Gavrilova upsets defending champion to reach final


Daria Gavrilova hopes third time’s a charm as she ramps up her bid for a maiden career title on Saturday.

The Australian dethroned defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in the Connecticut Open semi-finals on Friday night to set a showdown with Slovak Dominika Cibulkova.

Twice before the 23-year-old has reached the title match.

She fell to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Moscow final last October and to compatriot Sam Stosur in May’s Strasbourg final.

Having inched closer each time, Gavrilova will approach her second career meeting with Cibulkova the only way she knows how.

“I’m going to come out fighting tomorrow,” Gavrilova said.

“Every match, every tournament is a new opportunity. You don't know what's going to happen on the day.

“I think having played the final, two finals, gives me a bit of experience. I've experienced it before. But it's going to be a different match tomorrow, different emotions, yeah, another great opportunity.”

Gavrilova bolted out of the blocks for 4-0 against Radwanska with her more aggressive play reaping early rewards.

The Pole pegged back one of the breaks, however, as the unforced errors began to flow from the Australian’s racket.

But Gavrilova stopped the rot, maneuvering her way around backhands to open up the court with her forehand to hold for 5-3.

She closed out the opening set with a swinging forehand winner into the corner.

And when she nailed a low-dipping forehand pass from deep behind the baseline to break the Pole for 4-3 in the second set, Gavrilova let fly with a yelp of “c’mon” as she skipped her way to the chair.

Radwanska was bidding to reach her second final of the season, having finished runner-up in Sydney.

But with Gavrilova now in full flight, the Pole’s cause began to slip away.

The Aussie booked her place in the final with a short smash put-away.

A first tour title was now firmly on her radar.

Avenging a defeat to Cibulkova in the second round at Wimbledon last year is her next priority.

“It's a big deal,” she said of reaching the final. “Of course, I think every tennis player is trying to get as far as they can into the tournament.

“It feels even better beating someone like Aga. She's been top 10 for so many years. I really have a lot of respect for her.

“I'm really hungry for it. Yeah, it will feel like I've achieved something pretty special.”