MELBOURNE: Unseeded American Danielle Collins welcomed comparisons to Cinderella Sunday after slaying world number two Angelique Kerber to continue her fairytale debut at the Australian Open.
Collins humiliated the German three-time major champion 6-0, 6-2 in less than hour to reach the quarter-finals in the biggest upset yet at this year's season-opening Grand Slam.
It was a stunning result for a player who only broke into the top 100 less than a year ago and is a virtual unknown on the WTA Tour after playing most of her tennis on the US college circuit.
The 25-year-old from Florida said it was a dream to reach the quarter-finals of a major after spending long stretches of her career playing small tournaments to build up her ranking points.
"That's a good way to look at it," she said when asked about the Cinderella analogy. "It's been an incredible experience. I'm so grateful to be here in Melbourne.
"I definitely played tournaments in some strange places the first year that I turned pro. I'm really just grateful to be out here doing what I love and playing in front of a good crowd."
Currently ranked 35 in the world, Collins had never won a match at a Grand Slam in five previous attempts before arriving in Melbourne.
But she has now dispatched three seeded players on her way to the last eight, where she will meet either compatriot Sloane Stephens, the world number five, or Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Kerber, the 2016 Australian champion and a semi-finalist last year, is undoubtedly the biggest scalp of her career.
The German looked dumbfounded as Collins tore her apart after deciding to "go after it and believe in my shots" on Margaret Court Arena.
The second seed could have been forgiven for regarding Collins as little threat after she handed the American a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing in their only previous meeting at Eastbourne last year shortly before Kerber won Wimbledon.
But Collins gained revenge in spectacular fashion, feeding her illustrious opponent a dreaded 6-0 "bagel" then boldly announcing her arrival as a force at the majors.
"I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this, but I gotta tell you, I think it's going to keep happening," she said. "I hope to have many more of these."
Kerber had not dropped a set in her opening three matches and many were tipping her for the title this year.
But the German, who turned 31 on Friday, found herself a set down against Collins after 20 minutes.
Kerber committed five double faults and failed to win a single point on her second serve in the set, while Collins smashed 13 winners to two.
"I go out fearless, I've been working so hard my whole life, I just give it my all and don't really think twice about it," she said.
Kerber's agony continued in the second set, when Collins made three breaks to one.
"She hit every ball on the line, in the court," a dejected Kerber said. "I was just trying (but) I couldn't find my rhythm. The whole match I was trying everything."