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So, Ashleigh Barty finally gets her victory over Petra Kvitová, for a first time in five attempts. And well deserved it is too. Kvitová may have slipped away in that final set after seemingly suffering with breathing difficulties, but Barty was there and good enough to take full advantage. She ground Kvitová down and showed remarkable spirit to recover from losing that second set. And now she is officially a top 10 player. What a remarkable achievement for the woman who only returned to the game three years ago. Fully deserved. And there is the tantalising possibility of a Miami Open crown too.

That’s all from me, until next time.

Here’s Barty: “Petra’s someone I respect most on tour. She’s an absolute champion. It’s always a real pleasure to play her. I had to try to take her serve away from her as much as possible. I thought we did that really well today. I’m really pleased.”

Anett Kontaveit awaits in the semi-final: “She’s having a hell of a week. She’s playing some great tennis. It’s a pretty fresh match, we haven’t played each other for a long time.”

Third set: Kvitová* 6-7, 6-3, 2-6 Barty (*denotes server): A couple of wayward groundstrokes makes Kvitová’s task even more difficult and when she returns into the net on the third point of this game, Barty has three chances to claim the match. She needs just one! Kvitová double faults and Barty is through! A fantastic achievement from the Australian!

Third set: Kvitová 6-7, 6-3, 2-5 Barty* (*denotes server): Blink and you miss it! Barty is storming towards the Miami Open semis – and a place in the top 10 – after a rapid-fire service game, her most comfortable of the entire match. And what a time to produce it! She’s a game away now from registering her first win over Kvitová at the fifth time of asking. Can she keep her cool?

Third set: Kvitová* 6-7, 6-3, 2-4 Barty (*denotes server): It’s now Barty’s turn to bring up three break points as Kvitová crumbles! A wild forehand at 15-40 gives Australia’s No 1 another break and, crucially, a two-game advantage as we approach squeaky-bum time in this third set!

Third set: Kvitová 6-7, 6-3, 2-3 Barty* (*denotes server): Can Barty take advantage now? No she can’t! She falls to 0-40 and despite saving the first break point, a double fault follows to gift Kvitová what could prove to be a crucial break in the context of this match. And still there is very little to separate these two players as we head into the small hours of the Miami morning.

Third set: Kvitová* 6-7, 6-3, 1-3 Barty (*denotes server): Kvitová had a few blasts on the inhaler at the changeover, which seems to have helped her. She manages to hold serve and win her first game this set, sealing it with an ace down the T.

Third set: Kvitová 6-7, 6-3, 0-3 Barty* (*denotes server): Kvitová continues to play on, as Barty confirms that break and goes three games to the good. Kvitová will get seen to at the break now, at least by her coach and possibly by the doctor too. But what a great chance for Barty now.

Third set: Kvitová* 6-7, 6-3, 0-2 Barty (*denotes server): What a game by Barty! She gains the upper hand in this final set, securing the break with a glorious lob! Kvitová’s really struggling now, she has to pause to catch her breath. With the game done, the umpire calls for a medic – Kvitova suffers from asthma, so needs to be careful here.

Third set: Kvitová 6-7, 6-3, 0-1 Barty* (*denotes server): There’s barely anyone left in the stadium to witness this one, and given the nearly non-existent atmosphere – and the late hour – it must make for an odd experience for the players. Barty keeps her composure to kick off this set, and when she seals the hold, barely a sound comes from the stands. It’s all a bit weird, like a practice match in some ways.

Second set: Kvitová* 6-7, 6-3 Barty (*denotes server): Barty delivers a brilliant backhand overhead volley down the line to level at 30-30 before Kvitová is given a time violation warning. No matter, Barty gifts set point to the Czech, hitting a regulation forehand into the net, and Kvitová ensures this match is going to a deciding third set!

Second set: Kvitová 6-7, 5-3 Barty* (*denotes server): Barty hangs in there for now. Has she got one more big effort in her to break again? It’s just gone midnight in Miami.

