WTA Rome: Daria Gavrilova upsets defending finalist Madison Keys

2015 semifinalist Daria Gavrilova secured an impressive victory in the first round of the Internazionali BNL D'italia as she triumphed in three sets against Madison Keys, the defending finalist here in Rome.

WTA Rome: Daria Gavrilova upsets defending finalist Madison Keys
Daria Gavrilova put in an excellent performance today | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photogaphy
Daria Gavrilova
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Madison Keys

The Internazionali BNL D’Italia witnessed a first round match played by defending finalist Madison Keys and the 2015 semifinalist Daria Gavrilova, who had to qualify for the main draw after failing to sign-up for the tournament in time, with the underdog triumphing in three sets eventually, despite trailing by a break thrice in the final set.

Keys strolls to win the first set

Keys had a nervy start to the match as she narrowly held her serve to 30, but managed to find her powerful returns early on as she managed to get to deuce in Gavrilova’s opening service game of the match. However, the Australian maintained her composure to eventually hold her serve and prevent herself from lagging behind an early deficit. Keys looked like the better player on the court, which was reflected on the scoreboard as the American earned three break points in the fourth game.

Madison Keys in action | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photogaphy
Madison Keys in action | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photogaphy

Nevertheless, Gavrilova ensured that the first break of serve will not occur so soon as she fended off all the break points and held the tight service game once again. Keys earned another two more opportunities in the sixth game and looked to make the breakthrough. This time, Gavrilova was unable to save herself from the brink as she gave Keys the formidable 4-2 lead, which the American easily consolidated for a 5-2 advantage, being just a game away from winning the first set. Serving to stay in the set, the underdog was unable to go against the powerful game of Keys, falling victim to pressure as she eventually gifted the first set 6-2 to Keys.

Gavrilova seals the set at the last moment

The American then started the second set on a bang when she easily held her service game and remained solid in her game, continuing to look like the better player on the court. However, Gavrilova replied the best way possible when she rattled off three straight games and took the lead for the first time in the match, with Keys constantly looking at her wrist, hinting at a possible injury. Keys’ woes were further extended when she lost her fourth consecutive game, getting broken for the second time in a row as Gavrilova looked to send the match into a deciding set.

Madison Keys celebrate winning the first set | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photogaphy
Madison Keys celebrate winning the first set | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photogaphy

After her serve abandoned her yet again, Keys soon found herself down 2-5 and Gavrilova having the golden opportunity to serve out the set. Unexpectedly, this was when the momentum shifted back to the higher-ranked player as she went on a run, returning level all of a sudden as she saved three set points in the process. However, she failed to hold onto her service game at the most critical moment as she was broken in the 11th game, allowing Gavrilova to regain the lead. Ultimately, the Australian made full use of the third chance and successfully served out the set 7-5 after a marathon 57 minutes.

Gavrilova steals the win

The final set started the perfect way for the American as she held her serve comfortably before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead in the early stages. However, the final set soon turned into a galore of service breaks as five consecutive breaks followed, with the scores remaining level after all the chaos. Both players looked very inconsistent on their serves and were unable to consolidate any of their leads, and neither won more than 33% of second serve points in the final set.

Daria Gavrilova in action | Photo: Denis Doyle/Getty Images Europe
Daria Gavrilova in action | Photo: Denis Doyle/Getty Images Europe

Fending off a break point in the pivotal ninth game, Keys seemed to have the match in her control after hitting a perfect running backhand winner on game point to take a 5-4 lead, with the momentum looking to spur her to get the win. However, not many would have expected Gavrilova to have held her serve under a massive amount of pressure, and even break serve to love to take the lead once again. Serving for the match, the Australian made no errors and comfortably sealed the victory after 2 hours and 30 minutes.


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