Five years ago, Veronika Kudermetova was ranked 400th in the world. Fast forward to now and the Russian number one has just won her first WTA title, stormed into the top 30 of the singles rankings and looks to be a genuine contender to win Roland Garros this year.
Kudermetova beat Danka Kovinić in the final of the Charleston Open on Sunday to continue her impressive start to this season and claim her maiden WTA tour win.
It’s been a difficult road to the top for the Russian, who was struggling on the ITF Circuit not so long ago and only made the transition to the main tour in 2018.
Speaking of her compelling journey to the Tennis Channel, Kudermetova said: “It’s [been] a long way. Lots of ups and downs and now I am here with the trophy, and it’s amazing.”
Her win in South Carolina pushes her into the top 30 of the women’s rankings, and on current form alone, the top 20 looks a very achievable reality in the near future.
Indeed, though this was her first main tour triumph, her results this season had suggested that a tournament win was inevitable. An impressive run in Abu Dhabi especially, saw the 23-year-old upset world number five Elina Svitolina on her way to the final, before losing to Aryna Sabalenka.
With this victory on clay, Kudermetova will now be looking ahead to the looming French Open with the belief that she can beat anyone. In six games last week, the Russian failed to drop a set and didn’t concede more than eight games in a match all tournament.
This is the sort of invincibility on clay that we’ve failed to see from any female player since the era of Justine Henin and the Russian will no doubt be feared by other competitors having made such a bold statement.
In terms of playing style, she is aggressive, fearless and powerful, while also having the added weapon of a formidable serve. Nobody on tour has recorded as many aces as Kudermetova this year, with her first serve regularly being clocked at over 180 kph.
In this way, though clay appears to be her favoured surface, the Russian’s game naturally lends itself to any surface and there is every chance she could carry this momentum through this section of the calendar and beyond.
The women’s game is going from strength to strength at present, with established superstars, upcoming youngsters and lingering veterans all challenging at the top of the rankings. Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff, Sofia Kenin –– all three are players who seem destined for greatness. Soon though, there might be a new name to add to that list.