It would have been easy for Maria Camila Osorio Serrano to give up. Three times during the second set she was two points away from winning the match, but on each occasion she failed to seize her moment, and with each failure, Kristie Ahn stayed alive.
It was the Second Round of the WTA event in Bogota. Hopeful spectators cheered Osorio Serrano on, coach Alejandro Falla cautiously optimistic. The field in Bogota is not great, with almost all top players choosing to skip the event, but Ahn had beaten top seed Jelena Ostapenko in the previous round, and was going to be tough to beat.
Osorio Serrano found herself down 0-3 (15-30) in the third set. Again, it would have been easy for her to throw in the towel, a couple matches at the WTA level doing her lots of good. However, Maria Camila hung in there and fought back. Utilizing her all-court craft and heavy forehand, with the help of the crowd, she battled back and did not lose a game for the rest of the match. Osorio Serrano won 6-4, (6)6-7, 6-3. Here is an example of the all-court craft that Osorio Serrano can produce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sY4AAJMnTM.
Usually, when you see a lower-ranked wild card for a small event like Bogota, you just assume that the wild card will be a one-match wonder, and lose easily in the first round. But, Ososio Serrano is different. Currently in the Top 10 in the ITF Junior Rankings, Osorio Serrano was clearly a talented player, well-worthy of her wild card.
Particularly striking was her run to the US Open Junior Semifinals, before losing to eventual finalist Clara Burel in a third set tiebreak. Funny enough, Osorio Serrano won more games in the match than Burel. However, prior to her match with Burrel, Osorio Serrano showed the fantastic mental strength, winning her previous two matches from a set down.
She called upon this mental fortitude in her match with Ahn, and also her first round match against Conny Perrin, where not only was she down a break twice in the first set, but when she failed to serve out the match, she fought right back and broke Perrin for the win.
This evening is Osorio Serrano’s biggest test, however. In her quarterfinal match, she will battle World No. 76, No. 6 seed, and fellow 17-year-old, Amanda Anisimova. This will be a high-pressure match for both. Maria Camila will want to show that she can beat a player of Anisimova’s caliber, especially given that they are the same age. Amanda will feel the pressure to show that she has clearly separated herself from the pack in her age group. Ososio Serrano will have the crowd on her side, which could also rattle a young, relatively inexperienced player like Anisimova. However, when Anisimova took on Osorio Serrano in the round of 16 at the Junior French Open in 2017, she won comfortably in straight sets.
In any case, you might be thinking that Osorio Serrano is the next Serena Williams with the way she is being hyped up in this article, but it is important to pull the brakes somewhat. Osorio Serrano will have to improve her serve big-time, in all likelihood, to make it to the top of the game. In her match against Perrin, Maria Camila was broken four times in ten service games, and had to save break points in two other service games. Against Ahn, while Osorio Serrano was not broken in the first set, she was broken four times in the final two sets combined, and had to recover from 0-40 in another service game. And against the best players, going down 0-40 on serve is brutal.
Osorio Serrano could also add a little power to her groundstrokes. Of course, she is only 17 years old, but when watching a player like Anisimova compared to a player like Osorio Serrano tonight, it could very well become apparent that Osorio Serrano would do very well to add a little more power to her groundstrokes. However, as mentioned before, her forehand is extremely heavy, and she has a great court-sense.
Players like Amanda Anisimova, playing at an extremely high level at such a young age, do not come around often anymore. It’s not often that a player can stand toe-to-toe and beat Petra Kvitova at such a young age (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELZOruObnxs). The norm nowadays is for players to really take their time in developing their games, and reaching their peak at older ages. And it’s important to remember that in regards to Osorio Serrano. She is only 17 years old, and despite her success this week, is only No. 333 in the live rankings currently. And, it is true that Perrin and Ahn are only No. 143 and No. 192 in the live rankings, respectively. The Bogota field is also not a very strong WTA tournament in terms of the player field.
However, that is not to discredit the hard work that Osorio Serrano has put in, nor her great play this week. Osorio Serrano is showing that she can play with players well above her ranking, and with more experience at the WTA level. Having a former pro in Alejandro Falla in her camp can make the transition from Juniors to the WTA Tour a little easier too.
And, regardless of what happens tonight against Anisimova, it is clear that Osorio Serrano’s game is progressing nicely, and she is on track to become a mainstay on the WTA Tour.