Top 10 WTA players on the rise in 2010
Originally published on: 17/12/10 11:07
10. Kaia Kanepi
Ranking rise: 61st to 22nd
The Estonian dropped outside the top 100 after a poor start to the season, but she got her campaign going with back-to-back titles on clay in Cagnes and Saint Gaudens, before coming through qualifying to reach the second round at Roland Garros. Unexpectedly, it was on grass that Kanepi’s season really picked up – first, she made the quarters in Eastbourne, before she came through qualifying and launched a shock run to the last-eight at Wimbledon, where she eventually lost to Petra Kvitova in three tight sets. Straight back on to the clay after her run at SW19, Kanepi won the Palermo title and then kept her performances up on the hard courts – before managing another Grand Slam quarter-final run at the US Open.
9. Jamila Groth
Ranking rise: 112th to 42nd
Falling further down the ladder was hardly a start to the year the Aussie had hoped for, but Groth regained her confidence after making the final in Burnie and winning the $25,000 title in Sydney. She further improved from there on, coming through qualifying to reach the quarters of Portugal’s Estoril Open, and she transferred this form onto the big stage by making the last 16 at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. She achieved even greater success in the second half of the season, winning her first WTA Tour title in Guangzhou and securing three semi-final spots in a row – in Tapei, Wellington and Traralgon – to see her into the world’s top 50.
8. Tamira Paszek
Ranking rise: 186th to 90th
Considering her ranking dropped as low as No.324, Paszek’s rise is one to sit up and take note of. Progress was steady after the fall – but Paszek won a title in Turkey and grabbed a few wins at higher-level events to force her return to the top 200. The big kick came after she made it through qualifying to reach the second round of the US Open and then won eight matches on the bounce to win the title in Quebec City – a triumph that sent her flying up the rankings from world No.151 to No.91.
7. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Ranking rise: 152nd to 59th
After her career-best 2008, last year was a real setback for the American, but Mattek-Sands began to climb back up the ladder this year after qualifying for Roland Garros, where she made the second round. She then qualified for Wimbledon and followed up with second round appearances in Montreal and New Haven to push herself in to the top 100. Those results helped her automatically qualify for the US Open, where she again reached the second round. The 23-year-old Phoenix resident then closed in on the top 50 after making the final in Quebec City.
6. Johanna Larsson
Ranking rise: 170th to 68th
Prolific on the ITF scene, the Swede kicked off the season by making the final in Plantation, before winning two titles on the bounce in Biberach and Clearwater. Two further titles in Jersey and Marseille deservedly saw her into the top 100. Despite the disappointment of a first round exit at Wimbledon, the 22-year-old took a big step on the WTA Tour by reaching the final in Portoroz, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova en route. She reached the second round in Istanbul and Quebec City, before returning to the ITF circuit to finish a runner-up to Alison Riske in Barnstaple – where she had been the defending champion.
5. Bojana Jovanovski
Ranking rise: 189th to 81st
2010 was a breakthrough year for the Serb, who became the highest-ranked teenager in the world at the age of 18. She just missed out on a place in her first Grand Slam in January, losing 9-7 in the final set in the final round of qualifying for the Australian Open. But Jovanovski quickly put the disappointment behind her, making two semi-finals before reaching the second round at Wimbledon to move her into the top 100. Consistent results then followed as the youngster primed herself for what is set to be an exciting 2011 tour campaign.
4. Simona Halep
Ranking rise: 210th to 81st
The Romanian found her form on the clay courts as she came through qualifying to make the quarters in Marbella and fought her way through qualifying to reach the final in Fes. She carried her form onto the Grand Slam stage as she progressed through qualifying to feature in the main draw at Roland Garros. Halep struggled without clay under her feet, but a terrific run to the final on the hard stuff in Torhout kept her place inside the top 100.
3. Greta Arn
Ranking rise: 231st 86th
After 13 years on the tour, the 31-year-old finally put together consistent displays to lift her into the top 100. It wasn’t a rapid rise, but her hard work in continually coming through qualifying at high-level clay events paid off. The big moment came when she reached the semi-final in Warsaw, having defeated Klara Zakopalova and Alona Bondarenko en route, to break into the top 200. Arn kicked on from there, making the third round of Wimbledon, before putting in stern displays in Cincinnati and Tokyo to lift her to a career-high ranking.
2. Romina Oprandi
Ranking rise: 220th to 66th
Oprandi staged an incredible rise through the ranks after beginning her year in superb fashion. The Swiss won ITF titles in Belfort and Buche and reached finals in Biberach and Tessenderlo. The performances continued, with titles in Caserta and Cuneo and a final appearance in Rome further boosting her ranking. She also proved impressive at Wimbledon, coming through qualifying to reach the second round after defeating Britain’s Heather Watson in round one, to move into the top 100. Oprandi continued to keep her foot firmly on the gas, capturing the Saint Malo title after beating Alize Cornet in the final.
Ranking rise: N/A to 12th
After a year and a half out of the game, it was as if the seven-time Grand Slam champion hadn’t been away as she breezed through to the Brisbane final in her first WTA tournament back since retiring in May 2008. Primed for the Australian Open as a result, the diminutive Belgian battled through to the final – seeing off Elena Dementieva, Yanina Wickmayer and Nadia Petrova – before losing to Serena Williams. Catapulting up the rankings to world No.33, she began well on her favoured clay by winning the title in Stuttgart, but having not lost at Roland Garros since 2004, Henin was finally ousted by Stosur in the last 16. Recovering well, the Belgian won the ‘s-Hertogenbosch title, to raise her hopes ahead of Wimbledon. But Henin had predicted that it was “too soon” for her to add the elusive slam to her collection, and she was proved right when she lost another three-setter against compatriot Kim Clijsters. To add to her woe, an elbow injury picked up in the match forced her out for the remainder of the season.