Upstarts Gavrilova, Brady Join Serena in Winner’s Circle Saturday at Australian Open
by Jeremy Davis | January 21st, 2017, 8:59 am
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There was a little something for everyone on Saturday at the Australian Open as a homecountry hope advanced into the fourth round after an upset, Serena Williams kept her title hopes alive, and two unseeded players positioned themselves for a quarterfinal run.


No. 22-seeded Aussie Daria Gavrilova thrilled the home crowd in one of the final night matches, upending No. 12-seeded Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Gavrilova dropped serve to start the third, then ran out to a 4-1 lead before cutting off a comeback from Bacsinszky.

“What can I say?” an exhilarated Gavrilova said in a brief on-court interview after the match. “I’m just exhausted and very happy.”

Her reward is a meeting with No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova, who herself survived a three-setter against tenacious unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 4-6, 6-0, 10-8.

Pliskova trailed 2-5 in the third against the former Wimbledon juniors champion.

“Very hard and I think I was a little lucky in the end,” Pliskova said. “She was playing very well, maybe the better. But I’m excited to be here in the fourth round for the first time in my life. When she was 5-2 up, she was missing a little more. I was staying in the game, even though I broke my racquet, but I was still fighting. And I also deserved to win.”

No. 2 seed Serena Williams and No. 9 seed Johanna Konta continued their dominant play Saturday. The American belted countrywoman Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3, and the Brit likewise powered past former No. 1 and No. 17 seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1.

Williams next faces No. 16 Barbora Strycova, who defeated No. 21 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-5. Konta next meets No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, who upset No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3.

“I’ve seen [Strycova] play a lot,” Williams said. “She’s super fit. She has a good game. She’s very aggressive, so that would be nice to play. But again, I don’t have anything to prove in this tournament here. Just doing the best I can. Obviously I’m here for one reason. But at the end of the day, this is all a bonus for me and I look forward to playing her. I’m ready for her.”

Konta at one point reeled off eight games in a row against Wozniacki.

“I really was very clear on wanting to assert myself from the first point,” said Konta said. “I was prepared to lose some points playing that way, but I felt it was the right way.”

An unseeded player is guaranteed a spot in the quarters as American Jennifer Brady and Croat veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni both advanced to a fourth round meeting. Brady beat No. 14 seed Elena Vesnina 7-6(4), 6-2, and Lucic-Baroni came from a set down to defeat Greece’s Maria Sakkari 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

“I just tried to break down her forehand, just keep going after my serve,” said the qualifier Brady. “I think eventually, in the second set, I just broke her serve. I don’t know what game I broke her serve, to be honest. I think eventually, in the beginning of the second set I started breaking her down a little bit, and I was able to capitalize on that.”

Competing in her first Australian Open, the 21-year-old Brady formerly trained at Chris Evert’s academy, played two years at UCLA before taking to the women’s tour, and recently relocated to Orlando to train full-time at the new USTA National Campus. She says one of the best perks of making the second round at a Grand Slam is fewer players around the locker room and other amenities.

“It’s actually pretty nice,” said Brady, who will have a career-high ranking near the Top 100 after the win. “The [player] cafe is not so crowded.”

Sunday’s matches in Melbourne will be the all-Russian (24) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. (8) Svetlana Kuznetsova, (13) Venus Williams vs. unseeded German Mona Barthel, (1) Angelique Kerber vs. unseeded American Coco Vandeweghe, and unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea vs. (7) Garbine Muguruza.


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