Aryna Sabalenka proved too good for Petra Kvitova in the final of the Qatar Open, winning 6-3 6-3 to claim her sixth WTA Tour title.

Kvitova won the tournament in 2018 and had beaten world number one Ash Barty in the last four, yet she was unable to secure the victory that would have moved her back into the world's top 10.

Sabalenka's powerful serving and brutal groundstrokes were the difference, while she saved all five break points she faced in one game during the second set.

The triumph, Sabalenka's second successive Premier 5 title after her victory at the WTA Elite Trophy in September, ensured the 21-year-old will move to 11 in the world rankings, ahead of Kvitova at 12.

Sabalenka had two break points in Kvitova's opening service game and though the two-time Wimbledon champion held, she fell 3-1 down when failing to win a point two games later.

It took Sabalenka just 29 minutes to forge ahead in the match, one of seven aces delivering the first set.

Kvitova had multiple chances to break in the fourth game of the second set but, in a game that lasted over 10 minutes, Sabalenka held firm before bending in a winner to break and go 4-3 up.

Sabalenka had three championship points and though Kvitova rallied to save all of those, two pieces of fortune via the net cord helped the Belarusian seal the win in one hour and 14 minutes.

"It's a special moment. It was an amazing week this week," Sabalenka said in her on-court interview.

"I was enjoying every second on the court."

Petra Kvitova came through a see-saw battle with Ashleigh Barty to progress to the final of the Qatar Open, where she will face Aryna Sabalenka.

World number one Barty had survived a three-set clash with Garbine Muguruza to reach the last four in Doha, but two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova proved too strong on Friday.

Barty appeared to have the momentum after levelling the match by taking the second set in comfortable fashion.

However, an engrossing third went the way of Kvitova, even if was far from straightforward.

A sliced Barty backhand into the net gave Kvitova a break in the fifth game of the decider, only for the Czech to surrender it straight back when she fired wide off the same wing.

Yet a blistering crosscourt backhand return earned Kvitova the advantage again and a place in the final was secured when Barty looped a forehand wide to seal a 6-4 2-6 6-4 win for the 2018 champion.

Sabalenka's victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova was more routine.

The 21-year-old is making her debut at the tournament, but youth triumphed over experience in comfortable fashion as she needed only an hour and 17 minutes to prevail 6-4 6-3.

It is now 10 career WTA singles finals for Sabalenka, who has lost two of her three meetings with Kvitova, her solitary win coming at the 2018 US Open.

Ash Barty survived a back-and-forth encounter against the in-form Garbine Muguruza to set up a date with familiar foe Petra Kvitova, who ended Ons Jabeur's run at the Qatar Open.

World number one Barty needed three sets to see off Australian Open finalist Muguruza in Doha, while Kvitova won a pair of tie-breaks in her quarter-final with Jabeur. 

Veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova earned a share of tournament history with an upset win over fourth seed Belinda Bencic.

The Russian now faces Aryna Sabalenka, who came from behind to defeat Saisai Zheng in the day's opening match.


BARTY OUT TO CONTINUE KVITOVA RUN

Barty endured a second-set dip in her 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 beating of Muguruza, who has reached at least the last eight in each of her five tournaments in 2020.

The Australian, playing at her first event since reaching the semis of her home slam in Melbourne, did not face a single break point in the opening set but was met with a much sterner test in the second.

Barty raced into a 5-2 lead in the decider, though, and fought back from 40-15 in the final game to set up a showdown with Kvitova, who she has beaten in their previous four meetings - including a straight-sets win at the Australian Open.

Kvitova, the 2018 champion, edged to a 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) win over Jabeur, who has enjoyed a stellar year thus far and became the first Arab woman to reach a major quarter-final in Melbourne.


MILESTONE FOR KUZNETSOVA 

Kuznetsova was in devastating form against Bencic, hitting 39 winners and just 15 unforced errors in a 6-4 6-4 triumph.

A runner-up in 2004 and 2007, Kuznetsova now has 19 match wins in Doha, which ties the record held by retired former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

"I have amazing memories," said Kuznetsova, who is in to her first Doha semi since 2007. 

"It was my first time when I beat Justine [Henin] here [in the 2004 semi-finals] and it was like I was a kid, I was 19. 

"I climbed from number 30-something to number 13 or number 14 and it was amazing. It was so long ago it was like another life, but it really happened to me - I didn't watch it in the movies."

