March 14, 2013 by Parveer Mann
This week at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open, we expected one Maria to be in the semis but not many saw a second.
The standout performance by Maria Kirilenko this week has brought due attention to a player who has been a fairly consistent singles and doubles player just outside the top 10. With victories over Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova, she showed the tennis world that she is the type of player who has the quality to beat a top 10 opponent and is on the brink of being one herself.
She came into this week ranked 15 in the world after reaching a career high ranking of 12 this past summer. Already this season, she won a minor tournament in Thailand after the Australian Open (her sixth on tour) but her form coming into Indian Wells was uncertain. She had been forced to retire early in Doha and miss Dubai entirely after feeling soreness in her right shoulder. The injury concerns alone make it even more of a surprise to see how successfully she has performed this week and it may be an indicator of what this year may hold for this Maria.
Maria’s 2013 Outlook
At 26, her doubles partnership with Nadia Petrova has led to more big-time results including a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics and the year-end WTA Championships. In singles, she seems like a player that will always be mentioned in the last 16 of a Grand Slam but it is difficult to predict if that is her ceiling. She has had an above average serve and average power but has needed to show more consistency match to match. With that said, I would not be surprised if she’s in the final eight at either Wimbledon or the US Open this year depending on the draw.
For the hockey fans, this year may include Kirilenko becoming one of the first ladies of Russian hockey when she marries boyfriend, Alex Ovechkin.You may remember the Washington Capitals forward was seen across London last summer supporting Maria both at Wimbledon and to her bronze medal in the Olympics. Maria came out this week and said no date had been set for the couple.
I’m sure Ovi would be envious of any team or personal result this year as big as the semis for Maria this week. So when both Maria’s clash tomorrow, know that they both deservedly worked hard to be there.