The strong new faces in tennis – teens now challenge the 20s

6 Apr

Every few years in tennis there is a significant assault on the “established” rankings when a new crop of mid-teens start punching above their weight and toppling the older champions. And by “old” we mean early-to-mid-20s. It looks like 2009 is going to be one of those years when the younger players establish a new ruling elite.

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Just when we thought Dinara Safina was going to finally achieve all the promise expected of her, along come players like Victoria Azarenka (photo) to take the headlines – and the titles.

As a very handy doubles player, Azarenka has an impressive record in the grand slam competitions. She was runner-up at the Australian Open in 2007 (mixed doubles) and 2008 (women’s doubles). In 2007 at age 17 Victoria won the US Open and in 2008 the French Open, both in mixed doubles.

Azarenka has also impressed on the WTA Tour in women’s doubles, with wins in Memphis and Indian Wells this year. Those wins follow a strong list of runner-up matches in 2007 and 2008. Singles wins have included success over other promising teenagers, especially the lively Caroline Wozniacki.

Victoria’s progress through the past 3 years has been very steady, each year moving further through the major tournaments to reach quarter-finals in 2007, semi-finals in 2008, and wins in 2009. Rather than bursting on the scene in a blaze of glory and then fading away, it looks like the new girls on court have talent and staying power.

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