Sabalenka will try to end Kuznetsova's run after a 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 defeat of Zheng.

Ash Barty swept into the last 16 of the Qatar Open on Tuesday with a straight-sets dismantling of Laura Siegemund.

In her first match since the Australian Open, world number one Barty triumphed 6-3 6-2 in her opening match at the WTA Premier event.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin endured another difficult day, though, losing to 19-year-old Dayana Yastremska, while defending champion Elise Mertens also bowed out.

Karolina Pliskova, Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova all advanced, while Melbourne runner-up Garbine Muguruza was in imperious form as she dispatched Ajla Tomljanovic for the loss of just three games.

There were also wins for Saisai Zheng over Vera Zvonareva, Ons Jabeur against Jennifer Brady, Maria Sakkari over Tereza Martincova and Svetlana Kuznetsova against Iga Swiatek.

BARTY BLASTS OUT OF THE BLOCKS

Playing for the first time since losing to Kenin in the Australian Open semi-finals, Barty produced a disciplined performance to beat Siegemund in 73 minutes.

Barty hit 19 winners to 16 unforced errors but admitted she lost focus at some key moments.

"Happy overall to be able to switch on when I really needed to. Disappointing to have a few lapses in concentration but also a credit to my opponent, she came up with some really good stuff in runs to be able to break me a few times," she said.

Barty will face Elena Rybakina next after she battled to beat Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-8).

KENIN WOES CONTINUE

Kenin has now lost three times since lifting the first grand slam singles title of the season, the American slumping to a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) loss to Yastremska.

"It's really frustrating," she said. "Obviously coming off of Melbourne where I felt I was playing the best tennis of my life coming down to playing, not the worst tennis, but not playing the tennis I want to be playing."

Yastremska will now meet Muguruza, who wasted little time in beating Tomljanovic 6-1 6-2.

 

PLISKOVA CHARGES ON AS SEEDS PROGRESS

Pliskova was beaten in the quarter-finals in Dubai by Rybakina but looks determined to go the distance in Doha, producing an accomplished performance to oust Bernarda Pera 6-3 6-0.

Fourth seed Bencic was given a tougher time by Veronika Kudermetova before claiming a 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-4) win that took more than two and a half hours.

Aryna Sabalenka edged a tight encounter with Anett Kontaveit 7-5 2-6 7-5, while Kvitova ended the challenge of Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6 6-3 6-0.

Defending champion Mertens is out, though, falling to Yulia Putintseva 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Kiki Bertens' bid to retain her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy title remains alive but Petra Kvitova's run in Russia came to an end as she pulled out due to illness.

World number eight Bertens defeated teenage qualifier Anastasia Potapova 6-4 7-6 (7-3) having staved off three set points in a second set in which she was 5-2 down.

Bertens will face Ekaterina Alexandrova next after she was handed a walkover when third seed Kvitova withdrew.

Top seed Belinda Bencic was ousted by Maria Sakkari in three sets, with Elena Rybakina beating Oceane Dodin in the other quarter-final.

At the Thailand Open, world number four Elina Svitolina suffered a surprise straight-sets loss to Nao Hibino, who was joined in the semi-finals by Magda Linette, Patricia Maria Tig and Leonie Kung.

Kiki Bertens wasted little time in getting her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy defence up and running with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova.

The home hope found herself overmatched against the second seed from the off as Bertens surged into a 4-0 lead before a third break sealed the first set.

A break to cut the gap to 3-2 in the second proved a false dawn for Kudermetova, who failed to win another game after that as she was beaten in under an hour.

Another Russian, qualifier Anastasia Potapova, is up next for Bertens.

Third seed Petra Kvitova found the going somewhat tougher before prevailing 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 6-2 against Alison van Uytvanck in two hours and 16 minutes.

"Definitely, it was a tough one," Kvitova said, following a match featuring a remarkable 33 break-point opportunities.

"I’ve never played Alison before, and she'd already played one match on the surface, and for me it was the first one, so that's always a bit challenging."

Kvitova must now take on the in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Russian claimed her ninth straight win indoors as she beat seventh seed Donna Vekic 6-1 7-5, while Maria Sakkari was also a straight-sets winner over Alize Cornet.

At the Thailand Open, top seed Elina Svitolina made short work of Storm Sanders, blowing away the qualifier 6-1 6-2 in 57 minutes.

