Brave Barty edges Sharapova for QF berth
Ash Barty's Australian Open dream lives on after the Queenslander escaped Maria Sharapova's clutches to storm into Melbourne Park's quarter-finals.
The first Australian woman to forge to as deep since Jelena Dokic in 2009, Barty downed five-time major winner Sharapova 4-6 6-1 6-4 in a gripping roller-coaster.
"Yeah it was a little close wasn't it?" Barty grinned after clinching the 2hrs, 22min contest with an ace down the middle.
"I gave myself opportunities in the third set and I had to take a bit of a deep breath.
"I trust the work I've done with my team.
"She's an absolute champion and she's never going to go away and just trust in the work I've done with my team.
"I know I can match it with the best. It's just a matter of going out there and executing.
"This is unreal playing on this beautiful court, playing in front of a packed house.
"There's nothing better."
Barty will next face dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova for a place in the semi-finals as she bids to end Australia's 41-year title drought.
Chris O'Neil (1978) is the last Australian to win the Open title. Kvitova destroyed American Amanda Anisimova 6-1 6-2.
The Czech beat Barty in the Sydney final eight days ago.
"It doesn't get any easier at all," Barty said.
"It's just another challenge for me to come out and play my best tennis.
"I came agonisingly close (in Sydney), just want to come out and play my best tennis and see how I go."
From 1-all in the second set, Barty strung together nine successive games in a magnificent resurgence.
Ahead 4-0 in the decider, Barty had to withstand a threatening Sharapova comeback.
And there were plenty of anxious moments before she advanced to the biggest win of her career.
Now assured of a rankings lift to around No. 12 in the world, Barty was the superior player with 97 points to 80.
The Queenslander nudged 28 winners to 17 and restricted unforced errors to 45, compared to Sharapova's 51.
Encouragingly, there was no sign of the abdominal injury which prompted Barty to withdraw from doubles.
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