Dasha’s ‘shocker’ has Aussies in Fed Cup strife
Australia's Fed Cup fortunes against Ukraine may hinge on Ashleigh Barty's reverse singles showdown with teen star Marta Kustyok after a mixed day for the home side in Canberra.
The Australians split Saturday's opening singles matches 1-1 with Barty claiming a tense first-up encounter with Lyudmyla Kichenok 4-6, 6-,1 6-4 after surviving an early scare.
However world number 26 Daria Gavrilova did not fare so well, going down to the prodigious Kustyok in straight sets.
The 15-year-old took the first after an incredible eight breaks of serve, including seven in a row, and grew in confidence as the match went on.
In the end, Gavrilova was comprehensively outgunned by one of tennis' brightest young stars 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Captain Alicia Molik said she was confident Gavrilova could bounce back from the "shocker".
"It was a tough day [for Gavrilova] and I've been in that situation many times where I've had a bit of a shocker on day one, it's no big deal," she said.
Australia started out heavy favourites, with Ukraine missing world number three Elina Svitolina and 15-year-old Kustyok the team's highest ranked player at 185.
Barty said nerves played a role as she took to the court for her first Fed Cup singles rubber on home soil.
"I said to Mol (Australian captain Alicia Molik) straight after the national anthem, 'Mate I've got goosebumps'," Barty said.
"There was a little bit of jelly legs in the first couple of games; I felt like there was a fair bit of pressure on me today."