Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Spotlight On ... Michelle Larcher de Brito

Currently ranked in the world's top 150 (and the youngest player to end the year in the top 200), Michelle Larcher de Brito is widely thought of as one of the biggest teenage talents for the future. The teenager burst onto the scene when she defeated Meghan Shaughnessy in her first WTA tournament in Miami before losing to Daniela Hantuchova. She became the 7th youngest player in WTA history to win a main draw match at a WTA tournament. The rest of 2007 was spent on the ITF circuit. She reached the second round of WTA Memphis (l. to Caroline Wozniacki) and the third round of Miami (l. to 16th seed Shahar Peer, but beat 17th seed Agnieszka Radwanska for her first top 20 scalp). Following that, she qualified for WTA Montreal and beat American Vania King in her first round match.

As you might expect from a teenager, she is yet to find her real consistency. The three-set loss to Serena Williams (after beating Gisela Dulko in the first round as a qualifier) in the second round of WTA Stanford was quickly followed by a loss in the first round of qualifying in WTA Los Angeles to a far lesser ranked player. She has also been knocked out in qualifying for Fes (l. to Jelena Dokic) and Wimbledon. At WTA Tashkent, she reached the quarter-finals before losing to 3rd seed Sorana Cirstea.

In May 2009, she qualified for the Roland Garros main draw and was handed a favourable first round match-up against Melanie South, who she dispatched in three sets after being handed a first set bagel. In the second round, she defeated # 15 Jie Zheng in straight sets to book her place in the third round of Grand Slam for the first time in her fledgling career.

Michelle is coached by her father, Antonio. In 2005, she became the youngest player to win the prestigious Eddie Herr junior tournament (in the U16 category) at the age of 12.

Click here to read Michelle's WTA blog from Estoril

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