Australia’s Ash Barty was looking to go one better than in 2018 when she took on the Czech Republic player Petra Kvitova. The Australian had last year lost in straight sets to Angelique Kerber.
At this tournament, Barty had brushed aside some highly ranked opponents, including the world no. 1 Simona Halep to reach the final and was looking likely to claim her first WTA title on home soil.
Barty took the first set without facing a break point against her serve while being able to break Kvitova three times for a commanding 6-1 set win.
In the second set, Barty was playing with confidence before things started to unravel at 5-5. After a few errors, she was fighting to save serve at 15-40. Kvitova got the crucial break and then served out the set.
In the deciding third set, it was again Barty that got an early break and she held a 2-0 lead. Kvitova got back on track holding serve and then it was Barty facing a break point at 3-1. Kvitova was able to break and then the score quickly moved to 3-3.
Barty faced a triple break point at 0-40 in the ninth game, the Australian got to deuce before Kvitova earned another break point, another saved before Kvitova won the game to set herself up to serve for the title.
Barty was able to break back, that set continued what would be a run of four straight breaks to send the match into a tiebreaker.
With the title on the line, it was Kvitova that had the first mini-break for a 3-1 lead. Kvitova who played a semifinal that ended at 1 am Saturday morning was looking a bit distressed and she was bent over in pain, or through exhaustion, as Barty fought back to 3-3.
As an onlooker, you would have favoured Barty to win the title as she looked fresher that her opponent, however, the two-time Grand Slam champion dug deep to push out to 5-3, then 6-3 where she held 3 match points. It took just one before she was celebrating a hard-fought 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) win.
Kvitova was a late wild-card recipient and had a tough battle against the big-hitting Aryna Sabalenka in the opening round. She then had the first of her late nights out on the court when disposing of Su-Wei Hsieh in straight sets. That match ended at 12:09 am.
Next up for Kvitova was the defending champion, Angelique Kerber. In this Kerber had a break point for a 5-2 first set lead. The world no. 2 from Germany failed to convert and then from that point onwards, Kvitova won all but one of the next games.
Kvitova’s semifinal was played late on Friday and into the early hours of Saturday after a lengthy rain delay. Barty had earlier in the day defeated Kiki Bertens in a tough battle. Kvitova on the other hand easily defeated qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1, 6-2.
Both players now head down to Melbourne for the Australian Open where they will play round one matches on day one. Barty faces Thailand’s world no. 66 Luksika Kumkhum in the first-night session match while Kvitova takes on Slovakia’s world no. Magdalena Rybarikova in a not before 7:00 pm match on Melbourne Arena.