The 100 Club editorial series honors the new players who made their Top 100 rankings debut in 2018. In an exclusive interview with wtatennis.com, American Bernarda Pera looks back on a breakout year ahead of where it all started.
WTA Staff
August 28, 2018

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Say hello to the bright lights and the big city, Bernarda Pera.

Over the past two years, Pera has soared from outside the Top 300 in the world rankings to firmly inside the American Top 10.

She's done it the hard way -- winning eight ITF singles titles in places including Alkmaar and Breda, in the Netherlands; and Olomouc, in the Czech Republic. 

Nonetheless, she announced herself in a big way at the year's first Grand Slam, where she reached the third round after getting into the Australian Open draw as a lucky loser. There, she earned her first Top 10 victory over then-No.9 seed Johanna Konta. 

A quarterfinal showing at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston followed, and her big results on clay continued through the spring.

After qualifying, she later beat Konta once more -- and the fast-rising Aryna Sabalenka -- en route to a round of 16 appearance the Premier Mandatory Mututa Madrid Open.

After her statement results in the early season, Pera earned herself Grand Slam debuts at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, having never even competed in the qualifying draw at either of those majors. 

The next step in her breakout year, however, will be on home soil. 

After three appearances in the qualifying draw of her home Grand Slam, Pera will make her US Open singles main draw debut on Tuesday against Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva.

It'll be a full-circle moment for the young American, who made her WTA debut at the 2014 US Open, having received a wildcard with for the doubles tournament alongside Tornado Alicia Black.

In an exclusive interview with wtatennis.com, Pera discusses her dual roots, her style of play, and where she's looking to head next.

1. To find her origins, you have to go across an ocean and back again. 

Born in Zadar, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in Croatia, Pera moved the New Jersey at the age of 16. 

"We didn't move to the United States only because of tennis. My dad used to live in the United States before I was born and I have a lot of cousins and relatives there," she said.

"Regarding tennis, I really wanted to work with USTA Player Development because I think they take good care of their players, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to represent the United States."

In the last year, however, she's added a bit more of a Croatian flair to her team, and has been working with her childhood coach. 

"My coach is Lovro Roncevic, and Jure Sango takes care of my fitness," she said. "We are mainly based in Zadar, but depending on my schedule, I also train in the United States."

2. The sport is a family affair for the 23-year-old.

Like many before her who've picked up a racquet, Pera was influenced by a role model in her youth.

"My older sister played tennis and is a tennis coach now," Pera said.

"When I was little I used to go watch her play, and like every younger sister, I wanted to do everything she was doing so I signed up for tennis as well."

3. This southpaw likes to stay at the baseline.

A left-hander, you won't see Pera employ the serve-and-volley style of play that made another American lefty -- Martina Navratilova -- an all-time great. 

A baseliner who looks for the opportunity to finish points, Pera has also felt the most at home on clay courts to this point in her career.

Seventeen of the 19 ITF singles finals she's reached in her career came on the terre battue. 

"I would say I play quite aggressive and fast," Pera said, assessing her style of play. "I try to take control of the point and open up the court with my forehand."

4. She's looking to improve step-by-step.

Despite losing a marathon quarterfinal match to her compatriot Keys in Charleston, Pera nonetheless reached the Top 100 on the back of her result at the Volvo Car Open.

"I'm a little relieved that I finally cracked Top 100, but I knew I was going to do it," she said. "I have to set new goals now."

Read more: Keys survives Pera for Charleston semifinal spot




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Until next year NYC 👋🏼

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And she has -- despite seeing her ranking dip to World No.92 after reaching a career-best World No.68 in June, Pera has her eyes firmly set on a new ranking bracket.

"The Top 50 is my goal now but I don't think about it too much," she said. "I just do what I do day-by-day and I'll see where it takes me."

Quick Hits with Bernarda Pera

Favorite thing to do in a rain delay?

Listen to music

What’s the most-used app on your phone?

WhatsApp

Favorite pizza topping?

Mushrooms

Who would you want to play you in a movie?

Penelope Cruz

Favorite city to visit - and the last time you played tourist there, where did you go?

New York City and the High Line

Favorite song by your favorite artist?

Zeljko Joksimovic and Tony Cetinski - "Zabluda"

If you weren’t a tennis player, what career do you think you’d have?

Something in economics