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Friday, June 10, 2011

Ranking Risers Part 2

Here's group two of our featured women who pose serious threats as their rankings rise.

German tennis star Sabine Lisicki was once a powerful contender at the majors, having reached a career high ranking of no. 22, but a multitude of health issues and injuries kept her from reaching full potential. Recently, all hopes for a German slam have rested on the shoulders of young-guns Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges, but who's to say Lisicki won't recuperate and reclaim her former greatness. The best evidence for an improving Lisicki was at the French Open, where she had world no. 3, Vera Zvonareva, on the ropes, even earning herself match point. Her fire seemed to fade however, as Zvonareva fought her way back into the match and Lisicki began to suffer from severe cramps. Lisicki was forced to leave the court by stretcher when the match ended, but if she is able to stay healthy she could fight just as hard as any other player. Let us not forget some of the great matches she had, like when she crushed 5-seed Kuznetsova in the 2009 Wimbledon 4th round, 6-2 7-5. Currently in the quarterfinals of the AEGON classic, she should be a player to watch.

America has struggled in tournament play since the absence of Venus and Serena Williams, but Bethanie Mattek-Sands has done a great job to fill the void. In 2010, Mattek hovered outside the world top 50, but since then she has wrestled her way to no. 31. Mattek is usually known for her bad-girl personality and head-turning outfit choices (knee socks and eye paint, Beth?), but recent results have gotten people talking more about her skill than her wardrobe. In Madrid, the spunky American downed Francesca Schiavone in straight sets, then took future French Open champion Li Na to three sets, losing 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Steve Tignor of even went so far as to make her a surprise pick for a Roland Garros quarterfinal. In any event, Mattek seems to be one of a select group of women who are getting better with age, and at 26 years old, we could be on the verge of seeing her very best.

Finally we have Daniela Hantuchova, the lean and athletic Slovakian who was once ranked no. 5 in the world—once meaning eight years ago. She made a surge back into the top 10 in 2007, but fell in the rankings again and currently resides at no. 28. This year has been fairly good for Hantuchova, winning the Pattaya championship after beating Zvonareva in the semis and absolutely clubbing Errani  6-0 6-2 in the finals, but her most impressive win came at the French Open where she stunned world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Watching her at Roland Garros, I could not help but reminisce on the days where Hantuchova's striking power and beautiful shot variety earned her incredible wins, but then she went down easily in the following round, reminding me once more that she's never been a fan of the long haul (remember her AO semifinal loss to Ivanovic after leading 6-0 2-0?) Still, she's a threat in the early rounds if she continues improving, and maybe for once she'll dig in and take herself to the finish line.

-Kedzie Teller, ITB Senior Editor


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