NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Unseeded Daria Gavrilova stunned the defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets to reach the final at the Connecticut Open.
Radwanska’s first meeting against the Australian player was sure to be one she won’t soon forget, falling 6-4, 6-4 after an hour and a half on court.
“I trusted my game plan and I think I executed it very well,” Gavrilova said after the match. “I was pretty aggressive and taking chances whenever I could on her second serve.”
Gavrilova’s aggressive start paid off right away - she earned a break in the very first game, dodging Radwanska’s points to break back to consolidate her lead. The Pole’s serve was shaky in the opening games, striking two double faults in her first two service games, and it gave the dialed-in Gavrilova plenty of opportunities to attack on the return.
Gavrilova didn’t give Radwanska any breathing room, controlling every rally from the very start to build up a 4-0 lead in just 17 minutes.
But the Aussie couldn’t keep up the high level as Radwanska took advantage of a dip in her form, drawing out the unforced errors to reel off three games in a row and make it 4-0. Gavrilova stayed calm, hanging on to her lone break advantage to close out the set.
Things got a bit more complicated for Gavrilova as the defending champion came out swinging in the second, breaking early to grab a 2-0 lead. The Aussie didn’t let her enjoy it for long, breaking back straightaway, finishing more points at the net and stepping inside the court to doggedly track down every shot.
Her efforts were finally rewarded late in the set, finally breaking through at 4-3 with some booming groundstrokes to close in on the finish line.
That break proved decisive, even as Gavrilova’s nerves reared their head as she was serving out the match. Gavrilova dumped her first match point into the net and then hit a double fault - giving Radwanska a break point - but she stayed calm and fired off an ace, backing it up with a big smash to close out the match.
With the victory, Gavrilova is not only through to the third final of her career, she also becomes the first Australian to reach the final at the Connecticut Open.
Still seeking her maiden WTA title, she’ll take on No.2 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the final after the Slovak dismissed Elise Mertens in straight sets. Gavrilova trails Cibulkova 1-0 in their head-to-head record.