Aussie girls now the giant killers in Birmingham
ASHLEIGH Barty and Daria Gavrilova have continued Australia's stunning grasscourt surge, reaching the Aegon Classic Birmingham quarter-finals with excellent wins.
A day after Jordan Thompson and Thanasi Kokkinakis logged career-best wins over world No 1 Andy Murray and Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic, it was Barty and Gavrilova's turn to shine.
Barty rocked eighth seed Barbora Strycova 6-3 3-6 6-1 to reach her fourth quarter-final of the season and a crack tomorrow against either second seed Elina Svitolina or Camila Giorgi.
Gavrilova is on the verge of cracking the world's top 20 after a roller-coaster 7-5 2-6 6-4 win over Czech Katerina Siniakova.
Gavrilova will break into the elite if she downs French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, overtaking Swiss Timea Bacsinszky in the process.
Barty, 21, was ecstatic after nailing talented Strycova and rising to a provisional career-high mark of No 70.
"It feels great, and obviously I love this grass court season and it's nice to come through this tricky match today," Barty said.
"I love this court, and I'm really excited to be in the quarter-finals."
Barty fended off six break points - including a treble as she attempted to seal the first set.
Taken to a deciding set, Barty swept through the last five games to close out the contest emphatically.
"I think (Strycova) was a top 20 player for a reason," Barty said.
"She stayed solid and I gave her a few too many cheapies in that second set.
"I think I just had to change a little bit tactically, and that worked in the third."
Gavrilova lost serve six times and delivered seven double faults in an erratic display against Siniakova.
And she actually won few points than the Czech - 98 to 101 - but her tenacity was decisive.
Gavrilova last week took over as Australian No 1, ending Sam Stosur's 452-week reign.
Bernard Tomic's hopes of a Wimbledon seeding are all but dashed after the Queenslander plunged out of the Halle Open.
Needing a semi-final finish or better to surge back up the rankings before the All England Club issues its seedings next week, Tomic lost 6-3 6-3 to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
The Gold Coaster had shown decent form against former world No 2 Tommy Haas in the opening round but Gasquet was too accomplished.
Gasquet broke Tomic's serve four times in nine service games.
The defeat will leave former world No 17 at the mercy of next week's draw.
It is not yet clear if Tomic will contest Eastbourne next week in search of more consistency.
Matthew Ebden lost to Britain's Marcus Willis 1-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 at the Ilkey Challenger, where Alex de Minaur also bowed out.
Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson will tonight attempt to extend giant-killing runs through the AEGON Championships at Queen's Club as Wimbledon preparations intensify.
Kokkinakis, 21. will chase successive main draw wins for the first time since the 2015 French Open when he tackles emerging Russian Daniil Medvedev, attempting to capitalise on a fabulous first-round win over Milos Raonic.
Thompson, 23, will bid to follow a whirlwind 24 hours after toppling world No 1 Andy Murray by adding American Sam Querrey's scalp to a growing collection.
The Sydneysider was feted during a string of local interviews in the wake of his monumental success over Murray, who had never lost to Australian opponents in 21 previous rankings points matches.
But, after practising in the heat under the watchful eye of coach Des Tyson, Thompson wants to show the win wasn't a fluke.
"I think it's all about backing up," he said. "I think that's what I've got to try and do is have consistent results.
"I will do everything the same. Yeah, before the match, I'll obviously go through the usual routine, talk about Sam's game, what I want to do.
"Yeah, just one step at a time."