Sixth seed Petra Kvitova reached her first Grand Slam semi-final since being stabbed in a knife attack as she beat Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open. The two-time Wimbledon champion, 28, overpowered her Australian opponent in a 27-minute first set, on her way to a 6-1 6-4 victory in Melbourne.
Barty, 22, provided resistance in the second, Kvitova saving two break points before winning the last three games. “I did not imagine playing at this stage again,” said a tearful Kvitova. Barty was bidding to become the first Australian to reach the last four since Wendy Turnbull 35 years ago. Czech Kvitova will play unseeded Danielle Collins in the last four on Thursday after the American beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6 7-5 6-1 to reach her first major semi-final.
Kvitova’s victory also means Simona Halep, who lost in the last 16 to Serena Williams on Monday, will see her 48-week reign as world number one ended when the tournament finishes. Kvitova is currently projected to take over from Halep, although Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina or Karolina Pliskova could also still claim the top spot if they continue their progress in Melbourne.