When she lost in the first round at the Australian Open in January, you could have been forgiven for believing that Sara Errani’s 15 minutes of greatness had come and gone. The previous year, at the relatively ripe old age of 25, she had moved from No. 45 all the way up to No. 6 in the rankings. It seemed unlikely that the 5’4” Italian with the powder-puff serve would keep her place in the upper echelon.
Yet that’s where Errani is today; by the end of 2013, she had dropped just one spot, to No. 7. She steadied the ship immediately after Melbourne by reaching finals in Paris and Dubai; on clay she made the semis in Madrid and at the French Open, and won a title in Acalpulco; and she finished the year on an up note by leading Italy to the Fed Cup title. Errani may not be destined for greater things than she’s already achieved; she has very few wins over the top players, and her 6-0, 6-1 loss to Serena Williams in the semis at Roland Garros was a blowout of epic proportions. But she seems to be in the Top 10 to stay.
Ad-In: Errani can go deep at the majors on multiple surfaces—she’s been to the French Open final and the U.S. Open semis, but her best chance at winning one will be on clay in Paris. Provided she doesn’t have to play Serena, Maria, Vika, Petra, or Li, that is. Errani is a combined 1-29 against them for her career.
Ad-Out: Errani, who will be 27 in April, has to work hard for every point, and she plays singles and doubles at virtually every event. That will take its toll, either in energy or injury, at some stage. If big hitters like Li, Sharapova, and Kvitova are on their games in 2013, there will be less room for her.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.