Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova suffered a major blow as she bowed out of the 2019 Australian Open after going down against home favourite Ashleigh Barty in the last-16 round of the women's singles event at the Melbourne Park on Sunday.
After comfortably winning the first set, five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova failed to capitalize on the same and slumped to a 6-4, 1-6, 4-6 defeat at the hands of her Australian opponent in a thrilling fourth-round clash that lasted under two and a half hours on Rod Laver Arena.
In the first set, the two players were equally matched with the first eight games of the set going to the server. But it was the Russian player who eventually broke through at a critical point at 5-4, and served out methodically to seal the set.
Subsequently, Sharapova failed to display a similar kind of performance in the second set as Barty tidied up her game considerably and rebounded strongly to edge her way back into the game to grab her first break at 3-1.The Australian player rattled off the next nine games in a row in clinical fashion before sealing the second set against Sharapova.
Though Sharapova dug deep to produce some of her best tennis and cut down on the Aussie’s lead in the third set, Barty held on her nerves to deny Sharapova two more break points - which would have equalled the score at 4-4 - and finally sealed the match with her sixth ace to book her place in her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal, the WTA reported.
Sharapova, who won her last major at the 2014 French Open, was looking for her first quarterfinal berth in Melbourne since 2016 after overcoming Danish star Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the round-of-32.
Meanwhile, it is a huge victory for Barty as she has become the first woman in ten years to reach the last-eighth of the Australian Open after Jelena Dokic's run in 2009.
Barty will now be up against her opponent from the finals of the Sydney International, world number eight Petra Kvitova. Czech tennis player Kvitova booked her place in the quarterfinals of the first major of the season after recording an easy 6-2, 6-1 win over American youngster Amanda Anisimova earlier in the day.