When Daria Saville walked onto the court for her opening match at last years Tokyo Open against local hero Naomi Osaka, the Aussie tennis ace was enjoying one of her best year’s on the tour.
In the space of 12 months she’d climbed almost 400 spots in the world rankings to be inside the WTA’s top 50.
Then, one game into her Tokyo campaign, disaster struck. A second torn ACL. This time on her left knee, eight years after suffering the exact same injury on her right one.
When looking back on the incident, Saville explains that she immediately knew her fate.
“It was pretty devastating. I knew straight away that I’d done it.”
“I didn’t even cry to be honest. I was like, well that’s it, it’s done.”
Incredibly, seven months down the track and a return to tournament play is just around the corner, with the French Open firmly in her sights.
“I’ve entered with my protected ranking and I have full intention of playing that and hopefully the week before (as well).”
“I feel like I’m not that far off feeling normal. I’ve done all the tests and I’m doing pretty well
but the most important thing for me is how you actually feel on court.
“Right now, I’m confident with my knee but it’s the other parts of my body that are yet to re-condition.
“I might not be there just yet but I’m pretty close. You just know when you’re ready.
“Last time I came back after eight months but I was much younger.”
“If there’s a ball there, I’m chasing it though.
“The coaches almost have to hold you back!”
It hasn’t been an easy road though for Saville, as she sat on the sidelines for her home slam in January and dealing with the challenge of being away from husband Luke whilst he continues to compete overseas on the tour.
Despite this, she’s kept her emotions in check and remained clear about what the road to recovery looks like, even picking up some social media work with Tennis Victoria over the summer months whilst rehabbing at the same time.
“The first two months were pretty terrible.
“I don’t get too upset about things though, I just get on with what I have to do.
“I didn’t have to work that hard to be positive, I just got on with it.
“It probably would’ve been nice if the Australian Open just for this one year was in another country though.”
When asked about the support she’s received from Tennis Australia, Saville couldn’t have been more grateful, explaining that they have gone above and beyond to ensure she returns in the best possible shape.
“I really want to thank my strength and conditioning coach Gabriel Echevarria who has been a big support. He’s probably sick of me but I’m really grateful for what he’s done.
“Nicole Pratt, Ryan Cope and Vic Shelley have been great as well.”
“Tennis Australia has always had my back which is pretty amazing.”
Saville feels there is “such an opportunity in women’s tennis right now” and is eager to get back on court and showcase her talents to the world once again.
“I want to come back and I still believe I can get a lot out of my career.”
The injury has also provided her with a chance to reflect, outlining how she hopes to enjoy the ‘moments’ more when she steps back on court.
“I really want to enjoy the journey more… and being in the moment.”
“After the match with my team we never really talk about the win or loss, we talk more about what happened and the memories (made).”