Ashleigh Barty in line to break into the world’s top 10 for the first time after she beat Kiki Bertens to reach the last eight of the WTA’s Miami Open. The Australian No 1 dropped the first set against her seventh-seeded opponent but dug deep to prevail 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The win secured Barty, the 12th seed, a first appearance in the last eight of a WTA premier mandatory event – the four biggest tournaments outside of the grand slams and the season-ending WTA finals.
Barty, who knocked out compatriot Samantha Stosur in the previous round, now holds a 4-0 record over Bertens. “Whenever I play Kiki, there’s really not much in the match at all,” Barty said.
Barty told reporters that new performance coach Ben Crowe has helped improve her game. “He’s made an astronomical difference,” she said. “We’ve created a really tightly knit group: we trust each other, we bounce ideas off each other and ultimately we try to get the best out of each other.”
Barty will face third-seeded Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals, with the added carrot of a spot in the top 10 if she makes the semi-finals. Czech world No 2 Kvitova claimed a 6-3, 6-3 victory over France’s Caroline Garcia but only after a rain delay of more than two hours while leading 5-2 in the second set.
“I’m glad I was able to finish the match,” said Kvitova, who can regain No 1 status if she lifts the Miami title.
Kvitova has defeated Barty twice this year, in the final in Sydney and at the Australian Open, but the Queenslander is excited to renew their rivalry.
“Absolutely not!” Barty said when asked whether she was tired of facing Kvitova. “It’s always an exceptional challenge, she’s one of the best in the world… I look forward to it.”
World No 3 Simone Halep booked herself a spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of three-time Miami Open champion Venus Williams. Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu, who has been struggling with a right shoulder problem, retired from her match against Estonian 21st seed Anett Kontaveit trailing 6-1 2-0.
Kontaveit will face Su-Wei Hsieh next after the Taiwanese overcame former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 7-6 (7-0), 6-2.