Magda Linette was a 7-5 6-1 winner against the experienced Peng Shuai in blustery conditions and has further Chinese opposition coming up after Wang Xiya defeated Barbara Haas 6-3 6-4.

Romania's Patricia Maria Tig also reached the quarter-finals in straight sets at the expense of sixth seed Yafan Wang.

Ash Barty is excited about her run at the Australian Open, but the world number one is trying to ignore the expectations of a nation.

Barty became the first Australian woman to reach the semi-finals of the tournament since 1984 by overcoming Petra Kvitova 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 on Tuesday.

However, while the 23-year-old French Open champion is happy with her run, Barty is ignoring the hype in Melbourne.

"I'm excited. My team's excited. We love the opportunity of getting another match out on that beautiful court," Barty told a news conference.

She added: "I don't pay attention to it [the nation being on her side] honestly. I'm here to try and do the best that I can.

"Obviously it's exciting. Hopefully I can bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the world.

"For me, it's trying to do the best that I can, find that enjoyment for myself and my team."

Barty will face Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals after the American 14th seed beat Ons Jabeur.

Ash Barty ended a 36-year wait for her nation by reaching the Australian Open semi-finals with a straight-sets win over Petra Kvitova.

In a rematch of last year's quarter-final won comfortably by Kvitova, Barty secured a 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

The world number one became the first Australian woman to reach the last four at the tournament since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

Barty, last year's French Open champion, will face American 14th seed Sofia Kenin in the last four.

The players traded breaks to love early before Barty fought out a tough hold after a 20-point seventh game.

Last year's runner-up Kvitova targeted Barty's second serve with plenty of success, but while four consecutive games went to deuce, both held serve through to a tie-break.

A 69-minute first set went Barty's way, winning the last three points of the tie-break – which was highlighted by a 22-shot point during which the Australian showcased her defensive abilities – thanks to Kvitova errors.

Barty broke in the opening game of the second set and again in the third, producing a delicate lob to take a 3-0 lead.

A desperate and aggressive Kvitova pulled one break back in the sixth game, but handed it straight back in the next with a double fault.

Barty managed to close it out in the next game, an ace out wide seeing her complete the job.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Ash Barty [1] bt Petra Kvitova [7] 7-6 (8-6) 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS  
Barty – 20/28
Kvitova – 28/38

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS  
Barty – 5/3
Kvitova – 2/6

BREAK POINTS WON  
Barty – 4/8
Kvitova – 2/12

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Barty – 63
Kvitova – 56

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Barty – 74/35
Kvitova – 63/45

TOTAL POINTS  
Barty – 82
Kvitova – 73

Ashleigh Barty avenged her fourth-round defeat at Wimbledon to Alison Riske by overcoming the American in three sets in the Australian Open fourth round.

The world number one battled to victory in an hour and 36 minutes to book a quarter-final meeting with Petra Kvitova, who came from a set down to beat Maria Sakkari.

Coco Gauff saw her brilliant week end in disappointment as she lost to compatriot Sofia Kenin, who is into the last eight of a grand slam singles tournament for the first time.

Qiang Wang, who stunned Serena Williams in round three, was defeated in straight sets by Ons Jabeur – another woman making major history in Melbourne.

NO REWARD FOR RISKE AS BARTY BATTLES ON 

Australia's hope for a home champion continues after Barty recovered from a miserable second set to defeat Riske for the first time. 

Riske won their first encounter in Eastbourne in 2016 before taking victory at Wimbledon last year, but Barty ended that losing streak with a 6-3 1-6 6-4 success. 

Barty was clinical in the opening set against too many errors from Riske, but the 29-year-old rallied in the second, breaking twice and dropping just five points on her own serve to force the decider. 

At 5-4, Barty set up match point with a backhand pass and Riske produced just her second double fault to hand victory to the favourite. 

"It was third time's a charm for me tonight," said Barty. "I just had to hang in there. It was very tough from both ends playing very differently. I just had to give myself a chance." 

Barty will face Kvitova next in a repeat of last year's quarter-final, the Czech having fought from a set down to defeat Sakkari.

"I love Petra, but let's hope she doesn't break my heart again on Tuesday!" said Barty, who was beaten 6-1 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena in 2019.

  

COCO MANIA DEPARTS MELBOURNE​, JABEUR MAKES HISTORY

Gauff's fairytale run came to an end at the hands of countrywoman Kenin, who steamrolled the 15-year-old 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-0 on Melbourne Arena.

