Re: Why is Szavay hyped up so much?
Because of a couple key things: she had a wildfire last two thirds of the year (better than ALG in '05, so the comparison is a little off), she has a very balanced game at the baseline, she apparently has great nerves, and her attitude is far better than most people her age.
From Budapest through today, her win-loss record was 45-8, with two Tour titles and one ITF title. She improved 139 ranking spots in about 3 1/2 months. That's impressive stuff.
She plays a very, very mature game, especially for someone whose specialty is not hardcourts. I haven't seen her on clay yet, but she was the dominant Junior clay player from her age group (which includes, incidentally, FO semifinalist Nicole Vaidisova), and if her ability on hardcourts is any indication, she's very good on clay. Her serve is quite effective, solid, doesn't breakdown, and can move to the basic positions without being obvious. It's not winning her tons of cheap points (aces, service winners) but it sets her up very well. She moves fluidly and smartly, and knows where to stand to hit the ball. Her backhand is very much Evert-like. It isn't a super powerful shot, but she places it very, very well to all portions of the court, and it doesn't breakdown. AND she can let it fly when the time is right. She knows how to apply pressure without overdoing it, and she mixes up the type of backhand she hits; Kuznetsova said after New Haven that she was surprised at how many different variations on the crosscourt backhand she had to face. Her forehand is weaker and loopier, but I've been told on good authority that it's because it's designed for clay. She's a creature of clay; but if her forehand doesn't break down (which I haven't seen yet) and someone like Mauresmo can reach number one with HER forehand, I don't see how Szavay's is a huge liability.
There isn't enough match history to prove this, but her nerves and attitude towards tennis are equally impressive. I hate to do it, but compare how Szavay handled Beijing to the way Vaidisova handles just about everything. Szavay saved a match point with a 2nd serve ace. Vaidisova has a better serve, but she couldn't save a match point if her life depended on it. Szavay has a very, very good head on her shoulders, and she has a very pleasant attitude about the sport. She enjoys it, just like Ivanovic and Jankovic do, but she doesn't get as carried away emotionally. She's clearly having a good time on court, but she's not letting it affect her game. There's a maturity there that I wasn't expecting to find in a tennis player that young. That's why the hype is there.
That all said, I think it's premature to declare her a multi-slam, #1, GOAT-level player. First, she hasn't even played a full WTA season yet. 2nd, she's got a funky back. And 3rd, she's 18. She's got another year to really make an impact before it becomes imperative (look at the numbers; the only multi-slam champion of the past 20 years to make it without reaching a slam semifinal in their teens is Davenport).
So let's all hold off a bit and enjoy the off season!