Todd talks: Daria makes a dash
After knocking off world No.2 Maria Sharapova, Russian-born Aussie Daria Gavrilova prepares for a career-best fourth-round appearance at the prestigious Miami Open. Todd Woodbridge assesses her chances.
After knocking off world No.2 Maria Sharapova in the second round, Russian-born Aussie Daria Gavrilova prepares for a career-best fourth-round appearance at the prestigious Miami Open.
She comes up against Karolina Pliskova, the 14th seed and one of the booming stars on the WTA Tour. If Gavrilova is to continue her hot streak, she will need to be prepared to absorb a tonne of big hitting from the powerful Czech.
Gavrilova is short in stature but makes up for that with her tenacious attitude, competitive spirit and strength off the ground. To come out on top, she will need to play with controlled aggression from the baseline as she did against Sharapova.
It has been an incredible effort by Gavrilova to get to this point in her career; the former world No.1 junior had been treading water for several years, struggling to make the transition to into the world’s top 100. A knee injury – keeping her off tour for a year – proved the wake up call that has been the catalyst behind her surge. I watched her painstakingly rehabilitate the knee last year, with a team led by Nicole Pratt at Tennis Australia’s National Academy in Melbourne.
As is often the case with tennis players, all pieces of the puzzle must come together – both on and off the court – for their career to truly flourish.
In Gavrilova’s case, this has involved a productive coaching-player partnership with Pratt and a long-term relationship with fellow Australian player Luke Saville. Not only has she fallen for Saville, she’s fallen in love with Australia and its culture.
So how high can she go? Given what we have seen from her this year, the top 30 is certainly within reach. And once she’s in that space, anything is possible – take a look at what the similarly-styled Sara Errani achieved in reaching a Grand Slam final and the world’s top 10.
Gavrilova appears destined to be heading down that same path.