Home charge Daria Gavrilova ignited Team Australia’s Mastercard Hopman Cup 2018 title quest with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Eugenie Bouchard.
“It’s nice to be back and playing competitive matches once again,” said Gavrilova. “The first set was great, but I definitely felt some nerves at the end, I was going for it all too much. It bodes well and it was nice to win again.”
The world No.25 clattered a blistering inside out forehand winner to consolidate a confident start with an instant break.
The movement from the Melbourne resident was exemplary, striking a forehand cross court passing shot away from Bouchard’s reach en route to racing 5-0 ahead in just 20 minutes.
“I was very happy with the start,” stated Gavrilova. “I was very physical from the beginning, made it tough for her out there from the very first point.”
The Canadian was undeterred and chalked up her first game with heavy serving. Boosted by canny net play, Bouchard threatened to break, but Gavrilova was striking with far too much precision.
A tenth winner completed a clinical 6-1 opener and the Australian’s dominance was maintained into the second set.
Great hustle in a laser-sharp net exchange enabled the 2016 Mastercard Hopman Cup champion to race 3-0 and onto the home straight.
However, former Australian Open semifinalist Bouchard capitalised upon a loose service game, reducing the deficit by pinning Gavrilova back in a lung-bursting rally.
Gavrilova managed to fend off three break point chances at 3-2 and a piercing backhand pass provided the catalyst to close out the match in style.
The home favourite was delighted to have edged out the match in straight sets.
“I was telling myself ‘this is a good test, you’re going to have to do this so many times all year,’” revealed Gavrilova, who is targeting to finish 2018 within the Top 20.
“Everyone has goals. Hopefully Ash (Barty), Sam (Stosur) and I will have a little battle. It’s good to have those girls around to keep it competitive.”
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