Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Surprise, there's yet another up-and- coming Russian to keep your eye on, and this one would be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who's just one of a whopping 11 Russians right now in the women's Top 50.
This 17-year-old rising star currently stands at No. 46 in the world, but that standing will probably change for the better over the next several months. She entered 2008 as the 281st-ranked woman on the planet, and has been climbing steadily ever since.
The Samara, Russia native/Paris resident, who turned pro at the tender age of 14 in December of 2005, reached the third round at Wimbledon this year, when she was still a mere 16 years of age. She entered the Big W as the youngest woman in the field and proceeded to win her first-rounder, in upset fashion, against 17th-seeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is one of 11 Russians inside the women's Top 50.
A-Pav's been touted as the best of the very young Russians out there, and after seeing her play a couple of matches myself, I'd certainly have to agree.
Pavlyuchenkova (pronounced pav-lee-oo-CHEN-ko-vuh) is a 5-foot-9, 149-pounder who can flat-out swat the tennis ball. She appeared in three of the four Grand Slam events this past season, getting her feet wet by winning at least one match at all three (4-3 overall), with two of her appearances coming via the qualifier route.
The young baseliner prefers to play on red clay and considers a pulsating forehand down the line as the best shot in her repertoire.
She tallied four ITF (junior circuit) singles titles in '08 and is now prepared to start winning championships at the next level. Pavlyuchenkova landed in a pair of WTA quarterfinals this year, in Palermo and Tokyo, and actually captured a doubles title in Fes, Morocco. And she was a doubles runner-up at the Palermo event.
At the junior level, she captured a trio of Grand Slam singles titles, with the big wins coming at the 2006 Australian and U.S. Opens and the 2007 Aussie Open. The 2006 junior world champ also had a runner-up finish at the '06 French.
In the category of "self praise is no praise," I couldn't help but notice that in her WTA bio Anastasia describes herself as funny, unusual and interesting.
Pavlyuchenkova (which I believe in Russian means almost every letter in the alphabet) has been coached by Patrick Mouratoglou since July 2007 and lives and trains at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France. She'll compete in her first-ever Aussie Open main draw next month with designs, perhaps, on reaching the second week.