22-year-old Fiona Ferro started 2019 having never been higher than No. 100 in the World and having lost six of her first seven matches of the season. Ferro was without a WTA main draw ($125k Series and above) win until March, including a straight sets loss at the Australian Open. In fact, towards the beginning of March, Ferro had dipped to World No. 116 and she was struggling to find the game necessary to compete at the WTA level.
Ferro started to gain confidence, and put together good results, at the WTA Challenger event in Guadalajara, where she won three matches in a row, including a victory over recent Bronx Open champion Magda Linette, to reach the semifinals. In the semifinals, she came within a set of beating recent Toronto semifinalist, Marie Bouzkova, before ultimately falling in three sets. Despite the loss to Bouzkova, this certainly provided a boost in confidence for Ferro and allowed her to bust out of the slump ailing her at the beginning of the season.
Ferro went on to make the semifinals of the WTA International event in Lugano and the quarterfinals of the International event in Strasbourg. While Ferro then dipped off until July, Ferro got to No. 82 in the World in May, and was starting to really find her game. A breakthrough was imminent.
Ferro decided to go back to clay after Wimbledon, a surface she was more comfortable with than the fast, low-bouncing grass. The grass court season is certainly a reason why Ferro didn’t keep improving her form during the month of June. The second week of Wimbledon, Ferro played another $125k Challenger, this time in Bastad, and made the quarterfinals.
Then, everything came together at the International event in Lausanne. Ferro dropped two sets in five matches and won the title over Alize Cornet. Ferro’s summer surge since Wimbledon, when she went to Bastad, has been very impressive. Since the start of that tournament, Ferro has won 14 of 17 matches, including a 9-2 record on clay and 5-1 record on hard. Ferro got as high as World No. 67 in late July, and while she is not currently that high in the rankings, she could easily surpass that ranking in the coming weeks.
It’s hard to believe Ferro started off the year 1-6.
One of those 14 wins, and five hard court wins, was Monday at the US Open. Ferro comfortably beat former World No. 22 Daria Gavrilova in straight sets for her first ever main draw win at the US Open and second main draw win at a major overall. A trip to the second week of the US Open could be the icing on the cake of a great year for Ferro. While her second round opponent, Kiki Mladenovic, is 2-0 against her this year, Mladenovic has not faced Ferro since before her breakout surge following Wimbledon. Mladenovic should expect a much different player in New York than she saw in Rome or at the French Open.
Ferro’s recent success is in large part due to her powerful forehand. Ferro’s ability to successfully defend her backhand and rip the forehand when given the opportunity has befuddled opponents recently. Ferro wants to put her opponents on the defensive and is not afraid to take more risks, if need be. Ferro’s footwork is also very strong, which allows her to put a lot of power on her shots.
The US Open is the final major of the season, which invokes a lot of tension for players looking for a memorable result at a major before year’s end. Fiona Ferro, however, is playing with a sense of calm and clarity that she has not had for most of her career.
Ferro is competing like a player who knows she has many years ahead of playing at the majors, yet knows that she has the skills to go deep this year.
Ferro’s summer surge has continued in the first round at the US Open. Let’s see how far she can go.
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