Who’s Who at the NHO: Part Three

by Nicholas McCarvel

Not even half way into our series of players to watch at the New Haven Open this year have we found ourselves deep inside the top 40. This week, we take a look at Laura Robson, Sorana Cirstea, Ekaterina Makarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Can any of these dark horses make a run in Connecticut?

Robson, LauraLaura Robson, Great Britain. Rank: 32 Age: 19
Britain’s newly-minted No. 1 has had a banner 12 months, which has included runs to the fourth round of both the US Open and Wimbledon. The 19-year-old has reached one career final, in Guangzhou last fall. This year, Robson has registered wins over Venus Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, Maria Kirilenko and reigning New Haven Open champion, Petra Kvitova. Robson made her New Haven debut a year ago, losing to Marion Bartoli in the first round. A week later, she stunned both Kim Clijsters and Li Na at the US Open.

Sorana Cirstea, Romania. Rank: 27 Age: 23WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party - Arrivals
Cirstea owns one career title, won in Tashkent in 2008. The Romanian made a name for herself by beating four-time New Haven champ Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic on her way to the French Open quarterfinals in 2009. Now 23 years old, Cirstea reached a career-high No. 22 earlier this year thanks in part to wins over Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. She’s played in New Haven just once before, making the quarterfinals in 2008.

Makarova, EkaterinaEkaterina Makarova, Russia. Rank: 24 Age: 25
Like Cirstea, Makarova has one title to her name, capturing Eastbourne in 2010. The Russian has five doubles titles, including the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and her first-ever major at the French Open, both with Elena Vesnina this year. She’s twice been to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, in 2012 and then again this year. The left-hander has lost in the first round here the last three years, but all to quality opponents: Caroline Wozniacki (2012), Agnieszka Radwanska (2011) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2010).

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia. Rank: 31 Age: 22Pavlyuchenkova, Anastasia
The aforementioned “Pavs,” as she’s known, has five career titles, including Monterrey and Oeiras this year. Pavlyuchenkova is a three-time junior Grand Slam winner, reaching the junior No. 1 ranking in 2006 and 2007. In two prior New Haven Open appearances, the 22-year-old lost to Li Na in the quarterfinals in 2011 and the second round to Wozniacki in 2009. In a run to the Brisbane final earlier this year,  Pavlyuchenkova beat both Kvitova and Kerber before losing to Serena Williams.

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