With every match she plays, Ashleigh Barty is giving her countrymen a reason to believe this could be the year, after a long drought, that an Australian woman wins it all at Melbourne Park.
And American Danielle Collins keeps knocking off seeded players.
The 15th-seeded Barty rallied to defeat No. 30 Maria Sharapova of Russia 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday at Rod Laver Arena in a fourth-round match of the Australian Open.
Barty, 22, took advantage of 10 double-faults by Sharapova and ended the 2-hour 22-minute match with an ace.
“This is unreal, playing on this beautiful court in front of a packed house, there’s nothing better,” Barty said.
No Australian woman had advanced to the quarterfinals since Jelena Dokic in 2009 and none has won the event since Chris O’Neill in 1978.
Barty will next play two-time Wimbledon women’s champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, who defeated 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes on the same court.
The eighth-seeded Kvitova, who had a WTA Tour-leading five tournament victories last year, hadn’t reached the Open quarterfinals since 2012.
Anisimova, one of three American women playing fourth-round matches Sunday, beat seeded players in the second and third rounds. She was the youngest player to reach the round of 16 in the Open since 2006 and the youngest in any Grand Slam tournament since 2007.
“She came out with a really solid game plan against me,” Anisimova said. “That kind of threw me off, because it was different from my other matches.”
Collins, who is ranked 35th, pulled off the biggest upset Sunday with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over No. 2 Angelique Kerber of Germany in 56 minutes.
“I hope to have many more of these,” Collins said.
The 25-year-old from St. Petersburg, Fla., had not won a Grand Slam event match until coming to Australia but cruised past 19th-seeded Caroline Garcia of France in the third round after winning her first two matches, including a first-round comeback against 14th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany.
Americans Bob and Mike Bryan, who are seeded fourth, continued their solid play with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia Lopez in a third-round men’s doubles match.