Barty is the No. 15 seed here, which on paper makes her twice as good as Sharapova’s No. 30. She has a versatile game too, with the volleys of a doubles champion (she won September’s US Open with CoCo Vandeweghe) and the best slice backhand in the business.
What she doesn’t have is much pedigree on the singles court at the majors. This will be her first visit to the quarter-finals of a slam, on her 18th attempt. The main reason for doubt was not that Sharapova might outplay her, but that Barty had shown signs of being gunshy against the biggest names in the past.
During last year’s French Open, she had backed off while holding a set-and-a- break lead against a still rusty Serena Williams. And were times here when history threatened to repeat.
Barty coughed up 22 unforced errors to lose the first set, and then let Sharapova fight back from 4-0 down in the decider to a nervy 4-3. To her credit, though, she steeled herself and served out the win on her fourth match point.
“The atmosphere was really unbelievable,” said Barty, who shares a partly indigenous ancestry with the seven-time slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley. “That first match point, my ears were ringing.”