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Kvitova vs Barty WTA Sydney Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Kvitova looks to maintain perfect record over Barty in Sydney final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 11 Jan 2019
  • Petra Kvitova vs Ashleigh Barty is live from Sydney on Saturday, 12 January from 5:00pm local time/ 6:00am GMT
  • Kvitova won their two previous meetings
Petra Kvitova. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitova goes for her second Sydney title on Saturday, but she faces a stiff challenge from home favourite, Ashleigh Barty, who is looking to go one step better than last year's runner-up finish.

It is often said that when Petra Kvitova gets on a roll, she is almost unstoppable, and she appears to have hit that form this week in Sydney, getting better and better as she has moved through the draw. Following her ordinary showing in Brisbane in the first week of the year, when she stumbled through a three-set win over Danielle Collins before being outhit by Anett Kontaveit in the second round, Kvitova accepted a wildcard into Sydney, and she has been making the best use of that opportunity.

The powerful Czech has been confronted with all forms of opposition this week, but she has passed every test so far, taking down hard-hitting Shenzhen champion, Aryna Sabalenka in the opening round, before subsequent wins over the crafty Su-Wei Hsieh, the durable Angelique Kerber and Aliaksandra Sasnovich. She has been particularly devastating in the last two rounds, hitting through Kerber 6-4 6-1, before blasting out Sasnovich 6-1 6-2 to earn revenge for her Wimbledon loss to the Belarusian.

The match against Sasnovich didn't start until almost midnight local time, but Kvitova seemed keen to make up for the five-hour delay, racing to the win in an hour and six minutes.

The left-hander struck 22 winners in the match, while she was again very secure on serve, winning 81% of her first serve points and a healthy 56% on her second serve. She broke the Sasnovich serve four times, and saved all the three break points against her serve, all of them in a crucial fifth game when Sasnovich threatened to break back in the opening set. The world No. 33 stuck with Kvitova through the first four games of the second set, but Kvitova accelerated away from 2-2, winning four games in a row to complete the win.

Her form is ominous heading into the Australian Open, where she will attempt to address her poor recent record at the majors. Despite winning five WTA titles last season and breaking back into the top 10, Kvitova was a mere 4-4 at the majors, with her best results being third-round showings at Roland Garros and the US Open. She hasn't made a semifinal since her 2014 Wimbledon success, and has reached just two quarters finals in her 16 Grand Slam appearances since then. Is this the month when the left-hander reestablishes herself as a Grand Slam force?

Before she fully turns her attentions to Melbourne, there is the small matter of claiming a second Sydney title, but she will have to get through Australia's No. 1, Ashleigh Barty to add to her 2015 success.

Ashleigh Barty. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
While Kvitova had little problems in seeing off Sasnovich, Barty was made to work a lot harder in her own semi-final against Kiki Bertens, withstanding 15 aces and 41 winners from her Dutch opponent to dig out a 6-7 6-4 7-5 victory after two hours and 18 minutes.

World No. 9, Bertens recovered from 1-4 down in the opening set tie break, winning the final six points to take the first set, but Barty bagged the solitary break of the second set at the midway point to force a final set. In keeping with the first two sets, the decider was very tight, with the first ten games going with serve, but Barty found the breakthrough in the eleventh game before serving out the match to love for her seventh top-ten win.

Two of those top-ten victories have come this week, as she had earlier defeated world No. 1, Simona Halep before Friday's victory over the ninth-ranked Bertens. Her other wins this week have been against Jelena Ostapenko in the first round, and Elise Mertens in the quarter finals.

Barty's Sydney run is a continuation of the form she showed at the Hopman Cup last week, where she won two of her three singles matches, beating Garbine Muguruza and Alize Cornet, before losing to Angelique Kerber. She had also been beaten by Kerber at last year's Sydney final, but she recovered from that minor setback to compile a very consistent year, winning titles in Birmingham and Zhuhai, and reaching semifinals in Montreal and Wuhan, as well as the fourth round of the US Open. 

Currently at a career-high ranking of No. 15, she can climb as high as 12th if she scores her first ever victory over Kvitova on Saturday.

Barty has got the tools to make life difficult for Kvitova, especially the slice backhand to mix up the pace and take ball out of Kvitova's strike zone, but Kvitova is serving and hitting the ball so well at the moment, making it extremely tough to gain a foothold against her. The two-time Wimbledon champion looks set to soil Barty’s Sydney party, and claim her second Sydney crown.

Petra Kvitova vs Ashleigh Barty is live from Sydney on Saturday, 12 January from 5:00pm local time/ 6:00am GMT

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Kvitova vs Barty WTA Sydney Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Kvitova looks to maintain perfect record over Barty in Sydney final

Petra Kvitova takes on Ashleigh Barty in the final of the Sydney International on Saturday. Can Kvitova claim a second title at the tournament? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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