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Both of these ladies have a strong presence on the court and should never be overlooked by opponents. And even though we have labeled this piece rising stars, some are a little older and late to the party, so to speak. For Shuai and Zvonereva, it's not how you start, it's how you finish.
The issue with Shuai is that she is already 25. However, if you look at the slow rise of Li Na, you can understand the maturation of her game. She is an unorthodox player with the two-handed forehand and back hand, and difficult to game plan.
Shuai has power on both sides, and since January she has compiled three quarter finals, three semi-finals, made it to the fourth round at the Australian Open, and lost in the finals to Caroline Wozniacki at Brussels.
A viral illness forced her out of the French Open to the eventual finalist, Schiavone.
Shuai has gone from being ranked 72 in the world in 2010 to 20 as of June 6. That is an incredible jump.
Caution, Zvonereva is very close to winning a major. She has reached the finals twice (Wimbledon and U.S. Open 2010) and the semi-finals at the Australian (2009, 2011). She was also a finalist at the WTA Championship in 2010, and a Bronze Medal winner for Russia in 2008.
The strike against Zvonereva is her age. She will be 27 in September, but like some other stars in their mid to late 20s, Zvonereva seems to be hitting her stride, and a Grand Slam victory awaits. The question looming is whether she is a Grand Slam closer.
She has 11 WTA titles and two ITF. There is no doubt for the remainder of this year and most likely next year, Zvonereva is an opponent most ladies would like to avoid.
Despite dropping a spot from No. 2 in 2010 to No. 3 in the world, Zvonereva's game is dangerous, and even though she has been relatively consistent for the last three years, ranked 2, 7 and 9, I still think she is a rising star because in my mind, she will win a Grand Slam or two before her career winds down.
Both of these young ladies are late-rising stars, and we are going to see a lot of them the remainder of 2011.