Second set: Kvitová* 6-7, 5-2 Barty (*denotes server): Kvitová pulls a backhand right out of the top drawer to move to game point and when Barty can only find the net with a forehand on the next point, it looks like the Czech is going to force a deciding set. The Queenslander will now serve to stay in the second set.

Second set: Kvitová 6-7, 4-2 Barty* (*denotes server): And so the pendulum swings once again, this time in favour of Kvitová. Barty has her chances to pull level at 3-3 but she fails to capitalise and the Czech opens up a two-game lead.

Second set: Kvitová* 6-7, 3-2 Barty (*denotes server): Barty’s right back in this set! She breaks back and we’ll be back on serve should she be able to hold the next game. She’s done an excellent job of blunting Kvitová’s early set charge.

Second set: Kvitová 6-7, 3-1 Barty* (*denotes server): Barty delivers a glorious backhand slice – that bounces away from Kvitová just as she thought she might be able to reach it – to gain some confidence, and it shows as she goes on to hold serve without fuss and ensure she stays in with a sniff of winning this match in two sets.

Second set: Kvitová* 6-7, 3-0 Barty (*denotes server): Kvitová confirms that break of serve, not easily – Barty shows some moment of resistance – but comfortably enough. Certainly, the scoreboard shows she’s dominant this set.

Second set: Kvitová 6-7, 2-0 Barty* (*denotes server): Kvitová gleefully takes advantage of a slightly shanked overhead smash by Barty and she seems to gain some kind of inspiration from that. She’s certainly striking the ball very well so far this set. A big forehand winner brings up break point and she needs no further invitation. The Czech is roaring along this second set!

Second set: Kvitová* 6-7, 1-0 Barty (*denotes server): Oh, lovely stuff to kick off the second set by Barty, who has Kvitová running all over the baseline. The Czech recovers well though and claims a game that could prove important in the overall scheme of things. She needed to get over the disappointment of losing the first-set tie-break immediately. And she did.

First set tie break: Kvitová 6-8 Barty: Kvitová has a great chance to bring up set point but she can only find the net from close range! Instead it’s Barty who has set point, albeit on Kvitová’s serve. The Czech’s first serve is out and you can feel the tension ramp up and on the second Barty takes advantage! The Australian, who has never beaten Kvitová before, is a set up!

First set tie break: Kvitová 6-6 Barty: Barty uses her serve to good effect to draw within a point of the Czech, before Kvitová’s radar goes awry and would you know it, she’s level at 5-5! Kvitova brings up set point though, yet she can’t seal the deal and Barty levels at 6-6!

First set tie break: Kvitová 5-2 Barty: Oof, Kvitová appears to flick the switch and up her power game, winning back-to-back point thanks to some big hitting. Barty does well to stay on her heels on the next point, but the Australian goes long and she’s got her work cut out to stay in this set now.

First set tie break: Kvitová 2-1 Barty: Barty serves first, and holds, before Kvitová finds the baseline to level at 1-1 and then plays a lovely point that she wins with a big reach and delicate touch at the net. Barty applauds.

First set: Kvitová* 5-6 Barty (*denotes server): Kvitová gets herself into a good position at 30-0 but consecutive unforced errors from the Czech ramp up the pressure on her. A massive point follows… and Kvitová double faults! She saves the set point though, advancing to the net well and finishing off the point, before a monstrous forehand winner brings up game point. Barty goes long, and we’ll have a tie-break to settle this first set.

First set: Kvitová 5-6 Barty* (*denotes server): The quality of Kvitova’s return of serve is better at the moment but she’s off on some of her shot-making. But Barty gives her opponent no chance with an ace down the T at 30-all – that’s her second of the night. A ripping winner next up forces deuce though and we get to see that familiar Kvitová celebration for the first time tonight – the clenched fist accompanied by a scream of delight. Barty diffuses that passion as quick as it appears though, as she readjusts well on a net cord to place a winner back past her opponent and again heap the pressure on the Czech.

