Gavrilova hoping to build on breakthrough year
Daria Gavrilova enjoyed a career-best season in 2016, something she hopes to build on in a bid to reach even greater heights in the new year.
Daria Gavrilova will kick off her Australian summer with a far brighter spotlight shining on her in 2017.
Twelve months ago, the Russian-born Aussie burst to prominence in front of her adopted fans by winning the Hopman Cup with Nick Kyrgios and then storming to the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Now, following an impressive end to the 2016 season, Gavrilova will return to her home events verging on the top 20 and targeting tournament titles.
“I didn’t put a number on (my ranking for 2017) – I don’t want to put this pressure on myself. But we’ll see how I go,” said the world No.25.
“I’m pretty happy with where I am right now, but obviously like every athlete, I want to improve. But I’m not going to put a number on it.
“(Next year) I would love to finally win a WTA tournament. It was my goal this year and I was pretty happy with making the finals in Moscow, but hopefully I can go a step further next year.”
Reaching the title match in the Russian capital was part of a stellar 10-3 finish to 2016, a run which began with a quarterfinal at the China Open and was followed by a semifinal in Hong Kong, where she defeated world No.1 Angelique Kerber along the way.
The defeat of Kerber was one of four top-10 scalps Gavrilova notched during the year.
Those performances helped push her up to a career-high ranking of 24th in late October; now she’s challenging Sam Stosur for the mantle of Australia’s No.1 female player.
“It would be pretty cool to overtake her,” Gavrilova said of Stosur, who has held the position for more than eight years uninterrupted.
Hoping to help her get there is a bolstered entourage.
Nicole Pratt – who can no longer work as closely with Gavrilova due to her new role as head of Australian women’s tennis – remains her coach but another, Biljana Veselinovic, has been added to the mix.
Gavrilova also continues to work with strength and conditioning coach Stefano Barsacchi.
“Pratty and (Biljana) just started talking about a few things, and Pratty was like, wow, we’re actually on the same page about so many things. Pratty was looking for a travelling coach for me, and that’s how it all started,” Gavrilova said.
“Pratty and I have a pretty good relationship – Biljana respects that and she’s not stepping in (saying), we’re going to do something completely different. So they actually work together.
“I’ve got a pretty good set up.”
Gavrilova will begin 2017 by returning to the Hopman Cup with Kyrgios, and will then head to Apia International Sydney before her fourth Australian Open campaign.