Australian Open 2019: Ashleigh Barty hoping for home success against Petra Kvitova

Ashleigh Barty
The furthest Ashleigh Barty had reached in a Grand Slam prior to this tournament was the fourth round at the US Open in 2018
Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.

Ashleigh Barty will bid to become the first home female singles semi-finalist at the Australian Open for 35 years when she takes on Petra Kvitova in the last eight.

Barty hopes to make up for an "agonising" defeat by Kvitova in the final of the Sydney International.

The 15th seed knocked out Russian Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.

"It is exciting that I have another chance at Petra straightaway," said Barty.

Czech eighth seed Kvitova edged a close final in Sydney earlier this month and Barty is relishing the chance of revenge.

"It is another challenge and an opportunity for me to play my best tennis," added Barty.

"I lost an agonising final before, so I can come out and play freely."

Barty claimed the biggest title of her career at the WTA Elite Trophy in November, while Kvitova is a two-time Grand Slam champion.

"I have given myself the opportunity 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," Barty said. "There is absolutely nothing better."

Chris O'Neil was the last female home winner in Australia in 1978, while Wendy Turnbull reached the semi-finals in 1984.

Kvitova, who won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, has not gone beyond the quarter-finals in Melbourne since 2012.

She has only reached this stage of a Grand Slam once since she was stabbed in the hand by an intruder in her home in 2016.

"I'm kind of a different person. I do have a different mindset than I had those years when I won," said Kvitova.

"I'm just here to enjoy the tennis. That's really important not to be really stressed about it.

"It's great to be in the quarter-finals, but I know how difficult it is to win a Grand Slam."

I came back a better player - Barty

Ashleigh Barty cricket
Barty scored 39 runs from 27 deliveries on her cricket debut against the Melbourne Stars

Barty took more than a year away from tennis to play professional cricket and she thinks this has helped to revive her career on the court.

The 22-year-old retired in 2014 and played for the Brisbane Heat in the women's Big Bash after saying tennis was a "lonely sport".

"There's never a lonesome moment on the field if you're struggling," she said at the time. "There's 10 other girls that can help you out and get you through the tough times."

Barty returned to tennis in 2017 and enjoyed success, reaching the third round of the Australian Open for the first time.

She went on to reach the same stage in a further three Grand Slams before going one step further in last year's US Open.

"I needed to take that time away," said Barty. "For me, having that 18 months off was vital. I feel like I came back a better person on and off the court, a better tennis player."

Barty or Kvitova will face Danielle Collins in Thursday's semi-final after the unseeded American defeated Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6 7-5 6-1.

Remaining women's quarter-finals:

S Williams (16) v Ka Pliskova (7)

N Osaka (4) v E Svitolina (6)

P Kvitova (8) v A Barty (15)

Tiafoe targets Nadal shock

Frances Tiafoe
Frances Tiafoe was close to tears following his fourth round win over Grigor Dimitrov

American Frances Tiafoe secured his place in the quarter-finals - and celebrated his 21st birthday - by beating Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.

He will face world number two and 17-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the final night session match on the Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

Tiafoe said he had bought his mother a house in Maryland and had helped out his father to thank them for their role in his career.

"The beginning of my career I was trying to do everything for my family," Tiafoe said.

"Obviously now I put them in a great place. Now I'm trying to do it for me."

His opponent Nadal has yet to drop a set in the tournament and thrashed Czech Tomas Berdych to reach the last eight.

"Tiafoe has everything. He's quick. He serves well," Nadal, 32, said.

"He's a very dynamic player, aggressive one. Of course, he's dangerous."

The winner will play 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals after the 20-year-old Greek beat Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

Remaining men's quarter-finals:

N Djokovic (1) v K Nishikori (8)

M Raonic (16) v L Pouille (28)

F Tiafoe v R Nadal (2)

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