Young Czech is all steel
By Paul Malone
December 27, 2007
DON'T mistake Czech Nicole Vaidisova's youthful blonde visage for indicating a lack of steel.
Amelie Mauresmo doesn't after suffering three consecutive three-set losses to her.
Vaidisova, top seed for the Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts that start at Royal Pines on Sunday, can point to three wins over Mauresmo in the past two years.
Roland Garros last year and Wimbledon last July, when Mauresmo was seeking to defend her title, were prominent venues at which to build Vaidisova's reputation as a future Grand Slam champion.
The 18-year-old right-hander recorded wins this year over three top-10 players - Mauresmo, Serbian Jelena Jankovic and Russian Elena Dementieva, to reach a career-high world ranking of No. 7 in May.
Vaidisova's stepfather and coach Ales Kodat resigned as captain of the Czech Fed Cup team on Monday, citing "personal reasons".
The teen success of Vaidisova and Hungarian Agnes Szavay is seen by Gold Coast tournament director Liz Smylie as a vital lesson for Australian contemporaries that they must not gauge their progress by that of junior tennis rivals.
Vaidisova reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last January, losing to Serena Williams after being unable to convert a set point, and she made the quarter-finals of the French Open and Wimbledon.
"Nicole is part of the new breed of female tennis player who play juniors for, like, a second and then start playing on the tour," Smylie said.
"Instead of spending a year or two stuttering their way past 200, learning the game, they are at No. 20 all of a sudden. They have a presence about them. They are worldly and speak a couple of languages. Ana Ivanovic (world No. 4) is another one.
"They want to be No. 1 tomorrow, win Grand Slam titles tomorrow, rather than compare themselves to other juniors. It's a good thing to point out to our younger girls that playing juniors isn't a career - it's a very brief stepping stone."