MELBOURNE, Australia – 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 will 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. The 25-year-old former NCAA champion at Virginia 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.
Anisimova was the youngest American since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 to make it this far at Melbourne Park. She will go home with her first Grand Slam match wins to her credit, and a much higher profile.
"I was hoping that I'd just win a first-round match, so getting this far means a lot to me," she said.
On the men's side, Frances Tiafoe celebrated his 21st birthday by beating 20th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (1), 7-5. Tiafoe is the youngest American to make the quarterfinals here since Andy Roddick in 2003.
Among the later matches on Day 7, Rafael Nadal was facing Tomas Berdych and six-time champion Roger Federer was taking on 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Earlier, top-ranked Simona Halep defeated Venus Williams 6-2, 6-3 in the third round, setting up a fourth-round match with Serena Williams.
"Definitely is the toughest draw I've ever had," Halep said.