Friday, 20 March 2009

Spotlight On ... Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was the junior world number one in 2006, and won several junior Grand Slams (including the Australian Open twice in her junior career and the US Open). She was also a finalist at junior Roland Garros. She is currently making a successful transition from the juniors to the seniors via the ITF circuit. In 2008, she has won a WTA doubles title in Fes (with Sorana Cirstea), along with two ITF singles title in Minsk and Moscow, and three ITF doubles titles. She was also a runner-up in the doubles at WTA Palermo (with fellow Russian Alla Kudryavtseva). Her best WTA result of the 2008 season so far has been a quarter-final showing in Palermo (l. to 7th seed and eventual finalist Mariya Koryttseva).

During her rise up the rankings this season, she has mixed ITF events with low tier WTA tournaments. This has been extremely profitable, as it has allowed her to build up the confidence that comes from winning lots of matches. She has also played several bigger WTA events, including Roland Garros (where she reached the second round before losing to 26th seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta in three sets) and Wimbledon (where she reached the third round before losing to 14th seed Agnieszka Radwanska). In the first round of Wimbledon, she beat 17th seed Alize Cornet to claim her first top 20 scalp. Anastasia qualified for WTA Stockholm, and reached the second round (l. to 3rd seed Katarina Srebotnik). She also reached the second round of the US Open (l. to 15th seed Patty Schnyder) and the quarter-finals of WTA Tokyo (l. to 5th seed Kaia Kanepi, after beating 3rd seed Jie Zheng in the first round).

After stepping down to the ITF circuit for the last few tournaments of her 2008 season, Anastasia won titles in Poitiers (France) and Bratislava (Slovak Republic).

In March 2009, she scored a huge straight sets win over 2nd seed Jelena Jankovic in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. This turned out to be a breakthrough tournament for the young Russian as wins over Karin Knapp, Nuria Llagostera Vives and 7th seed Agnieszka Radwanska saw her book her place in the quarter-finals.

Prior to this tournament, she had achieved second round showings in Paris (l. to Elena Dementieva) and Dubai (l. to Venus Williams) and a quarter-final appearance in Hobart (l. to Petra Kvitova) to bring her ranking inside the top 50.

Anastasia is coached by her father, Sergey. She comes from a tennis-orientated family, as her mother and brother are also tennis coaches.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Spotlight On ... Petra Cetkovska

Petra hails from Prostejov in the Czech Republic, where she still lives. Her career-high ranking is just inside the world's top 50 (at #49), which she achieved in June 2008.

In her career so far, she has won 17 ITF singles titles and 18 ITF doubles titles, as well as one WTA doubles title in 2007 (with Andrea Hlavackova in Prague). Most of her tennis so far this year has been played on the far less glamorous ITF circuit. She has been busy racking up the match wins there with tournament victories in $50K Bucharest (Romania) and $50K Saints-Gaudens (France) in May, and a doubles title in $50K Bucharest. She also reached the quarters of the WTA tournament in Fes (Morocco) during the clay-court season. By the time she entered the qualifying for Roland Garros, she had won twelve of her last thirteen matches - a confidence that showed throughout her Roland Garros campaign.

In her first round match at Roland Garros (2008), she took out Alona Bondarenko in straight sets, and followed that up with wins over Galina Voskoboeva and Iveta Benesova, before running out of steam against world number two, Ana Ivanovic. If this tournament was anything to go by, the Czech has certainly made a name for herself - both on and off the court.

Following on from Roland Garros, Petra made the quarter-finals of WTA Birmingham. She beat top seed Marion Bartoli in the second round before losing out to 12th seed and eventual champion, Kateryna Bondarenko.

After this, her form started to dip again. She lost in the first round of Wimbledon to Tamarine Tanasugarn, who went on to be a surprise quarter-finalist. That was followed by a first round loss in Stockholm (l. to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova), a second round loss in Cincinnati (l. to wildcard Lilia Osterloh, after beating 8th seed Tamira Paszek), and first round losses in Forest Hills (l. to Martina Muller), the US Open (l. to Nicole Vaidisova), Seoul (l. to 2nd seed Shahar Peer) and the Japan Open (l. to qualifier Rika Fujiwara). A return to the ITF circuit brought some much-needed success with quarter-finals in Saint Raphael (l. to 8th seed Julie Coin) and Poitiers (l. to top seed Monica Niculescu).

Her 2009 season didn't get off to a great start after first round losses in Australia (l. to 5th seed Shahar Peer), the Australian Open (l. to Marina Erakovic) and a second round loss in Bogota (l. to Masa Zec Peskiric), but her results have started to pick up again with a quarter-final showing in Acapulco (d. 8th seed Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, before losing to 2nd seed Flavia Pennetta). She caused a big upset in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after dispatching Elena Dementieva.

Petra wasn't a stand-out junior and didn't achieve massive success in the junior Grand Slams . Her best results included a 3rd round at the US Open juniors (losing in straight sets to Swede Sofia Arvidsson in 2000), the 2nd round of the 2001 Australian Open juniors (losing to Karolina Sprem), and the 3rd round of the 2002 French Open juniors (losing to Marta Domachowska).