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Most Surprising/inspiring players' results?

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For me:

1. Nadia Petrova

I never doubted the talent, but I was reluctant to believe she had the mental willpower to recover from that serious 12 odd month injury that could have jeopardised her career. Her quick recovery (Aus Open 3r) surprised me, but moreover was that Roland Garros SF and her drastic rise into the top 15.

2. Paola Suarez

I don't know why but I never have been really inspired nor impressed by Suarez's game :eek: , I always thought she was a one-dimensional player. Well that kind of changed in 2003, after that Montreal SF, US Open QF and Wimbledon fourth round, I realised this top 18 player is more than just your average clay courter.

3. Vera Zvonareva

She started the year ranked in the 40's, and as an inexperienced "clay-court puncher," it was beyond my wildest expectations that she would make sure an impression not only at Roland Garros (where she bt Venus), but at Wimbledon, Indian Wells and Toronto as well. :angel:

4. Ashley Harkleroad

Out of all players who were deemed a big future, I had little doubt on Ashley. It sounds foolish to say this but this is the perception I've always had of her, big beauty but little substance. But Jesus, how wrong was I. Her Charleston SF was not only amazing but also heart-warming. The fact that such an inexperienced overhyped American could beat Hantuchova, Bovina and Shaughnessy with the loss of only 11 games combined astounded me. :awww:

5. Ai Sugiyama


Started the year in the 20's, now on the verge of the top 10. I didn't think she would breakthrough at such a late age of her career (thought 2000 was her peak year), but her run in Scottsdale/Rome SF obviously proved me wrong.

6. Alicia Molik

Started the year ranked around 96, after a year in 2002 where her form had diminished. I did not expect her to enjoy such an improved/properous year, especially with numerous top 20 scalps, and her three set record this year is amazing as compared to last year.

7. Maria Sharapova

Heard about this namesake and "all the hype" for ages, but to be honest I did not see 2003 being a breakthrough for this 16 year old as yet (she started the year ranked 188). Early losses to Matevzic, Callens, Irvin & Koukalova gave my thinking some crediability, it really wasn't until she brought out her power game (and grunting) at Birmingham, which was carried to a spectacular Wimbledon debut (wins over Dokic, Bovina and Harkleroad). Her more mature player ever since has definately raised my eyebrows. :bowdown:

8. Lina Krasnoroutskaya

She was definately surprised me, like Petrova has. I was inspired by her mentality to recuperate after injury, with a very nice QF showing in the Pan Pacific Open, followed by a very good early indoor stretch. Now she is ranked back inside the top 30, following that stunner over Clijsters :yeah: en route to a Toronto RU, which makes her a threat to the world's best.

9. Maria Vento-Kabchi

Never did I realise this Venezulan had so much talent. Having remembered (I was 10 yrs old at the time), her 1997 Gold Coast final loss to Sugiyama, I did take notice of her but her results have been far from impressive ever since. But not in 2003, she has had a star-stripped year with a SF in Bali (def Martinez), SF in Bank of the West (def Dokic and Petrova), QF in Birmingham and a win over Rubin at the US Open. :yippee:

10. Karolina Sprem

She had a great run with numerous consecuitve challenger wins but it was beyond my wildest expectations for her to make such promising runs in the main draw of events. In only her second event, she beat Dokic, Matevzic and Zvonareva to make the final of Strasbourg. She did the same in Vienna (her next tournament) and a win at Wimbledon (her first GS) shows that she is not a one-dimensional player.

11. Justine Henin-Hardenne

Henin-Hardenne's mental power was surprised me most this year. After 2002 was a year of "lost" opportunites, 2003 was the opposite. She did gain my respect for that 9-7 cramping win over Davenport in the Aus Open 4r, and her strong record in three set matches (ie - back to back wins over Capriati and Seles in Dubai), followed by 2 grand slam titles and 2 wins over Serena Williams, have taken me and the world by notice.

12. Conchita Martinez

Started the year at 34, after being around the 70's at one point in 2002 :eek: I really did believe that Conchita was past her prime and would just keep on falling and falling and follow ASV into retirement :rolls: and that seemed correct after her Aussie tournaments. However her inspired play on hardcourts (Indian Wells SF), clay courts (Rome SF and RG QF) and even grass (Eastbourne final) have again disrupted my thinkings.