American sensation Gauff dethroned defending champion Naomi Osaka in the previous round and she looked on track to reach the quarters in Melbourne.

However, fellow rising star and 14th seed Kenin blitzed Gauff to reach her first grand slam quarter-final.

Next up for Kenin is Jabeur after the Tunisian beat Chinese star Qiang Wang 7-6 (7-4) 6-1.

Wang eliminated 23-time slam singles champion Williams in the third round, however, she was unable to back it up on Sunday.

Jabeur, who hit 29 winners, became the first Arab woman to ever make a slam quarter-final.

KVITOVA RETURNS TO QUARTERS

Australian Open runner-up Kvitova avoided a major upset as she rallied past Sakkari 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

After losing a tight first set, two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova hit 33 winners and broke Sakkari eight times en route to a fourth quarter-final in Melbourne.

Playing in front of a vocal Green contingent supporting Sakkari, Kvitova said: "When I was shaking the hand with the umpire, I told him it was like a soccer match today. I mean, it's nice on one side. On the other side, it's the tennis, and it's not a Fed Cup. It's strange. But it didn't bother me at all."

World number one Ash Barty made serene progress to the fourth round of the Australian Open as Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams suffered shock exits.

Coco Gauff claimed another famous scalp in the form of defending champion Osaka to join Williams' conqueror Qiang Wang in the next round.

In a mixed day for the American contingent, Alison Riske and Sofia Kenin also went through, but Madison Keys was knocked out in straight sets.

Petra Kvitova was in commanding form as she progressed, while Caroline Wozniacki saw her career come to an end with defeat.

OSAKA DEFENCE ENDS AS SERENA WAIT GOES ON

Gauff got revenge for a rout at the hands of Osaka at the US Open last year to claim the biggest win of her fledgling career, seeing off the number three seed 6-3 6-4.

Beaten 6-3 6-0 in just 65 minutes at Flushing Meadows, 15-year-old Gauff made the most of 30 unforced errors from her opponent to set up a meeting with compatriot Kenin, who defeated Shuai Zhang 7-5 7-6 (9-7).

Williams' wait for a 24th grand slam singles title goes on, the American beaten in 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 by Wang in a gripping encounter.

The 38-year-old, who hit 56 unforced errors to Wang's 20, confessed afterwards: "I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today."

OMINOUS SIGNS FROM BARTY AND KVITOVA

There were no such concerns for Barty, who dispatched Elena Rybakina 6-3 6-2 in 78 minutes.

The home favourite will face Riske in the fourth round, the American outlasting Julia Goerges 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Last year's runner-up Petra Kvitova progressed in similarly imperious fashion, seeing off Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1 6-2.

Kvitova, who is yet to drop a set at this year's event, will now face Maria Sakkari after her impressive 6-4 6-4 defeat of Keys.

 

TEARFUL WOZNIACKI BOWS OUT

Former world number one Wozniacki saw her career come to an end with a three-set defeat to Ons Jabeur.

The 2018 champion lost 7-5 3-6 7-5 to the Tunisian, who will play a fourth-round match at a major for the first time against Wang.

An emotional Wozniacki, who fought back from 3-0 down in the decider but was decisively broken in the 11th game, said afterwards: "I want to be out there fighting. I fought like my life depended on it."

Ash Barty and Serena Williams moved through at the Australian Open as Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff set up a third-round showdown.

Home favourite and world number one Barty was untroubled on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, continuing her run in Melbourne.

Williams was below her best but still advanced during the night session as her bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam title continued.

There is also the prospect of a mouthwatering showdown between two of the game's leading lights on Friday.

 

BARTY, SERENA UNTROUBLED

Barty brushed past Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-1 6-4 in just 66 minutes on the back of a consistent performance.

The Australian mixed 16 winners – nine of those from the forehand side – with 16 unforced errors, setting up a clash with Kazakh 29th seed Elena Rybakina.

Williams was left frustrated during the second set of her 6-2 6-3 victory over Tamara Zidansek.

The American star was pushed before advancing in one hour, 18 minutes, having committed 28 unforced errors, including 17 in the second set.

Next up for Williams is Wang Qiang, the Chinese 27th seed having rushed past Fiona Ferro 6-1 6-2.

