The Courier-Mail

DARIA RUS­SIAN TO FACE SHARA­POVA

- ANNA CALD­WELL

RIS­ING Aus­tralian star Daria Gavrilova has al­ready beaten Maria Shara­pova once this year, and plans to do it again on the first day of the US Open.

The Mel­bourne star – a Rus­sian im­port who en­thu­si­as­ti­cally calls Aus­tralia home – has had a me­te­oric rise in the past eight months.

She started Jan­uary ranked world No.236 – now she’s 37th.

Gavrilova, 21, is pre­par­ing to go head to head with Rus­sian star Shara­pova who ad­mits she is not at her best, af­ter with­draw­ing from the Cincinnati Mas­ters tune-up tour­na­ment be­cause of a leg in­jury.

Gavrilova beat Shara­pova in the hard­court Mi­ami tour­na­ment in June, and has also racked up wins against Sam Sto­sur and Sara Er­rani this year.

When asked about her young Aus­tralian chal­lenger, Shara­pova said it was “a tough first round”.

Shara­pova said:id “W “We’ve’ gone back and forth with our re­sults this year.

“She beat me in Mi­ami and I had a good win against her in Rome.

“She’s a re­ally good op­po­nent.”

Shara­pova said she had had a tough year.

“I’ve had to make ad­just­ments through­out the year and it only gets tougher as you get older, of course,” she said, adding she had done all she could to be ready.

Gavrilova’s ex­cite­ment for the match in New York was ob­vi­ous yesterday.

“I (beat her) once. I’m pretty con­fi­dent I can do it again. I’m just go­ing to get out there and do the same thing I did in Mi­ami,” Gavrilova said. “I’m pretty pos­i­tive. ‘‘I’m pretty lucky I get to play Maria first round, where some play­ers need to win a few matches to get to play some­one like her.”

Gavrilova has lived in Aus­tralia for five years, but as a child idolised Shara­pova.

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