Who will be the breakout players in the WTA in 2011?

Which WTA players rose and fell in 2010 and who is poised to break out in 2011? Today, we look at the list:


-- The young Portuguese player, Michelle Larcher de Brito, broke into the top 100 at 17 years old. She's a long way from that now. Ranked No. 225, she hasn't been able to capitalize on her initial breakthrough. This was somewhat predictable. Larcher de Brito has the emotions to be great, but she's also technically limited and often lacks the ability to respond to hardships on court. For now, she's in a dead end and it's a pity because her personality makes her a really spectacular player to watch.

-- Svetlana Kuznetsova won't remember 2010 as a great year. Overall she lacked motivation and her association with Loïc Courteau only lasted two months. Being No. 27 in the rankings is unworthy of her talents.

-- Dinara Safina went through a nightmare last season. The former No. 1 player in the world sunk in the ranking. After sustaining a very serious back injury, she parted ways with her coach and mentor Zejko Krajan, who led her to the top of the WTA. Since then, she's been fruitlessly searching for a way to get some confidence back in her game.

-- Sorana Cirstea is hovering around the top 100, whereas in 2009 she reached the French Open quarterfinals by beating players like Caroline Wozniacki. But she overreacted to her success and made too many changes, hesitating too many times on choices on and off the court. Her entourage prevented her from building a solid game. It's a real pity for the striking Romanian who is gifted with such a strong hitting quality.

-- Alizé Cornet went on in her tumble through the rankings. No longer trained by Pierre Bouteyre, she hopes that picking a new coach will help her to start again on a good basis in 2011. She was ranked No. 11 in 2009 at 19 years old.


-- Ana Ivanovic is shining again. Last year she totally lost her tennis, looking lost on court, being quick to let panic rob her of focus, unable to get rid of the double-faults and struggling with her backhand. Everything seemed to click into place again in Cincinnati during a match against Victoria Azarenka where she was totally dominated before being able to come back to pull an upset. Since that match, she seems to have found her game again, mostly due to the work done with Heinz Gunthardt on her side. Now that he's not there anymore, she's trained by Antonio Van Grichen, former coach of Azarenka. If she succeeds in keeping the right guideline, Ana could be back soon in the top 10.

-- The German Andrea Petkovic has improved a lot in the past two years. Her fitness, the physical battle she forces her opponents to go through and her great first serve are outstanding weapons. If she really wants to go even higher now she will have to relax her emotions because they have a tendency to take the lead when it comes to end a match. Her second serve will also need to be improved, like the variety of her game, which can be sometimes a bit too easy to read.

--Shahar Peer is back to the No. 13 ranking she reached a few years ago. Between those periods, she lost her way. But due to the huge amount of work done with her coach Pablo Giacopelli, she was able to build her game again in a way suited to her abilities. Since this summer, they're no longer working together and she's now trained by Craig Kardon. The change occurred quiely so Shahar could keep the right track. In 2011 she'll have no choice but to keep her perfect fitness condition and be even more aggressive. She's at her best when she takes the ball early and dictates the points. She should also work on her second serve.

-- The talent and unbelievable striking power of Aravane Rezaï came in front of everybody's eyes in 2010. Now ranked No. 19, she got some big performances under her belt with wins over three former No. 1 players in the world, with also a triumph in Madrid, Bali and Bastad. She even led 6-3, 5-2 against Serena Williams. Working again now with her father, she will have to keep improving her fitness in order to be able to use her power in the best possible way. She should take care of her serve too.

-- Kaïa Kanepi also improved a lot in 2010 and is now No. 22 in the world. She lost a lot of weight to become fit and now she moves way better than before and can get through big rallies and doesn't feel the need to go for winners too early. Her heavy shots and her great first serve make her a tough opponent to face, but she remains fragile when one is successful in forcing her to move back from the baseline.

--Romanian Aleksandra Dulgheru is slowly but surely making her way in the WTA. With a very discrete and not-that-spectacular game style, she's still standing at the No. 29 spot in the WTA rankings. This fit player is a terrific fighter and owns a lot of abilities when it comes to set a game plan. Nobody is safe when confronted with her but she lacks offensive weapons, her serve needs to improve and she played too much last year.

Poised to break out in 2011

-- Yanina Wickmayer, who had an amazing run in 2009, struggled last year. But she remains a very special player. She's an extraordinary athlete, has a champion-shaped temperament, unbeatable determination and she could blow up in 2011. If she succeeds to move forward a bit more in her game and to add some diversity to her shot selection, especially in the picking of the zones, she'll be able to be a threat for the top players.

-- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the young 19-year-old Russian ranked No. 21, can rely on a very complete game. Serve, forehand, backhand: She can use each shot like a weapon. Ambitious and confident in her own abilities, she now needs to prepare herself, physically and regarding her game, like a contender for the Grand Slams titles. If she does so, she could surprise us all in 2011.

-- Petra Kvitova, 20, showed all her talent at Wimbledon last year. Yet she remains fragile, lacks some depth in her game and some intensity. But when she's in full gear, she's overwhelming. Her huge first serve and her flat shots played early make her a really tough player to handle. She will have to work very hard in order to win on an off-day and become a dangerous player on a regular basis.

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