Sunday, January 24, 2010

Australian Open Day 7: Young Talent Abounds

Curtain Call

Player: Vera Dushevina
Nation: Russia
Age: 23
Current Doubles Ranking: 45
Current Singles Ranking: 40
Doubles Partner: Anastasia Rodoniova (Australia)
Notable Conquest: Nadia Petrova (Russia)/Samantha Stosur (Australia) (5th seed)
Tour Page:
Official Site:
Today's Result: loss to Sally Peers (Australia)/Laura Robson (Great Britain) in straight sets

A good doubles result for Dushevina, hopefully making up for a first round singles exit. She'll have more doubles points to defend in Paris than singles points: third round in doubles last year as opposed to first round in singles.

Robson's an impressive player at 16. As a lefty with power from the back and touch at the net, she'll be in high demand as a doubles partner for the next 15+ years. As for her singles career, the number of mishits are a bit concerning - lapses in concentration, perhaps? She already has a Wimbledon junior title to her name so she does know how to win.

Incidentally, Dushevina is also a former junior champ at Wimbledon: 2002.

Catching Up with Old Friends

Yanina Wickmayer (Curtain Call, US Open Day 13) - Wickmayer's no ordinary qualifier. But then, the last few months of her life have been far short of ordinary. If you follow tennis, you know the story well. If you don't, a synopsis:

Before the US Open, Wickmayer had never made it past the second round of a Slam. In New York, she went on an absolute tear all the way to the semifinals. She's young, having just turned 20 in October. She's tall at 6 feet. She hits the ball as if it has offended her personally. Her ranking soared. The potential for greatness seemed high.

Then, the trouble began. I have to admit that I barely understand the details on this, but basically Wickmayer failed to fill out some forms in regards to a doping test and was banned from tennis for a year. She appealed successfully and was reinstated on December 16th, too late for a direct entry into the main draw in Melbourne. So, she had to go through qualifying. She won three qualifying rounds and three in the main draw, taking out 12th seeded Flavia Pennetta (Italy) along the way. In the fourth round, she ran into Justine Henin, Belgian national hero, and went down in three.

As noted in a previous post, Wickmayer does not have the most endearing on-court personality. But her game is big. We're going to be seeing a lot of her, I expect - assuming she can stay on top of the paperwork.

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