BOLOGNA & TARANTO, Italy - Italy had a lot to cheer for on the WTA this year, not only in singles, but in doubles too - and now they have two WTA Player Awards to celebrate as well, with Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci taking Doubles Team Of The Year and Errani receiving Most Improved Player.
Errani's rocket-like rise up the singles ranks could have been one of the most impressive feats in recent memory. Having finished the last four years in the 40s, she finished 2012 all the way up at No.6 after winning four WTA titles - all on clay - and reaching her first Grand Slam final on clay as well, at the French Open. After that tournament the Italian became the first player ever to make her Top 10 debut from outside the Top 20, going from No.24 to No.10, and after more impressive results on hardcourts she would creep up to year-end No.6.
Then there was the historic doubles season - having already won a slew of International-level titles together in recent years, Errani and Vinci took it to a whole new level in 2012, capturing eight WTA doubles titles - including two Grand Slams at the French Open and US Open and Premier-level titles at Madrid and Rome - and both spent time as the No.1 doubles player in the world. Their win at Roland Garros made them the first all-Italian duo in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam doubles title, and they repeated the feat at the US Open.
Errani was thrilled about her WTA Player Awards double whammy.
"I'm very happy to have been voted Most Improved Player, and Doubles Team Of The Year too. It has been an incredible year for me - so many matches in singles and doubles. It may be an unrepeatable year, but I'll try to continue like this and give everything I have on the court in every match. And as for the doubles, I'm very happy to share all these results with my best friend, Roberta."
Errani is the third Italian ever to crack the Top 10 in singles, currently spending her 25th week inside the elite (Flavia Pennetta was the first and spent 11 weeks inside, while Francesca Schiavone was the second and spent 70 weeks inside). Errani and Vinci are also the second and third players ever to reach No.1 in doubles (Pennetta was the first to do so, doing so in 2011).
Doubles Team Of The Year and Most Improved player were voted for by international tennis media. Check out the WTA Player Awards page here.