Party for Barty in Australia; to meet Kvitova in quarters

Published 01-20-2019

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - It was like a party at Rod Laver Arena. A partisan crowd backed Ash Barty, booed Maria Sharapova and celebrated wildly when the first Australian woman in a decade reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park.

Rod Laver was there watching, among the tennis greats. Prime Minister Scott Morrison in his green Aussie cap was cheering from the side of the court. It was in vogue for Aussies to be watching. Anna Wintour, too.

It took four match points and 2 hours, 22 minutes before Barty fended off 2008 champion Sharapova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, reaching the quarterfinals of a major for the first time. She's the first Australian woman since Jelena Dokic to reach the last eight at the home Grand Slam tournament. No Aussie woman has won it in 41 years.

She'll next play two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who dismantled 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes to return to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in seven years.

Danielle Collins upset three-time major winner Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-2. She hadn't won a match at a Grand Slam before coming to Australia - now she's in the quarterfinals.

Sharapova won the first set but was struggling with her serve, and finished with 10 double-faults in the match. After dropping the second set - midway through Barty's nine-game winning streak - Sharapova took an extended break in the locker room and was booed when she came back to court. That's a rarity for the five-time Grand Slam winner in these parts.

A comeback was always on the cards, and Sharapova nearly delivered - recovering from 4-0 down in the deciding set, forcing Barty to serve it out, and saving three match points when she did.

Two seasons back from her break to pursue a career in cricket, Barty has become Australia's best chance of producing a local champion since 1978.

Her immediate concern, though, is getting past Kvitova, who beat her in the final of the Sydney International last week.

Kvitova wanted no part of another loss to Anisimova, who beat her last year at Indian Wells and was the youngest American since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 to make it this far at Melbourne Park.

And so she went on the attack early, breaking in the first game. Kvitova was the model of consistency that the two other seeded players previously vanquished by Anisimova - No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko and No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka - were not.

She's now on a nine-match winning streak, her four wins here come after a title run in Sydney, a

A comeback was always on the cards, and Sharapova nearly delivered - recovering from 4-0 down in the deciding set, forcing Barty to serve it out, and saving three match points when she did.

Two seasons back from her break to pursue a career in cricket, Barty has become Australia's best chance of producing a local champion since 1978.

Her immediate concern, though, is getting past Kvitova, who beat her in the final of the Sydney International last week.

Kvitova wanted no part of another loss to Anisimova, who beat her last year at Indian Wells and was the youngest American since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 to make it this far at Melbourne Park.

And so she went on the attack early, breaking in the first game. Kvitova was the model of consistency that the two other seeded players previously vanquished by Anisimova - No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko and No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka - were not.

She's now on a nine-match winning streak, her four wins here come after a title run in Sydney, and is into the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012.

"When I'm counting the years, it's pretty long," Kvitova said. "But, you know, sometimes the waiting time is worth for it. I'm not complaining at all."

Kvitova broke Anisimova's serve five times and never faced a break point. She got 86 percent of her first serves into play, and won all but five of the points when she did.

"I was going out today as if I'd never played her, because I knew she was going to go out and play her best," Animisova said. "She came out with a really solid game plan against me. That kind of threw me off - it was different from my other matches."

Anisimova will go home with her first Grand Slam match wins to her credit, and a much higher profile. She had to log out of her social media accounts because it was distracting her between rounds.

"For sure it's great th

Her immediate concern, though, is getting past Kvitova, who beat her in the final of the Sydney International last week.

Kvitova wanted no part of another loss to Anisimova, who beat her last year at Indian Wells and was the youngest American since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 to make it this far at Melbourne Park.

And so she went on the attack early, breaking in the first game. Kvitova was the model of consistency that the two other seeded players previously vanquished by Anisimova - No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko and No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka - were not.

She's now on a nine-match winning streak, her four wins here come after a title run in Sydney, and is into the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012.

"When I'm counting the years, it's pretty long," Kvitova said. "But, you know, sometimes the waiting time is worth for it. I'm not complaining at all."

Kvitova broke Anisimova's serve five times and never faced a break point. She got 86 percent of her first serves into play, and won all but five of the points when she did.

"I was going out today as if I'd never played her, because I knew she was going to go out and play her best," Animisova said. "She came out with a really solid game plan against me. That kind of threw me off - it was different from my other matches."

Anisimova will go home with her first Grand Slam match wins to her credit, and a much higher profile. She had to log out of her social media accounts because it was distracting her between rounds.

"For sure it's great that I got this far. I was hoping that I'd just win a first-round match, so getting this far means a lot to me," she said. "Hopefully I can build on a lot of things."

Among the later matches on Day 7, six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer was taking on 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal was against Tomas Berdych.

Kvitova had to miss the Australian Open in 2017 because she was still overcoming injuries to her left hand that she sustained in a home invasion the previous month at her place in the Czech Republic. She lost in the first round here last year.

"You never know how the younger players are playing," Kvitova explained of her aggressive game plan. "They're here with nothing to lose, they're fearless.

"I started pretty well (and) the nerves went a little bit out for me," she added. "I'm really enjoying the time on court, and playing tennis."

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Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic sits in her chair between games during her fourth round match against United States's Amanda Anisimova at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) - The Associated Press


Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts after losing a point to Australia's Ashleigh Barty during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) - The Associated Press


United States's Amanda Anisimova reacts after losing a point to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) - The Associated Press


Australia's Ashleigh Barty makes a backhand return to Russia's Maria Sharapova during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) - The Associated Press


Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, right, is congratulated by United States's Amanda Anisimova after winning their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) - The Associated Press


Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic celebrates after defeating Switzerland's Belinda Bencic during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) - The Associated Press


United States' Amanda Anisimova celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) - The Associated Press


Russia's Maria Sharapova makes a forehand return to Australia's Ashleigh Barty during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) - The Associated Press


Supporters of United States's Amanda Anisimova hold up their national flag during her fourth round match against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) - The Associated Press