First set: Kvitová* 5-5 Barty (*denotes server): Kvitová knows she has to hold to stay in the opening set but she fires her 16th unforced error of the match on the opening point. Barty then tries to get cute with a pair of drop shots, the second of which Kvitová is all over like a rash. The Czech uses that as a springboard to go on and close the game, and level at give games-all. Nothing to split this pair so far, at least on the scoreboard.

First set: Kvitová 4-5 Barty* (*denotes server): Barty, in contrast, serves up her third double fault of the match to put her on the back foot from the outset in this game. A couple of loose Kvitová shots let her off the hook though and by the time she has game point, her serve is back firing on all cylinders. Kvitová can’t return it and Barty noses ahead once more. Now would be a pretty good time for the Australia to break again.

First set: Kvitová* 4-4 Barty (*denotes server): A couple of unforced errors, one from each player, kick off this game before Kvitová displays exactly what she’s capable of with a huge serve that Barty only just manages to return before seeing the ball blasted back past her as the Czech finishes off at the net. More strong serving follows and an un-returnable serve at 40-15 completes the game.

First set: Kvitová 3-4 Barty* (*denotes server): Barty is really showing what she’s made of here. She could easily have been right up against it a game ago, but that break of serve and now this, another competently held service game, has her back in the lead. Impressive resilience rom Ash, but we’ve come to expect that from her.

First set: Kvitová* 3-3 Barty (*denotes server): Petra looks pumped here as she high-steps back onto court at the beginning of sixth game. She’s really hit the ground running and will look to wrap up this first set as quickly as possible now. But Barty’s not going to just stand aside, and despite an ace and a perfectly-executed overhead smash at the net, the Australian manages to force deuce and then a break point! And she takes it! That could well take some of the wind out of Kvitová’s sails.

First set: Kvitová 3-2 Barty* (*denotes server): Oh no, this doesn’t look good for Barty, as Kvitová ups her level to bring up two break points. And she only needs one of them to register the first break of this match. Barty looks a bit shellshocked, such has been the Czech’s fast start since resuming play.

First set: Kvitová* 2-2 Barty (*denotes server): Never thought I’d see this, but Kvitová resumes this match with the ball in hand! Toot toot! The court is dry as a bone thanks to the hard work of the squeegee-ers and blowers and Kvitová takes advantage of her serve to level at 2-2, sealing the game with a supremely-struck forehand winner.

Please don’t rain again. Please don’t rain again. Please don’t rain again. Please don’t rain again.

It’s been nearly two hours since they were last out on court. Amazing really. We’ve got pretty much the whole match still to come. Stick with us!

Wait! Stop press! They’re back out on court! And it looks like we’re going to get back underway soon. Thank goodness for that. Smiles from both players as they meet the umpire once again at the net. The state of play is explained to them (I’d also forgotten – it’s 2-1 Barty, with Kvitová 30-15 up on her service game) and they’ll have a five-minute re-warm-up before we get started.

There is still no official word on what is happening with the Kvitová-Barty match. It seems they will be back out, once the court is dry enough to play on. Obviously, player safety is of paramount importance, and they won’t be allowing them anywhere near the court as long as its too slippy to play on.

There is plenty of chat on Twitter centred around the fact there is no roof at Hard Rock Stadium, and why such a big tournament isn’t held at a venue that can cope with inclement weather in a region has a tropical monsoon climate. Hard Rock Stadium is, of course, an NFL venue (no roof needed) that has hosted five Super Bowls. The Miami Open moved there this year having previously been held at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne (also no roof).

Then there are the suggestions that rain covers are used, rather than relying on the enormous hair dryers and squeegees currently being employed.

Bad news coming through for those on the ground wanting to see Roger Federer in action – the Swiss master’s match with Daniil Medvedev has been postponed due to the weather and will be played tomorrow afternoon local time. I *think* Barty and Kvitova will be back to finish tonight though.

There could well be some action again soon… the blowers and moppers have done their job and apparently play will get under way shortly.

