World number one and 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty got revenge for last year’s Wimbledon defeat by Alison Riske with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 win over the American to reach the quarter-finals of the Melbourne major on Australia Day yesterday.
The 23-year-old will meet fellow former Grand Slam winner Petra Kvitova in the quarters for a second straight year after the Czech went past Greek rising star Maria Sakkari 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2.
In the men’s draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic dismissed Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarter-final against Canada’s Milos Raonic after he defeated 2014 US champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in a clash of former world number threes.
In the last match of the day, third seed Roger Federer defeated world number 67 Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to make the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for a record 15th time.
At Margaret Court Arena, Ons Jabeur defeated China’s Wang Qiang, who two days earlier sent Serena Williams packing, 7-6 (4), 6-1 to become the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.
The Tunisian will next verse American Sofia Kenin after she ended the dream run of compatriot Coco Gauff with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-0 rout.
Fellow American Tennys Sandgren followed Kenin and Gauff at Melbourne Arena to defeat 12th seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-4 in a contest filled with drama.
In his second Melbourne quarter-final Sandgren will meet Federer, who dropped a set against Hungary’s Fucsovics before righting the boat and grabbing his 101th win at the Australian Open in much smoother fashion than his century — a four-hour five-set marathon against John Millman.
“The morning after Johnny’s match, and this morning, I lay in bed for like an hour and I was like ‘when are we gonna stand up? One, two, three...” Federer told John McEnroe after the match, which featured some of his trademark drop and passing shots.
Earlier on Barty, who as a newly crowned Roland Garros champion in 2019 was upset by Riske at Wimbledon, had a tough match against the American in a windy Rod Laver.
After Barty took the opener Riske went two breaks up in the second — after Barty hit her 12th unforced error of the period — and served the set out to force a decider.
In the third, the two again exchanged breaks before Barty broke Riske’s serve one more time on 5-4 to continue her campaign to become the first Australian woman to win the singles home slam since 1978.
Next up will be Kvitova, who last year beat Barty in the quarters on the way to the final. Barty has beaten the Czech all three times she has met her since.
“I love Petra but let’s hope she doesn’t break my heart on Tuesday night, or Tuesday... I’m just excited that I get another opportunity in a quarter-final of a Grand Slam, you don’t get those every week so I’m really excited,” the Australian star said.
Seventh seed Kvitova came back from a set and a break down to clip the wings of the 24-year-old Sakkari — in her fist round-of-16 appearance at a slam — who was supported by a raucous Greek contingent throughout the contest at Rod Laver Arena.
Both players had their chances to take the opener — which was played as an aerobatic team conducted an aerial display overhead in support of Australia Day celebrations — with two breaks of serve a piece.
The second set also saw six breaks of serve, with 2019 Melbourne runner-up Kvitova taking four to force a decider.
In the end, Kvitova’s power and experience got the edge over the young Greek, who dropped her serve in the first game of the third and never recovered.
Two-times Wimbledon champion Kvitova last year reached the Melbourne final in her best result since returning in mid-2017 from a career-threatening hand injury.
At Rod Laver Arena, seven-time Melbourne champion Djokovic only dropped one service game against Argentina’s Schwartzman, defeating him in just over two hours, his third straight sets win in a row.
“It feels great. I had a fantastic couple of matches in a row... Today was a good test because Diego was in form, he hasn’t dropped a set in three rounds... All in all, it was a very solid performance,” the defending champion said.
Djokovic’s next opponent, Raonic, only faced four break points — none of which were converted in part helped by an unreal 35 aces — to defeat Cilic and reach his fifth Melbourne quarter-final.
The big-serving Canadian has a 0-9 record against the second seed.
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