Emotional Kvitova reaches semifinals

Source:AFP Published: 2019/1/22 18:58:40

Czech star into last four at Slams for first time since 2016 knife attack

Petra Kvitova is interviewed by Jim Courier after winning her quarterfinal match against Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open on Tuesday in Melbourne. Photo: VCG

An emotional Petra Kvitova swept into her first Grand Slam semifinal Tuesday since a terrifying knife attack almost ended her career as the fairy-tale runs of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Danielle Collins continued at the Australian Open.

The Czech had not gone past the last eight at a major since a burglar slashed her left hand in December 2016, forcing her out of the game for six months and leaving her with lasting nerve damage in the fingers of her racquet hand.

But the eighth seed has bounced back and is on a sensational 10-match unbeaten streak after claiming the Sydney International warm-up title.

She proved too much for Ashleigh Barty, crushing the local hope 6-1, 6-4, and was in tears afterwards as she reflected on her long journey back to the top.

"Really, I didn't imagine to be back on this great stadium and play with the best," the two-time Wimbledon champion said. "It's great."

Kvitova will face unseeded American Collins in the semifinal on Thursday and she desperately wants to reach Saturday's decider. "I want it bad, that's right," Kvitova said. 

Collins, the world No.35, had never won a Grand Slam match before entering this year's tournament but she stunned three-time major champion and second seed Angelique Kerber in Round 4.

And the 25-year-old from Florida continued her Cinderella run by bouncing back spectacularly to down Russia's ­Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.

Collins, who has spent long stretches of her career playing small tournaments to build up her ranking points, was in big trouble after losing the first set to the world No.44.

But she fearlessly battled back into the match to again stamp her mark on the tournament.

"This has all been a really incredible experience," she said.

"This time last year I was playing a challenger [tournament] in Newport Beach. But, yeah, I think I'm really embracing it."

Greek sensation Tsitsipas was also living the dream after powering into the last four with a measured 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.

The 20-year-old, who ended Swiss great Roger Federer's tournament, became the youngest man to reach the semis at Melbourne Park since Andy Roddick in 2003 and the first player from Greece - man or woman - to get so far at a Grand Slam.  

Bautista Agut, seeded 22, acknowledged Tsitsipas was playing well, but with Nadal and Novak Djokovic still in the tournament he doesn't give him much chance of winning the title.

"Of course, he has a lot of time to improve, a lot of time to get enough experience to be in the finals of these tournaments," he said. "But here I think Rafa and Novak are my favorites."

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