Ash Barty proved a powerhouse on clay with Monday success in a showdown between the most recent pair of French Open champions at the Madrid Masters.
The Australian world No.1, who lifted the Paris title in 2019, defeated 2020 titleholder Iga Swiatek 7-5, 6-3 in the third round, running her current clay win streak to 14 straight.
The top seed trailed 3-0 in the opening set but was never in danger after closing that first-set gap.
Barty said she needed to adjust to the Swiatek game.
“It took me some time to get used to Iga’s weight of shot. Once I was able to do that, I became a lot more clear and was able to control the match a little bit
“it’s exciting to be again in the quarter-finals here. I’m still learning a lot about the conditions here, how dramatically they can change.
“I’m enjoying every time I get to step out on that court.”
The victory puts Barty into a match-up with a fellow grand Slam winner in Petra Kvitova.
The Czech ninth seed with two Wimbledon titles beat Russian Viktoria Kudermetova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and holds a 5-4 lead in the series.
Kvitova won their only previous match on clay, played at Roland Garros 2012.
But that is ancient history for Kvitova: “It was many, many years ago so I’m not counting then.
“She has a game for clay. She’s sliding, playing lots of slice. She likes clay a little bit more than me probably.
“Playing Ash, it’s a great challenge, a great matchup. I really will enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Main photo:- Ash Barty beating Iga Swiatek in Madrid – by WTATennis.com