Absence of fans at the Australian Open ‘disturbing’ says Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina admitted she had to remind herself she was playing at a Grand Slam during her third round match against Yulia Putintseva at the Australian Open.
Fans were not permitted into the Australian Open grounds after Melbourne was placed in a five-day lockdown on Saturday, meaning Svitolina had to face her Kazakh opponent behind closed doors.
The fifth seed decided not to play at the US Open last September while spectators were allowed into the French Open a month later, so this was her first experience of playing without fans at a Major.
Despite the absence of fans Svitolina cruised to a 6-4 6-0 victory, though admitted she did not enjoy her first experience of behind closed doors action.
“It was very different conditions,” Svitolina said. “I played a night match at 7pm with a good crowd. Now it was completely different. It was for sure a bit disturbing, I would say, in some ways sad.”
“But it is what it is. I had to accept. I had to have a good mindset, not thinking too much about that. I just tried to focus on my game.
“I actually had few thoughts about it, it feels like a practice match. I tried to convince myself that it’s a grand slam and that we are playing an important match. I have to focus on my match.
“But for sure there’s some thoughts and there is I say some low moments that can sneak into the mind. It’s what we have to deal with. I’m trying my best to do it.”
Svitolina will face American Jessica Pegula as the fifth seed bids to reach her third Australian Open quarter-final in four years.
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