MELBOURNE, Australia - Daria Gavrilova, originally from Russia but making the transition to full Australian status on the WTA, has conquered the third and final Australian Open wildcard play-off event, winning on the very same Melbourne Park courts the main event will soon be played on.
The victory was even sweeter given a year ago she was watching the action at Melbourne Park on crutches - she tore her ACL playing the WTA 125K Series event in Taipei in November 2013.
"Last year I was watching this on crutches after my surgery, and I was jealous of everyone playing!" Gavrilova recalled. "Now I'm here and I won, and I'm really happy! It's just really exciting.
"I love being here and I really love Melbourne. I can't wait for the Australian Open."
Check out highlights from Sunday's final between Gavrilova and Rodionova in the below video:
Though she is still representing Russia on the WTA, Gavrilova is now a permanent resident of Australia and will represent the home country at the upcoming Australian Open. It will be her second Grand Slam representing Australia - she also did it at the US Open this past year, where she fell in the qualies.
The 20-year-old Gavrilova, a former junior World No.1, will be playing the main draw of a Grand Slam for the second time in her career - she was main draw at the Australian Open in 2013 as a qualifier, eventually making the second round before falling to fellow qualifier Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.