Na Li, Patty Schnyder and the Top 10 Underrated Women in WTA Tour Top 50

Sarah LeavittContributor IMarch 11, 2011

Na Li, Patty Schnyder and the Top 10 Underrated Women in WTA Tour Top 50

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    Daniela Hantuchova (WTA rank: 31)Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Most people know who Anna Kournikova is, but most don't know that she wasn't much of a tennis player. She appealed to the masses because of her looks, her relationship with Enrique Inglesias and a poker term (A-K : Anna Kournikova looks good, never wins).

    Most often, though, it's the other way around. The top 10 women's tennis players are well-known, and the others are forgotten.

    Here are the top 10 underrated women's players in the WTA top 50 (as of March 11).

Anna Chakvetadze

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    Anna Chakvetadze just makes the cut, currently No. 49 in the rankings, but this 24-year-old Russian has a bright future. She cracked the top 10 in September 2007 when she grabbed the fifth spot, her career high.

    She made her mark in the 2004 US Open where she won three qualifying matches to make the main draw before losing in the third round.

    Her first WTA singles final victory came in 2006. So far, 2011 hasn't been kind but only because she suffered from a viral illness and scared everybody when she collapsed on the court during a game against current No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in Dubai.

    She has since recovered, and with a history of success, it won't be surprising to see her climb back up the ranks.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

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    Best known for her crazy outfits on court (that even beat Venus Williams' skin-coloured spandex), American Bethanie Mattek-Sands is currently ranked No. 43 in the standings.

    Mattek-Sands has seen more success in the doubles tour but is making her mark in singles. The 25-year-old started 2011 with a big win against Francesca Schiavone, who was ranked No. 7 at the time. She also made it to the final of the 2011 Moorilla Hobart International where she lost to Jarmila Groth.

Daniela Hantuchova

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    Daniela Hantuchova, 27, sits at the No. 31 spot, and her agressive style of play has garned her respect from her peers. In 2002, she cracked the top 10 with an eighth-placed ranking, but since then, has hovered around the 20-mark.

    While her age is a factor to consider, she won her first WTA tournament in three years this year when she defeated the tournament's top seed in Vera Zvonareva before beating Sara Errani 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

Lucie Safarova

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    Lucie Safarova, currently ranked 32nd, turned pro in 2002 but beating Amelie Mauresmo in the 2007 Australian Open, making it to the quarterfinals, brought her to the attention of tennis fans.

    The left-handed Czechoslovakian has never been in the top 10 (her highest ranking is 24th), but odds are, she'll make it there.

    In 2010, Safarova had some decisive wins against the likes of Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Nadia Petrova. So far in this year's season, she made it to the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International.

Yanina Wickmayer

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    Yanina Wickmayer is currently ranked 23rd, and the 21-year-old often takes a backstage to her fellow Belgian Kim Clijster. However, as a young player, she has a bright future. In 2009, she reached the 16th spot when she won her first WTA final. She also scraped her way to the semifinals at the US Open before losing to current No. 1 Caroline Wozniaki.

    At the 2011 Australian Open, Wickmayer won her first match but lost in the second round. She then continued on to the Open GDF Suez, where she made it to the quarterfinals. 

Patty Schnyder

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    Patty Schnyder, who turned pro in 1994, doesn't have many years left on tour (she is 32), but her current No. 39 ranking belies her talent.

    The "Swiss Miss" reached her career high in 2005 when she cracked the top 10 in the No. 7 spot. Along the way, she has defeated several world No. 1, including Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Caroline Wozniacki.

    Schnyder didn't play the first tournaments of 2011 and lost in the first round of the Australian Open. Rumours have it that she will announce her retirement. Having played on the tour for more than a decade, she is one of the most underrated players in women's tennis. 

Flavia Pennetta

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    Most people think of 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone when "Italian tennis player" is mentioned, but another star is in the making. Flavia Pennetta is currently ranked 15th with her career-high of 12th in 2009. She has steadily risen in the ranks over the years and is the first Italian to be ranked No. 1 in doubles.

    Her success on the doubles side has provided her with quick reactions and precision. At the Australian Open this year, she made it to the fourth round, all the while playing in the doubles category, which she won alongside Gisela Dulko.

Shahar Peer

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    Shahar Peer is sitting pretty in the 12th spot, and like Pennetta, has a prolific career in the doubles tour. The 23-year-old from Jerusalem is at her highest ranking and looks like she can continue to climb. At the 2007 Australian Open and US Open, Peer reached the quarterfinals on the singles side, her best performance yet.

    Considering that at 19, Peer took a break from tennis to complete her mandatory Israeli military service, she has proven to be a force on the court. Her name became more known when, in 2009, the United Arab Emirates refused to give her a visa because of her Israeli citizenship.

    At the 2011 Australian Open, Peer lost in the third round.

Marion Bartoli

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    Marion Bartoli is best known for making the 2007 Wimbledon Final where she lost to Venus Williams. She is currently ranked 17th. To follow up her performance at Wimbledon, Bartoli made it to the fourth round of the 2009 Australian Open by beating Jelena Jankovic. She has been in the top 20 since 2006.

    She kicked off her 2011 season with a semifinal finish at the Brisbane International and was the top seed at the Moorilla Hobart International. At the Australian Open, she retired in her second-round match due to a tear in her calf muscle. She rallied back quickly to make it to the quarterfinals of the BMV Malaysian Open.

Na Li

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    Ranked the highest in this list, at the No. 7 spot, Na Li is the most underrated player in top 10, let alone the top 50. The 29-year-old from China turned professional in 1999.

    She won her eighth WTA title at Medibank International Sydney when she defeated Kim Clijsters. Despite the win, she still wasn't well known, and she caused quite the stir when she made it to the final of the 2011 Australian Open, where she lost to Clijsters.