 

OSAKA, GAUFF SET UP BLOCKBUSTER CLASH

Osaka's title defence stayed alive with a 6-2 6-4 victory over China's Zheng Saisai.

The Japanese third seed faces her biggest test yet in the third round, where Gauff awaits after the teenager's comeback win.

Gauff looked set for an exit, trailing Sorana Cirstea 3-0 in the final set.

But the 15-year-old fought back to claim a 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory and reach the third round at a grand slam for the third straight time.

Osaka crushed Gauff 6-3 6-0 when the pair met at last year's US Open.

 

WOZNIACKI STAYS ALIVE AS KVITOVA, KEYS ADVANCE

Caroline Wozniacki stretched her professional career for at least another match by beating Ukrainian 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska 7-5 7-5.

The 2018 Australian Open champion, who is retiring at the end of the tournament, came from 5-1 down in the first set and 3-0 behind in the second.

Last year's runner-up, Petra Kvitova, was tested in a 7-5 7-5 victory over Spain's Paula Badosa while Madison Keys also had moments of concern in her 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 win over Arantxa Rus.

Petra Martic (13) and Aryna Sabalenka (11) were among the seeds to fall, with the latter beaten by Carla Suarez Navarro in their opening-round clash.

World number one Ash Barty was relieved to come through the "chaos" of a first day of few shocks at the Australian Open.

Home favourite and top seed Barty had to come from a set down to progress in Melbourne, beating Lesia Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1.

The Queenslander ensured she joined several other big names in advancing, with defending champion Naomi Osaka triumphing along with Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova - straight-sets winners over Anastasia Potapova and Katerina Siniakova respectively.

Venus Williams did not follow her sister into round two, though, as she fell to 15-year-old Coco Gauff once again.

Gauff had already beaten fellow American Williams at Wimbledon last year and pulled off a repeat on Monday.

Sloane Stephens crashed out 2-6 7-5 6-2 to Zhang Shuai, while Barbora Strycova lost to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, but fellow seeds Petra Martic, Sofia Kenin and Ekaterina Alexandrova all advanced.

Caroline Wozniacki, who will retire at the end of the tournament, prolonged her career by easing past Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3.


BARTY GETTING BETTER AT EACH SLAM

Barty won the French Open last season and feels she is improving with the experience of every major.

"It's always a little bit different, I think," she said. "Slams always feel like there's a lot of chaos going because there's so many people.

"It's busy with singles and doubles players, mixed players, families, coaches, everyone underneath. It's just chaos.

"When you're able to separate that from when you step on the court is when you can do a little bit better, play a little bit better, feel a little bit more comfortable.

"I feel like we've been able to do that better and better with each slam that I've played. It's an experience thing. You have to learn how to deal with it, but it's getting better."

Reflecting on her role as a home favourite and the top seed, Barty added: "I feel like I'm doing it the best way that I know how. I'm doing it with my team. We're doing it as a team.

"We're loving it. We're embracing it. There's no other way to approach it. I think we're just going along for the ride, trying to play some good tennis."


VENUS: THE SKY'S THE LIMIT FOR COCO

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams knows a thing or two about champions, and she expects new nemesis Gauff to go all the way to the top.

Asked if the teenager has a "champion's mentality", Williams replied: "She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age. I think the sky's the limit for her."

The veteran was impressed by Gauff's mentality, adding: "She just played very focused and put a lot of balls in the court. That's what you have to do.

"She'll play well for the rest of the event."


WOZNIACKI 'TRYING TO ENJOY THE MOMENT'

Knowing her career is coming to an end, Wozniacki acknowledged she found it difficult to keep her emotions in check.

But the 2018 champion is determined to enjoy her final days at the top of the sport.

"I feel good, having won my first match here. It's always tricky, especially knowing it's my last tournament," she said. "There's a lot of just emotions, but I tried to keep them in check, and I thought I did that very well today.

"I think I'm just really trying to enjoy every moment. I don't know that there is one particular moment, but there is once in a while where you're like, 'Wow, this really is my last one'.

"You never know, it [could be] still two weeks from now. But every match you go out there, I'm just going to give it everything that I have, because it could be the last."

The 108th edition of the Australian Open begins on Monday as the world's best tennis players battle it out at the first grand slam of 2020.

Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka will return to defend the titles they won last year, adding to the event's storied history.

The pair will face stiff competition from stacked fields in the men's and women's draw as a host of players seek glory in Melbourne.

