At this time last year, the tennis world would soon be smitten with another 5’5’ dynamo, 17-year old Melanie Oudin. The 17-year old would make impressive runs at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Life on the tour caught up with Oudin, but 23-year old Iranian-French 5’5” power player, Aravane Rezai has already taken her lumps on the tour. Rezai has finally tasted success and she wants more.
This is Rezai’s fifth year on the tour. She does not buy into the theory that she is too short to succeed. Instead, the takes her Aeropro Drive racket throws on her stylish and flattering dress by Scheyda and goes about the business of surprising one foe after another. Beneath her feminine appearance lies the heart of a lion and the determination of a champion.
Rezai reached her highest ranking of sixteen prior to the French Open and on the heels of her impressive win at the Madrid Open. After four years of registering some big name upsets, the consummate fighter put it all together in Madrid. The 2010 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open title was her third Sony Ericsson Tour Singles championship. Aravane has won 7 ITF Women’s Circuit titles.
The strength of the bracket from which she emerged at Madrid added big credibility to her resume. She needed three sets to down Belgian seven-time Grand Slam winner, Justine Henin in the second round before surging past Klara Zakopalova and Andrea Petkovic in rounds three and four. When she downed Jalena Jankovic, who is having a fine season herself, Rezai caught the attention of the tennis world. In the semifinals, Aravane destroyed Lucie Safarova 6-1 in the first set before Lucie retired.
Jankovic was uncharacteristically complimentary of Rezai’s performance saying that she was hitting the ball harder than any player she had played. It is this brand of power tennis that makes Rezai so intriguing. When Rezai is on her game, she serves with authority and blast forehands and her two-fisted backhand. At 5’5”, Aravane has to gamble and players are often caught off guard.
The determined high-risk, high-return game worked to perfection in the finals at Madrid when she stunned the heavily favored Venus Williams. Her bold choice of attire symbolized her bold style of play and the Spanish clay court fans loved every move she made.
Aravane came out firing against Venus and never let up. Rarely has the six-foot Williams, ranked number two in the world, been dominated like this. The Frenchwoman won the first set 6-2 and then rallied from 2-5 in the second to close out the match at 7-5. After losing five successive games, Williams became a Rezai believer. The dynamic power hitter’s effort was impressive and refreshing. In many ways, Rezai is the fresh air, the women’s tour needs.
Aravane is coached by her father, Arsalan, while her mother, Nouchine, serves as her physiotherapist. After five years on the tour, the hard work is starting to reap dividends. Her 2010 earnings have already surpassed her total career earnings prior to this season.
Over the years, Aravane has upset several of the tour’s highest ranked players. Wins over Marion Bartoli, the top tanked Frenchwoman, Dinara Safina, Sabine Lisicki, Melinda Czink and Maria Jose Martines Sanchez signaled Rezai’s potential.
Rezai is just as dangerous on grass and hard surfaces as she is on clay. Her bold go-for-broke on every shot mentality, catches players by surprise. Aravane is definitely not into the “play it safe” mindset.
Look for Rezai to pull more upsets and rise in the standings in the next twelve months. Now that she has tasted victory, Aravane is hungering and powering for more!
|Birth Date||March 14, 1987 (23)|
|Residence||St. Etienne, France|
|Year Turned Pro||2005|
|Current Rank – Singles||21|
|Current Rank – Doubles||208|
|Career Prize Earnings||$2,243,206|
|Year-To- Date – Earnings||$1,062,110|
|Grand Slam (Singles)||0|
|Grand Slam Doubles||0|
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