Australian Open 2019: Ashleigh Barty & Petra Kvitova into quarter-finals
|Australian Open 2019|
|Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January|
|Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.|
Home favourite Ashleigh Barty won nine games in a row to inspire a comeback against Maria Sharapova and book her place in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Having lost the first set, Barty broke twice in the second and went on to win 4-6 6-1 6-4 to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time.
"This is unreal," the 15th seed told a packed crowd on the Rod Laver Arena.
"Playing on this beautiful court - there is nothing better."
She will face eighth seed Petra Kvitova, who beat Amanda Anisimova.
World number six Kvitova comfortably won 6-2 6-1 against the American 17-year-old on Rod Laver Arena.
The Czech two-time Grand Slam champion has reached the last eight on two other occasions but has never won the title in Melbourne.
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Barty thrives in front of home crowd
There was great anticipation in Melbourne as the home crowd hoped for a memorable victory for Barty and turned out in numbers.
From the opening point there were roars of celebration and groans of frustration from a one-sided crowd, who showed hostility towards Sharapova throughout.
It did not go to plan at first as the Russian silenced the supporters by breaking serve and holding to love, before rounding off the first set with an ace.
But Barty was urged to fight back and she did so ruthlessly - winning five games in a row to snatch the second set.
Sharapova needed to regroup and she took more than seven and a half minutes during the toilet break before the third set, which only angered the home fans more.
Boos rang out on Rod Laver Arena and Sharapova seemed ruffled by them as she was broken to love in her first service game - a roar of cheers celebrated a double fault which handed Barty the advantage.
Sharapova later dismissed suggestions the hostility from the Australian crowd played a part in her defeat, saying it was "silly" to think that.
The Australian surged on and racked up nine game in a row, while Sharapova was given a time violation at 4-0 down in the third.
Victory seemed inevitable for Barty but Sharapova started to claw her way back as the pair engaged in some eye-catching rallies before the five-time Grand Slam champion eventually broke serve.
It was a nervous ending for the crowd and for Barty, who saved two break points at 4-3 up and double-faulted on match point.
It took four match points in the end but Barty slammed an ace to complete the job and set up a mouth-watering tie with Kvitova.
Sharapova has gone beyond the fourth round of a Slam just once since her return from a 15-month drug ban, reaching the quarter-finals of last year's French Open after Serena Williams withdrew from their fourth-round match.
But the Russian believes she remains a Grand Slam contender, adding: "It would be tough for me to be doing all the work and putting in all the effort if I didn't really believe that. I think I'd be kidding myself."
Kvitova makes light work of victory
It was a world-class performance from Kvitova and she shrugged off any threat from young Anisimova from the off.
The 17-year-old had already knocked out Belarusian 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka in the third round but was made to look nervous and uncomfortable on her serve, under pressure from Kvitova.
Kvitova had three breaks points in the first game and added a further five throughout the match - breaking Anisimova's serve on five occasions in total.
Anisimova could not muster any break points of her own and never came close to troubling the Czech's serve.
After making light work of the first set, Kvitova continued to impose herself in the second - breaking in Anisimova's second service game.
The world number six attacked with precision on the return and only clocked up one double fault and nine unforced errors in a truly commanding performance.
"I am feeling good and really enjoying my tennis and that's the most important thing for me," said Kvitova, who is appearing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final since the US Open in 2017.
"Being in the quarter-finals is where you want to be in the second week of a Grand Slam."