Melbourne, Australia, 29 March 2024 | Jackson Mansell

After making a promising start to the 2024 season, Daria Saville is verging on a top-100 return.

The 30-year-old, who began the year ranked world No.208, has tallied six top-100 victories and advanced to two WTA singles quarterfinals.

These are encouraging results for the former world No.20, who returned last year from her second knee surgery.

Saville’s efforts have been rewarded with selection in the Australian team to face Mexico in a Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier tie in Brisbane next month.

> BUY NOW: Tickets to see Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup team in action

In our Train with the Pros series, Saville reveals why she finds Billie Jean King Cup training sessions the most daunting …

Do you have a favourite time to practice?

I think I’m a morning person, like most athletes, because I like to get on with my non-tennis life in the afternoons or later in the day. That’s if I’m at home. Honestly if I’m on the road I almost don’t care when I train, because I don’t have many things other than tennis to do. Unless we are in a very nice, tourist place like in Rome, then it would be nice to go for a little stroll in the city.

How many hours, on average, would you spend on the practice court?

I average about two to two-and-a-half hours a day, six times a week.

Do you have a favourite part of your game to work on?

To be honest, I think point play is my favourite. I get competitive.

Do you have a least favourite part of your game to work on?

Maybe serving, I find it boring but it’s very needed.

Who are your favourite players to practice with?

I would say Sam Stosur. I always loved practising with her. She’s always been one of my mentors, someone I could always talk to about my tennis or even about my mental health. I always had to be on because of her intensity. With her forehand and how heavy she would hit the ball, I always had to be 100 per cent on. I always felt I had to do a really good warm-up and get myself mentally prepared that it’s going to be a tough session.
I also like training with Storm Hunter and Daria Kasatkina. I probably hit with Kasatkina at almost every event. If we play at the same events, we’ll probably have a hit.

Can you recall any training sessions you were particularly nervous for?

It’s nerve-racking training during the Billie Jean King Cup ties, because I feel like everyone’s watching and judging, which is not true because they’re actually there to support us. But I always think ‘oh my God, I’ve just missed that forehand, this is probably why I’m not going to get selected’.

Is there a player on tour you’d love to have the opportunity to train with?

I never practised with or played against Venus Williams. There’s actually a lot of players I haven’t practised with or played against. It’s crazy that I’ve never hit a ball against Venus. That’d be cool. She hasn’t retired yet, so maybe I need to get onto it.

Is there a player from tennis history that you most love to have a chance to hit with?

Steffi Graf would be cool. It was never really a reality, because she kind of stopped when I was starting. I never actually trained with Maria Sharapova. I played against her, but I want to see her intensity on the practice court.

What advice would you share with an aspiring player wanting to get the most out of their training sessions?

Having intentions is really important. I wouldn’t expect a 12-year-old to have intentions to be honest, I probably didn’t at that age. But at least having three things that you want to get out of the session would be way more valuable than just hitting for the sake of hitting.

Finally, if you had five minutes left in a practice session and could do anything you wish, what what you choose?

Probably put-away forehands or drive volleys just to feel good.

> READ MORE: From our “Train with the pros” series

Find your way to play: Visit to get out on court and have some fun!