by Kevin Craig
Daria Gavrilova kept Australian tennis fans’ hopes alive for a deep run as she was able to defeat the No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 on Friday at the Australian Open to advance to the round of 16. Gavrilova has been the sole Australian representative in the women’s singles draw since Tuesday, as she was the only Australian woman to advance out of the first round.
In the first set, Gavrilova and Mladenovic exchanged breaks in each of their second service games before Gavrilova would go on to break in the seventh game and hold on to that lead to close out the set. The efficient 32-minute first set included zero deuce games and only saw two games in which the loser of the game got to 30.
The second set was more tightly contested as the first game lasted nine points before Mladenovic was able to hold. Gavrilova then held for 1-1, the last hold before four consecutive breaks were exchanged. After being down a break twice and battling back both times, Mladenovic went on to get a break in the tenth game and close out the second set, forcing a decider.
Gavrilova and Mladenovic wound up playing the longest third set of the women’s singles tournament at the Australian Open as they needed 20 games to decide a winner. Once again, Gavrilova was able to break early in the set, but was unable to consolidate as she was broken right back by Mladenovic to get the set to 1-1. There was minimal trouble on serve until Gavrilova broke Mladenovic again to go up 5-4 and have a shot at serving out the match. Her consolidation troubles continued, though, she was broken at 15 and Mladenovic prolonged the match. Finally at 9-9, Gavrilova got the decisive break to go up 10-9 and went on to hold to make her first fourth round at a slam.
One of the main differences in the match came in the unforced errors department as Mladenovic committed 61 while Gavrilova contained hers to 30. The two were not unfamiliar with each other though, as they had faced off in the 2009 final of the French Open juniors, where Mladenovic was able to get the straight sets win. Gavrilova was able to get her revenge on Friday, and is able to continue her dream run in front of her home fans.
The Aussie winning the 171 minute match is a testament to her maturity and ability to keep her composure in difficult situations as she continues her best run at a slam. The 21 year old dubbed the win as the “best win of [her] whole career,” but has an opportunity to get an even better one as she will take on the No. 10 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round.