Begu Slides In As Clay Court Surprise

1 year ago
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WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | Putting together the most consistent clay court season of the French Open field, get to know rising Romanian, Irina-Camelia Begu.

PARIS, France – Look at the current WTA Top 30. Scan the list. Then pick the player with whom you’re the least familiar. Chances are, it’s No.28 Irina-Camelia Begu.

That could change over the course of this Paris fortnight. Begu is floating in Garbiñe Muguruza‘s quarter of the draw and plays CoCo Vandeweghe in the second round at Roland Garros on Wednesday. Two of her four wins over Top 10 players have come in this month alone; if that form holds, she’ll be into the second week in Paris for the first time in her career.

The 25-year-old Romanian may not have the results of Simona Halep, the prodigious history of Sorana Cirstea, or the unique game-style of Monica Niculescu that makes you sit up and take notice. But heading into Roland Garros this year, no player on tour has posted more consistent results than Begu. After marking the fourth round of the Miami Open, she followed it up with a quarterfinal run at the Volvo Car Open, quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open, and capped it all off with her career-best result, the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams.

Having reached a career-high ranking at No.25 last year, Begu looks well on her way towards besting that number in what is shaping up to be a career year. It’s quite a turnaround considering her 2016 took a major blow right when it started. Begu injured ligaments in her knee in her first tournament of the season at the Shenzhen Open, where she was forced to retire in the second round.

“I was upset,” Begu told WTA Insider. “I was working really hard in the off-season and the first tournament I got injured. It was a really difficult moment for me.

“I didn’t practice for four weeks and I started slowly. It’s tough because in four weeks you lose your muscles and the first few days I couldn’t walk. It was tough but when you go back on court you try and enjoy every moment, because you never know when something like this is coming.”

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