Ashleigh Barty has pulled off a stunning victory against former world No. 1 powerhouse Maria Sharapova. In one of the most important matches of her career to date, the 22-year-old from Ipswich, Queensland dropped the first set on Sunday night, only to come back in dramatic fashion to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
With an impressive ranking of world No. 15, Barty will come up against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Tuesday, an opponent she has met recently in the final of the Sydney International last weekend. Barty will need to surpass the world No. 6, who defeated her in a thrilling third-set tiebreak.
View this post on Instagram
Here’s what you need to know about Ashleigh Barty.
1. She’s broken the drought. On Sunday, Barty became the first Australian woman in an Australian Open Quarter Final in 10 years, since former player and now commentator Jelena Dokic in 2009.
2. She’s an all-rounder. It is hard to believe that just three years ago, Barty was not competing in tennis at all. At age 18, Barty stepped away from tennis for 18 months and had a short and successful stint in cricket, playing for Brisbane heat in the women’s Big Bash League.
“I feel like I came back a better person on and off the court, a better tennis player.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2019
3. She thrives off a home crowd. Barty came into the Australian Open with all eyes on her and is now the last Australian standing across both singles draws. She has been thriving off the home support in Melbourne. “It is amazing that this is happening in Australia. I have given myself the opportunity and chance to play in front of the best crowd in the world on one of the best courts in the world and in my home Slam” she said in a post-match interview on Sunday.
4. She has, at times, struggled with the pressure. Finding a passion for the game was a problem for Barty a little earlier in her career. Despite the major achievement of winning the 2011 Wimbledon girls title at age 15, she found herself unable to cope with the pressure and has spoken openly about struggling with the rigours of life as a professional sportsperson. She ended up taking 18 months out from the sport, returning to the tour in 2016, which kickstarted a new outlook on her career.
5. Expect to see a lot more in the future. Barty’s maturity as a player is continuing to grow. During Sunday’s match, Sharapova, seeing the match slipping away from her, made the Australian wait for seven minutes between the second and third sets as she took a long toilet break. As Sharapova was booed by the crowd on her return, a less mature player than Barty may have been put off. Barty remained unfazed and won the next set.
See Barty come up against Petra Kvitova on Tuesday. All of Australia is behind her.