Gavrilova steps up for Australia

Petra Kvitova’s pain proved Daria Gavrilova’s gain as Australia’s hottest young female tennis talent cashed in on the Wimbledon champion’s sorry departure from the Eastbourne International.

The ailing Czech’s late withdrawal not only gifted Gavrilova an unexpected inclusion in the tier-one Wimbledon warm-up event as the “lucky loser” from qualifying, but also pitched her into Kvitova’s privileged position atop the draw.

A first-round bye was among the perks.

But not satisfied, the 21-year-old ex-world No.1 junior next plays former French Open runner-up Sara Errani for a place in the quarter-finals – not to mention a truckload of rankings points – after clinching a memorable comeback win over another Italian, Camila Giorgi.

Gavrilova’s 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 victory also saved Australia’s blushes on Tuesday after Samantha Stosur, Casey Dellacqua and Jarmila Gajdosova all bombed out in straight sets.

In surviving a second-set match point, Gavrilova offered a glimpse of why the Russia-born rising star has been earmarked as Stosur’s heir apparent and future Australian No.1.

For now, though, the 41st-ranked Gavrilova remains the humble youngster who can hardly believe her good fortune.

“I’m a very, very lucky ‘lucky loser’,” she told AAP.

“Obviously I was pretty lucky having a bye and then saving a match point.

“It’s a good tournament for me. I took the opportunity.”

Stosur, not so much.

The one-time grand slam winner lost 7-5 7-6 (7-0) to Tsvetana Pironkova, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, to miss the chance to gain some much-needed grasscourt match practise before heading to the All England Club.

A finalist last week in Nottingham, Czech Karolina Pliskova took out Dellacqua 6-4 7-5 before Danish second seed Caroline Wozniacki survived a day of carnage for the favourites to oust Gajdosova 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Roland Garros runner-up Lucie Safarova, the third seed, suffered a 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 loss to Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova, while fourth seed Ekaterina Makarova, fifth seed Carla Suarez Navarro and defending champion Madison Keys also crashed out.

British wildcard Johanna Konta eliminated Makarova 6-2 6-4 for the first top-10 win of her career, with American Sloane Stephens defeating Suarez Navarro 6-1 7-5.

Highly-rated Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic hammered Keys 6-2 6-2.

There was relief for seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard as last year’s Wimbledon runner-up won just her second match since March.

The Canadian golden girl admitted it had been a tough few months before downing American Alison Riske 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

“It’s been a learning experience,” Bouchard said.

“I have had to learn to be patient and to understand that there are ups and downs in lives and in tennis and to keep working and keep believing in what I do no matter what, and to know there is light of the end of the tunnel.”

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