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Chakvetadze charges up the charts

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Believe it or not, Russian Anna Chakvetadze is all the way up to a career-high No. 6 in the women's tennis rankings, currently ahead of the likes of former world No. 1 stars Amelie Mauresmo and Serena Williams.

The 20-year-old Chakvetadze (pronounced chuk-veh-TAHD-zeh) is perhaps the quietest Top-10 performer of any sport in the world. She opened the year ranked 13th on the planet and has steadily been climbing the tennis ladder over the past few campaigns.

The solid all-around star has her career WTA titles up to six, including an eye-catching four already this season. Her first two titles came last year, back-to-back, including a special one at the Tier I Kremlin Cup in her native Moscow. Only world No. 1 Justine Henin (5) has won more titles than Chakvetadze in 2007. The Russian also currently leads the US Open Series standings, thanks to her hardcourt title in Stanford last week. The championship at the Bank of the West Classic marked her second title in eight days, as she also ran the table at a hardcourt event in Cincinnati a week earlier.

FYI, the US Open Series links 10 summer events to the US Open, creating a cohesive, six-week summer tennis season for the WTA and ATP professional tournaments in North America. It runs for six weeks and culminates with the US Open.

Anna Chakvetadze
Anna Chakvetadze is a perfect 6-0 in her career finals.
Interesting?

Probably not.

So let's get back to Chakvetadze.

Granted, she didn't exactly beat any juggernauts en route to her titles in Cincy or Stanford, but she certainly seems to win the matches that she's supposed to win.

The 5-foot-7 star is a solid 46-11 this season, including trips to the quarterfinals at both the Aussie and French Opens. Unfortunately, she came up a third-round loser at Wimbledon.

The rising Russian started to make her Grand Slam mark by reaching the fourth round at last year's US Open, and she's never lost before the third round in her three trips to New York City.

Chakvetadze is a career combined 24-12 at the four majors, starting with her first US Open appearance as a 17-year-old qualifier in 2004. She stunned her at-the-time world No. 3 fellow Russian Anastasia Myskina in the second round at that particular fortnight.

The 128-pound Chakvetadze joined the professional ranks in 2003, a year in which she finished at No. 373 in the world. She shot up to No. 84 by the end of 2004, and was well on her way with a No. 33 finish in '05.

FYI, Chakvetadze reached the Wimbledon junior finale in '03.

Chakvetadze also helped Russia beat the host United States 3-2 in a Fed Cup semifinal in Stowe, Vermont last month and her Russian squad will now meet reigning champion Italy in the 2007 Fed Cup World Group final in mid- September.

The Muscovite took her career prize money over the $1 million mark back in January, and she's already earned more than $728,000 this season. She opened her '07 campaign by titling in Hobart and has basically been winning matches ever since, as evidenced by the aforementioned record.

She's reached at least the quarterfinals in 10 of her 14 events so far this season; has advanced to six semifinals; and is an impressive 4-0 in four finals for the year. As a matter of fact, Chakvetadze has yet to lose in six career title bouts.

Impressive.

Chakvetadze is currently the third-best Russian on the tour, behind reigning US Open champion Maria Sharapova and 2004 US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, but with the continued progress, she may be heading even higher. She succumbed to the two-time major titlist Sharapova in this year's Aussie and French Open quarters.

The determined Chakvetadze has yet to beat her fellow 20-year-old Sharapova in four career matchups, and she's 0-2 lifetime versus Kuznetsova. That's a combined 0-6 against the cream of the Russian crop.

But, if Chakvetadze's self-proclaimed goal is "to be Top 5," then I'd say she's in pretty good shape to accomplish that. Her biggest obstacle could be herself, however, as the often emotional star is prone to lapses of concentration during the biggest points.

The talented Russian is seeded third at this week's Tier I Acura Classic in San Diego. The top seeds there are Sharapova and Serbian star Jelena Jankovic.

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley


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