By Nicholas J. Walz
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com will feature players who could make an impact during this year's Series. Here’s a look at 22-year-old Italian Camila Giorgi.
The Baseline: From the famous city of Pisa, Giorgi was spotted by legendary coach Nick Bollettieri at the age of 8 and offered a seven-month scholarship to his school in Bradenton, Fla. – the same offer he made once upon a time to 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova. The two recently matched up at the BNP Paribas Open third round in Indian Wells, Calif., where Giorgi upset the four-time Grand Slam champion, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. The Italian played fast and aggressive against Sharapova, the 2013 Indian Wells champion, improving her career record against Top 10 opponents to 3-2.
Such a head-to-head record, particularly when a player is ranked outside the Top 50 – currently a career-best No. 54 in singles after reaching the final at the WTA event in Katowice, Poland – impresses fans and prognosticators, many of whom predict that Giorgi could be a seeded player in the Slams very soon.
The Breakdown: The 5-foot-6 Giorgi, much like 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova, hits with a power that belies her smaller stature. Her tenacity pressures opponents to hit on their heels; in response, Giorgi presses forward for her own shots, raising the stakes within a point – Sharapova seemed to try and compensate against Giorgi’s desire to dominate tempo, committing a whopping 58 unforced errors in the process.
Giorgi’s serve is still developing and her play is often too erratic – she followed her result in Indian Wells by losing in the Sony Open qualifying to Zarina Diyas – but there’s a flair and a brand of fearlessness she displays against top players that makes her, at the very least, a must-watch player in New York. When Giorgi faced off against Caroline Wozniacki, a former US Open finalist, before the nighttime crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium last year, it was she who played like a veteran. Giorgi covered the court and peppered the corners with ironhanded ground strokes – registering 46 winners to 13 for the Dane – getting stronger as the match went on in a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Giorgi also reached the third round last year at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals this year in Dubai, cementing her status as a big-tournament threat. For that reason, her name is one to monitor on draw ceremony day at this year’s Open, and you can bet that the first high seed in Giorgi’s path will need to bring her “A” effort to beat her.