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Gavrilova craves big stage of Aust Open

  • Gavrilova craves big stage of Aust Open

    Daria Gavrilova is embracing the pressure and prospect of big crowds at the Australian Open.

Daria Gavrilova will embrace the pressure of being a local hope at the Australian Open as she bids to better last year's memorable run to the final 16 at Melbourne Park.

World No.25 Gavrilova is close to becoming Australia's top female player on the world rankings, currently sitting four spots away from Samantha Stosur.

Gavrilova, who was born in Moscow but now resides in Melbourne, shot to prominence last year in her first grand slam as an Australian citizen.

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The 22-year-old defeated dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic and Czech veteran Lucie Hradecka en route to a fourth-round exit at the 2016 Australian Open.

Gavrilova admitted she was "kind of distracted and looking at the crowd" on Tuesday, when her Sydney International campaign ended in a 6-1 6-3 loss to Johanna Konta.

But she was upbeat there would be no repeat next week, when the stakes and support will rise considerably.

"I only felt like I played really well the last 10 minutes of the match, where I got the crowd going," Gavrilova said.

"I'm just going to enjoy it (the Open). I know that the crowd is going to be supporting me, so I will feed off the crowd and just have fun.

"I love playing on big stages.

"It's going to be pretty cool. You know, as an Aussie, I'm going to get a pretty big court. Hopefully a few people will show up.

"I am feeling a bit of pressure, defending fourth round ... so we'll see how I can handle it."

Gavrilova added her Open results in 2016 counted for very little now.

"That's old news," she said.

"I'm not really thinking about last year too much, but I know that it was pretty cool times and I had big crowds. That's all I play for."

Gavrilova couldn't explain her poor showing on Tuesday, when she saved 16 of 20 break points but was powerless against Konta's serve.

"I was just not myself. I was off. I guess everyone has those days," she said.

"I was a bit slow. I spoke with my coaches after the match and that's exactly what they said. Even the five-minute warm-up, I was not aggressive.

"I just felt like I was under pressure the whole time. I just didn't have time to get in the match. The rallies were pretty short, but I felt like I served well. That's the only positive."

Konta was more complimentary of Gavrilova's fight.

"She's famous for being an incredibly tough competitor ... she raises her level when she needs to," Konta said.

"She definitely made it very difficult in those last two games. I'm very happy to have closed it out when I did."

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