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Sakkari survives Shnaider scare to advance at Australian Open

Maria Sakkari came through a tense tussle with 18-year-old qualifier Diana Shnaider to reach the third round.

Maria Sakkari Australian Open 2023 Maria Sakkari Australian Open 2023 || AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Australian Open •Second round • completed
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Maria Sakkari found herself in a heap of trouble against 18-year-old Russian qualifier Diana Shnaider on Wednesday at the Australian Open. The Greek dropped the opening set and could never really take total control as she steered herself across the dangerous terrain to a hard-fought 3-6 7-5 6-3 triumph over the world No 106

It was a tense affair from start to finish, but sixth-seeded Sakkari was able to take hold of the two hour and 33-minute contest by increasing her aggressiveness and relying less on her defense in sets two and three.

“Definitely, it was very high level for both of us,” Sakkari told the crowd on Margaret Court Arena after her win.

The Greek tossed some praise in the direction of the dynamic southpaw, who has signed up to play college tennis and North Carolina State University.

“I think that she played an amazing match. You know, she’s very young, she’s very promising,” Sakkari said. “Maybe she should consider not going to college, playing pro.”

Sakkari, who will face either Jil Teichmann or Lin Zhu in the third round, says she had to remind herself to get on the front foot after a shaky start.

“It’s never very easy to play someone that you’ve never played before, you’ve never seen before on the tour,” Sakkari said. “I was a little bit hesitant. She was swinging very hard, playing very aggressive. I know that I should have been more aggressive because I was very far back from the baseline, running and defending every single ball, which is not my game.

“But still, I tried to find ways and I think that’s what I’m good at, just trying to find solutions and trying to improve my game during the match.”

More to follow…

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