MELBOURNE, Australia -- World No. 1 Ash Barty has become the first homegrown woman in 36 years to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open after defeating seventh seed Petra Kvitova in a riveting quarterfinal on Rod Laver Arena.
Kvitova, the woman responsible for ending Barty's run in Melbourne last year en route to the final, threw everything at the crowd favourite in a high quality first set before Barty got on top in the second - the Queenslander winning the match 7-6(6), 6-2 in an hour and 44 minutes.
"I knew I had to bring my absolute best today against Petra," Barty said on court following the win. "In my eyes she's the perfect competitor, regardless of whether she wins or loses she's always got a big grin on her face. I absolutely love testing myself against her."
After being broken to love in just her second service game, courtesy of some fierce ball striking from the Czech, Barty reeled off nine straight points to get the opening set back on serve.
But the No. 1 seed found herself in another hole shortly after. Serving at 3-3 and down 0-40, Barty had to dig deep and stave off five break points in the game to hold on.
It turned out to be a crucial hold with neither player able to convert a break point for the rest of the set. After 62 minutes, it was six games apiece. Ninety-two points had been played, each player had won 46. It could not have been a more even set and a tiebreaker was required to decide it.
Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, had the first chance to snatch the set when she led 6-5 but some clutch serving from the crowd favourite offered up a set point of her own - one she converted as the match clock ticked over to 70 minutes.
With the first set in her pocket, Barty's confidence had grown and Kvitova's spirit had been broken. Barty raced out of the blocks in the second set, winning 14 of the first 20 points to break Kvitova twice. After 16 minutes she led 4-0.
Kvitova offered some resolve to win the next two games before being broken yet again. Barty returned to the court and served out the match, booking her place in the last four of her home Slam for the first time in her career and first time for an Australian since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
The match will be Kenin's first appearance in the final four at a major.
"She's having an incredible run," Barty said of Kenin. "I've had some tough matches against her. I'll need to get my running shoes on again."