Daria Saville's staggering act in wake of Ash Barty retirement

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Daria Saville, pictured here in action at the French Open.
Daria Saville is doing her best to fill the giant hole left by Ash Barty. Image: Getty

Australian tennis has a giant hole to fill in the wake of Ash Barty's retirement, but Daria Saville is doing her utmost best at the French Open.

In the first grand slam since Barty called it quits in March, Saville is only Aussie into the third round after a giant upset against two-time grand slam champion Petra Kvitova at Roland Garros on Wednesday.

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Saville continued her astonishing surge back to the top of women's tennis, delivering a nerveless display in hammering double Wimbledon champ Kvitova 6-4 6-2.

Compatriots Jason Kubler and Ajla Tomljanovic had earlier been knocked out, leaving the 28-year-old Saville as the last hope among the original Australian cast of 11.

"I actually did know I was the last Aussie standing. I don't know why," she laughed.

"I mean that's why I (normally) lose matches, to be honest, because I think of this stuff. But I actually did this time - and that's not a good thing!

"Sometimes, I'm in another world - but then as long as I catch myself, I think, 'OK, come back, you're here, play the ball.'

"And the good thing was that I was able to concentrate again and didn't think about it."

Saville is back on the grand slam stage after being sidelined for 10 months last year because of an Achilles injury.

"And maybe that's why I played so well," she reflected.

Daria Saville and Petra Kvitova, pictured here after their clash at the French Open.
Daria Saville and Petra Kvitova shake hands after their clash at the French Open. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

After tumbling down the world rankings during her lengthy absence from the WTA tour, Saville is poised to leapfrog Maddison Inglis and Astra Sharma to become Australia's No.2-ranked women's player behind Tomljanovic.

On Wednesday she delivered a performance reminiscent of her heyday when he made the world's top-20 and was briefly the No.1 Australian.

At 32, Kvitova may not be the same force that won two grand slams, but Saville dominated her in staggering fashion.

The Aussie produced just seven errors to the Czech's 30, and was delighted with the quality of her serving in a consummate display lasting an hour-and-a-quarter.

The win continued her remarkable comeback and now puts her on the verge of returning to the world's top 100 after dropping to 624 at the end of January.

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Saville then watched on as Tomljanovic crashed out at the hands of Russian Varvara Gracheva.

Just two days after one of her best career wins over fifth seed Anett Kontaveit, Tomljanovic was left crestfallen by the 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 loss.

"This was just so hard to swallow because the first round felt like a mountain and I climbed it," Tomljanovic said.

"And this one, I'm really disappointed ... my standard today just wasn't good enough.

"This loss definitely overshadows the good win for me."

Ajla Tomljanovic, pictured here during her loss to Varvara Gracheva at the French Open.
Ajla Tomljanovic looks on during her loss to Varvara Gracheva at the French Open. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Kubler was the last of Australia's eight men to be knocked out on Wednesday, losing to British 10th seed Cameron Norrie 6-3 6-4 6-3.

But the Queenslander had nothing to berate himself about after his breakthrough fortnight in which he came through three qualifiers and a first round clash.

It meant that for the fifth time in six years, no Aussie man has reached the third round.

with AAP

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