Gavrilova misses golden opportunity
Expecting to play Maria Sharapova, Daria Gavrilova was instead stunned by a free-swinging teenager just as the draw at Flushing Meadows was opening up for her.
Daria Gavrilova wished she’d faced off with five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova rather than a lowly-ranked rookie after making a shattering exit from the US Open.
Australia’s most exciting young women’s prospect appeared to have been gifted a passage through to the second round in New York when Sharapova withdrew from their scheduled showcourt clash with a leg injury.
Alas, free-swinging 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina ambushed her on court 11 to post a 6-2 4-6 7-5 upset win over the world No.37.
Having stunned Sharapova in Miami earlier this year to spark a huge rankings rise, Gavrilova said she would have been much more comfortable taking on the third-seeded former champion.
“I obviously had a plan to play Maria and in the end I ended up playing this girl who I didn’t know anything about,” Gavrilova said.
“I am obviously very disappointed.”
A hamstring strain sustained early in the third set also undermined the 21-year-old’s bid to capitalise on a stack of seeds bombing out on the opening day to open up Gavrilova’s section of the draw.
“I couldn’t move as well and that is my biggest strength, so that didn’t help at all,” Gavrilova said.
But after establishing a 3-1 lead in the deciding set, Gavrilova ultimately paid the price for having her scheduled first-round encounter moved from Armstrong Stadium.
With no Hawk-Eye available on the outside court, the former world junior champion was livid at being unable to challenge a call when a framed forehand winner from Kasatkina flew over her head to break the Australian for 6-5 in the third set.
Gavrilova was adamant the ball was out and protested to the chair umpire, but later sportingly refused to make a fuss.