It was the clash between the queen of the rankings and the best player in the tournament’s history. Ashleigh Barty, the world No. 1 justified her seeding by knocking out three-time Mutua Madrid Open champion Petra Kvitova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 48 minutes.
The win means the Australian is now in the #MMOPEN semi-finals for the first time, she will be bidding for her fourth final of the season.
Barty, who has only lost one match on clay all season -against Paula Badosa in Charleston- has a perfect 10-0 record against Top 20 players this year and she is still yet to taste defeat on the European clay swing, where she won both the singles and doubles titles at the Stuttgart WTA 500.
Barty stormed through the first set, flying out of the blocks to produce two breaks and quickly reach 5-0. The set was a masterclass from the Australian, who capitalised on Kvitova’s hesitation on serve and closed out the set in just half an hour. The Czech ninth seed rediscovered her delivery and also found something on the return. With a break in the second set, Kvitova took the initiative and levelled the match to take it to a decider.
There, Barty upped her game and used her backhand slice and knowhow to mix it up and break Kvitova to make it 3-0. The Australian had a point to make it 4-1 when receiving, but the three-time champion dug her heels in to recover from a tight spot and break Barty to love in the next game. However, the world No. 1 broke back and soon had the match wrapped up.
In the semis she will face Badosa, the first Spaniard to reach the penultimate round of the WTA 1000 in the Caja Mágica. The debutant beat Belinda Bencic 6-4, 7-5. The Catalonian has already beaten Barty on clay, can she do so again in Madrid or will the world number one stamp her authority?