Facing a barrage, Barty had all the answers
THERE are no half measures with Petra Kvitova.
Living and dying by the sword has long been the Czech's modus operandi.
When death or glory execution fails, it's dismal.
But when Kvitova is on, as she was early against Ash Barty in the Australian Open quarter-finals, the left-hander's lopsided risk versus reward strategy hits paydirt.
Winners flowed from the southpaw's racquet with chilling frequency. Until she ran into a Queensland brick wall.
Against most players, Kvitova's barrage would have been overwhelming.
Barty simply bunkered down, surviving crisis after crisis, confident resilience would prevail.
No single chapter defined the contrasting approaches of both players more than the sixth point of the first-set tie-break.
Serving at 2-3, Barty was under the cosh. Kvitova should, and would, have won the point four times against any other player.
But not Barty.
The Ipswich magician pulled every trick out of her bag to keep the 22-rally point alive and, in drawing a netted backhand from Kvitova, changed the tenor of the match - and effectively won it.
The first set alone took 69 minutes, and a ton of self-belief, before Barty cracked Kvitova.
In doing so, Barty sent her good friend an unmistakable message: your best is pretty darn impressive, but not today.
Minutes later, having shaken Kvitova to the core, Barty swept to a double break. Match over.
It was tennis death by a thousand cuts as Barty sliced and diced her way out of trouble and then to impregnability.
True to attacking instincts, Kvitova pursued Barty to the end, reclaiming one service break and almost another.
But the horse had bolted. Kvitova's attacking instinct forced her to gamble. Too often.
Only two of 12 break points compared with Barty's conversion of four of eight spoke to Kvitova's wastefulness.
But,just as she dictated to Barty, the world No.1 deftly turned the tables, wrestling the match on to her terms.
"She's the absolute perfect competitor and I love testing myself against her," Barty said after powering into the semi-finals.
With four wins in a row against the dual Wimbledon champion, Barty is passing more often than failing.