DOHA, Qatar - Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova overcame tricky conditions and trickier opposition in the form of an on-fire Ons Jabeur, outlasting the Tunisian, 7-6(2), 7-6(4) to reach the Qatar Total Open semifinals.
The 2018 champion twice trailed Jabeur by a break in the second set and saved two set points before securing the Centre Court victory - her ninth in a row in Doha - after one hour and 44 minutes.
"I'm glad how I was able to manage those tie-breaks for sure," she said after the match. "So I'm really glad that I improved something. It was difficult with the crowd as well, with the wind, different conditions today, for sure. So I'm really glad that with very talented player as she is, with the great touch, I was able to play a good game."
Kvitova has had to hit through strong winds throughout the week in Doha, needing three sets to defeat both 2016 champion Carla Suárez Navarro and that year's runner-up Jelena Ostapenko. Her only previous meeting with Jabeur was a decisive one at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, but the 25-year-old has exponentially improved since then, reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open and shocking former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova in the previous round.
"I think that she's more confident, for sure. I think she built confidence from the matches that she played, for sure.
"I think that she is very strong in mixing it up. She can really play those drop shots which are amazing and you don't see them. I think that she is reading the game a little bit better than before.
"She definitely improved her serve as well. She has a great placement as well and it's a bit tough to read it. In the wind of course she can go that risky, so I think that was kind of the thing today as well."
Jabeur discussed a tweaked hamstring at the end of that Pliskova epic, and appeared ill at ease to start as Kvitova raced out to a double break lead. The talented Tunisian soon found her footing and began unleashing the entertaining mix of power and variety that has quickly become her signature. With Kvitova on the back foot, Jabeur won four games in a row and broke the Czech veteran as she served for the set to force a tie-break.
On an even playing field early in the Sudden Death, Kvitova scored a crucial mini-break to win the final five points as Jabeur missed an audacious volley attempt.
Undaunted, Jabeur broke to start the second set and soon had a 3-1 lead of her own. Twice a point from a deciding set, Kvitova hunkered down and while she played the big points with aplomb, she saved her best for the second tie-break.
Taking a 5-1 lead at the change of ends, Kvitova fended off two saved match points from Jabeur to ultimately advance to the final four, where either top seed and World No.1 Ashleigh Barty or Australian Open runner-up Garbiñe Muguruza awaits.
"I feel like Ash is the only one on the tour right now for me," she laughed, having played Barty at the Australian Open. "So, yeah, I mean, she's No.1, so of course that she has to be in the tournament everywhere, right. But definitely it's nice to play her anyway.
"She mixes it up a lot. So I did have a good practice today and, yeah, definitely it's nice to share the court with her. So, I mean, of course about the game, you know, we know each other very well and in the past we had so many matches.
"With Garbiñe, if I play her, yeah, we played the final two years ago here, so it will be nice, you know, another matchup. Definitely she's in good form, being in the final of Melbourne. So it will be interesting as well."
In all, the No.8 seed struck 21 winners to 28 unforced errors, while Jabeur made 20 winners to 21 errors; both ended the match with a break point conversion rate of five for eight.