Spaniards On The Rise: Lara Arruabarrena
Published December 05, 2012 12:00
BARCELONA, Spain - Just nineteen years old, No.174 in the world, third WTA main draw, 5-2 down in her opening match - who would have thought Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino would go on and win her first WTA title in Bogotá this year? Not many. But she did, and she continued to climb the ranks throughout the year, finishing her first full season on the WTA all the way at No.77.
How does the Spaniard, now 20, feel about her breakthrough season?
"My goal at the start of this season was to break into the Top 100 by the end of the year, but I never expected to surpass that objective like I have," she said. "I thought I could make it to the Top 100 but I never thought I'd finish like I did."
And on the narrow escape against Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in Bogotá?
"I was a game away from losing in the first round of that tournament. When you start a tournament like that you constantly think about how close you came to losing and play tighter as a result - that's what happened to me, anyway. I grew in confidence the further I got but never thought I could win the title."
Arruabarrena-Vecino played her first Grand Slams at Roland Garros and the US Open - she lost first round in Paris but reached the second round in New York, and subsequently made her Top 100 debut on September 10.
"I had already played in some Grand Slam qualifiers, but I finally got to compete in the main draw this year. I was extremely happy, although at Roland Garros I had to play a difficult opponent in Ana Ivanovic. It was an incredible experience anyway, because I played on such a big court against such an important player. After that I expected less from the US Open, because I'm more of a clay court player, so it was a surprise to me that I advanced past the first round there."
Along with that clay court game comes a lot of baseline tenacity. "I'm a fighter," she commented. "Nowadays women's tennis is about powerful hitting, something I'm not that strong at, so I have to run a lot. So I'd say the defining characteristics in my game are that I run a lot, I'm a fighter and I defend well."
And her goal for 2013? "I want to break into the Top 40. I know that's ambitious, so if it doesn't happen, so be it. But if I achieve it, it would be incredible."
This week, with the help of madrid-open.com, the official website of one of the biggest tournaments of the year, the Mutua Madrid Open, we will be introducing you to three of Spain's stars on the rise. For the full interview with Arruabarrena-Vecino and more from the Spanish capital, please click here!