Only Petra Kvitova stands between Ash Barty and becoming Australia’s first WTA tournament winner on home soil in eight years at the Sydney International final.
No Australian women has won the Sydney, Brisbane or Hobart International since Jarmila Groth’s success in Tasmania in 2011, a drought Barty has the chance to end on Saturday evening.
The last Australian woman to triumph in Sydney was Alicia Molik in 2005.
Australia’s highest-ranked female player, Barty reached her second straight Sydney final on Friday when she came from a set down to beat Kiki Bertens 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 in her semifinal.
But after knocking off French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, world No.1 Simona Halep, and 12th-ranked Elise Mertens before Bertens, Barty’s run doesn’t get any easier in Kvitova.
The world No.8 hasn’t dropped a set in Sydney, and beat Barty in their most recent clash – the 2017 final of the Birmingham Classic.
“I remember that was one of Petra’s first tournaments back (following injuries sustained in a knife attack),” Barty said.
“You know, it was amazing to have her back. In that final I didn’t do much wrong at all. She just played the Petra way, particularly in the third, and got the ball rolling.”
“I think every single person in the locker room is happy she’s back on the courts with us now.”
Kvitova powered through Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1 6-2 on Friday night, but Barty does have some advantage in terms of rest.
The Czech’s last two matches have both finished late due to rain delays, with Friday night’s not beginning until 11.40pm.
“Ash is great … she’s very talented player with great touch. It will be a nice one tomorrow, it’s a final, so whatever happens, happens,” Kvitova said.
“I think she’s really in good form, she’s playing so well here in the tournament as well. Will be a nice one.
“I will need to find a space to put the balls and I can just play aggressive, that’s what I’m playing.”
In comparison, world No.15 Barty has had two afternoon matches on Thursday and Friday and been given the chance to rest up.
“I feel great,” Barty said.
“That’s why we put in all the work to make sure we pull up well afterwards and to have that longevity throughout the whole season, not just in the early parts of the week.”