Australian Open women’s Day 7:
A pair of multiple Grand Slam winners crashed out in Australian Open upsets on Sunday, with former Melbourne titleholders Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber making unexpectedly early exits.
Sharapova, the 2008 champion, fell to Aussie Ash Barty 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Germany’s Kerber, who beat Serena Williams for the title three years ago, was surprisingly crushed by 35th-ranked American Danielle Collins.
The fairytale run of teenaged American Amanda Anisimova was cut off by experienced Czech eight seed Petra Kvitova in the fourth round 6-2, 6-1.
Barty found herself in a fourth-round battle at Melbourne Park but came through to defeat five-time Grand Slam winner Shrapova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Victory puts the 15th seed into her first quarter-final at a major.
Sharapova won the opening set tanks in part to 22 Barty unforced errors but could not carry through i the second, losing serve twice as Barty threatened.
The Australian took a 4-0 lead in the third, only to be pegged back by her opponent, with Sharapova unleashing one shot which curved around the net post, with Barty ending the point with a wide return/.
Barty now owns the fist Australian place in the women’s last eight since Jelena Dokic a decade ago.
“Clutch, wasn’t it,? Barty said in victory. “I gave myself chance in the third set. I had to trust the work that we had done in the off-season.
“Maria’s an absolute champion, she’s never going to go away, but I[ve showed that I can match it with the best,” added the player who took a tennis pause three years ago to play professional cricket.
Sharapova refused to get involved in any controversy over her treatment by local fans, who jeered her occasionally. But the LA-based Russian gave her opponent full credit.
“Ash played a really great match – I still had my chances which I didn’t take.”
“I definitely had a letdown for many games straight, gave her that confidence, She took it and didn’t back down.”
Kerber was ambushed by Collins, who won her third career match from eight played against Grand Slam champions. In addition to Melbourne Kerber also own trophies at Wimbledon last year and the US Open in 2016.
“It was completely not my day. I was not playing the tennis that I can play,” Kerber said, “She played one of her best matches, to be honest. She hit every ball in the court.”
Collins said she had been working hard to be ready for Kerber.
“I played her last year, so I was familiar with her game. I had a clear mindset of what I was going to do.” she said.
“From the very first point, I showed her that I wasn’t going to let her into the match, that I was going to dictate the entire way through.
“I stuck to my game plan. It clearly worked out well for me. Pretty much smooth sailing throughout the entire thing. I was just feeling really great.”
Kvitova’s 11am start against Anisimova went quickly, with double Wimbledon winner demonstrating her court skills at the expense of the 17-year-old future talent.
It took just 59 minutes to school the youngster, as Kvitova reached the Melbourne quarters for the first time since 2012.
“Sometimes the waiting time is worth for it, I’m very happy that I could be in the quarter-finals again – for sure it’s great. I’m not complaining at all,” Kvitova said.
“I’ve played well here when I needed to. Sometimes, when I’m quite tight and nothing really working, but this time I feel good.”
The victory was revenge of sorts for Kvitova, who had her 14-match win streak snapped by the teen last March at Indian Wells when Anisimova became the youngest player in 13 years to defeat a Top 10 player.
Kvitova made her point with 18 winners while limiting her opponent to eight.
Kvitova will face a re-play of the Sydney final she won this month as she takes on Barty.