Daria Gavrilova said she was 12 when she first dreamed of beating her idol, Maria Sharapova. Gavrilova was a short, spunky kid in Moscow and Sharapova was the tall, leggy tennis glamour girl plastered on billboards all over the world after winning the 2004 Wimbledon title.
Thursday night, under the Stadium Court lights at the Miami Open, Gavrilova realized her dream. It took more than a decade of visualizing it, but there she was, a 5-5 wild card, ranked No. 97 in the world, squealing with glee after stunning No. 2 Sharapova 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to advance to the third round.
The upset-minded crowd roared when Sharapova’s final shot landed long, launching Gavrilova into a celebratory leap. Nearly an hour later, she was still giddy.
“I still can't realize that it’s my dream,” said the 21-year-old, who has lived in Australia for five years and recently applied for citizenship. “I have been dreaming about beating Maria since I was probably 12 when I saw her win Wimbledon, when she beat Serena. I was like ‘Oh, I really want to play her and beat her’. She was my idol. She’s obviously Russian. She was just huge in Russia.’’
Gavrilova admitted she had “these like bubbles in my stomach, or butterflies,’’ when she stepped on the court Thursday night and saw a packed stadium and the imposing 6-2 Sharapova across the way. She had the same feeling when she played Williams in 2013, she said.
“This time, I felt them the same, and I was just like ‘OK, get rid of them,’’ she said, giggling. “Get rid of these butterflies..’’’
The last time Sharapova lost to somebody ranked that low was at Wimbledon in 2013, when she was upset by then-No. 131 Michelle Larcher de Brito.
The five-time Grand Slam champion and five-time Key Biscayne finalist was polite, but not in a chatty mood after Thursday’s loss.
Asked if she was as surprised as the crowd with the result, Sharapova said: “Well, it’s sport, and I happened to lose the match. Of course, it’s a bit of a surprise. It’s the first round. I’m expected to win. But that’s one of the reasons we play the matches. You still have to go out and win it no matter if you’re the favorite. Today, I didn’t.’’
Sharapova bristled at a question suggesting the crowd was rooting against her.
“When people cheer for an opponent, I don’t necessarily think that they are cheering against you,’’ she said. “So, I don’t think you phrased it correctly.’’
Gavrilova won the crowd over early by running down every ball she could reach – and even those she couldn’t. She said he was “overwhelmed’’ by the crowd.
“I was actually surprised how many people knew my nickname,’’ she said. “A few people were saying, `Come on, Dasha! Let’s Go! You can do it!’ It was an amazing feeling.’’
Sharapova’s loss opened the draw for No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 9 Andrea Petkovic, and resurgent No. 16 Venus Williams, all of whom advanced in straight sets on Thursday.
Wozniacki beat American Madison Brengle, 6-0, 6-1 and Petkovic swept American Christina McHale 6-2, 6-2.
Williams, who turns 35 in June, prevented a possible all-Radwanska quarterfinal by beating qualifier Urszula Radwanska 6-3, 6-2. Radwanska’s older sister, Agnieszka, won her match 6-4, 7-5 over Anna Schmiedlova in the first Stadium Court match of the day.
“With every tournament I’m playing with more confidence,’’ Williams said. “I have had an opportunity to play a lot of matches this year, so that always helps.’’
Although Williams has had many ups and down in recent years, she never lost faith in herself. The three-time Key Biscayne champion (1998, 1999, 2001) improved to 55-13 in this tournament.
“I don’t expect anyone else to believe in me,’’ she said. “I expect to believe in myself. If I thought, `Oh, wow, no one believes in me now,’ then maybe I’d go down. I enjoy what I do. I believe I have the capacity to get through anything that comes to me in my life, and to succeed.’’
Agnieszka Radwanska added legend Martina Navratilova to her coaching team in December, and said she has learned a lot from her. “She’s a great champion with so many major titles, and huge experience,’’ Radwanska said. “She can really talk about everything.’’
She said it is also a comfort having her younger sister on tour. “It’s best to have siblings on tour. You don’t feel alone having a sister who does the same thing as you, can understand you very well after a good match, after the tough losses, as well. You feel like you have a part of home with you.’’
MEN’S FIRST ROUND
Alejandro Falla, Colombia, d. Michael Berrer, Germany, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4.
Mikhail Youzhny, Russia, d. Andrey Golubev, Kazakhstan, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Mikhail Kukushkin, Kazakhstan, d. Steve Johnson, United States, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Teymuraz Gabashvili, Russia, d. Pablo Andujar, Spain, 0-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
Martin Klizan, Slovakia, d. Paolo Lorenzi, Italy, 6-3, 6-4.
Simone Bolelli, Italy, d. Marcos Baghdatis, Cyprus, 6-2, 6-2.
Borna Coric, Croatia, d. Andreas Haider-Maurer, Austria, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
Alexander Zverev, Germany, d. Sam Groth, Australia, 7-5, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4.
Jerzy Janowicz, Poland, d. Edouard Roger-Vasselin, France, 6-4, 6-2.
Vasek Pospisil, Canada, d. Juan Martin Del Porto, Argentina, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).
Alexandr Dolgopolov, Ukraine, d. Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, 6-4, 6-1.
Steve Darcis, Belgium. d. Malek Jaziri, Tunisia, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Jurgen Melzer, Austria, d. Ryan Harrison, United States, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Federico Delbonis, Argentina, d. Jiri Vesely, Czech Republic, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 7-5.
Andrey Rublev, Russia, d. Pablo Carreno Busta, Spain, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.
