September 18, 2011

New on the Scene

The ladies in the winners' circles this weekend are far from household names. But with the four who contested the trophies all going after their maiden crowns, it might not be long before they find themselves more in the spotlight. Twenty-year-old Ksenia Pervak came to Uzbekistan with on of her more successful summers. She'd made the fourth round at Wimbledon with wins over Shahar Peer and Andrea Petkovic and run to the finals at Baku. A shade off her highest-ever ranking, the fifty-second ranked player was still the top seed in Tashkent and worked her way through the draw without dropping a set. There she met little-known Czech Eva Birnerova, a pro for almost ten years who's spent most of her career making a mark on the ITF tour. She had a tougher road to the championship match, having three set victories two rounds in a row and advancing when Alla Kudryavtseva retired up a set in their semi. Easily the less experienced player in Saturday's match, Birnerova didn't put up much of a fight, allowing Pervak to win about two-thirds of her return points, breaking serve seven times. It was only the Russian's second final of her career, but with the way she's been playing this year, I wouldn't be surprised to see her around much more in the coming months. In Quebec City the stakes might have been a little higher, as the top four seeds all held rankings at least better than fifty. But world #23 Daniela Hantuchova was stopped in the third round by New Zealand's Marina Erakovic on the way to her first ever Tour final -- she hadn't made a semi since 2008. On the bottom half of the draw, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, fourteen times a doubles champion, benefitted from the early departure of Lucie Safarova as she made her first final since Prague last year. Though Erakovic got off to a good start, the tables turned quickly and the Czech #7 -- ranked globally at #75 -- only dropped one game in the last thirteen. Playing some of her most aggressive tennis now, at twenty-five years of age, she should see her profile in the sport much enhanced. All these ladies have the potential to do some damage among the ranks of the top stars, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them take the confidence they gained this weekend into future matches. It could take a while for them to make the biggest impact, but they've certainly shown how capable they are of doing it now.

No comments: