Australian Daria Saville has continued her meteoric comeback following Achilles surgery by racing into the last-16 of the Miami Open.
The 28-year-old was in strikingly good form again in Saturday’s third round, crushing doubles world No.1 Katerina Siniakova without dropping a game before the ailing Czech pulled out with injury after a 36-minute pummelling with the scores at 6-0 1-0.
Siniakova appeared to struggle with an abdomen injury but Saville was merciless, attacking with venom and dropping just nine points in a 23-minute opening set.
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It means Melbourne’s Saville has now made the fourth round in two successive WTA 1000 events, the biggest women’s tournaments outside the grand slams, in Indian Wells and Miami as her revival continues.
Less than six weeks ago, Saville was ranked 627 in the world as she trod nervously on the comeback trail after 10 months out of the game following surgery to cure a chronic Achilles problem.
If she can win her eminently winnable last-16 match against qualifying lucky loser Lucia Bronzetti, Saville will be up to at least No.127 when the next rankings come out on April 4 – a potential rise of 500 places in a month-and-a-half.
With the help of a few technical changes to the way she holds her racquet and still having to be careful about managing her repaired Achilles, Saville has excelled on her first competitive trip outside Australia for two-and-a-half years.
First, she reached the quarter-finals in Guadalajara, followed by making it through qualifiers in Indian Wells to the fourth round and now taking full advantage of a Miami wildcard as she currently sits at No.249 in the rankings.
The Russian-born player may still be a long way from getting back to the heady days five years ago when she reached the world’s top 20 but Saville is enjoying every minute of her comeback.
She told the WTA website recently how she felt “this is cool, I love just being at tournaments again”.
Meanwhile, former No.1 Naomi Osaka moved into the fourth round without taking the court in round three when Karolina Muchova withdrew citing a need for recovery.
“I’m sad that I cannot put up a battle against Naomi today,” Muchova wrote on Twitter. “After a long break from tennis, 2 tough matches in row have been a lot for my body and I need longer to recover.”
Osaka topped No. 13 Angelique Kerber in the second round and won’t have to face another seed until at least the quarter-finals.
The earliest No. 22 seed Belinda Bencic could see one is in the semi-finals; Bencic, one of only three seeds – out of a possible 16 – to make the third round on the top half of the draw, rolled past Heather Watson 6-4 6-1.
Another seeded third-round winner was Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins. The No. 9 seed played through some neck soreness and downed Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-4.