(March 26, 2015) Maria Sharapova was looking for her first title at the Miami Open, a rare event in which she has never held the trophy going 0-5 in finals. The Russian is still looking for that crown in Miami, as she was upset by countrywoman and wild card recipient, world No. 97 Daria Gavrilova 7-6(4), 6-3 on Thursday night.
For the 21-year-old born in Moscow and resides in Australian, who just broke into the top 100 just days ago, it’s her first win against a Top 10 player, the biggest win of her career.
The first set of the match saw both women break each other’s serve, with Gavrilova moving to a 5-3 lead. Sharapova fought back, taking the next three games. The younger Russian held on to send the set into a tiebreaker, which she won 7-6 (7-4). The set last 68 minutes.
“I was down 6‑5 and I was up 5‑3 and it was 30‑All, and I was just thinking, Okay, be tough, be tough; you can do it,” said Gavrilova.
“I had some negative thoughts at that time, but I kind of got rid of them and just kept going.”
The wild card jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, then moving out to a 4-1 advantage. The world No. 2 fought back to win the next two games to cut the deficit to 3-4, but her opponent broke back for 5-3 and served out the second set and the match 6-3.
On court was an elated winner: “I’m just so excited, I’m so happy, I can’t explain it,” she said. “I always believed and that’s probably why I won!”
“I was very composed. I told myself to keep believing and keep trying.”
Later at her post-match news conference, Gavrilova elaborated on her belief in being able to defeat Sharapova. “I played Angelique (Kerber) twice this year, and I played Simona (Halep) last week. I was pretty close I thought all this time. I just thought, Okay, you can do it. You’re probably at this level right now.”
Gavrilova, who is making a comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee back in 2013 broke Sharapova’s serve four times during the match.
She talked about the journey from the ACL injury to recovery and the night’s big win: “I remember last year I was crying. I was like, Oh, it’s so boring doing this rehab. Blah, blah, blah. It all paid off at the end. I just have to keep going.”
“I was injured. I had a knee surgery last year. So I had a pretty rough time.”
Asked if she was surprised about the defeat, the No. 2 player said: “Well, it’s sport, and I happened to lose the match. Of course it’s a bit of a surprise. It’s the first round. I’m expected to win.
“But I think that’s, you know, one of the reasons why we play the matches, is you still have to go out and win it no matter if you’re the favorite.
“Today I didn’t.”
“I mean, I had little times where I did come back, but I was always behind. I put myself in a situation that was too far behind to come back from.”
“I still can’t realize that it’s my dream,” said Gavrilova. I have been dreaming about beating Maria since I was probably 12 when I saw her win Wimbledon, when she beat Serena.
“I was like, Oh, I really want to play her and beat her. I was probably visualizing beating her since I was 12, yeah.”
“She runs a lot of balls down,” Sharapova said, evaluating her opponent’s strength. “I was committing a lot of errors off of those balls and not really staying patient and just going for, you know, too many maybe winners, not moving forward enough.”
Sharapova committed 34 unforced errors during the match.
Sharapova said that she’ll be playing Fed Cup for Russia when they take on Germany in Sochi, Russia the weekend of April 18-19.
“I was actually talking to my coach and my physio,” Gavrilova said. “I’m saying, I’m not going to sleep tonight because my phone will be going off.
“And I said, Oh, I’ll turn my Wi‑Fi, 4G, 3G, everything off and sleep and get ready for the next one.
Next for Gavrilova, she’ll face No. 54 Kurumi Nara in the third round. Nara upset 25th seed Caroline Garcia 6-7, 7-6(9).