Collins paid for an over-aggressive approach in the first set as 44th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova remained unflustered to break the American's serve three times before taking the opener when her opponent sent a backhand wide.
The unseeded 25-year-old backed up her shock win over Angelique Kerber with a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 triumph that left her facing the victor of Tuesday night's quarter-final between Ashleigh Barty and Petra Kvitova.
Sharapova: I think that's a silly question to ask.
"Yeah, for me, having that 18 months off was vital".
She retired and in 2014 made the stunning announcement that she would instead play professional cricket in Brisbane, preferring a team sport over tennis' gladiatorial ethos. Striking 39 on her first appearance in Twenty20 cricket, she clearly handles off-spin as confidently as she does topspin.
The two-time Wimbledon champion blazed her way into the quarter-finals with an emphatic straight sets win over 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova.
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World number 35 Collins had never won a match at a Grand Slam in five previous attempts before arriving in Melbourne and putting three seeds to the sword on the way to the fourth round.
But Barty, roared on by raucous support at Rod Laver Arena, fought back to break twice in the second set and level the match as unforced errors crept into the Russian's game.
'Giving back to my community is very important to me and I hope to inspire many more Indigenous kids to get active and enjoy their tennis, ' she said.
"I was even thinking during the match that some of you guys stayed".
Asked for her thoughts on the crowd's reaction, Sharapova replied: "What do you want me to say to that question?" "You know, sitting down with my team late a year ago, it was one of the goals we set out that we wanted to go deep into slams, and I feel like that was the next step for me. I think every day I try and challenge myself to add another string to my bow".
They met on court as recently as last weekend in the Sydney International final, when the Czech Kvitova won via a tiebreaker in the third set. I was just trying, I couldn't find my rhythm. Being up 4-1, I had a chance to do that.
Jaded with the constant travel and loneliness of being on tour, as well as the pressure from Australian fans desperate for Grand Slam success, Barty decided tennis was not for her.