In the final part of our series looking at how this past tennis season has treated our star players, we focus on France’s Aravane Rezai, Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, America’s Melanie Oudin, and Hong Kong’s very own Zhang Ling.
France’s No. 2 female tennis player started the year well by reaching the semi-finals of the Medibank International Sydney in January, only losing to World No. 1 (at the time) Serena Williams. The highlight of the year for Aravane was at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, where her strong tennis caused a number of upsets. She beat fellow Frenchwoman and former World No. 1 Justine Henin in the first round and Jelena Jankovich in the fourth, finally defeating Hong Kong Tennis Classic rival Venus Williams to take the title. She reached the semi-finals of the 2010 AEGON Classic after dropping not a single set but fell to Team Asia’s Li Na. At the 2010 Swedish Open, Aravane easily made her way to the finals where she beat Gisela Dulko to claim her second WTA title of the year. We’re looking forward to seeing the fighting spirit that Aravane has shown throughout the year – she won’t go down without giving the game, and her opponent, absolutely everything she’s got!
Entering the Australian Open unseeded, not many predicted the storm that Maria would create on the courts in Melbourne. In the first round she beat friend, former doubles partner and No. 14 seed Maria Sharapova in the second longest match in Australian Open history, after which she went on to reach the quarter finals. 2010 saw her climb to the quarter finals in three more tournaments, the semi-finals of one, and the fourth round of the French Open, finally battling to the finals of her last tournament of the year, which earned her a season-end ranking of World No. 20. We’re looking forward to Maria storming our courts in January.
A former Junior World No. 2, 19 year old Melanie only turned professional in 2008 but quickly made a mark for herself and was awarded WTA Newcomer of the Year 2009. This year Melanie reached the finals of an ITF event in Arizona, the semi-finals at the GDF Suez in Paris, and fought her way to 4 WTA quarter-finals. She proved her worth at the Federation Cup by helping the US team reach the final in San Diego – she had an impressive 4-1 match record – the biggest win of which was against 2010 French Open title-holder Francesca Schiavone. Perhaps Melanie’s strongest attribute is her cast-iron determination and will to succeed, something that is even printed on her customised Adidas trainers – ‘Believe’. We believe Melanie will prove to be a fantastic player to watch and we can’t wait to see her in action.
21 year old local favourite Zhang Ling won 2 ITF tournaments this year, in Taraken (Indonesia) and Cacares (Spain), and was a finalist in Valladolid (Spain), Tanjung Selor (Indonesia), and Taipei. This year saw Zhang proudly represent Hong Kong in the Asian Games for the first time, and the Federation Cup for the fourth year in a row. We can’t wait to see her in action playing to a home crowd at Victoria Park Stadium!