Liudmila Samsonova is in the form of her life, winning 18 of her last 19 matches. She has collected three WTA titles along the way, in Washington, Cleveland and Tokyo, rising to a career high ranking of #23.
The hard-hitting Russian capped off her sensational run in the Japanese capital last week, where she did not drop a single set, beating Qinwen Zheng in a closely contested final.
Not only has Samsonova been winning matches, she has been winning them comfortably. The 23-year-old has dropped only four sets in this period, as well as beating three Grand Slam champions.
Where has this form come from?
Samsonova has shown signs of being a top player before. She burst onto the scene in 2021, where she won her first WTA title as a qualifier in Berlin. She was also almost the player who ended Iga Swiatek’s record-breaking streak this year, just falling short in Stuttgart.
However, that defeat to the world #1 was followed by a bad run of form for the Russian. She lost seven out of eight matches, coinciding with a poor defence of her title in the German capital. This makes it even more perplexing that this incredible run was preceded by such poor form.
Samsonova has claimed that the secret to her success is her sports psychologist, Claudia Gambarino, who she started working with back in July. “I think I had the tennis level, I had the physical level already, but I didn’t have the mental level to do it consistently.”
Gambarino was suggested to Samsonova by her coach, Danilo Pizzorno, and you can certainly see why. She isn’t the only player on the WTA tour to hire a mental coach, with the top two players in women’s tennis, Swiatek and Ons Jabeur, both having success hiring someone similar to Gambarino.
Could Samsonova qualify for the WTA Finals in Texas?
The eight players with the most ranking points on the WTA tour in 2022 will qualify for the year-end finals, held in Texas.
Samsonova’s sensational form has seen her rise to 19th in the race, with 1806 points. Simona Halep is in eighth position, but the Romanian has announced that she will not be playing until 2023 following nose surgery. This therefore means that fellow Russian Veronika Kudermetova is currently the one to catch, 691 points ahead of Samsonova.
Liudmila Samsonova will need to continue producing dominant tennis if she is to sneak into the finals, beginning October 31st. It is hard to bet against her at the moment, but she will need to pick up a fair share of points at the last WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara.
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