Former No. 1 Maria Sharapova was stunned in the opening round tonight at the Miami Open falling to fellow Russian and No. 97 Daria Gavrilova 7-6, 6-3.
“I still can’t realize that it’s my dream – I have been dreaming about beating Maria since I was probably 12, when I saw her win Wimbledon, when she beat Serena,” said Gavrilova after her first career Top 35 win. “I was like, ‘Oh, I really want to play her and beat her.’ I’ve probably been visualizing beating her since I was 12.
“I played Angelique Kerber twice this year and Simona Halep just two weeks ago, and I was pretty close all this time. So I just thought, ‘Okay, you can do it. You’re probably at this level right now.’”
The 21-year-old Gavrilova who won the US Open juniors a few years ago, used her Cibulova-like game to force Sharapova into a multitude of errors.
“She runs a lot of balls down,” Sharapova said. “I was committing a lot of errors off of those balls and not really staying patient, and maybe going for too many winners but not moving forward enough.
“Of course it’s a bit of a surprise. It’s the first round. I’m expected to win. But that’s why we play the matches – you still have to go out and win it, no matter if you’re the favorite. Today I didn’t.”
Sharapova, who still has never won the Miami Open finishing runner-up five times, enters the clay season on a rare 2-match losing streak after her earliest exit at the event since 2003.
On a busy first day of the second round. Sharapova was really the lone surprise as favorites and former champions Venus Williams and Agnieszka advanced.
“I definitely feel like I’m in my own backyard,” said Venus. “I love South Florida. I’ve been here over 20 years, and I’m not going anywhere else!”
Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was also a winner along with Sam Stosur, Andrea Petkovic and Karolina Pliskova. Stosur now plays Venus on Saturday.
Tomorrow, Serena Williams tests her bum right ankle against Monica Niculescu in a rematch of their clash two Fridays ago. In a crucial all-American match-up, rising stars Sloane Stephens locks up with Madison Keys.
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