Kaia Kanepi at the 2012 Australian Open: Is She More Dangerous Than Presumed?

Shane Lambert@uncoolnegatedAnalyst IIJanuary 14, 2012

Kaia Kanepi, a result titlist on the women's tour.
Kaia Kanepi, a result titlist on the women's tour.Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Kaia Kanepi is a name that casual tennis fans might not be too familiar with, however I think that those in the know realize that she is a very talented player. Kanepi is in the 2012 Australian Open, which starts on Monday, and she looks like a player that could do some damage in the draw.

Kanepi has never been ranked higher than 16th in the WTA rankings, but she has done damage in Grand Slam tournaments before. She has made the quarterfinal round in all of the majors, with the exception of the Australian Open.

In 2008, she made the final eight at the French Open, while 2010 saw her make the quarters at both Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.

Looking at the upcoming Australian Open, Kanepi's early-round draw does not look difficult at Melbourne Park this year.

She faces an inexperienced Johanna Larsson in the first round, a player who is just 2-6 lifetime in Grand Slam singles matches. Surviving that encounter, Kanepi would face either Ekaterina Makarova or Tamarine Tanasugarn in the second round, with Makarova the most probable opponent in my opinion.

Kanepi could face Vera Zvonareva in the third round, a player that has to be considered a superior talent at this point. However, Zvonareva did not play the same devastating tennis in late 2011 that she played in late 2010, and her Grand Slam results tapered off.

If the Russian is not sharp against Kanepi, then the Estonian could take the initiative in that match and make her own charge toward the Top 10 on the women's tour in 2012.

Kanepi's stake in the fourth round is a serious one, and if she survives that far at Melbourne Park, I hope that no one calls it a surprise.

The Estonian does not appear likely to survive quarterfinals that contain both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, even if Kanepi did win WTA Brisbane earlier this month.

She is a hot player on tour, she has a lot of confidence and she's proven in the past that she's capable of winning several matches inside a Grand Slam draw.