Melbourne: When Ash Barty beat Shelby Rogers at Australian Open 2017 in the infancy of her tennis comeback, she entered as a wildcard ranked outside the top 200.
But, on Monday night, at Rod Laver Arena, the now world No.1 defeated the American once again, this time 6-3 6-4, to reach the quarterfinals against Karolina Muchova and continue her quest to become the first home player to win the Australian Open since 1978.
“It’s really exciting to be through to another quarterfinal,” said Barty, on an eight-match winning streak. “If you would have told me a few months ago when we were doing pre-season that this is the start we’d have, we’d absolutely take it with a big smile on our face.”
The pair also dueled a week and a half ago at the Yarra Valley Classic at Melbourne Park, with Barty needing a match tiebreak in the third to advance against her dangerous foe.
Australian Open 2009 champion Rafael Nadal’s hopes of clinching a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title remain alive, the Spaniard surging past Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Monday to book his 13th Australian Open quarterfinal, the 43rd time he’s advanced to the last eight in a major.
Earlier, World number two Rafael Nadal entered the quarter-finals for the 13th time after getting past Fabio Fognini in their fourth round contest.
Nadal, the 2009 champion, registered a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over the Italian No. 16 seed in two hours and 16 minutes at the Rod Laver Arena.
"When you go on court against Fabio, you worry," said Nadal after the match as per the ATP Tour website.
"There can always be problems. I was just lucky that when he broke me (in the second set) I responded immediately and held the score. Today was very humid and quicker during the day, which I like, but I have to adapt to every condition," he added.
The 34-year-old is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to clinch each of the four major championships on two or more occasions.
He will next face fifth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who received a walkover after No. 9 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy withdrew due to an abdominal strain.
Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev also booked his place in the quarter-finals after a commanding straight-sets win over Mackenzie McDonald.
Medvedev beat the 25-year-old American 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in his fourth-round match that lasted an hour and 29 minutes at the Margaret Court Arena. He will face Andrey Rublev in what can be a blockbuster quarter-final clash on Wednesday.