Beatriz Haddad Maia: One To Watch?
Published February 27, 2013 12:00
FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil - Until Teliana Pereira did it last week in Bogotá, no Brazilian had made the quarterfinals or beyond at a WTA event since 1999 - on Wednesday, Beatriz Haddad Maia nearly repeated the feat on home turf, holding match points before falling in the second round in Florianopolis.
Haddad Maia, a wildcard into the draw who won her first WTA-level match in the first round, rolled in the first set of her second round match against Melinda Czink and was on the verge of victory in the third, leading 6-5 and holding three match points - Czink hung tough though and won, 16 62 76(3).
"I knew she was a talented young player and she really came out firing today," Czink said. "I really struggled in the first set with my nerves and my game, but I settled down and was pretty much cruising until 5-3 in the third, when I started to get a little tight again. I managed to pull through but it was tough - she came out firing with no pressure at all. I'm very happy I managed to win this match today.
"I'm quite certain she has a very bright future."
And the sky's the limit for Haddad Maia's future, really - not only is she only 16, but she has some very accomplished names backing her up: Larri Passos and his legendary pupil, Gustavo Kuerten.
"I've been working with Larri for about two years," Haddad Maia said. "He's tough but that's how I can get better and become a champion. We've been working very well together and doing the right things.
"Guga comes to the academy sometimes as well. We've hit before. He helps me too, telling me some things I can do better. He's so friendly. He was such a big star in Brazil and he's incredible.
"For me, Larri and Guga are just incredible."
Passos and Kuerten were at the match on Wednesday cheering her on. "It was good to look over and see them cheering for me and saying 'Come on,'" Haddad Maia added. "For me, it's another privilege."
The buzz about Pereira's feat last week definitely reached and may have inspired Haddad Maia.
"Teliana was doing well in Fed Cup just a few weeks ago, and in Bogotá she had such a great week, beating Cornet and making the semifinals," she said. "It was a really good week for Brazilian tennis.
"I was close to making my first WTA quarterfinal today. I didn't win, but I'm still happy. The crowd was great - it felt good to play in those surroundings and at home. It was very positive for me."
Haddad Maia plans to play juniors and ITF Circuit events and hopefully hit the WTA scene soon.