Croatia's Donna Vekic reacts after a point against Czech Republic's Linda Fruhvirtova
Melbourne (AFP) - Donna Vekic ended the fairytale Australian Open of Linda Fruhvirtova in the fourth round on Monday, eventually overcoming the 17-year-old 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
Croatia’s unseeded Vekic plays fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus for a place in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.
The last-16 match was uncharted territory for the Czech Republic’s Fruhvirtova, the youngest player left in the draw.
The teenager reached the second round of the 2022 US Open on her Grand Slam debut and her run in Melbourne was more proof of her rich promise.
But in the end it was 64th-ranked Vekic who is into a maiden Australian Open quarter-final after a terrifically entertaining 2hr 7min tussle at Margaret Court Arena.
“I didn’t really feel like I had much control in the second set to be honest, but I just had to keep fighting and hoping and believing that I will win,” said the 26-year-old Vekic.
Vekic said she had been hoping to play Belinda Bencic in the last eight, but the Swiss was overpowered in straight sets by the ominous-looking Sabalenka.
“Really sad it’s not Belinda,” said Vekic, who is good friends with the Swiss world number 10. “But I’m sure she’ll give me some tips.”
Vekic extended her win streak to start the season to seven matches, after being unbeaten in three matches at the United Cup.
She was quickest out of the blocks, taking an emphatic first set in 39 minutes.
But the 82nd-ranked Fruhvirtova struck back, showing all the fighting spirit and talent that has earmarked her as a future Grand Slam champion, romping to the second set in 35 minutes.
But it was the more experienced Vekic who was able to stay the distance, although she needed to battle the never-say-die Fruhvirtova another 53 minutes to edge to victory.