Tennis

Unseeded Collins crushes Kerber, Barty beats Sharapova

World No. 2 Angelique Kerber joined ex-world No. 1 Maria Sharapova as the big-name casualties in the Australian Open women's singles yesterday.

Kerber , a three-time Major champion, was humiliated 6-0, 6-2 in less than hour by unseeded American Danielle Collins, who reached the quarter-finals in the biggest upset yet at this year's season-opening Grand Slam.

It was a stunning result for a player who broke into the top 100 less than a year ago and is a virtual unknown on the WTA Tour after playing most of her tennis on the US college circuit.

The 25-year-old from Florida said it was a dream to reach the quarter-finals of a Major after spending long stretches of her career playing small tournaments to build up her ranking points.

When suggested that she is the competition's "Cinderella", she said: "That's a good way to look at it. It's been an incredible experience. I'm so grateful to be here.

"I definitely played tournaments in some strange places the first year that I turned pro. I'm really just grateful to be out here doing what I love and playing in front of a good crowd."

Currently ranked 35th in the world, Collins had never won a match at a Grand Slam in five previous attempts before arriving in Melbourne.

But she has now dispatched three seeded players on her way to the last eight, the other two being Caroline Garcia (19th) and Julia Goerges (14th).

Kerber, the 2016 Australian champion and a semi-finalist last year, is undoubtedly the biggest scalp of her career.

The second seed, who turned 31 on Friday, had not dropped a set in her opening three matches and many were tipping her for the title this year.

"She hit every ball on the line, in the court," a dejected Kerber said. "I was just trying (but) I couldn't find my rhythm. The whole match I was trying everything."

BARTY'S PARTY

Meanwhile, Ashleigh Barty, 22, became the first Australian to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in a decade after her 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Sharapova.

Roared on by the home crowd, 15th seed Barty held her nerve in the face of a late fightback from the Russian five-time Grand Slam champion.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in the stands cheering for Barty, along with tennis legend Rod Laver in the centre court arena that bears his name.

Her opponent in the last eight will be Petra Kvitova, who cruised past American teenager Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-1. - AFP

Tennis