13. Marion Bartoli

The 17 year old started the year outside the top 100 and that was where I thought she woudl remain around come 2004. I did not hold much promise for this talented teenager who won the US Open juniors, and her results week by week were very surprising. Her Miami QF gave evidence that her unorthodox game also could pay dividends on hardcourt. I have now been a fan of this french girl since these results. :banana:

14. Shinobue Asagoe

I have always taken a close eye on this Japanese player, as I believed she had a nice solid game. Though it was never in my mindset, that she would occupy such a beautiful year. A win over Elena Dementieva in Acapulco took me by notice, but it wasn't until her wins over Sharapova & Bovina (Birmingham), Maleeva (US Open), Hantuchova (Wimbledon en route to 4r), that impressed me.

15. Petra Mandula

She has been one of the most quietest improvers this year, she has moved up more than 50 spots in the rankings and yes it has put me on notice. After that infamous double bagelling to Clijsters in Melbourne, who would ahev thought that this 'doubles specialist' were to claim a grand slam scalp over Myskina (en route to RG round 4), as well as solid results which now puts her on the verge of the top 40. :)

16. Maria Sanchez-Lorenzo

This wonderous girl from Spain started the year in the low 100's and now is ranked inside the top 50, her results have surprised me, maybe I thought she was just another 'baranbanschikova to fall by the wayside,' but her Budapest SF, Madrid RU and Roland Garros/US Open 3r have exploited my perceptions. :clap2:

17. Fabiola Zuluaga

Started the year at 75, now ranked in the low 30's, Zuluaga consistent results on all surfaces have indeed surprised me. I took first notice after she took Hantuchova to a near 3 hour match at the Oz Open, but it wasn't until her excellent series of tournaments during the clay court season, which was further cemented in the hard court season.

18. Stephanie Cohen Aloro

This French woman started the year at 169, now she ranked about 100 spots higher, and yes this is another name I had never heard of before. Her early results over Schett, Pistolesi and Panova did capture my attention, and she has continued with some neat performances in her 'rookie' year.

19. Akiko Morigami

Never heard of this player coming into 2003, so her results have indeed been colourful. Her Wimbledon 3r (wins of Tanasugarn & Sprem) and that close loss to Capriati (4 and 4) was intriguing. Then came last week's SF in a tier 2 in Shanghai with scalps including Martinez, Molik and nearly Rubin. :worship:

20. Denisa Chladkova

This player was seeded at Wimbledon after starting the year ranked around the 70's and yes I did not believe this Czech veteran had the capability nor capacity to move back up to her best, but her Aus Open 4r as well as a Warsaw SF was eye-catching.

What are yours?
 

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Probably Ai. Shes been a solid top 30 player for a while, and now shes almost in the top 10! She also won a Tier II beating Kim in the final! I never expected that from her this year!
 

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Justine

I would never have expected her to win the USO or to not lose a match in the hardcourt season. At least, not this year.

and a 7-1 record in finals is just wow
 

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I think Paola Suarez's consistently good results for the most part of the year have surprised me more than anything else. I would certainly never have predicted at the beginning of the year that Paola would be in with a chance of reaching the top 15 and would even have an outside chance of making the tour championships in singles by the end of the year....not to mention that she would simultaneously defend the USO doubles title (of all their titles I never thought they'd defend this one! :eek: ) and reach the finals of the doubles in all the other Grand Slams with Vivi Ruano and remain amongst the top 4 doubles players in the world.

IMO, It's been an unexpectedly fantastic year for Paola and I couldn't be happier for her. :D
 

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it's dementieva for me. now she's back where she was in early 2001. in the top ten, and without a serve. if she ever gets one, look out.
 

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Justine surprised me a lot, this year (in a happy way) :D

And Elena's D results are just :bounce:
 

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Dementieva....
her struggle to return to top 10 since 2000 until now...
From zero title beginning of this year to 3 titles now ..
It is not surprising as she is expected to win sincce 2000 but it is inspiring that she had finally overcome all her struggles/injuries and get her confidence and game back to surpass her 2000 resutls... :)
 

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I would have to say Justine Henin Hardenne was the biggest surprise for me this year. She really stepped it up this year put her stamp on the year.
 

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Actually hantuchova. Her slump seems incomprehensable, and how it seems to be lasting for so long, also makes the mind boggle.
 

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Dementieva, Ai, or Justine, Kim

Justine's 2 GS titles.
Kim's win/loss record this year.

Dementieva's 3 singles title this year

Ai's solid season beating a few top players and a title at Scottsdale
 

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Ashley's consecutive wins over Hantuchova, Bovina, and Shaughnessy look a lot less impressive now than they did at the time.
 

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Of those on the list , Ai Sugiyama
 
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