WOMEN’S SECOND ROUND
Agnieszka Radwanska (7), Poland, d. Anna Schmiedlova, Slovakia, 6-4, 7-5.
Carla Suarez Navarro (12), Spain, d. Stefanie Voegele, Switzerland, 6-3, 6-1.
Irina-Camelia Begu (31), Romania, d. Tereza Smitkova, Czech Republic, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Paula Badosa Gibert, Spain, d. Zheng Saisai, China, 6-1, 7-5.
Andrea Petkovic (9), Germany, d. Christina McHale, United States, 6-2, 6-2.
Karolina Pliskova (14), Czech Republic, d. Annika Beck, Germany, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Kristina Mladenovic, France, d. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (19), Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-2.
Kaia Kanepi, Estonia, d. Varvara Lepchenko (28), United States, 6-2, 6-4.
Alize Cornet (22), France, d. Elena Vesnina, Russia, 6-4, 6-1.
Elina Svitolina (26), Ukraine, d. Bojana Jovanovski, Servia, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
Ekaterina Makarova (8), Russia, d. Karin Knapp, Italy, 6-1, 6-3.
Caroline Wozniacki (4), Denmark, d. Madison Brengle, United States, 6-0, 6-1.
Venus Williams (16), United States, d. Urszula Radwanska, Poland, 6-3, 6-2.
Samantha Stosur (23), Australia, d. Pauline Parmentier, France, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.
Kurumi Nara, Japan, d. Carolina Garcia (25), France, 6-3, 7-6 (11-9).
Daria Gavrilova, Russia, d. Maria Sharapova (2), Russia, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
11 a.m.: Simona Halep, Romania, vs. Nicole Vaidisova, Czech Republic; Donald Young, U.S., vs. Andy Murray, Great Britain; Sloane Stephens, U.S., vs. Madison Keys, U.S.; Nicolas Almagro, Spain, vs. Rafael Nadal, Spain. Not before 8 p.m.: Serena Williams, U.S., vs. Monica Niculescu, Romania; Tim Smyczek, U.S., vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France.
11 a.m.: Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic, vs. Hyeon Chung, South Korea; Jelena Jankovic, Serbia, vs. Victoria Azarenka, Belarus; Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland, vs. Carlos Berlocq, Argentina; Gael Monfils, France, vs. Filip Krajinovic, Serbia. Not before 5 p.m.: Ernests Gulbis, Latvia, vs. Juan Monaco, Argentina.
11 a.m.: Kevin Anderson, Republic of South Africa, vs. Sam Querrey, U.S.; Dominic Thiem, Austria, vs. Feliciano Lopez, Spain. Not before 3 p.m.: Robert Lindstedt, Sweden and Jurgen Melzer, Austria, vs. Novak Djokovic, Serbia and Janko Tipsarevic, Serbia. Not before 5 p.m.: Tatjana Maria, Germany vs. Eugenie Bouchard, Canada; Fabio Fognini, Italy, vs. Jack Sock, U.S.
11 a.m.: Austin Krajicek, U.S., vs. Bernard Tomic, Australia; Santiago Giradlo, Colombia, vs. Robin Haase, Netherlands; Irini Falconi, U.S., vs. Ana Ivanovic, Serbia; Fernando Verdasco, Spain, vs. James Duckworth, Australia; Santiago Giraldo, Colombia and Martin Klizan, Slovakia, vs. Marcelo Melo, Brazil and Bruno Soares, Brazil.
11 a.m.: Andrea Hlavackova, Czech Republic, and Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic, vs. Shuko Aoyama, Japan and Renata Voracova, Czech Republic; Gabriela Dabrowski, Canada, and Alicja Rosolska, Poland, vs. Anabel Medina Garrigues, Spain, and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia; Eric Butorac, U.S., and Sam Groth, Australia, vs. Ryan Harrison, U.S., and Rajeev Ram, U.S.; Kimiko Date-Krumm, Japan, and Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, vs. Timea Babos, Hungary, and Kristina Mladenovic, France.
11 a.m.: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia, vs. Alison Riske, U.S.; Jarkko Nieminen, Finland, vs. Leonardo Mayer, Argentina; Martina Hingis, Switzerland, and Sania Mirza, India, vs. Elena Bogdan, Romania, and Nicole Melichar, U.S.; Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Spain, vs. Adrian Mannarino, France; Marcel Granollers, Spain, and Marc Lopez, Spain, vs. Thomas Bellucci, Brazil, and Joao Souza, Brazil.
11 a.m.: Lucie Safarova, Czech Republic, vs. Johanna Larson, Sweden; Sesil Karatantcheva, Bulgaria, vs. Garbine Muguruza, Spain; Sabine Lisicki, Germany, vs. Julia Goerges, Germany; Sara Errani, Italy, vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia.
11 a.m.: Catherine Bellis, U.S., vs. Zarina Diyas, Kazakhstan; Jan-Lennard Struff, Germany, vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Spain; Tsvetana Pironkova, Bulgaria, vs. Flavia Pennetta, Italy; Heather Watson, Great Britain, vs. Angelique Kerber, Germany.
11 a.m.: Alison Van Uytvanck, Belgium, vs. Camila Giorgi, Italy; Nicolas Mahut, France, and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, France, vs. Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain, and Viktor Troicki, Serbia; Michaella Krajieck, Netherlands, and Barbora Zahiavova Strycova, Czech Republic, vs. Ekaterina Makarova, Russia, and Elena Vesnina, Russia; Casey Dellacqua, Australia, vs. Belinda Bencic, Switzerland.