Wimbledon 2011: 10 Up-and-Comers Who Impressed at the All-England Club
As we all settle down from watching another great Wimbledon tournament, you cannot help but look back and think back on significant highlights that were memorable.
But, by the same token, there was an emergence of some surprise performances from some players that have been on the tour for a while as well as some fairly new tour participants.
The following slides will highlight the performances of 10 of those individuals in no particular order.
Do feel free to share your thoughts on the players listed as well as your thoughts on a player or players that you thought should have been listed.
I chose this picture because I thought that it was representative of Marion Bartoli as it appears that she's in that "fighting stance." In her case, fighting for every point, every set and every match.
Batoli has a powerful serve and returns quite well. When you combine her skill set with her desire to play well and hunger for winning, she is a dangerous opponent.
This was evident at this year's Wimbledon. We saw Bartoli play against one of the best tennis players of all time, Serena Williams, in the fourth round, and not only was she able to return well, she was able to serve 10 aces.
Bartoli has continually worked on her game, and it shows.
This young American is poised to become a force to be reckoned with in the tennis world. Although he lost in the qualifying round for Wimbledon, he still got a spot as a Lucky Loser. Some people may say, he only got to the second round.
But, in that second round, he forced a five-setter against the No. 7 seed David Ferrer. I think that accounts for a lot. Harrison has tremendous skill and as he continues to train and be mentored by his fellow players, his name will become a household name.
Prior to her injuries in 2010, Sabine Lisicki had been creating a buzz in the tennis world. She was thought to be a rising star.
Well, her return has definitely fallen in line with those predictions. Lisicki has been playing well in 2011. With a wild card entry and a powerful serve, this young lady left her mark on Wimbledon.
Lisicki not only won her match against the French Open champion, Li Na, she eventually made it to the semifinals to face Maria Sharapova. Coming away with a lost would not mean a lot to most, but for Lisicki to have reached the semis of Wimbledon after dealing with injury, this lost was possibly her greatest win thus far.
Don't let the 5'3" height mislead. There's a lot of power packed in this small frame.
For some, the name may not be familiar. But I assure you, she has been making a name for herself in the tennis world.
Over the past couple of years, Cibulkova has reached the semifinals of the 2009 French Open, the fourth round of the 2009 Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the 2010 US Open.
Additionally, this year, prior to Wimbledon, she defeated Caroline Wozniacki at the Medibank International in Sydney and as we all know, she repeated with anther defeat of Wozniacki at this year's Wimbledon.
She fell to Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Sharapova left little room for her to find her way into the match although we saw a few glimpses of her skill set.
However, as she continues to work on her game, I have no doubt that we will see her in some finals.
Mardy Fish set a goal for himself to invest in his physical fitness. It has paid huge dividends for him, based upon how he was playing and how is playing now.
Fish is currently the highest ranked American male tennis player and rightfully so.
At this year's Wimbledon, he upset the 2010 finalist, Tomas Berdych, to secure a spot in the semifinals. And though he faced the defending champion, Rafael Nadal, and lose, Fish was able to force a four-set match.
The nickname says so much about a young man who not only looks like the boxing great Muhammad Ali, he brings that power and energy to the court that Ali brought to the ring. His serve packs a punch.
And what a Wimbledon he had. Probably his most memorable match and the world's was his defeat of Roger Federer in their quarterfinal match. Down two sets, Tsonga was able to rally back and win. This was the first time ever that Federer lost after leading by two sets.
Tsonga then faced the No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic. Djokovic would eventually get the win but not after having to play four sets and two tiebreakers.
I think if Tsonga can play consistently strong, we'll see a lot more of him in the latter rounds of tournaments—even finals.
In discussing the Chinese women on tour, the names Li Na and Jie Zheng are probably a little more well known than Shuai Peng.
However, if I had to rank these three women currently, I would say Peng is a strong second right now behind Li Na.
Peng has been playing for while and has won against great players like Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters and her Li Na. But it's the Grand Slam performances that make people stop and take notice.
Previously, her best performances at Grand Slams netted her entry to the third round. 2011 has seen Peng playing some of her best tennis. She not only reached the fourth round of Australian Open, she also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.
And noteworthy to mention, Peng reached the third round of the French Open, facing defending champion Franscesca Schiavone. Schiavone won the first set, but Peng was ahead in the second set, unfortunately, we were left to ponder what could have been after Peng had to retire due to illness.
Note: Peng and Zheng won the 2011 doubles title at the Internazionali BNL d'italia in Rome.
He's just 18 (will turn 19 in October), but he's already an accomplished tennis player.
And his performances of 2011 continued what certainly is going to be a long career with many more accomplishments.
Wimbledon was, by far, the best.
He upset the No. 28 seed Nikolay Davydenko in the first round. He followed this with a defeat of Igor Andreev after being down two sets to love. Third round saw him hand a huge defeat to the No. 5 seed, Robin Soderling. He won his fourth-round match against Xavier Malisse.
This win not only afforded him a spot in the quarterfinals to face the No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic, it gave him the honor of being the youngest male to advance to the quarters of a Grand Slam since Boris Becker back in 1986. Tomic lost to Djokovic, but I believe it can be said that with continued training and playing, we are going to see this young man winning some championships.
Note: Through four rounds at this year's Wimbledon, Tomic only faced one (second round) match where he did not win in straight sets. Additionally, he forced a four-set match against Djokovic in the quarters.
Juan Martin del Potro
As most know, del Potro has faced much challenge due to injuries over the last year. But we saw him work hard and return to the game that he loves.
Wimbledon was a good tournament for del Potro as we saw him playing well in continually moving in the direction of playing as he did prior to the injuries.
He made it to the Round of 16 to face Rafael Nadal. It was great match as del Potro pushed Nadal to four sets and two tiebreakers.
Following his Wimbledon performance, del Potro returned to the top 20.
What can you say about Petra Kvitova except she played exceptional tennis at this year's Wimbledon.
Maria Sharapova played an entire tournament and never lost one set...until the final match. Kvitova took two in sequence.
She reached her first Grand Slam final and came away a winner, becoming the first player to win this distinguished title born in the 1990s. And also another special recognition and heartfelt moment for Kvitova, she is the first left-handed player to win the title since her tennis mentor, Martina Navratilova won it back in 1990.
Petra Kvitova is a tennis player to take note of because she has many memorable tennis performances ahead of her.
And so, that concludes the Wimbledon highlights of 10 players to watch in the upcoming months and years.