Budding Australian star Daria Gavrilova will be looking to get her 2017 season up and running when she does battle with Croatian Donna Vekić in the first round of the Sydney International. Join The Roar from around 5pm (AEDT) for all the coverage and analysis from the match.
Samantha Stosur has long been the undisputable top dog of the Australian women’s tennis scene, but the girl they call ‘Dasha’ is closing in fast. Currently, she sits just four places behind her decade-older counterpart at 25th in the world, and a successful Australian summer could well see Stosur lose her crown for the first time in eight years.
But Gavrilova hasn’t exactly started off 2017 in peak form, with uncharacteristic unforced errors and general sluggishness attracting plenty of scrutiny in her Hopman Cup defeats to Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena and Czech Lucie Hradecka.
A three-set triumph over American Coco Vandeweghe on Thursday night landed her her first victory of 2017, but the dynamic 22-year-old still looked short of a gallop and will be hoping for a fresh start in Sydney to regain her form in the lead-up to the Australian Open.
Her opponent, 20-year-old Vekić, is probably best known in Australian circles as the subject of Nick Kyrgios’ controversial mid-match sledge to Stan Wawrinka in a Rogers Cup match in 2015, but the World No.99 has plenty of time on her side to make her mark on the world tennis scene.
Vekić’s 2016 campaign was a disappointing one, netting just four wins from 21 WTA appearances and never advancing past the second round in a tournament, so she will be hoping 2017 ushers in more successful times.
She has never featured in a minor tournament in this country, and with her only victory on Australian soil coming in the 2013 Australian Open, she is yet to capture the attention of the Australian tennis-loving public on the field.
Gavrilova looked to have recaptured some of her mojo in her Hopman Cup win over Vandeweghe, and she should be too strong for Vekić as she looks to find some form before the Australian Open.
Gavrilova in two sets.
Be sure to tune into The Roar from 5pm (AEDT) for live coverage of the first day of the Sydney International, and remember to leave your thoughts, analysis and witty banter in the comments section below.