Tennis: New nationality, new high for Daria Gavrilova

Australia's Daria Gavrilova playing a back-hand return against Czech Petra Kvitova in the second round of the Australian Open. Gavrilova won the match 6-4, 6-4.
Australia's Daria Gavrilova playing a back-hand return against Czech Petra Kvitova in the second round of the Australian Open. Gavrilova won the match 6-4, 6-4.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Gavrilova, now an Aussie, in Grand Slam 3rd round for the 1st time after stunning Kvitova

MELBOURNE • Double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova was sent crashing out of the Australian Open yesterday by Australian Daria Gavrilova, becoming the third top-10 women's player who has flopped in Melbourne.

The out-of-sorts Czech sixth seed had no answers to the confident Gavrilova, who raced into a Grand Slam third round for the first time, winning 6-4, 6-4 on Margaret Court Arena.

Kvitova joined second seed Simona Halep and eighth seed Venus Williams on an early plane home after they were beaten in the first round.

"It was unreal. I was so nervous at the end. I'm just really proud," said the Russian-born Australian, who only switched nationalities in December. "I'm just really happy."

The 89-minute win ranks as one of Gavrilova's best, perhaps behind only a defeat of then-world No. 2 Maria Sharapova in Miami last year.

JUBILATION

It was unreal. I was so nervous at the end. I'm just really proud... And really happy.

DARIA GAVRILOVA, on defeating sixth seed Petra Kvitova.

The giant-killing world No. 39 now plays France's Kristina Mladenovic tomorrow for a place in the fourth round.

Czech Kvitova, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2012, had the worst possible build-up with a gastrointestinal problem forcing her out of the Shenzhen Open and Sydney International, where she was defending champion.

While the aggressive baseliner recovered to comfortably survive the first round, it all went wrong against Gavrilova as she made 35 unforced errors and was broken five times.

The Australian, who beat three top-10 players last year, won four of the last five games to take the first set 6-4 against the stunned Kvitova.

The Czech worked hard to recover in the second set but quickly fell 2-5 behind, saving one match point before breaking Gavrilova to claw back to 4-5.

But it was too little too late, with Gavrilova - who partnered Nick Kyrgios to win the mixed-team Hopman Cup in Perth this month - leaping for joy after her opponent sent a forehand long to hand her victory.

China's Wang Qiang experienced the emotional highs of knocking out a seeded player on Monday, when she defeated American Sloane Stephens.

But the 24-year-old qualifier could not replicate her first-round heroics yesterday, losing 3-6, 4-6 to German Anna-Lena Friedsam.

There was disappointment too for the unranked Eugenie Bouchard, who is rebuilding her career after a head injury at the US Open last year.

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska halted the Canadian's comeback with a 6-4, 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

Bouchard showed glimpses of her old form but could not match the Pole's ferocity in the second-round night match.

"I'm very happy with my game today because getting Genie in the second round was not an easy match," Radwanska said of the semi-finalist in Melbourne Park in 2014, when Bouchard also reached the last four of the French Open and the Wimbledon final.

"She is playing much better and it was a great challenge. I'm very, very happy I could play my best tennis today."

Defending champion Serena Williams also stormed into the third round. The world No. 1 trounced Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei 6-1, 6-2.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


AUSTRALIAN OPEN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2016, with the headline 'NEW NATIONALITY, NEW HIGH'. Print Edition | Subscribe