Hot Stuff: Sara Errani
Originally published on: 12/10/12 00:00
If you put to one side this year’s Grand Slam winning stories – Victoria Azarenka’s maiden major, Maria Sharapova’s Paris fairytale and Serena’s return to the winners’ circle – there is one clear standout performer on the women’s tour during 2012.
Italian Sara Errani has had a barnstorming season. The 25-year-old from Bologna, who began the season ranked No.45, has claimed titles on her favourite surface – the red dirt – in Acapulco, Barcelona, Budapest and, most recently, Palermo. At the slams, she reached the quarter-finals in Australia before a breakthrough performance at Roland Garros where she outplayed Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Angelique Kerber and Sam Stosur to reach her first Grand Slam final. Despite Sharapova proving too _ьgood for the 5ft 5in right-hander in the title decider, nobody has been able to stop her crashing into the world’s top ten.
At the US Open the current world No.8 proved that she’s no one-trick pony, racing to the semi-finals on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows for the loss of only one set before falling to eventual champion Serena Williams.
In an era when few of the world’s top players bother with doubles, Errani has shone in that discipline too making her debut as world No.1 in September. Alongside fellow Italian Roberta Vinci, the duo have won Grand Slam titles in Paris and New York, reached the final at the Australian Open in Melbourne, and have won WTA silverware in Monterrey, Acapulco, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and ‘S-Hertogenbosch since January.
“I think the doubles helps my singles but I like the doubles, I feel good when I’m playing,” Errani explains. “I’m playing with my best friend. She is an incredible friend and she helps me, so I try and help her so it’s a good thing. I know when she is sad and when she is happy so we try and make each other feel better.”
Added to the positive effects of her success on the doubles court, Errani also credits her improved results to a recent change of racket. The Italian, who trains in Valencia inbetween tournaments, reportedly paid Wilson $30,000 to buy herself out of her racket contract so she could switch _ьto a longer Babolat frame.
“At the beginning of the year it was, for me, a very big change because I feel that on the court I have more power,” she confirms. “So this is making me more confident with my tennis and I am nearer to the big players. This year is my best tennis. I want to see where I can arrive.”