With Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison looking on, Barty downed the five-time grand slam winner 4-6 6-1 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena Sunday in one of the matches of the tournament.
Despite also being a former Australian Open champion, sections of the crowd booed Sharapova — who ousted defending champion Caroline Wozniacki on Friday — after she took a lengthy toilet break following the second set and cheered when the 30th seed received a time violation warning in the third.
That third set proved dramatic, although it didn’t seem like it would be the case when Barty led 4-0 and held two break points for 5-0 in Melbourne.
Sharapova, however, stormed back as a tense Barty’s unforced error tally rose and even won what was, arguably, the rally of the tournament at 4-2.
Rally of the tournament
Both players stretched from side to side, with Sharapova — showing the type of variety normally associated with her 22-year-old opponent — striking a wicked backhand slice with side spin, looping backhand, forehand around the net post and last-ditch defensive lob.
She eventually won the point when the 15th seed’s backhand slice sailed wide.
Sharapova clawed back to 3-4 and had all the momentum, holding two break points of her own in the eighth game.
But Barty — who returned to tennis after taking a break in 2014 and playing cricket — hung on and converted her fourth match point with an ace to emulate Jelena Dokic’s quarterfinal showing in 2009. Afterward she could be seen meeting Morrison near the locker room.
Three more victories and the former junior No. 2 would become the first Australian winner at the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
To reach the last four, Barty will have to defeat a familiar foe, Petra Kvitova. Kvitova — who cruised past 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova 6-2 6-1 — got the better of Barty in a gripping Sydney final a week ago.
The twice Wimbledon champion last featured in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in 2012.
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