To whet your appetite for the forthcoming feast of tennis, here is a selection of the best Opta facts related to the Australian Open.

 

- The last three years have seen the 12 women's grand slam tournaments being won by 10 different players; only Simona Halep and Osaka have won twice in that span.

- Djokovic won his seventh Australian Open title in 2019, the most of any male player in the history of the tournament. He has won the event every time he has reached the semi-finals.

- Of the last 14 editions of the Australian Open, 12 have been won by either Djokovic (7) or Roger Federer (5) – Rafael Nadal (2009) and Stan Wawrinka (2014) are the only other winners in that period.

- Victoria Azarenka (2012, 2013), Serena Williams (2009, 2010) and Jennifer Capriati (2001, 2002) are the only women to have won successive titles at the Australian Open since 2000.

- Federer won his sixth Australian Open title in 2018, 14 years after his first win at the event; no player has won multiple Australian Open titles over a longer period in the Open Era. It is his last win in a grand slam tournament to date.

- Since 2005 only Williams (2010, 2015) and Azarenka (2013) have won the title at the Australian Open as the number one ranked player in the world.

- Williams has not won any of the last 11 grand slams, with her last victory coming at the Australian Open in 2017 when she was pregnant – this is the American's longest span without a major title.

- Petra Kvitova lost in the final of the Australian Open last year, the only time she went further than the quarter-finals in her last 19 grand slam appearances, since winning Wimbledon in 2014.

- Either Nadal or Andy Murray has been the runner-up in nine of the last 10 Australian Open men's finals, Murray losing five times and Nadal four. Marin Cilic in 2018 is the only other player to lose an Australian Open final in that span.

- The last time an Australian made it to the men's final at the Australian Open was Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 and the last Australian to win the title was Mark Edmondson in 1976 (against fellow Australian John Newcombe).

Petra Kvitova admitted she was worried about the air quality in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, particularly as an asthma sufferer.

The year's first grand slam has been impacted by poor air quality in Victoria's capital after bushfires ravaged Australia in recent months.

Organisers have faced criticism during the qualifying rounds, although air quality has been rated as 'good' in Melbourne since Thursday.

Kvitova, who suffers from asthma, said the air was a concern heading into the grand slam.

"I've been a bit worried about it. Now I'm very happy that, as I mentioned, the sky, it's there again clearly," last year's runner-up told a news conference on Saturday.

"Of course everybody knows that I do have asthma problems, which I wasn't really happy about that if the air is still bad.

"It's same for everybody, so it will be really difficult to breathe for sure. I do have my medicines here, as well.

"Yeah, I'm going to use it if it's important."

However, Kvitova – who faces fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova in the first round – backed officials.

"Well, I'm very comfortable with everything they've taken," she said.

Serena Williams was in brilliant form to reach the Auckland Open final, while Karolina Pliskova saved a match point to beat Naomi Osaka in a thrilling Brisbane International semi.

Williams needed just 44 minutes to crush 18-year-old Amanda Anisimova 6-1 6-1 in their last four clash at the WTA International tournament in New Zealand.

The 23-time grand slam champion mixed 17 winners with six unforced errors and lost just nine points on serve. Williams served five aces and converted all five of her break points in a dominant display in the lead up to the year's first grand slam in Melbourne.

The American moved into her 98th WTA Tour final and will be aiming for a 73rd title but first since the 2017 Australian Open when she faces Jessica Pegula.

Pegula upset fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki 3-6 6-4 6-0 in their semi-final.

A two-time runner-up, Wozniacki – who will retire after the 2020 Australian Open – won just 10 points in the third set.

Wozniacki will contest the doubles final with Williams against Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad.

In Brisbane, Pliskova lost a first set on a tie-break in which she squandered two set points and saved four, and was staring down the barrel after Osaka broke for a 6-5 lead in the second.

However, Osaka's first serve on match point was overly tentative and a series of errors handed Pliskova the break back. The second seed took full advantage, winning the subsequent tie-break and taking the decider in comfortable fashion to defeat the reigning Australian Open champion 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

Earlier, Madison Keys rallied past Petra Kvitova to clinch a 3-6 6-2 6-3 victory, meaning there will be no all-Czech final in Queensland.

At the Shenzhen Open, Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova clinched her maiden WTA Tour title with a 6-2 6-4 win over Elena Rybakina in the final.

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