Published: Mon, January 21, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Barty downs Sharapova to fire Australia’s Open dreams

Barty downs Sharapova to fire Australia’s Open dreams

The pressure on Barty was huge and will only intensify ahead of Tuesday's last eight clash with Czech Petra Kvitova in a tie involving two of the sport's form players.

Meldonium was outlawed in 2016 and since her return, her performance in the deciding sets has taken a significant fall.

The two-time Wimbledon champion blazed her way into the quarter-finals with an emphatic straight sets win over 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova.

Kvitova is no stranger to the latter stages of slams, of course, but this is the furthest she has been in Melbourne since 2012. She took a break from the tour after the 2014 U.S. Open to explore another career - in cricket.

A relieved Barty said: "It was a little close wasn't it. I feel like I came back a better person on and off the court, a better tennis player", she said.

"Yeah, for me, having that 18 months off was vital". I was not playing the tennis that I can play.

She had said: "There's never a lonesome moment on the [cricket] field if you're struggling".

The quality of Sunday's match might not have been overwhelmingly high, in terms of pure ball-striking, but the drama was irresistible and the home fans were ecstatic when Barty managed to seal her victory with an ace down the "T".

The Russian was roundly booed by the Rod Laver Arena crowd after taking a seven-minute off-court break at the end of the second set, while the pro-Ash Barty support cheered when she was handed a time violation in the third.

The 31-year-old Russian was competitive during periods of her fourth-round clash with local hope Ashleigh Barty but ultimately lost in three sets after her serve fell apart mid-match. "I knew I had to keep chipping away".

'I think we have known that, because that's been the way that - we have had a lot of cameras here for the last couple of years, warmup areas.

"Even karaoke, I don't have a good voice, but I always try to do the best at whatever I'm doing. There's 10 other girls that can help you out and get you through the tough times".

"I just had to take a deep breath and trust the work I've done with my team". Whatever happens, she is already front- and back-page news across Australia - a refreshingly wholesome standard-bearer to counteract the feuds and excuses of Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios. I played her a year ago, so I was familiar with her game. 'There is absolutely nothing better'.

Barty's next opponent Kvitova is on a nine-match winning streak including defeating the Australian in a tight three-setter to decide the final of the Sydney International warm up.

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