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Depth in U.S. women's tennis goes beyond major champs and rising stars

Depth in U.S. women's tennis goes beyond major champs and rising stars

Alison Riske, Lauren Davis, Jessica Pegula, Jennifer Brady and Bernarda Pera add to a rich talent pool of American players inside the Top 100 of the WTA rankings。

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Among American women on the WTA tour, Grand Slam champions such as Serena and Venus Williams, and Sloane Stephens garner the bulk of the notice, along with major contenders like Madison Keys and up-and-comers, such as Amanda Anisimova, Sofia Kenin and Cori "Coco" Gauff.

There’s another group, though, that’s adding to the depth of talent on display by the nation。 All ranked within the Top 100, these five players have made multiple major statements this year in what has been, for some, their career-best seasons。


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Alison Riske

Versatility on all surfaces is generally a necessity for success in professional tennis. However, if one were to make a list of grass-court standouts currently playing, Riske would have to be in the Top 10. This year, the 29-year-old defended her title at the ITF event in Surbiton, England, then, a week later, captured her second career WTA title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, as she rallied from the brink of defeat to beat top seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands on her home turf.

After a first-round hiccup in Mallorca, her good form carried over to Wimbledon, where she eliminated the 13thseed Belinda Bencic and world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty on her way to the quarterfinals. Serena Williams stopped her, but not without a fight as she took the middle set before going down in three. Currently ranked a spot off her career-high of 36, Riske is also very solid on the hard courts, having reached the final in Shenzhen, China, to start the year.


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Lauren Davis

At the 2018 Australian Open, Simona Halep reached the final for the first time。 The top seed’s efforts were nearly derailed, though, in the third round when she almost fell in what was arguably the match of the tournament to Davis, escaping by a 15-13 third-set scoreline。 For Davis, it was her career-best showing at a major at the time and was viewed as a possible predictor of more good things to come。 Unfortunately, injuries knocked her off track for several months, hindering her results and by the time of her last tournament of the year, she was down to 241 in the world。

At that $125,000 event in Houston, she proceeded to reach the final out of qualifying, helping her get back in the Top 200. After some strong results on the hard and clay courts this year at the WTA and ITF levels, Davis finally returned to the Top 100 by the start of the grass-court stretch. A third-round showing at Wimbledon, followed by a quarterfinal in Washington, D.C., where she reached the final in 2016, has the 25-year-old back in the Top 70.


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Jessica Pegula

At the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., several weeks ago, upsets hit the tournament early as only one seed made the quarterfinals. In a battle between unseeded players, Pegula topped Camila Giorgi in straight sets, becoming only the second American woman to win a hard-court title this year. For the Buffalo, NY, native, it was the peak moment in less than a year’s time as she reached her first career final in Quebec City near the end of 2018. That form carried over to January this year, when she reached consecutive finals at the $125,000 tournament in Newport Beach and the ITF event in Midland, MI.


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Jennifer Brady

Recent memory should serve Brady well as she gets ready for the US Open: Coming through the qualifying rounds at the just-completed Premier 5 event in Toronto, Brady won her first match in the main draw quite easily against former Top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic。 In the next, she faced defending champion Halep and had the Wimbledon winner on her heels from the start before eventually losing that encounter in a third-set tiebreaker。 Having fallen out of the Top 100 earlier in the year, the former UCLA Bruin is currently back in the Top 70, only 10 places removed from her career-high of No。 60 set two years ago。


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Bernarda Pera

Just a few weeks ago, the Croatian-born American reached her career-high ranking of No. 63 in the world. Currently 66th, Pera has had one of her most consistent seasons to date. In late July, she reached back-to-back clay-court semifinals in Jurmala, Latvia, and Lausanne, Switzerland, with wins against former Top 10 players Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia over that two-week span. Arguably at her best on the dirt, 18 of her 20 career ITF singles finals have come on the surface, which includes a win in Slovakia this past May. She’s no slouch on the hard courts, either; her first career Top 10 win came against Johanna Konta last year at the Australian Open. 


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