Doha contender: Vera Zvonareva
Originally published on: 19/10/10 16:20
Age: 26 (September 7 1984)
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
WTA ranking: No.3
Season best: Winner- Pattaya City. Runner Up Charleston; Wimbledon; Montreal; US Open; Beijing
Season win/loss record: 46-17
Prize money (2010): $2,744,641
Record vs. top eight: Caroline Wozniacki 3-3; Serena Williams 1-6; Kim Clijsters 2-6; Francesca Schiavone 10-0; Sam Stosur 2-5; Jelena Jankovic 6-6; Elena Dementieva 2-5
2010 Grand Slam record: Australian Open R16; Roland Garros R64; Wimbledon RU; US Open RU
WTA Championship best: Making her fourth appearance; runner-up in 2008
Season review: While Caroline Wozniacki stole the majority of the plaudits this season, the Russian was also terrific in 2010. The 26-year-old reached an impressive six finals – two of those coming in Grand Slams – but only one ended in a WTA Tour title.
Off the back of an injury-hit 2009, few had Zvonareva down as Grand Slam contender, but the Russian certainly disproved the doubters in 2010.
Despite falling at the first hurdle in Sydney, she made positive strides before losing to Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The very next tournament – in Pattaya City – was where the Russian really began to catch the eye as she marched to her tenth career title, defeating home favourite Tamarine Tanasugarn in the final.
Strong performances on the hard courts in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami followed before she fell in the Charleston final to Sam Stosur.
A shock second round exit to Anastasia Rodionova at Roland Garros came next as she hurried through the rest of the clay season.
Wimbledon was next on the agenda, with the Russian aiming to put her disappointment of withdrawing with an ankle injury at the 2009 Championships behind her. Perhaps the hurt of the year before spurred her on – Zvonareva took care of a difficult draw with impressive wins over Yanina Wickmayer and Jelena Jankovic before seeing off Kim Clijsters. After taking out lowly-ranked Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the semis, many were hoping for a competitive final, but in the end she was unable to deal with a fearsome Serena Williams, losing 6-3 6-2.
The Russian really kicked on from there into the North American hard court stretch – finishing runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in Montreal after back-to-back wins against Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka.
Revenge was sweet at the US Open as Zvonareva dealt with the Dane in straight sets to set up her second consecutive Grand Slam final. Again, she ended up with the runners-up trophy after another below par performance on the biggest stage, as Kim Clijsters reigned supreme at Flushing Meadows.
Overcoming what could have been a considerable blow to her confidence, the Moscow-native showed stern resolve to reach the quarters in Tokyo before making the final of the China Open in a high-class field. Caroline Wozniacki once again prevailed.
Last year’s WTA Championships: After the high of 2008 when she made the final of the end-of-season championships, 2009 was a different story entirely. An injury-plagued season saw the Russian just miss out, and instead had to settle with a place on the reserve list.
It could have been a wasted trip, but fortunately for the Russian, compatriot Dinara Safina pulled out to give way for Zvonareva to face up against Wozniacki. This turned out to be a memorable match in many ways but for the Russian it will be remembered as an opportunity missed. After coming from a set down, she saved two match points to take it to a decider. Zvonareva should have taken the match against her cramp-ridden opponent but the Dane – though in visible distress – still pulled throgh.
Chances: The consistency the Russian has shown this season pits her as a strong contender, and the Doha title would be a just reward for her endeavours in 2010.