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Daria Gavrilova thrills crowds with upset of Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open

Abigail Johnson in News 20 Jan 2016
  • World no. 39 Daria Gavrilova upset Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-4 at the Australian Open on Wednesday
  • An erratic Kvitova hit 35 unforced errors en route to her fourth consecutive early loss at Melbourne Park
  • Gavrilova will face Kristina Mladenovic on Friday for a spot in the fourth round 
Petra Kvitova and Daria Gavrilova meet at the net after their Australian Open second round. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitova has made a fourth consecutive early exit from the Australian Open, falling at the hands of new Aussie Daria Gavrilova.
Melbourne seems to have lost its magic for Petra Kvitova since she made her lone semifinal run in 2012. Back then, her narrow three set loss to Maria Sharapova hinted that the Czech could soon go even better. But after an error-strewn second round loss to Laura Robson in the following year, things just kept getting worse. 

Following that 2-6 6-3 11-9 loss to Robson, a first round 6-2 1-6 6-4 defeat to world no. 88 Luksika Kumkhum in 2014 dented her confidence even more. And despite two good wins to kick off her 2015 campaign, Madison Keys was ultimately too powerful, too stable and too good for the lefty, ending her Melbourne dreams 6-4 7-5.

This year, Petra Kvitova seemed to have gone halfway to dispelling demons of the past with a 6-1 6-3 dismissal of Kumkhum in their round one rematch. Nevertheless, we know that Kvitova's brilliant form can flip at any given moment. Thus, while her 6-4 6-4 loss to Daria Gavrilova on Wednesday was certainly an upset – with the world no. 39 taking out the tournament's sixth seed – it was no so much a surprise.

Gavrilova - who triumphed alongside Nick Kyrgios at the Hopman Cup to start her season - had declared prior to the tournament that she could beat anyone in Melbourne. And while her game was not at top level for her clash with Kvitova, her confidence was. Revelling in the crowd support, she broke her opponent's serve five times (in half of Kvitova's service games), and hit three aces. When she failed to serve the match out in the second set, she regrouped to break for the victory.

“I was getting frustrated with myself,” Gavrilova said of her inability to close the contest out. “Just started thinking way too much. But in the end I just told myself, Okay, you're 5-3 down, what would you do? And I would just fight. That's what I did. Just tried to hit and run in and return.”
See also: Nick Kyrgios and Grigor Dimitrov set up massive third round encounters with Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer

Both players outweighed their final winner count with significant amounts of unforced errors. But it was Gavrilova – with 20 unforced to 11 winners – who compiled the fewer. Bringing her erratic side to the fore, Petra Kvitova will rue her 35 unforced errors, which overbalanced 17 winners.

Post match, Gavrilova was understandably elated.

“I'm just really excited and I'm already looking forward to my next match on Friday,” she said.

“I love the crowd. I love people watching me. It helps a lot. Coming into this match I was pretty sure that I could beat Petra. I knew she didn't have enough matches before. She didn't even play anything before Aus[tralian] Open, so I thought it was a good chance.”

Daria Gavrilova will next face Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, who was a 6-1 7-6(4) winner over American Nicole Gibbs. The no. 28 seed is also 22 years old, and more proof of the youngsters rising up in Melbourne Park.

“We're pretty friendly,” Gavrilova said of Mladenovic. “We say hello to each other, practice together, got each other's numbers. I think we know each other pretty well. We played juniors a lot. I think it's going to be awesome.”

Mladenovic and Gavrilova will face off for a place in the Australian Open fourth round on Friday 22 January.

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Daria Gavrilova thrills crowds with upset of Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open

Adopted Aussie Daria Gavrilova was high on confidence as she delivered Petra Kvitova her fourth consecutive early loss at the Australian Open.

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