SYDNEY, Australia - For the second day in a row, Daria Gavrilova retained bragging rights over a lower-ranked wildcard compatriot at the Sydney International, defeating Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-2 in the final second-round match.
The third all-Australian match of the week involved Fed Cup teammates who have had contrasting fortunes at home in recent years. Stosur's initial breakthroughs occurred in Australia, reaching the Sydney final on her debut in 2005 and making the second week of a Slam for the first time one year later in Melbourne. However, since that Sydney debut she had compiled a modest 5-9 record at this tournament - and until her first-round win over Carina Witthoeft this year was on an eight-match losing streak on home soil.
Gavrilova, by contrast, has spoken about how much she loves playing in front of her home crowd; since her Top 100 breakthrough in 2015 she has a 12-6 record at home, including two Australian Open fourth round showings, as well as leading her country to Hopman Cup victory in 2016 alongside Nick Kyrgios. Moreover, since gaining residency Down Under in 2013, the World No.25 is 11-1 against her compatriots - though the only loss came to none other than Stosur, in the Strasbourg final last year.
Those records foreshadowed the pattern of today's match. A scrappy affair at first, it was the Australian No.3 who drew ahead first, nailing a forehand pass en route to surviving three game points and breaking for 3-1. But two game points of her own for a 4-1 lead went begging - and Stosur gifted the break back immediately thanks to an ill-timed double fault and errant drive volley.
From there, Gavrilova employed the full range of her junk, spin and assorted counterpunching tactics to grind her opponent down. Though the Australian No.2 struggled with her second serve, winning just 37% points behind it in the first set and committing ten double faults overall (to go with her nine from the first round), a finely executed dropshot was instrumental to another break to forge ahead 5-4. Breathtaking reflexes at net staved off a break point in the ensuing game, and on set point the 23-year-old was finally able to seal the deal with a service winner.
Stosur started the second set in unfortunate fashion, with a third double fault, and matters did not improve much for the wildcard entrant. Shedding miscued strokes, particularly on the forehand side and often with the court open for a putaway, the 33-year-old swiftly sank to a 0-5 deficit as she totalled 36 unforced errors.
Gavrilova would also notch up the same number of errors - but also landed 27 winners compared to Stosur's 18. Moreover, she was ruthless on break points - taking all five of her chances over the match - and increasingly accurate with her backhand down the line in particular.
There was more serve-related drama for Gavrilova in the home stretch, with another two double faults causing her to drop serve to love on her first attempt to close out the match, and yet another emerging on her first match point. As in the first set, though, the younger player finally found a service winner to get herself over the line - and all the way into the semifinals, thanks to Garbiñe Muguruza's withdrawal from the quarterfinals. In the final four, Gavrilova could face a compatriot for the third time in as many matches this week: she'll face either Australian No.1 Ashleigh Barty or unseeded Barbora Strycova.