Ashleigh Barty has posted the most significant victory of her young career by beating world number one Simona Halep at the Sydney International less than a week out from the Australian Open.
- Ashleigh Barty beat Simona Halep for the first time in her career
- Barty broke Halep's serves three times in the straight-sets win
- Halep has not won a match in five months after an injury-marred 2018
Barty, ranked 15 in the world, surged into the quarter-finals in Sydney with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over the reigning French Open champion and 2018 Australian Open runner-up.
The Australian number one served five aces, no double faults and broke Halep three times to reverse two previous losses to the Romanian last August.
"I finally learnt my lesson," a beaming Barty said.
"She gave me a belting in Montreal. I learnt a little bit more in Cincinnati, but today I knuckled down and really thought about it and really gave myself a chance.
"The biggest thing, I believed that I could I win. We're both out here on the same court.
"Just very happy I was able to come out and execute. I felt like it was really clean, considering the conditions.
"It was very swirly down at court level so I figure if I'm going to play Sim at any time, it's her first match and in conditions like this.
"So I was very happy I was able to make the most of it. Extremely pleased."
While Barty marches on in pursuit of a second straight final in Sydney, Halep's defeat leaves her Australian Open preparations in tatters.
The 27-year-old has not won a match in five months after an injury-marred end to 2018 and will also be in Melbourne without a coach after parting ways with Australian mentor Darren Cahill, who can longer commit to Halep due to family reasons.
Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur has cut down the equal-tallest man in professional tennis to move into the Sydney International quarter-finals for a second straight year.
In a match suspended on Tuesday night after just one game, de Minaur returned to Ken Rosewall Arena 14 hours later to carve out a hard-earned 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over towering American qualifier Reilly Opelka, who stands at 211 centimetres tall.