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Kvitova takes an hour to end Anisimova’s Australian Open run
Tennis

United States’ Amanda Anisimova celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

United States’ Amanda Anisimova celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The latest: Barty beats Sharapova

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ashleigh Barty's run at her home Grand Slam continued when she advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Maria Sharapova at Rod Laver Arena.

Barty opened the deciding set by breaking Sharapova's serve, helped by two of Sharapova 10 double-faults in the match. It came minutes after the capacity crowd lustily booed Sharapova when she returned from an extraordinary long toilet break after the second set.

Barty broke 2008 champion Sharapova's serve again to lead 3-0, helped by two unforced errors by the Russian and went up 4-0 while holding serve with four straight points. Sharapova faced more break points in the next game but held serve, ending a winning streak of nine consecutive games by Barty.

MELBOURNE, Australia — It took two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova being on top of her game to bring a very abrupt ending to 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova run of upsets at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old Kvitova wanted no part of another loss to Anisimova, who beat her last year at Indian Wells and was the youngest American since Jennifer Capriati in 1993 to make it this far at Melbourne Park.

It took 59 minutes to win 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday. Kvitova was the model of consistency that the two other seeded players previously vanquished by Anisimova — No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko and No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka — were not.

She’s now on a nine-match winning streak, her four wins here come after a title run in Sydney last week, and is into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.

“When I’m counting the years, it’s pretty long,” Kvitova said. “But, you know, sometimes the waiting time is worth for it. I’m not complaining at all.”

Kvitova broke Anisimova’s serve five times — including the opening game — and never faced a break point. She got 86 percent of her first serves into play, and won all but five of the points when she did.

“I was going out today as if I’d never played her, because I knew she was going to go out and play her best,” Animisova said. “She came out with a really solid game plan against me. That kind of threw me off, because it was different from my other matches.”

Up next for Kvitova will be either five-time major winner Maria Sharapova, or local hope Ash Barty. That fourth-round meeting was the next match on Rod Laver Arena.

It’s no concern of Kvitova’s who wins that one.

“Doesn’t matter who I’m going to face in the quarterfinals,” she said. “I’m there — and that’s (what’s) important.”

Anisimova will go home with her first Grand Slam match wins under her belt, and a much higher profile. She had to log out of her social media accounts because it was distracting her between rounds.

“For sure it’s great that I got this far. I was hoping that I’d just win a first-round match, so getting this far means a lot to me,” she said. “Hopefully I can build on a lot of things.”

Among other matches on Day 7, 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal was playing 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer was taking on 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Kvitova had to miss the Australian Open in 2017 because she was still overcoming injuries to her left hand she sustained in a home invasion the previous month at her place in the Czech Republic. She lost in the first round here last year.

Anisimova beat her 6-2, 6-4 in 70 minutes in their only previous meeting, but Kvitova came out ready this time.

She took the first three points of the match to immediately have Anisimoa under pressure, facing triple break point.

The teenager saved two, but Kvitova’s powerful backhand service return had her scrambling and the first game was gone.

Anisimova won the first two points on Kvitova’s serve, but the former Wimbledon champion of 2011 and ‘13 responded by winning the next four to hold.

A double-fault gave Kvitova three break points in the next game, and she forced an error on the backhand side to convert it. So quickly, it was 3-0.

Anisimova was still taking big swings at the ball and hitting cleanly, but the left-handed Kvitova was consistently in the right place to hit winners — including two important forehands down the line.

The first set was over in 32 minutes and Anisimova could only shrug, like she was asking what was happening.

In contrast to the first game, Anisimova held serve to open the second set. But that was her last. She was still in the contest in the fifth game when she was one point from holding again, but Kvitova won 10 straight points to take the match away from her again.

“It’s always pressure out there when you’re the favorite. You never know how the younger players are playing,” Kvitova said. “They’re here with nothing to lose, they’re fearless.

“I started pretty well (and) the nerves went a little bit out for me,” she added. “I’m really enjoying the time on court, and playing tennis.”

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