quarter-final exit at last month’s Australian Open, to reach her 37th WTA career final.

Having exchanged breaks in the first three games of the semi-final, Kvitova settled down to build a 3-1 lead before fending off a couple of break points to claim the opening set.

Barty roared back in the second set, dropping just four points on her first serve and converting two break points to force a decider.

Despite conceding an early break, 2018 Doha champion Kvitova held her nerve to record her sixth career victory over an opponent ranked world number one.

Sabalenka attacked Kuznetsova’s serve with power and precision to earn three breaks in the opening set.

The ninth seed pressed home her advantage by winning the opening three games of the second set before serving out the match with a blistering forehand winner.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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