The world No97 stormed into a 5-3 lead against her higher-ranked compatriot before the 21-year-old saw out an exhausting 68-minute first set, edging a thrilling tiebreak 7-4.
I still can’t realize that it’s my dream – I have been dreaming about beating Maria since I was probably 12, when I saw her win Wimbledon, when she beat Serena
Sharapova, who won the French Open title last year, couldn’t get a foothold in the match as the young Russian raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, and Gavrilova managed to see out the match 6-3.
The Miami wildcard hadn’t beaten anyone ranked higher than No35 before Thursday night, and Sharapova admitted that she made too many errors in the first-round encounter.
“She runs a lot of balls down,” Sharapova said. “I was committing a lot of errors off of those balls and not really staying patient, and maybe going for too many winners but not moving forward enough.
“Of course it’s a bit of a surprise. It’s the first round. I’m expected to win. But that’s why we play the matches – you still have to go out and win it, no matter if you’re the favourite. Today I didn’t.”
Meanwhile, Gavrilova revealed that she has been visualising beating Sharapova throughout her teenage years, adding that recent results had given her confidence ahead of Miami.
“I still can’t realize that it’s my dream – I have been dreaming about beating Maria since I was probably 12, when I saw her win Wimbledon, when she beat Serena,” Gavrilova said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I really want to play her and beat her.’ I’ve probably been visualizing beating her since I was 12.
“I played Angelique Kerber twice this year and Simona Halep just two weeks ago, and I was pretty close all this time. So I just thought, ‘Okay, you can do it. You’re probably at this level right now.'”
Elsewhere, fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Ekateina Makarova all progressed in straight sets.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
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