Daria Saville reports an increase in her self-assurance as she prepares for the Australian Open following her notable victory since recovering from a severe knee injury. The 29-year-old defeated Sofia Kenin 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 on Wednesday evening, advancing to the quarter-finals of the Hobart International.
Saville, a previous top-20 competitor, made a comeback to the tour in June following a nine-month absence due to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. Her global ranking fell to a low of 322 after her injury, but has since risen to No 133.
Saville achieved her highest ranking victory since returning by defeating world No. 38 Kenin, who was the women’s singles champion at the 2020 Australian Open. This win came after a three-set match against world No. 46 Anna Blinkova in the first round in Hobart on Monday.
“I feel more self-assured and perhaps I was lacking in belief since my ACL injury,” stated Saville. “It’s a pleasant acknowledgement not just for myself, but for my team too. I still have room for improvement, but since returning from my injury, this is the best performance I have had.”
The victory included 13 serves that were not returned, with one occurring during the final point of a set and another during the final point of the match. Additionally, there was a streak of 15 consecutive points won during the second set.
Saville, who entered as a wildcard in Hobart, was given the last discretionary wildcard for the Australian Open, surpassing the top-ranked Australian woman, Arina Rodionova. However, Rodionova was defeated in the initial qualifying round and publicly criticized Tennis Australia, accusing them of having a vendetta against her.
On Thursday, Saville will face off against Lin Zhu, the third-seeded player from China, in hopes of securing a spot in the semi-finals.
On Wednesday, the top seed in Hobart and ranked 30th in the world, Elise Mertens, easily defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, a former finalist, 6-2, 6-3. If Merterns and Saville both advance, they will face each other in the semi-finals.
Mertens, the champion of Hobart in 2017 and 2018, will face off against Dutch veteran Arantxa Rus, with whom she has not competed against in nine years.
Mertens expressed her excitement about potentially winning the tournament again, but reminded that they are currently only in the quarter-finals and she still needs to win three more matches.