Ash Barty will line up in a Madrid Masters semi-final against the pride of Spain after winning a Grand Slam struggle on Wednesday over three-time champion Petra Kvitova.
The world No. 1 Australian beat the Czech double Wimbledon winner 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to next play record-setter Paula Badosa, first Spanish woman to ever reach the local semis since the WTA came on board here in 2009.
Ther 62nd-ranked wild card Badosa put out Swiss Belinda Bencic in their quarter-final 6-4, 7-5.
Barty and Badosa have a history, with the Spaniard winning their match-up in Charleston a month ago.
Barty’s clay win streak now stands at 15 straight, with a 24-3 season record and a 5-5 mark with Kvitova.
The Australian has also been untouchable in three-set contests, winning 11 of 12 this season.
The winner said a break for 2-0 in the final set was the spark she needed to finish the one hour, 50-minute victory.
“It was important for me to manufacture a break and find a way to get back into the match.”
The top seed was competing in daytime for the first time this week: “The sun even got in my way at one point,” she said.
“But it was nice to play under bright blue skies. Anytime you can play clay tennis in the sun, it adds another element, since the court gets quicker.
“It was nice to play in a different situation, it’s almost a different court when the sun is out.”
Badosa has now reached a third semi-final of the season and is expecting a new look from Barty compared with their previous meeting in the spring.
“She’s the No.1 in the world and now she knows me. No. 1 players don’t like to make mistakes two times in a row,” the Spaniard said…
“I for sure expect a tough match and completely different to Charleston.”
Badosa called herself “nervous” in her win over Bencic, a former Top 5 contender.
“Sometimes these matches are a little bit tricky when you played her two, three weeks ago (a month ago in Charleston) and you think you have that opportunity to make a semi-final.
“I was quite nervous, but I’m quite happy that I could control all the nerves and I could play my game quite well.”