WTA Spotlight: Top 100 debutants - Ana Bogdan

In 2018, the Romanian reached her career-high rank at No.59. She played two straight WTA semifinals for the first time in her career

by Alessandro Mastroluca
WTA Spotlight: Top 100 debutants - Ana Bogdan

The Romanian wave extended far behind Simona Halep. Ana Bogdan realized one of her goals, making her Top 100 debut, after her third-round run at Australian Open. And her rise continued constantly throughout the season as she touched the new career-high ranking at No.59 in June and finished the campaign at No.71.

Her parents, she revealed in an exclusive interview to WTATennis.com last summer, were both skiers and she began practising their same sport and continue to slide down the mountains in the offseason. "Skiing definitely helps with tennis, because you have to bend your knees on the slope to change direction.

You have to bend and come back up, so it’s a similar motion. The biggest difference is endurance,” she revealed. She began playing tennis as a distraction, during a particular year without snow, not having a professional mindset from the beginning.

This year changed everything for the Romanian. The then No.104 The No.104 Ana Bogdan opened the Australian Open campaign with an upset 6-3 6-2 victory over Kiki Mladenovic, her first ever success in Melbourne. The Frenchwoman was penalized by 25 unforced errors only in the opening set and struggled to build her game from the baseline.

She looked fearful and her opponents now feel freer to go for their shots when they saw Mladenovic crumbling. Bogdan, competing in her sixth Slam main draw, increased to 3-1 her record against Top 20 players and sealed her 13th Grand Slam win, qualifying rounds included.

Then, she came back to beat 1-6 6-2 6-3 Yulia Putintseva and achieved the best Grand Slam performance of her career in two hours and 7 minutes. Despite she lost to Madison Keys, she secured a cheque of AUD 142,500 and 130 WTA points.

"The result in Australia was my biggest at a Grand Slam so far. I had a great win against Kristina Mladenovic at the Australian Open; at the time she was No.11 in the world. I also had a good match against Keys, who was No.9 in the world.

I lost, but it was quite close. I then made two semifinals in a row on different surfaces,” she said to the WTA. In Monterrey, she began her campaign with a hard-fought three-set win against Mexico’s Victoria Rodriguez.

She was much more self-assured as she defeated Sorribes Tormo and Danielle Collins. In the semifinals, she lost to Garbine Muguruza, who managed to impose herself through her powerful groundstrokes. Bogdan, reliable and consistent from the baseline, could count on a brilliant backhand.

She's also a good mover, with good defensive skills. And she demonstrated her qualities in her second consecutive semifinals run in Bogotà, in very different conditions, where she lost to resurgent Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova.

Bogdan credited coach Gabriele Moraru with her meteoric rise because he tried to make her play more aggressive off the forehand side and to improve her movement, essential to bring her in the correct position to hit deeper on that side.

Her clay court season culminated in a second-round showing at Roland Garros, where she lost to Kerber and rose to a career-high ranking of No.59 after the Parisian major. After falling in the first round at Wimbledon, she suffered another opening match defeat on home soil at Bucharest (to Schmiedlova).

In North America, she made the second-round in Washington and lost at the first hurdle in Montréal (l. Sabalenka), Cincinnati (l. Makarova) and New Haven (l. Giorgi), having won through qualifying at all three tournaments.

At Us Open, she reached the second round for the third straight time in three main draw appearances. After losing at that stage to her compatriot Monica Niculescu in 2016 and 2017, she won nine of the final 12 games to defeat qualifier Bouzkova in straight sets and surrendered to Karolina Pliskova, bidding in vain to clinch her maiden top-ten victory.

Her results worsened in the final part of the season, as she was burdened by an elbow injury. But Bogdan has a clear goal to reach in 2019. She aims to break into the top-50 and she has everything to fulfil her potential.

Ana Bogdan