World quantity six Maria Sakkari survived an enormous scare in opposition to school scholar Diana Shnaider on Wednesday earlier than coming by way of 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to succeed in the third spherical of the Australian Open.
Shnaider, an 18-year-old qualifier from Russia who research at North Carolina State, pushed the Greek all the way in which in a 2hr 33min examination on Margaret Courtroom Enviornment.
“It’s never easy to play someone that you’ve never played before, you’ve never seen on the tour,” mentioned Sakkari, who’s looking for a maiden Grand Slam title.
“I was a little bit hesitant, she was swinging very hard, playing very aggressive,” she added of the world quantity 106.
“I was very far back from the baseline running and defending every single ball, which is not my game.
“I attempted to search out methods, and that is what I feel I am good at, simply looking for options to enhance my sport throughout the match.”
The hard-hitting Shnaider broke Sakkari’s opening serve on Margaret Court Arena, and showed huge guts to save three break-back points and secure the opening set in 48 minutes on her fifth set point.
Sakkari, one of the pre-tournament favourites, got back on track at the start of the second, breaking Shnaider’s opening service game and opening a 3-0 lead.
But again Shnaider fought back, saving four set points before Sakkari took it to a decider.
The Greek was becoming increasingly tetchy as the match dragged on, complaining to the umpire about the Russian’s loud grunting and screaming and beating her racquet against her shoe when one shot went awry.
Shnaider again went a break down early in the third set and although she broke back, the sixth seed managed to regroup and take the match.
It was the performance of the gritty Shnaider’s fledgling career.
A year ago the teenager was outside the top 1,000 and two weeks ago she lost in the first round of qualifying at the Auckland Classic.
She gave no clue that she might run the 27-year-old Sakkari close in her maiden match at this level, taking almost two hours to edge the 272nd ranked Slovakian, Kristina Kucova, 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 in the first round on Monday.
“I feel that she performed a tremendous match,” said Sakkari.
“She’s very younger. She’s very promising. Perhaps she ought to contemplate not going to school and enjoying professional as an alternative.”
Sakkari will play both Jil Teichmann, the quantity 32 seed from Switzerland, or China’s Zhu Lin within the third spherical.