Vaidisova makes her move

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's only a matter of time now before Czech slugger Nicole Vaidisova reaches the top 10 on the WTA Tour.

The 16-year-old star caught fire a few weeks ago and hasn't lost since the U.S. Open.

The 5-foot-11 Vaidisova finds herself in the midst of a sizzling 15-match winning streak, the result of back-to-back-to-back titles in the Asian capital cities of Seoul, Tokyo and Bangkok. Combined with a run into the fourth round at the U.S. Open last month, the surging teen has won 18 of her last 19 matches.

She lost to Russian Nadia Petrova in the round of 16 in Flushing, but avenged that setback by beating a top-seeded Petrova in last week's finale at the inaugural Thailand Open. At the U.S. Open, Vaidisova was booed off the court following her loss to Petrova after she smashed a ball into the crowd. Earlier in that match, the Czech star threw a water bottle onto the court in frustration, proving that she's still only 16.

Vaidisova's other recent titles came in finals against a couple of other rising stars on the women's circuit, as she topped Serbian Jelena Jankovic at the Korea Open and Frenchwoman Tatiana Golovin at the Japan Open.

Nicole Vaidisova
The red-hot Vaidisova has won her last three events and is up to No. 17 in the WTA rankings.
"My game has improved and I'm happy, but I'm still going to keep working hard on everything overall," Vaidisova said after running the table in the exotic Bangkok.

Vaidisova won at least one match at all four majors this year, with her best showing coming in her favorite city, New York. She reached the third round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and bowed out in the second at the French for a combined 8-4 record at the '05 Slams.

Idle this week, the still-growing Vaidisova now owns five career titles and is a brilliant 5-1 in six career finals -- all over the last two seasons. She lost to Venus Williams in a finale in Istanbul the week before this year's French Open.

Vaidisova only turned pro in 2003, but she's already up to a career-high No. 17 in the world, after opening this '05 campaign at No. 77. She's 15th overall in the WTA's Race to the Championships.

FYI, 12 of the top 15 ladies in the Race hail from Europe. The other three are Americans Lindsay Davenport, Venus and Serena Williams.

The youngest player in the top 20, Vaidisova is only the sixth woman to win five singles titles before her 17th birthday, joining Tracy Austin, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis.

That's pretty good company.

She's also the only player to win singles titles in three consecutive weeks this season. The last player to do that was Davenport last year in Stanford, Los Angeles and San Diego. And Vaidisova is one of only five women to have won three or more singles titles this year, joining Kim Clijsters, Davenport, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Maria Sharapova.

That's also pretty good company.

Vaidisova, who honed her skills at the famed Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida and captured the coveted Orange Bowl championship in 2003, has a solid all-court game, including a big ol' serve. And her groundstrokes remind me of the great Seles, another Bollettieri alumni.

The Prague resident is an impressive 45-14 this year and has pocketed just under $450,000 on the court. She's also getting paid as an "I Am What I Am" pitchwoman for Reebok.

Look for this tall blonde bomber to climb inside the top 10 in 2006.

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