Daria Gavrilova’s exciting Australian Open run has come to an end with a fourth-round meltdown against Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
Gavrilova looked set to become the first home hope to reach the women’s quarter-finals in seven years after dishing out a bagel in the opening set before mentally unravelling in a 0-6 6-3 6-2 defeat on Sunday night.
While Suarez Navarro can look forward to a last-eight showdown on Tuesday with Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Gavrilova will wonder what might have been.
Not since Jelena Dokic in 2009 has an Australian woman made the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park, but Gavrilova surged to within a set of matching the feat after delivering a tactical masterclass early on at Rod Laver Arena.
Alas, the 21-year-old was unable to add to her growing list of prized scalps, going down in two hours and three minutes to leave Bernard Tomic as the last Australian remaining in the 2016 singles draws.
Tomic will play Scottish second seed Andy Murray on Monday night for a place in the quarter-finals for the first time at his home grand slam event.
Gavrilova will have to be content with making the last 16 at a major for the first time after taking down two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in round two and then scoring a fighting three-set triumph over French seed Kristina Mladenovic.
The WTA’s 2015 Newcomer of 2015 is projected to enter the grand slam seeding zone at No.32 in the world following her spirited run, but will nevertheless rue a huge missed opportunity.
Three-time Open semi-finalist Pam Shriver claimed the temperamental youngster “lost the plot” after blowing a 2-0 lead and lambasting her entourage in the tense deciding third set.
“She’s clearly emotionally falling apart,” Shriver said from the ESPN commentary box as Gavrilova lost the last six games of the match as swiftly as she’d won the first six.
Australia’s last women’s hope had coming out swinging early on, breaking the Spaniard’s opening service game in a dream start to her nerve-racking centre-court debut.
Taking comparisons with Lleyton Hewitt in her stride, the high-energy, high-strutting fan favourite produced a Hewitt-like backhand topspin lob to consolidate for 3-0 before breaking Suarez Navarro again, this time to love.
Gavrilova also showed Hewitt’s grit to hold from love-40 down, moonballing the 10th seed and ghosting into the net to save one break point, then firing an ace down the middle on another in sweeping to a 5-0 lead.
She lured Suarez Navarro to the net then volley-lobbed the Spaniard in claiming a third break and taking the first set in 25 minutes.
Gavrilova had two break points for a 2-0 buffer in the second set, the let-off proving the turning point in the topsy-turvy match.