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Saville dashes to victory in French Open

Daria Saville has wasted no time in dashing into the second round of the French Open – and ensuring she’s sprinted back to being Australia’s No.2 woman player.

‘Dasha’, as the Russian-born Australian is known by all, lived up to her name, swiftly despatching Valentini Grammatikopoulou and running out a 6-1 6-2 winner at Roland Garros on a damp Monday morning.

It took the 28-year-old less than an hour and a quarter to beat the Greek qualifier – and the Paris rain – with the win that ensures she’ll now leapfrog third-ranked Maddison Inglis and current No.2 Astra Sharma, who was knocked out on Sunday.

“I don’t look at rankings so don’t tell me!” laughed Saville, who’s made extraordinary progress since returning from 10 months out following surgery to deal with a chronic Achilles injury.

Yet at the same time, she couldn’t help admitting: “One of my goals is to be the number one Aussie.”

At the moment, that accolade remains with Ajla Tomljanovic – but Saville is chasing her fast.

The first Australian woman winner at this year’s edition, the Melbourne player was ranked 624 in the world at the end of January as she trod tentatively on the comeback trail.

But less than four months later, after making the fourth round in two successive major WTA events at Indian Wells and Miami and now through to her first grand slam second round in Paris for four years, she’ll be up over 400 places and homing in on the top 100.

“I thought that would be the case. It wasn’t what my goal was to be top 100 that soon, and it happened that I had really great results in the US swing – and now I’m close, let’s go for it!

“It creates extra pressure, and maybe that kind of pressure makes me feel a bit nervous, but I don’t mind.

“It’s a privilege to be nervous – it shows I really care. And even though I was nervous today, I was still able to perform well.”

She certainly did, outplaying the diminutive Grammatikopoulou – “a player who’s smaller than me … and that doesn’t happen very often” – to set up a second-round tie with double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

“It’s exciting. I’ve beaten her before,” said Saville, who leads their head-to-head 3-2, including a victory at the Australian Open in 2016 which was one of her breakthrough moments.

“It’s going to be a battle and I kind of look forward to it. I’m gonna play free and I’ll definitely play to win.”

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