WTA Rome: Daria Gavrilova upsets Madison Keys

WTA Rome: Daria Gavrilova upsets Madison Keys

The Aussie put in a fine performance to stun last year's finalist, whose place in the Top 10 is now in severe jeopardy.

John Lupo

In the tournament's first real surprise, 2015 Internazionali BNL D'Italia semifinalist Daria Gavrilova stunned 2016 finalist Madison Keys 2-6, 7-5, 7-5. The Aussie, whose failure to sign up for the tournament in time led her to have to play qualifying, rallied from a break down three times in the final set.

Keys powers through first set

After testing holds for each player in their opening service games, Keys had the first break chances of the match in the fourth game. The American was wasteful, squandering all three opportunities as the set remained on serve.

Making no progress on Keys' serve, the qualifier was faced with having two more break points and this time, she cracked, double-faulting to hand Keys the lead at 4-2. With her serve in first gear, the American held to position herself one game from capturing the opening set and she soon closed out the set with a final break of serve when Gavrilova missed a backhand long.

Gavrilova takes break-filled second set

After starting the second set with another commanding hold, the 10th seed seemed to be in cruise control. Needing a response, Gavrilova rattled off three straight games, taking her fourth break chance in the third game to go ahead 2-1, a forehand winner the reply to a Keys drop shot.

The next four games all went to the returner, the result the Aussie holding a 5-3 lead. Needing a response of her own now, Keys saved three set points on Gavrilova's serve, eventually breaking, the Aussie's forehand finding the net, the scoreline now even at 5-5.

The momentum was short-lived as Gavrilova broke again for a 6-5 lead and given a second chance to serve it out, she made no mistake, holding to 15 with a terrific wide serve, drawing the error from Keys to take the 57-minute second set.

Gavrilova rallies for shock victory

The set's beginning couldn't have been any better for Keys, winning 8 of the first 12 points to take a 2-0 lead, Gavrilova's forehand missing the mark after excellent defense from the American.

Five straight breaks of serve followed with the set restored to parity, Keys leading 4-3 on serve. At 5-5, Gavrilova got the critical break to love, her exquisite backhand drop shot earning her a 6-5 lead.

Serving for the match, the Aussie built a 40-15 lead and after Keys saved one match point, Gavrilova took her second, finishing the match with an ace to record the victory in the two hour, 27 minute contest.