Gavrilova beaten in Fed Cup opener

The United States have taken a 1-0 lead in their Fed Cup tie against Australia with world No.22 Madison Keys beating Daria Gavrilova in straight sets.

Keys overpowered Russian-born Gavrilova, who was representing Australia for the first time, easing to a 6-4 6-2 victory on Saturday at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena.

In the first meeting between the pair at professional level, world No.39 Gavrilova never gained the advantage she had been hoping for over Keys from the temporary clay surface installed for the tie.

Instead, she was pinned back behind the baseline and in the corners by Keys’ booming serve, which locked up her movement, while errors at crucial junctures in the match proved costly.

Gavrilova tried to hang on grimly in the second set and saved eight break points, but there was no slowing Keys, who wrapped up the win in an hour and 17 minutes.

It gives the 17-time Fed Cup-winning USA team a slender edge in what looms as a neck-and-neck battle over two days with Australia for a spot in next year’s World Group.

Australia have not won the Fed Cup since 1974.

Samantha Stosur will face Christina McHale, a surprise US singles nomination ahead of the higher-ranked Coco Vandeweghe, in Saturday’s second singles rubber.

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