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One of the hot name tickets on the WTA circuit at the moment is the USA’s Grace min.
The twenty year old, ranked 114th in the world, has been kicking up a bit of a storm on the ITF this season (the feeder level for the WTA) winning in Innisbrook, Dothan and running to the semi finals of Charlottesville. But it was her run in Austria at Bad Gastein on the WTA Tour recently which saw her make the biggest strides of her career.
It is all about challenging players in the top fifty in the world at the moment for Min, as that is where her development is going to be sped up the quickest. That is where she will learn her toughest lessons, and get a good measure of just where she is in the world of the WTA. She was pencilled in to face experienced Italian Flavia Pennetta at the start of Bad Gastein, but with the former Australian Open champion pulling out, it gave Min a window of opportunity.
It was one which she took as she secured a straight sets win over lucky loser Beatriz Garcia Vidagany and then produced the same result over her compatriot Irini Coalcoini in the second round. Running in the tournament as one of the heavy outsiders, Min’s best performance on the WTA this season before Bad Gastein coming in a round of 32 loss against Daniela Hantuchova at Charleston, few were expecting Min to make the kind of splash in the Alps that she did.
In the quarter finals of Bad Gastein, Min got the chance to take on a top fifty opponent in Karolina Pliskova (48th). Again, Min produced some quality tennis, dropping just three games in the match as she powered her way into the unchartered territory that was the semi finals of a WTA Tour event.
There she ran into Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, ranked 20th in the world, and while Min took the opening set, she couldn’t hold off the challenge of the German who raced back to take the victory and then who went on to win the title. But just to show that her good run wasn’t just a fluke, Min produced a fantastic performance the following week at the Swedish Open, bumping second seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova from the tournament in the first round.
Min’s run was ended then by Alexandra Panova in the second round, but the work that was done over the week was a massive step forward from the USA star. She is most at home on clay and while she has a good couple of years before she is likely to start really challenging for WTA titles, the more that she gets herself into situations like she did in Bad Gastein, then the more rapid that growth will be.
She is no fly-by-night. She won the 2011 US Open Girls singles in defeating first seed Caroline Garcia in the final over two sets. That was a tournament which included the likes of Eugenie Bouchard, Madison Keys, Ashleigh Barty and Annika Beck. There is a potential future US Open or perhaps more probable, a future French Open major star in the making.