Tennis

Aussie teen ready for big move in 2012

Who's That Girl?
Australia's Ashleigh Barty is one to watch in 2012.
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Richard Evans

Richard Evans has covered tennis since the 1960s, reporting on more than 150 Grand Slams. He is author of 15 books, including the official history of the Davis Cup and the unofficial history of the modern game in "Open Tennis." Follow him on Twitter.

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Welcome to the 2011 Year in Review. Beginning Dec. 20, in a time frame just shy of a fortnight, FOXSports.com's panel of tennis commentators — Richard Evans, Greg Couch, Brian Webber, Addie Rising and Tim Blankemeyer — will share their thoughts on the topic of the day. So check in each day to catch one final look back at a memorable year in tennis.

TO CONTINUE OUR YEAR IN REVIEW, WE ASK . . . WHO ARE THE WOMEN TO WATCH?

 

When an experienced coach says, "I've never seen anyone with as much potential before" you sit up and take notice. Especially when that coach is David Taylor, currently looking after the reigning US Open champion Sam Stosur and former coach to the great Martina Hingis.

Taylor has been talking to the Melbourne Herald Sun about the young Aussie who is starting to get a lot of attention — 15-year-old Ashleigh Barty who won the Wimbledon Junior title last year.

While cautioning people not to expect too much too soon, Taylor says, "She's the real deal. She's amazing. Ashleigh is the complete player, an updated, better version of Hingis. She's intuitive, just like Martina was. You can't teach that."

The former Wimbledon champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley has taken a special interest in Barty as they are both indigenous Australians. Obviously Evonne, famous for her laid-back style which sent her going ‘walk-about' as the Aussies call it, feels Barty is a kindred spirit.

"She is like me," says Goolagong. "When tennis gets too much, she goes fishing. She's a woman after my own heart."

Barty has been given a wild card into the Australian Open and, cautiously, the tennis world awaits.

Madison Keys, who beat Serena Williams in a one-set World Team Tennis match last summer is a 16-year-old American of immense promise and she has qualified for the year's first Grand Slam as a result of winning the special qualifying event held in the States for a reciprocal wild card arrangement between the US and Australian Tennis Federations.

She, too, could make a quick impact but Britain's Heather Watson, a former US Open Junior champion, is a couple of steps ahead of these two prodigies, being 19 years old and having already cracked the world's top hundred. I expect rapid improvement from her, too, in 2012.

WEBBER: If you're looking for a WTA name beyond the usual suspects who may have an impact in 2012, consider Julia Goerges. Goerges is part of the wave of German talent in women's tennis, finishing the year on the cusp of cracking the top 20 in the rankings after reaching No. 16 in June. Goerges won the second title of her career this year and posted a pair of wins over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Goerges has just enough power to hang with the big hitters on tour. If she can improve her consistency, Goerges should put together far better results in the Slams next year.

And here's one player to watch for tennis fans desperate to see an ascending American talent: Christina McHale. The teenager had a solid summer — mixing in a win over Wozniacki in Cincinnati — before upsetting eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli en route to her run to the third round at the US Open.

Richard Evans is a tennis writer for FOXSports.com. Greg Couch is a national columnist for FOXSports.com. Brian Webber is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com's tennis coverage. Addie Rising and Tim Blankemeyer are tennis editors for FOXSports.com.

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