Ashleigh Barty overcomes first-set loss to beat Maria Sharapova

Tanya Simon
January 22, 2019

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.

"I know that I have to go out there and try and be as fearless as possible, " Barty said.

When Barty returned to the WTA Tour in 2016 she felt refreshed, embarking on what she described at the time as "tennis 2.0".

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova also emerged as a big Barty fan on Monday, lauding the 22-year-old's as a grand slam champion in the making.

The former world number one claimed the opening set but crashed to a 4-6 6-1 6-4 defeat against 15th seed Barty following nearly two-and-a-half hours on Rod Laver Arena.

"I knew that I had to keep chipping away and in a sense just trust the work that we've done". I lost to really good players.

Her opponent was a largely unknown quality after playing much of her tennis on the U.S. college circuit but grabbed the tennis world's attention with a 6-0, 6-2 drubbing of second seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

But the time away saw Barty emerge as a much more mature person and this is reflected in her mental approach to the game.

Kvitova defeated Barty in the final of the Sydney International earlier this month, and when asked what she'll need to differently against the Czech this time around, Barty said she'll need to "win a couple more important points".

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At the end of the second set, Sharapova took a seven-minute bathroom break - which was against any rules. The 2004 Wimbledon champion's return to the court was showered in a chorus of jeers from the heavily pro-Barty Melbourne crowd.

"I think I gave myself opportunities in the third set in a lot of games and just couldn't take it. When push comes to shove, try and execute that as best I can".

But she wouldn't be surprised to see Barty win the Open either, or one of the other majors in 2019.

Barty's best previous Grand Slam singles result was the third round at the 2017 Australian Open.

"It's unbelievable that it's happening in Australia", Barty said. "Playing on this handsome court in front of a packed house, there's nothing better." . 'There is absolutely nothing better'.

The just about held her game together, and an ace on her fourth match point sealed a famous win - she will face Petra Kvitova in the last eight.

Kvitova is in superb form in Melbourne, having not dropped a set, but Barty will not be changing her approach despite the occasion and the quality of her opponent.

But, instead, let's focus on this little detail: On the second set's second point, Kerber hit a forehand victor that she punctuated with a relatively innocuous "Come on!" that caught Collins' attention.

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