Why Ash Barty will have the advantage, according to rival Petra Kvitova


“If it was in Czech Republic of course it would be different for me as well.

“I can’t complain and I don’t want to, it is how it is.

“It is still one week of preparation [before the Open for players in quarantine] and everything from the off-season should pay off.”

Barty has not played tennis for a year, choosing to take 2020 off after she made the semi-finals of the Australian Open amid a season heavily impacted by the pandemic.

She will return to the court in an exhibiton match against Simona Halep in Adelaide on Friday, before looking to win her second grand slam.

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Kvitova has a three win, four loss record against Barty in the past two years after beating her in the 2019 Sydney International final. Kvitova lost to Barty in the quarter finals of the 2020 Australian Open and cannot wait to see her rival back on court.

“I like Ash a lot. Even as my rival, she is one of the nicest on the tour. I am glad she is back and playing,” she said.

The Czech Republic’s world No.9 and two-time Wimbledon champion has also had a break coming into the Australian Open.

She chose to end her season in October, and has benefited from spending time at home with her family before going through a two-week pre-season ahead of coming to Australia.

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“I have practised a lot so the feeling of the ball should be there,” the 30-year-old said. “Of course practice and matches are totally different. In the matches it is more about nerves and the mental side so I don’t know.

“I am fresh because my last match was a long time ago and I am really looking forward to playing again.

“It might take a bit longer to get used to playing again but also who knows? Maybe I will go straight into it, we will see.

“I have been thinking about playing less for a few years. I found out last year I can play well with a break, for example at the US Open I was still playing at a good level, even after three months.

“This was a good sign for my body and mind that now at my age I need to think more about scheduling. It has been good to find this out.”

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Laura Siegemund Vs Petra Kvitova, quarterfinals, ‘That’s bulls***’, umpire, time violation, Marijana Veljovic


Seventh seed Petra Kvitova made it through to the French Open semi-finals for the first time since 2012 after a 6-3 6-3 win over German Laura Siegemund but it wasn’t without controversy.

After a dominant first set to Kvitova, the match was on break points in the second set.

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At 2-all in the second, Siegemund was down 0-40 on serve and fought back to deuce when umpire Marijana Veljovic called her for a time violation as she had just started her serve.

Veljovic received her gold badge for umpiring in 2015 and has officiated some of the world’s biggest events, including the 2018 Australian Open women’s singles final and the 2019 Wimbledon women’s singles final as well as the 2019 Fed Cup Final. She was also widely praised for her professionalism at the 2020 Australian Open but also drew attention for her beauty.

But Siegemund, who was easily on the best Grand Slam singles run of her career, was far from happy with the key call.

“I was just starting my serve,” the 32-year-old Siegemund said.

Veljovic replied: “I called it before you started.”

“I’m here (ball in the air) and you’re giving me a time violation,” Siegemund raged. “I was moving my arm.”

“I cannot start saying it before the clock hits zero,” Veljovic hit back.

“Exactly and I was moving my arm which is why my arm is here (in the air) not here (at her racquet),” Siegemund said.

Veljovic: “We are talking about half a second.”

Siegemund: “Exactly and half a second I have so …”

Veljovic: “And the clock went to zero before you started.”

Siegemund: “No because I am having the arm up so that’s bulls***.”

Veljovic: “Well I was calling it.”

Siegemund: “OK … So are you giving me a violation or no?”

Veljovic: “Yes.”

Siegemund: “If I have to stop one second beforehand next time just to be clear.”

The commentators were on Siegemund’s side.

“I thought that was a bad time to call it,” Chris Bowers said as the exchange began.

Fellow commentator Sophie Amiach said: “I love the exchange here, she’s right actually.”

“She is right,” Bowers agreed. “I think the umpire was over officiaious there.”

Kvitova won the advantage and Amiach added that “that was a huge point there.”

“She’d come back and it was hard already to come back from 0-40 to 40-all and then this kind of call happens,” she said.

“I’m all for this and I don’t think they should have 25 seconds to be honest but I don’t think you call it when the player has their arm going up for the service toss,” Bowers said. “That’s just in my view.”

On the Eurosport coverage, the commentators also took aim at the umpire.

“I‘m still fuming about that situation we’ve just seen,” Annabel Croft said after the time violation.

“I‘ve never seen an umpire … either she had her eyes down on her stopwatch and wasn’t noticing that the player was actually midway through her serve.

“She has had to stop her service motion, and now you are going to delay it even more because you have stopped her just before her serve.

“So what was the point of that? Her arm was already up and she was already putting the ball in the air.

“I’ve never seen that before. I really hope this umpire has a look at that, actually maybe even makes a statement because I think she totally got that wrong.”

Fellow commentator Chris Bradnam added: “I think that was absolutely absurd and completely unnecessary.”

Siegemund started up again at Veljovic after the match.

“As far as I know, the rule is before the clock goes to zero I have to start my movement. She is very sharp every time I have her on the chair. She gives me a violation the first opportunity she gets,” Siegemund told reporters.

“So it makes a big difference when they press the button when the clock is running and I think that is where the rule is very unprecise.

“When the clock is zero and I‘m starting my movement, then give me a break. If every time I need 40 seconds, that’s a different thing. But this was just exaggerated.”

Siegemund also said she thought she was faster than she had been in the past and called for the umpires to “Be a little more gentle in the way you interpret the rules.”

It saw Kvitova ultimately break and go to 3-2 in the second.

It was the beginning of the end for Siegemund who was then treated for a back injury immediately afterwards.

Despite breaking back in the next game to make it 3-all in the second, Kvitova broke again to make it 4-3 and went on to win the second set 6-3 to book a place in the semi-finals.

It sees Kvitova face fourth seeded American Sofia Kenin in the semi-final, while unseeded pair Iga Swiatek and Nadia Podoroska face off on the other side of the draw.



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