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ASHLEIGH BARTY took out Maria Sharapova to become the first Australian woman to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for a decade.
Sharapova was looking to follow up her big win over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki but lost nine games in a row to trail 4-0 in the deciding set and her attempts at a comeback fell just short.
Barty served out a 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory with an ace on her fourth match point in front of a raucous crowd on Rod Laver Arena and will face Petra Kvitova in her first singles quarter-final at a grand slam.
“Maria was never going to go away,” said Barty, who spent more than a year away from the game between 2014 and 2016, including a spell playing professional cricket.
“She’s a proven champion. She will fight until the last point. I was doing all the right things but I’m very happy to come through in the end.”
Sharapova praised Barty in a sometimes frosty press conference in which she declined to answer questions about being booed by the crowd after taking a long toilet break and whether she is being affected by not being able to take Meldonium, the substance for which she served a 15-month doping ban.
“I thought she played a really great match and I still had my chances, which I didn’t take,” said Sharapova. “I definitely had a letdown for many games straight, gave her that confidence.”
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