She runs around the court like a dervish. Pony tail flapping in the breeze. She pumps her fist. She shouts. She smiles and all the while she is hitting shots that no one, at least no one since Justine Henin, who packed a punch herself, should be hitting.
Daria Gavrilova. Newly minted Australian, standing at all of 5 feet nothing is into the second week of the Australian Open. Unlike many Australian women before her who have shrunk with the weight of expectations of playing in front of a home crowd, Gavrilova has used the crowd to her advantage. She has been engaging, spirited and at some point I almost expect her to leap into the stands and start singing Waltzing Matilda with the Fanatics.
Gavrilova’s next opponent is Carla Suarez-Navarro who made it through to the second week after her opponent Kulichkova retired with a lower back injury.
Another player who stands at feet nothing is Lauren Davis. When Sharapova and Davis were being announced, the commentators mentioned that Davis was a good foot shorter than her opponent. It seemed like a lot more. The first set was a case of blink and you missed it. The second set however contained everything that one would expect from a match where Davis refused to lay down to her much more accomplished opponent and showed truly why size really does not matter (at least not in this context). Davis would lose the match but she has without a doubt shown us that sometimes heart is what matters most.
Serena Williams took care of Daria Satiskina in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) and showed the youngster exactly what she needed to go back to the practice court to work on. Serena has another Russian youngster but this one she is very familiar, having played her at Wimbledon last year.
Belinda Bencic kept her mind together to serve out her third round match against Kateryna Bondarenko. This match was a battle of the backhands. It was great to see the all court tennis that was displayed by both women and it was without a doubt one of the truly memorable matches of 2016.
Day 6 Picks
Rod Laver Arena
Strycova v. Muguruza – I was not sold on Muguruza and how she struggled against Flipkens in her previous match. Look for her to struggle today against a player who will give her different looks and who herself is quite volatile on court. This match could either spell the end of Muguruza’s campaign or it could see her pushing through to week 2.
Azarenka v. Osaka – how is that back injury for which Osaka got treatment during her match against Svitolina? If she is fully recovered she might present a test to Azarenka who has been cruising through this tournament so far. Experience will take this one.
Keys v. Ivanovic – in the battle of the big hitters, the steadier serve will win. Ivanovic is much better off the ground than Keys but Keys has a more reliable serve. Pick em.
Margaret Court Arena
Pliskova v. Makarova – Pliskova struggled in her match against Georges. This could be as a result of the friendship between both ladies or she was just having a bad day at the office. In the end she won in straights. She will need to ensure that she is ready from the bell for this one.
Kerber v. Brengle -3-0 head to head in favour of Kerber says it all.
Lepchenko v. Zhang – no one expected either of these 2 women to be here. I am going with Lepchenko.
Konta v. Allertova – again, no one expected either of these 2 women to be here, but here we are. I am going with Konta.
Show Court 2
Siegemund v. Beck – Is Beck finally showing us that she can compete effectively at a Grand Slam? I am going with her on this one if only because her opponent had a relatively tough match against Vinci in the previous round.