Woodforde to Gavrilova: "Go for it"

Published 5 August 2016 (AEDT)

Daria Gavrilova plays a forehand in the women's single match against Heather Watson at the 2016 Hopman Cup. © Getty Images

TENNIS: Australian tennis great Mark Woodforde has urged Daria Gavrilova to “go for it” after drawing world No.1 and reigning Olympic champion Serena Williams in the opening round of the women’s singles.

Australia’s number one ranked female tennis player Samantha Stosur also faces a testing opening round match against rising Latvian star and world No.41 Jelena Ostapenko.

Woodforde, now an International Tennis Federation Board Member who was in attendance for the official draw, said Gavrilova had nothing to lose against the only player in tennis history to win all four Grand Slam titles and Olympic singles gold.

“It’s tough to find out you are coming up against the number one player in the world,” Woodforde said.

“It’s just a case of head down and go for it.

“I often find that if you end up playing some of the bigger names, some of the best in the sport, there’s no better time to play them then early on, because they’re unsure of how they are actually playing right now.

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“So better to play them early so they are not into any groove, because once they get into the tournament they start to find a bit more of their range.”

Four-time Olympian Stosur will face Olympic debutant Ostapenko for the first time in what looms as a tricky opening match for the 13th-seeded Australian.

Ostapenko, 19, burst into the top 100 last year and made the final at Doha in February but has struggled of late, losing in the first round of her last three tournaments, in Montreal, Stanford and at Wimbledon, as well as losing in the opening rounds at the Australian and French Open.

Stosur and Gavrilova also face a tough test in the opening round of the women’s doubles, drawing the fifth seeded Swiss team of Martina Hingis and Timea Bacsinszky, while the Rodionova sisters, Anastasia and Arina, drew the seventh seeded Russian pairing of Ekaterina Makarova and Elene Vesnina.

The Olympic Tennis competition starts on Day 1, Saturday, August 6.

David Taylor

olympics.com.au

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