Last year’s finalist Petra Kvitova battle back from a set down to defeat Greek starlet Maria Sakkari, then revealed she wasn’t intimidated by the raucous pro-Sakkari crowd at the Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night.
Sakkari, roared on by a vocal fanbase inside the main arena, took the first set against the Czech star via a tiebreak, but Kvitova fought back to claim the victory 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 as she booked her place in the quarter-finals.
After the match, Kvitova said the atmosphere felt more like a football match than a tennis match at times.
“When I was shaking the hand with the umpire, I told him it was like a soccer match today,” she said.
“It’s nice on one side. On the other side, it’s the tennis, and it’s not a Fed Cup.
“It’s strange. But it didn’t bother me at all.”
Greek players have received rapturous support from the Australian Greek community during the tournament, with Stefanos Tsitsipas also enjoying vociferous backing from the stands during his matches.
No. 6 seed Tsitsipas admitted last week that the crowd had at times crossed the line of what’s acceptable during a match.
But despite experiencing a similar atmosphere on Saturday night, Kvitova kept her cool to produce a professional performance and progress to the final eight of the tournament.
“I didn’t feel the best. I was just too tight and everything was flying somewhere,” she said.
“But with the time on court I just get probably used to and I started to play a little bit better, more free.”