Petra Kvitova delivered seven aces while posting a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 upset of World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty on Friday to reach the final of the Qatar Total Open at Doha.
It marks the sixth time the Czech star has defeated a World No. 1 in her career, according to the WTA. Kvitova, the eighth seed, willface ninth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in Saturday's title match while seeking her 28th career title.
Kvitova also halted a four-match losing streak against the top-seeded Barty in a match that took one hour, 52 minutes.
"It was kind of physical," Kvitova said afterward. "I think Ash started to play more slices in the beginning of the second set, so it took me awhile to get used to it and be back in my game with my aggressive game, which I tried to play in the first set.
"The match was pretty exhausting anyway, but I know that I can play those rallies every point, but if I have to, I'm really glad that I am able to do it."
It was a disappointing result for Barty, but she was pleased with the quality of her play.
"It was an exceptional match. Obviously you look at a match and you debrief it to the nth degree, but I think another really great contest with Petra," Barty told reporters. "I love testing myself against her and it was a match in where she played extremely well and took the match away from me in key moments.
"... Petra is an exceptional athlete and an exceptional competitor and tennis player, and she showed that tonight why she's a champion."
Sabalenka needed just 77 minutes to post a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
Sabalenka won eight of her 10 service games while reaching the title match in her first time playing in Doha. She is seeing her sixth career title.
"I'm really happy to be in the final here, especially because it's my first time here," Sabalenka said. "It's really nice and I'm really happy with the level I'm playing right now and well, we'll see what's going to happen tomorrow, but for sure I will bring everything I have."
Kvitova won two of the previous three meetings with Sabalenka but the two haven't played since Kvitova posted a straight-sets, opening-round win in Sydney nearly 14 months ago.
"This will be totally different opponent for me tomorrow, so I'm looking forward for that for sure," Kvitova said. "Enough of the slices from Ash today, so I'm glad I do have a little bit different opponent."
No. 7 Heather Watson fought off China's Xiyu Wang for a 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory to reach the final in Acapulco, Mexico.
Watson is the first woman from Great Britain to reach the singles final in Acapulco. Looking to win her first WTA title since 2016, she survived a see-saw tiebreaker to end the second set, ultimately converting her third match point.
Watson will face Canada's Leylah Fernandez, who downed home crowd favorite Renata Zarazua 6-3, 6-3 in the later semifinal. Fernandez broke Zarazua's service three times in each set.
--Field Level Media