Published: Sun, January 20, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Sharapova suffers shock defeat in Australian Open fourth round

Sharapova suffers shock defeat in Australian Open fourth round

But that's exactly what Petra Kvitova did, as she blasted ball after ball out of the American's reach, shaking the sleepy crowd from their slumber with her searing forehand winners. She hit every ball in the court.

Barty will take on World No. 8 Petra Kvitova in the quarter finals.

Sharapova, a five-times Grand Slam champion, looked in control after converting her third breakpoint in the ninth game of the first set and following it up with a service hold to love to take the opening stanza. They're calling it the Barty Party.

"It's unbelievable that it's happened in Australia and is happening in Australia. There is absolutely nothing better". Other local celebrities were in the crowd and Prime Minister Scott Morrison was courtside in his green Aussie cap and with his family. It was in vogue for Aussies to be watching.

There hasn't been an Australian victor of the home Grand Slam in 41 years, since Chris O'Neil won the women's title on grass in 1978. It was only her second win over a top-five opponent in four years.

Ashleigh Barty recovered from losing the first set to win nine games in a row on her way to a tense victory against former champion Maria Sharapova and reach the first Grand Slam quarter-final of her career at the Australian Open.

"I thought she played a really great match, and I still had my chances, which I didn't take", said Sharapova.

Backing up after ending Caroline Wozniacki's title defence in the third round, Sharapova repeatedly exceeded the 25 seconds allowed between points while serving directly into the blazing midday sun.

A comeback was always on the cards, though, and Sharapova pushed it the distance.

Barty was elated but the celebrations contained. She earlier told the host broadcaster that she didn't watch a lot of tennis during the tournament because she got enough of it in practice and on court.

However, while that question asked of the Russian tennis star is an uncomfortable one, increasingly the evidence says it's a relevant one too. She has smooth groundstrokes off both wings and can produce effortless power that can time away from anyone.

"It doesn't get any easier at all, it's just another challenge and I'll try to come out and play my best tennis", said Barty.

"For me, having that 18 months off was vital".

Her career has gone from strength to strength, with three titles under her belt, including the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai past year, and career-high ranking of 15 in the world.

She beat Kvitova in the second round of Indian Wells a year ago and loomed as a threat to the Czech.

When she returned to the court, the Rod Laver Arena showed their displeasure by booing her.

'I think I'd be kidding myself'.

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