Daria Gavrilova feels compatriot Ashleigh Barty would be a worthy winner of the 2017 Newcombe Medal, Australian tennis's highest honor.
The pair are both nominated, with the winner announced next Monday, November 27. ATP stars John Peers, Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson are also in contention for the award, which is the showpiece of an evening that honors the contribution and achievements of those involved in Australian tennis throughout the year.
“I think she's going to win,” Gavrilova told the Sydney Morning Herald. “She's had such a great year, I'm really proud - she's been playing some good tennis."
Barty continued her return to the sport after a 17-month break which included a spell with the cricket outfit, the Brisbane Heat, in the Women's Big Bash League. She reached a career-high ranking of World No.17 by the year’s end, making her Australia's No.1, and won her first WTA singles title in Malaysia in March as well as beating four top 10 seeds on her way to the final of September's Wuhan Open and also making the final in Birmingham.
“She was playing good from the beginning of the year when we were playing Fed Cup," added Gavrilova. "I was like, 'She's going to do some damage', but I did not expect her to end up being the No.1 Aussie.”
Barty and Gavrilova could both potentially become the first female winner of the award since Samantha Stosur in 2012.
“It's pretty cool to be nominated for a second year in a row,” Gavrilova, 23, said, having climbed into the top 20 for the first time after winning a maiden WTA Tour title, in New Haven in August. “I did make sure that I let everyone know on social media!”
The World No.25 hopes to continue her good form at the Australian Open in January, having made the fourth round in the last two Melbourne tournaments.
“I played pretty good tennis, so I hope this training block really pays off and hopefully I can do the same,” she added.
“I haven't been playing a lot of tennis - right now fitness is the priority - but it's nice to be back on court and hitting a few balls.”