WTA Rogers Cup: New Faces to Follow

The WTA rankings are always in a constant state of flux; as some players work their way up towards the top, others find themselves sinking towards the bottom. As players win more and their ranking rises so do their direct entries into big tournaments and subsequently the big prize money follows.

At each tournament new faces make their debut on centre court and it can be tricky to know who is who. This week at the Rogers Cup there are lots of familiar top players in the draw, but there are also lots of new faces. Ardent tennis fans will obviously recognize all of these names, but for the many fans who only watch the larger tournaments rising players can come as a surprise. Let’s meet some of those new rising faces.

Belinda Bencic – The 18 year old Bencic is from the land of Roger Federer, Switzerland. Bencic plays right handed with a two handed backhand. Currently ranked #20 in the world, Bencic has a 25-17 win-loss record in 2015 and won her first WTA singles tournament at Eastbourne. Unfortunately for Canadians, she is the player that quickly put an end to Eugenie Bouchard’s run here. Bencic played well against Bouchard but the Canadian helped her out with lots of unforced errors. In her second round match Bencic eliminated the #4 seed Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki appeared to be nursing a leg injury with her calf heavily taped and her movement did not seem up to her normal standard. Nevertheless, Bencic is moving on to the third round.

Karolina Pliskova – This 23 year old player from the Czech Republic is currently ranked #8 in the world. Pliskova has a 39-15 win-loss record this year including a title in Prague. Pliskova is one of the more powerful servers on the tour. Although she lost in the first round here she is coming off a final last week in Stanford. In that Stanford final she lost to German Angelique Kerber in three sets that were filled with long rallies in the heat. That final was on Sunday afternoon and her first match here was Tuesday, not a lot of time to recuperate and enjoy the breakthrough to the top ten.

Garbine Muguruza – More fans are recognizing this 21 year old Spanish player after her run to the Wimbledon final this year. Muguruza is currently ranked #9 and she states that hard courts are her favourite surface. Her second round loss here in Toronto after a first round bye can probably be attributed to rust and most likely she will be one to watch at the US Open.

Daria Gavrilova – Born in Moscow, Russia, this 21 year old now makes her home in Australia but is not officially an Australian citizen. Gavrilova is ranked #40 in the world but she is definitely on her way up towards the top. Gavrilova defeated #2 ranked Maria Sharapova on the Miami hard courts earlier this year. Gavrilova is still looking for her first WTA title. So far at the Rogers Cup in the first round she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia and in the second round she defeated the seventh seed Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.

Carina Witthoeft – This German player is currently ranked #56 and has not yet won a WTA title. Last week in Stanford she took her compatriot world #16 Andrea Petkovic to three sets in a hard fought match. Her win-loss record this year is 25-17. With many Germans among the top players including Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki, Witthoeft should soon be up there with them. At the Rogers Cup this week she has made it through qualifying and has now won two main draw matches defeating Americans Coco Vandeweghe and Alison Riske.

Elina Svitolina – This 20 year old player from the Ukraine is currently ranked #15 in the world. Svitolina has won 3 titles on the WTA tour including a title this year in Marrakech on clay. Svitolina lost to the former #1 player Victoria Azarenka in the first round here but that early loss follows a semifinal showing last week in Stanford where she lost to the eventual champion Angelique Kerber.

Keep your eyes on these young players especially at the hard court tournaments leading into the US Open.

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