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RTS Update: Flavia In The Running

Flavia Pennetta soared to fifth place on the Road To Singapore leaderboard this week, joining a slew of WTA veterans looking good for the BNP Paribas WTA Championships.

Published March 17, 2014 12:13

Flavia Pennetta

Following the biggest title of her career at the Premier Mandatory-level BNP Paribas Open, Flavia Pennetta soared up the Road To Singapore leaderboard this week, going from 20th to fifth - by far the biggest jump among the Top 25 in the year-long journey to the BNP Paribas WTA Championships.

But the rise won't change the way Pennetta looks ahead to her next matches and tournaments.

"Of course after this event you feel better, but I'm still not just expecting anything," Pennetta said after the final. "I prefer to play every match in the same way, trying to play my best tennis all the time when I go on the court. I don't have any new goals now that I've done this - I just want to improve my game, be more aggressive and go for more winners. That's really the way I want to improve my game."

The eight players leading the way on the leaderboard this week are - from first place to eighth place - Li Na, Dominika Cibulkova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Pennetta, Angelique Kerber, Jelena Jankovic and Eugenie Bouchard, with Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic ninth and 10th.

With 32-year-olds Li, Pennetta and Williams all in that group, and fellow 30-somethings Klara Zakopalova and Venus Williams just behind in 11th and 16th, are we seeing a veteran's resurgence?

"I think 32, okay, we are a bit older, but we are still good athletes," Pennetta commented. "We work hard physically. We are strong. And we have many years on the tour and know how to handle all the emotions and everything, which is a benefit. If your body is good, I think you can do good things."

Jankovic, who will join the 30-somethings crowd next year, was asked to compare her game now to her game in her early 20s during her run to the quarterfinals, where she fell in three sets to Radwanska.

"I think I'm playing much better now than I did back in the years," Jankovic said. "I think I'm striking the ball better now than I probably ever did: quite clean and really just controlling the points better.

"Now that I'm a little bit older I'm kind of maturing and using my shots a lot better too. It's important to have fun and enjoy your tennis, and when your shot selection is much better, your mind is freer and you're not nervous or frustrated when you have a million options and things on your mind."

One player who hasn't had her best start to a season - Maria Sharapova, who is currently 20th on the leaderboard, where Pennetta just came from - is one to watch this fortnight. Though she has never won the title, she has been to the Sony Open Tennis final five times - including the last three years.

"Each match really motivates me," Sharapova said after her third round loss to Camila Giorgi at Indian Wells. "Losses motivate me a lot, because as a competitor you don't want to lose these types of matches. You always want to change the result. So it's individual matches that fire me up.

"I hope that these last few losses, especially this one, will do that for me."

Italian pairing Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci continued to top the Road To Singapore leaderboard in doubles, though Peng Shuai and Hsieh Su-Wei, who are currently in second place, are creeping up fast after back-to-back Premier titles at the Qatar Total Open in Doha and the BNP Paribas Open.

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