Maria Sharapova plays hometown hero Ashleigh Barty for a place in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday as the Russian eyes a first Grand Slam crown since 2014, with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also resuming their title hunt.
The five-time major winner claimed her biggest scalp since completing a drugs ban in 2017 when she rolled defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in round three.
It set her up with a tricky clash against in-form Barty who will have huge home support on Rod Laver Arena in a prime-time afternoon showdown.
Sharapova, who once famously summed up her attitude as “I’m not here to make friends”, said she would not let the crowd affect her.
“I know it’s going to be a tough crowd, but I go out there to perform and play tennis,” said the Russian, who won at Melbourne Park in 2008 and hasn’t lifted a Slam trophy since the 2014 French Open.
The diminutive Barty, 22, has been in sizzling form, winning six of seven matches this year to back up a title victory in Zhuhai late last year.
Whoever wins will have a last eight meeting with either eighth seed Petra Kvitova or surprise package Amanda Anisimova, who is just 17.