Ashleigh Barty turns on style to topple Maria Sharapova as home favourite books Australian Open quarter-final against Petra Kvitova
- Home favourite Ashleigh Barty beat Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open
- In front of a partisan crowd, the Australian beat the Russian 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
- Barty is the first Australian to reach the last eight since Jelena Dokic in 2009
- She will face Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals as she beat Amanda Anisimova
What they call a Barty party in this neck of the woods broke out when Ashleigh Barty edged to a nerve-shredding win over Maria Sharapova to make the Australian Open quarter finals.
The Queenslander, who gave up the sport to play Big Bash cricket four years ago, held her nerve to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and became the first Australian female to make the last eight since Jelena Dokic in 2009.
Barty had a point to take a 5-0 lead in the decider, but faltered and was put under severe pressure by the ex world No 1 before serving the match out following the wastage of four match points.
Ashleigh Barty’s fine form at the Australian Open continued as she beat Maria Sharapova
The home favourite held her nerve in a thrilling round four match to win it 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
It was disappointment for Sharapova having knocked out champion Caroline Wozniacki
A hugely partisan crowd on the Rod Laver Arena, who had taken exception to Sharapova’s stalling tactics, breathed a collective sigh of relief.
‘I just had to trust the work I have done with my team,’ she said. ‘She was never ever going to go away, I know I can match it with the best.’
Sharapova came into this tournament with little tennis behind her in the past four months, but played an excellent first set notable for outstanding defence and combined with piercing attack.
The sliced backhand proved an ally for Barty as she made a charge in the second and third sets
Sharapova’s count of unforced errors soared after she lost nine straight games at one stage
Despite the crowd being rock solid behind her, Barty looked somewhat intimidated by the occasion as her delicate blend of all court tennis failed to fire.
The second set was a completely different story, as the Australian cut down on her errors and heavily punished the Sharapova second serve, starting to draw more of her trademark double faults.
There then followed an outrageously long break of seven minutes while the Russian went to the toilet between sets, another example of a player driving an horse and cart through the spirit of the rules and she was roundly booed when she came back on court as Barty waited at the back of the court.
She looked to be walking away with it before the late drama in this clash of styles, and the reward is a quarter final against Petra Kvitova after her straight-set win over 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova.
The partisan support were right behind Barty and were critical of Sharapova’s time in breaks
A toilet break saw Sharapova booed by the Rod Laver Arena crowd as they roared Barty on