Australia’s challenge at the French Open is over after Daria Saville became their last singles casualty at Roland Garros.
Hopes that Melbourne’s rejuvenated Saville might carry the fight into the second week were ended by Italian Martina Trevisan, an old friend from her teenage days, in a comprehensive 6-3 6-4 third-round defeat on Friday.
Saville didn’t succumb without a fight but in-form Trevisan, a dimunitive, noisy southpaw from Florence who was the favourite for most of the Court 14 crowd, was too sharp as she unleashed 20 winners, largely from her swashbuckling forehand, to control the contest
It was a not unfamiliar and somewhat deflating end to Australian hopes in their bothersome red clay slam, with all 11 of the country’s players having now departed within the first week for the fourth time in five years.
And it ended Saville’s startling run of success in her comeback this year from an Achilles injury, just when she was hoping to crash into the last-16 of a slam for the first time outside Australia.
Saville was meeting her old pal Trevisan in professional combat for the first time since they were 14-year-old kids playing at a tournament in Livorno, Italy, where the then Daria Gavrilova upset the local fans by beating their girl in three sets.
It almost felt as if the inspired Italian, fresh from her maiden tour title win in Morocco the previous week, had been stewing over the loss for 14 years as she produced a terrific attacking performance, centred on that bludgeoning forehand, to put ‘Dasha’ to the sword.
Saville, who enjoys screaming exhortations in four different languages, tried to gee herself up with a few ‘allezs!’ and ‘vamoses!’ – but ‘forza Martina!’ was the mantra from a largely Italian-supporting crowd.
The Melbourne player’s husband Luke was unable to be at courtside as he was busy playing – and losing too – in his second-round doubles match at the same time, but he wouldn’t have been able to offer much help as Trevisan hit a hot streak early with a barrage of winners.
Saville helped by delivering a double and a couple of wayward forehands as then world No.59 Trevisan took 10 points in a row to soon race into a 4-1 lead which she never really looked as if she’d surrender.
Saville, the world No.127, offered some resistance late in the stanza, saving three set points at 5-3 down, but eventually blew it with a wide backhand after 33 minutes.
The second set felt much closer after a couple of early exchanges of breaks, with the 28-year-old Saville making the key mistake when 2-3 and break point down, ballooning a drive volley long off a ball which had appeared to be drifting out.
When the Australian failed to take any of the six break points she eked out in the next game with the Italian holding steadfastly, her last chance seemed to have effectively gone as Trevisan forged on to lead 5-2.
Still, Saville fought, flicking a brilliant backhand winner to break back, but the Italian Trevisan, a quarter-finalist here in 2020, couldn’t be stopped as she sealed her fourth-round spot after an hour and 27 minutes.