Tuesday, 1st March 2011 - Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, a young and talented Thai player destined for great things in the future, gave tennis fans at the BMW Malaysian Open 2011 a pleasant surprise when she beat World number 100 Alberta Brianti of Itlay on Centre Court over a grueling three sets late Monday night, posting a 6 – 4, 2 – 6, 6 – 2 win.
“I am very pleased to have won against a higher ranked player. She played well and I had to work extra hard and play my best game to beat her. I am looking forward to my next opponent in the next round and I hope to achieve a good result”.
Noppawan came up through the junior ranks of tennis as the number 1 junior onto the senior women’s pro circuit. She is considered by many as a bright Asian prospect who can make a big impact on the WTA tour in the future because of her obvious talent, and thus far, she has not disappointed as she steadily and slowly rises up the rankings.
At Wimbledon 2009, she made the tennis world stand up and take notice as she won the junior singles title. At present, Noppawan is ranked number 176 on the WTA singles tour and number 166 on the doubles tour.
“There is a big difference between the junior and senior circuits and tours. At senior level, it is more serious and focused, one cannot afford to lose the slightest bit of concentration. So I am hoping to take part in more WTA tournaments as a senior professional and do well for myself,” she said optimistically.
Where playing styles is concerned, Noppawan is a counterpuncher with her two-handed backhand and forehand. She known for being intelligent on court and has a good game strategy. Her game lacks power as she does not have the ability for powerful strokes in her arsenal, but her groundstrokes are precise. Tennis pundits and observers noticed that her main weakness seems to be her serve, which lacks power, consistency and stability.
Noppawan countered this by saying, “My game may have its weaknesses but I am working on improving my serve and power. The more games I chalk up under my belt the better I get, and I am feeling better than before, so the best is yet to come from me,” she said with a smile.
Noppawan draws inspiration from established tennis players both past and present, such as fellow Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn, French number 1 and fellow BMW Malaysian Open competing player Marion Bartoli, Venus and Serena Williams, as well as the great Monica Seles.
As a junior, Noppawan was named as the world No. 1 on the ITF junior circuit, becoming the first female Asian player to hold that position. Within weeks of attaining the coveted number one position, she won the 2008 Junior World Championship.
Noppawan’s junior achievements are impressive to say the least as she has reached two grand slam singles finals, at Wimbledon 2008 and Wimbledon 2009, as well as four Grand Slam Doubles finals, capturing 3 titles at the 2008 US Open with Sandra Roma, the 2009 French Open with Elena Bogdan, the 2009 Wimbledon with Sally Peers, and a finalist at the 2009 US Open with Elena Bogdan
Noppawan won her first pro title in singles at the $25,000 Balikpapan tournament in Indonesia, defeating the top seed Isha Lakhani of India in straight sets.
Last year, she received a wildcard to the 2010 Malaysian Open where she beat Ksenia Pervak in the first round in straight sets, making this her first WTA main draw win ever. She has famously defeated former number one, Martina Hingis, in singles competition, and Rennae Stubbs and Venus Williams in doubles in WTT, playing for Philadelphia Freedom. She has reached 3 ITF circuit finals, the $10,000 St. Joseph tournament, the $25,000Cairns tournament, and the $25,000 Tsukuba tournament which she eventually won.
“It’s nice to be back in Malaysia for the BMW Malaysian Open as this is my favourite tournament and I hope to do well and get some points which will improve my ranking.”
The BMW Malaysian Open 2011, a leg of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour – the world’s leading professional sport for women is being held from 28th February to 6th March 2011 at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort. The tournament has 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams’ competing in a knockout style competition for the prize purse of USD 220,000.00.
Tickets for the tournament can be obtained from TicketPro through their website at www.ticketpro.com.my or by calling +603 7880 7999. For ticket prices and other information log on to the official website of the tournament at www.bmwmalaysianopen.com
photos Janos Schmidt