It’s approaching 10pm in Miami and the Open’s official Twitter account informs us the court “no longer looks like a lake”. Meanwhile, we’ve moved on from the sailing on the telly to a kind of life and times docco about Shane Warne, via some Bundesliga football.

There is a roof on the stadium in Miami, but it’s just a “partial” one and cannot be closed. More of a sun shade, rather than something designed to keep the rain out, I imagine.

9:35 update:

The squeegees and the blowers (weird band name tbh) are on Stadium Court working their magic.

The Miami Open reports that it’s still raining (thanks), but not as hard as earlier. “Decision makers are currently meeting” apparently. Let’s hope for good news.

A weather update, from the horse’s mouth:

We are not meteorologists so here is an ~actual~ meteorologist: https://t.co/1xOb4cQYWA

Still no sign of the players on court. Craig Gabriel reports it’s a bit wet. Isn’t Florida supposed to be the Sunshine State? Just saying.

Barty, still just 22 remember, is making her first appearance in the last eight of a WTA premier mandatory event tonight. It may not be a grand slam, but it’s the closest thing to one. And it may not be that long before Barty makes a breakthrough at a major, as Linda Pearce wrote last year:

In the more than three decades since Pat Cash’s famous 1987 Wimbledon triumph, Australia has had eight changes of prime minister but just three grand slam singles champions: Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur. Next year, Tennis Australia’s head of women’s professional tennis, Nicole Pratt, believes Ashleigh Barty is capable of becoming the fourth.

Related: Ash Barty tipped to join exclusive tennis grand slam club | Linda Pearce

One of this pair’s previous four meetings came earlier this year at the Australian Open. In case you’ve forgotten how that one ended, here’s Kevin Mitchell’s match report from Melbourne Park.

The 28-year-old Kvitova, one of the nicest people in tennis, is in her first semi-final here in seven years, after killing Bambi – the hometown favourite, Ashleigh Barty – 6-1, 6-4.

Related: Petra Kvitova beats home favourite Barty to enter Australian Open last four

Still no return to the court yet.

The implications of winning this match for Barty’s world ranking have been mentioned, but let’s not forget what this tournament means for Kvitová. If she beats Barty, and goes on to lift the trophy, she’ll claim the world No 1 ranking for the first time. And that really would complete the most remarkable of comebacks.

Related: Petra Kvitova: tennis star tells Czech court of knife attack

The TV station which was showing the match appears pretty confident the rain will be around for a bit, as they’ve cut and are now showing some mad-looking sailing action instead.

Very frustrating for players, fans and livebloggers alike. Hopefully the players will be back on court soon. In the meantime, here’s what happened to Novak Djokovic earlier on, courtesy of Reuters:

A tenacious Roberto Bautista Agut battled back to beat world No 1 Novak Djokovic 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 and advance to the quarter-finals as the Spaniard claimed his second win over the Serb this year.

Six-times champion Djokovic blasted the 22nd seed off the court in the opening set but Bautista Agut grew more aggressive in the second, stepping in to take his second serves early and baiting his opponent into extended rallies.

Related: Kyle Edmund out of Miami Open after climax marred by rogue crowd call

While we wait for the rain to clear, the TV director is having fun focusing on members of the crowd and their methods of staying dry. A massive umbrella takes the prize, but also a special mention for the upturned matchday program over one bloke’s head. The players are going to head back into the changing rooms as “play is suspended” is called over the mike. “A little bit of lightning” is around, apparently.

First set: Kvitová* 1-2 Barty (*denotes server): The umpire reckons it won’t be long before they can go back on, but for now, they’ll remain seated.

First set: Kvitová* 1-2 Barty (*denotes server): The rain isn’t forcing the players off court just yet, and they’re back to contest this fourth game of the first set. Kvitová ramps up her service game and takes a 30-15 lead before… rain. Off they go, up go the brollies and the plastic ponchos in the stands. Very frustrating for the players at this point. Neither is able to really find a rhythm so far.

