Linda Fruhvirtova’s fairytale Australian Open came to an end on Monday in the fourth round as Donna Vekic defeated the 17-year-old 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
At Melbourne Park, unseeded Croatian Vekic competes against Belarus’ fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka for a spot in the semifinals.
The youngest player left in the draw, Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, had never played in the round of 16.
The adolescent made her Grand Slam debut in the 2022 US Open, and her performance there served as further evidence of her immense promise.
But after a tremendously thrilling 2 hour and 7 minute match at Margaret Court Arena, it was 64th-ranked Vekic who advanced into his first Australian Open quarterfinal.
“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.