Australian Open 2019: Petra Kvitova sets up semi-final against Danielle Collins

Petra Kvitova in action
Petra Kvitova suffered serious injuries to her dominant left hand in the knife attack in 2016 - she later said she was lucky to be alive following the incident
Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.

A tearful Petra Kvitova says she did not expect to be "playing with the best" again after reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final since being stabbed in a knife attack.

The Czech, 28, won 6-1 6-4 against home favourite Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open.

The eighth seed suffered a serious hand injury when attacked in her home in December 2016.

"It wasn't easy to see myself in a semi-final after everything," she said.

"I'm calling it my second career. So it's the first semi-final of the second career."

The two-time Wimbledon champion, who has not reached a major semi-final since winning the SW19 title in 2014, overpowered the smaller Barty in a 27-minute first set.

Barty, 22, provided resistance in the second, Kvitova saving two break points before taking the last three games.

She will play unseeded Danielle Collins in the last four on Thursday after the American beat Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6 7-5 6-1 to reach her first major semi-final.

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July 2017: Petra Kvitova 'had flashbacks' after knife attack but has 'won her fight' by being at Wimbledon

Kvitova's victory also means Simona Halep, who lost to Serena Williams on Monday, will see her 48-week reign as world number one end.

Kvitova is currently projected to take over from Halep, although Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina or Karolina Pliskova could also still claim the top spot if they continue their progress in Melbourne.

"I don't think there's any room here to think about that now," Kvitova said,

"The next match - playing Danielle in the semi-final - that's what matters right now."

'Fortunate to be alive' Kvitova's remarkable return continues

Kvitova required surgery on her left hand, which she plays with, after being attacked in a robbery at her home in December 2016.

The former world number two admitted she was "fortunate to be alive" and her return to the top end of the game has been one of the sport's most heartwarming stories.

She remarkably reached the 2017 US Open quarter-finals, nine months after the attack, but has now gone one stage further.

The 6ft-tall Czech landed 78% of her first serves, winning 71% of these points, and cracked 12 winners as she raced to the first set.

That helped somewhat quieten an enthusiastic and colourful home crowd, although they were buoyed again in the second set as Barty fought back.

The Queenslander was bidding to become the first Australian to reach the last four since Wendy Turnbull 35 years ago and possibly emulating Chris O'Neill's achievement in 1978 by winning the women's singles.

But Barty, who lost to Kvitova in the Sydney final earlier this month after winning the first set, was unable to capitalise on two break points and ultimately paid the price.

Kvitova saved a break point in the second game with a 105mph ace, then fought off another in the fourth with a vicious cross-court smash.

"I'm sorry guys - I beat Ashley," Kvitova joked in her on-court interview.

"I started better than the final in Sydney, I served well took the first break.

"In the second she didn't give me anything for free and I had to fight until the end."

Unseeded Collins on a roll

Danielle Collins
Danielle Collins is ranked 35 in the world

Danielle Collins reached the semi-finals, having never won a Grand Slam main draw singles match prior to the tournament.

The American, 25, beat unseeded Pavlyuchenkova in two hours and 16 minutes.

Collins broke twice in the second set and won seven games in a row as she raced through the decider.

"It was my first time playing on Rod Laver and I didn't even practise on here before so it was quite the experience," said Collins. "I absolutely loved it."

It was a feisty match from the start as the opening two games lasted 22 minutes and saw seven break points - including five which Collins could not take.

Collins, who knocked out world number two Angelique Kerber in the fourth round for the loss of just two games, was vocal throughout and showed plenty of emotion on court.

Pavlyuchenkova's experience of four previous Grand Slam quarter-finals was evident in the first set as she remained calm and held off Collins' early pressure.

The Russian, who beat 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in a mammoth fourth-round tie that went on until 01:53 local time, fought back from 5-2 down in the second set to 5-5. But she had the stuffing knocked out of her when Collins broke again to level the match.

The American was full of momentum and went on to break twice in the final set, while Pavlyuchenkova won only nine points on her serve in the decider.

Collins could not convert a match point at 5-0 and was made to work in her last service game before she eventually secured victory on her third match point.

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