Spaniards On The Rise: Sílvia Soler-Espinosa
Published December 06, 2012 12:00
ELCHE, Spain - The last two years have been Sílvia Soler-Espinosa's best - her first two Top 100 finishes, her first WTA quarterfinal, her first two third rounds at Grand Slams, going as high as No.54 - so now that the nets are down and the off-season is here, how does the Spanish rising star feel about it all?
"Having broken into the Top 100 last year, this year was all about consolidating my place there," she said. "It has been a complicated year with the Olympics, and I also picked up an injury, though I was able to recover from that quickly - but there was more to the season than just staying inside the Top 100.
"Overall I feel really positive about it."
Among Soler-Espinosa's many achievements in 2012 was her first WTA quarterfinal in Estoril and setting the aforementioned career-high of No.54; she finished the year at No.83, just one spot short of where she finished last year.
But there were other highs - playing the Olympics was her dream come true.
"It was the best experience in my life so far as a sportswoman," said Soler-Espinosa, also a Fed Cup stalwart. "It's everyone's dream to represent their country, and to play the Olympic Games was an experience I will never forget."
And then her back-to-back third round finishes at the US Open - she has only played the tournament twice and won two rounds each time, falling to Carla Suárez Navarro in 2011 and to Tsvetana Pironkova this year.
"New York is my favorite city in the world," she said. "Fortunately, things have gone well for me there the past few years. I've played well and have been able to reach the third round. But you constantly have to compete hard - maybe the results have gone in my favor at the US Open because of the surface."
The highest-ranked Spanish woman on the WTA is No.34, while there are two Spanish men in the Top 5 on the ATP World Tour (No.4 Rafael Nadal, No.5 David Ferrer) and a third Spanish man just outside the Top 10 (No.11 Nicolas Almagro). So what does Soler-Espinosa say about the gender gap?
"People constantly say women's tennis is behind the men's game in Spain, but I don't see it like that. We have a lot of players ranked among the Top 100, and there are very few countries that can boast about as many as we can. The continued development of young players is a good thing for everyone."
And the Spaniard's goals for 2013? "I'd like to finish in the Top 50 next year," she commented, "but above all else I hope I can avoid injury."
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 Soler-Espinosa and more from the Spanish capital, please click here!