First set: Kvitová 1-2 Barty* (*denotes server): Barty’s up and running quickly, sliding across the court to make a return back across Kvitová. But at 30-30 the rain starts again. Oh dear, this is really disrupting the flow of play. Barty quickly serves out, finishing with the first ace of this encounter, and they’ll have a sit down. Let’s see what happens with this weather…

Barty and Kvitová are having a bit of a laugh with chair umpire Julie Kjendlie as they suggest they move to another court. Which is strange, because it’s not like it won’t be raining elsewhere. Anyway, the floor driers are hard at work with their towels, trying to keep the court dry. Good work all round, because it looks like we’re ready to get back under way. Barty is serving, remember, 0-15 down.

While we’re waiting, a little more from Nick Kyrgios now, following his earlier defeat during which he was heckled by some fans in the stands.

“They paid money to see me play and they just screamed out ridiculous things, and I’m just not going to take it anymore,” Kyrgios said. “I played for two hours and 20 minutes, and the guy yells at me: ‘Play some tennis!’

“I’m not going to take it, so I just said ‘F you’ to him. Probably not needed but at that time I’d been competing and in the heat of the moment, and it’s not what you want to hear.”

First set: Kvitová 1-1 Barty* (*denotes server): Oh no, the rain is coming down. And with Kvitová 15-0 up in this third game, the players take a seat and will wait for the drizzle to disappear.

First set: Kvitová* 1-1 Barty (*denotes server): Kvitová gets on the board, but it’s far from plain sailing. Barty, hitting the ball pretty crisply, opens up a 30-0 lead on the Czech’s first service game but the world No 2 gets back on course, with some help from a Barty net cord and levels at 30-30. At deuce, Kvitová opens up her body and plays a glorious forehand winner that lands right on the line and it looks like she’s going to wrap this one up until some cute shot-making from Barty brings it back to 40-40. Nevertheless, Kvitova proves too strong and rounds it out to keep the opening set on serve.

First set: Kvitová 0-1 Barty* (*denotes server): Barty holds after an unconvincing start to the match. She finds herself 0-30 down before Kvitová brings up two break points. But the Czech fails to capitalise on both, after a weak return of serve into the net and then a long forehand at the baseline. Barty goes on to wrap up the game.

First set: Kvitová 0-0 Barty* (*denotes server): OK, warm-ups completed, umpire ready, spectators in their seats, music off, we’re ready to go under the lights at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Play!

Barty wins the toss, as the coin lands on the “WTA” side, as opposed to the “trophy” side which Kvitová chose, and the Australian elects to serve first.

But here they are now, in the tunnel, about to walk out onto court. Barty’s introduced, then Kvitová. And onto Maimi’s blue surface they come, in front of a fairly sparse crowd, it has to be said.

We’re still waiting for the players to get onto court. This match was originally advertised as “not before 7:30pm local” but was put back 15 minutes. We’re now another 15 delayed.

Also earlier today… Nick Kyrgios happened.

“One of the best hot dogs you will ever see”@NickKyrgios, that is OUTRAGEOUS #MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/lCeCLJuJEy

Kvitová’s journey over the past few years has been equally remarkable and her rise to world No 2 has defied all the odds after the Czech was attacked by a knife-wielding home intruder in December 2016.

Earlier today, that man was sentenced to eight years in jail.

Related: Man who attacked Petra Kvitová gets eight-year prison term

The rise of Ashleigh Barty since returning from her cricket sabbatical three years ago has been nothing short of meteoric, and today offers her the chance to enter the world’s top 10 for a first time in her career. Victory in the Miami Open quarter-final against Petra Kvitová will ensure she will take her place at the top table of women’s tennis when the rankings are released on Monday.

It looks like that she will anyway, regardless of how things go against Kvitová – only defeat to the Czech and a surprise title win for Chinese No 1 Wang Qiang will prevent her joining Sam Stosur as the only Australian woman in the last decade to win a top-1o ranking.

Related: Ashleigh Barty moves to within one win of top 10 after Miami victory

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Wed, 27 Mar 2019 04:48:20 GMT

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