Ashleigh Barty insists injury won't derail her Australian Open campaign after booking a fourth-round blockbuster with Russian superstar Maria Sharapova.
Australia's big title hope needed a medical time-out after the first set to treat an apparent abdominal strain but returned to complete a hard-fought 7-5 6-1 third-round win over the tough Greek Maria Sakkari on Friday.
Barty thundered down 13 aces and dropped serve just once, but looked ginger at times with her movement, no doubt the result of a gruelling workload of eight matches in the past 12 days.
But the 22-year-old said the treatment was merely running repairs and nothing that would stop her bid to break Australia's 41-year singles title drought in Melbourne.
"I have just gotten to know my body well enough now to know when I need a little bit of help. It was more just for a bit of reassurance and support," Barty said without specifying the exact nature of the niggle.
"I knew it wouldn't affect me on court. It was more just a reinsurance.
"No, all good, nothing to be concerned about. Just making sure I'm in the best
possible shape to play and going out there and do my best."
Barty broke Sakkari in the 12th game to snatch a tight first set before running away with the second and the match, prevailing after one hour and 22 minutes under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena.
"The lively conditions suit both of us so it took time to get used to how dead and slow it is in here with the roof closed," Barty said.
"There wasn't going to be much in it the whole match and Maria is a great friend of mine and we have had exceptional matches in the past, so I'm extremely happy to come through in straight sets and find my way towards the end there."
The victory earned the 15th seed a last-16 crack at Sharapova after the 2008 champion and former world No.1 ended Caroline Wozniacki's title defence with a 6-4 4-6 6-3 over the Dane.
"This is amazing," Barty said after matching her charge to the US Open fourth round last year.
"It's another opportunity for me to go out and test myself against the world's best."
As well as a chance to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the first time, Barty is projected to climb to a career-high ranking of No.13 in the world, or better, after the Open.
Australian Associated Press