WTA Spotlight: Top 100 debutants - Tamara Zidansek

The Slovenian was ranked No.205 in March, then she managed to reach a career-high rank at No.69

by Alessandro Mastroluca
WTA Spotlight: Top 100 debutants - Tamara Zidansek

“It was one of the best years in my tennis career,” said Tamara Zidansek as she won the final ITF title of the year in Pune. “I got into the main draw of US Open where I lost in round one and also played into the qualifying round of the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon”.

She shot from World No.205 in March to become the ninth Slovenian player to climb into the Top 100. The young Slovenian took her biggest title last June as she won the third edition of WTA125K Croatia Bol Open. defeating Magda Linette, who played an excellent tournament overall, 6-1 6-3 in the final.

“I had a dream week,” she said, as Croatia Total News reported. “It started against Alja Tomljanović and went up to the finals and I played great. I do not know what to say, this is my first WTA title, and I will remember Bol all my life”.

In the fifth game of the first set during the final, a drone appeared in the sky above the court, forcing the chief judge to briefly interrupt the match, though it was the only and biggest problem during this year's tournament.

Zidansek, as our Jovica Ilic wrote, “is a former Top 20 junior and she had made a perfect professional debut four years ago at home in Velenje, passing three qualifying rounds to go all the way in the main draw and claim the first title on the pro level still at the age of 16.

In the next two years, Zidansek won 10 titles on the ITF level, in the $10,000 and $25,000 categories before claiming the crown in Bendigo” in 2017. In the title-match in Bol, where she gained the chance to enter into the top-100 for the first time in her career, she won 55% of return points against Linette.

In Moscow, in the first edition of the Moscow River Cup where Olga Danilovic wreaked havoc beating Anastasia Potapova in the maiden WTA final between two millennials, she stunned No.2 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-2 2-6 6-4 to seal her first career Top 20 win and her maiden tour-level quarter-final, losing against the German Laura Siegemund.

The daughter of a judge and a schoolteacher, like the Slovenian, turned British Aljaz Bedene she skied and snowboarded as a child. In the summer, the snowboarding club organized also tennis lessons and she took them. She became three times national snowboarding champion for her age, but at 12 it was easy to choose to devote her time and desire to tennis.

She evidently prefers warmer environments, as she told the WTA: "I love South America and Spain - they have a similar influence," she says. "They're really laidback, chilled, fun, happy - I love it there." Proud of her all-around game, based on solid groundstrokes, eager to attack and mix with the slice, a good mover grown on clay courts, Zidansek likes grass and hard courts as well.

She finished the season with a stunning show to beat Karman Kaur Thandi 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the title in the BVG Pune Open ITF $25k ITF Women’s Championship at Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex. Zidansek took the first set 6-3 in 42 minutes.

In the second set, 4th seeded Thandi came out with a much better approach and made the opponent run for her points. In the second set, she held after a tense game with an ace to move 4-3 up and used her experience to take the upper hand in the match and break Thandi in the ninth game to close the match with winning set 6-4.

“I am not tall so I have to run a lot for my shots and I like to hit my forehand. I am confident in playing all the shots,” explained Zidansek. “The main reason for coming to Pune was to get used to the hot temperature ahead of the upcoming Grand Slam tournaments.

More than winning tournament it was important to improve Tamara’s potentials,” said her coach Marjan Cuk who has worked with her for four years. “The condition and all the arrangements were really great. Zidansek took some time to get used to condition but she came out with great performances”.

Now she has to adjust to a very different season, her first as a Top 100 player. She needs a different and more ambitious schedule, to work on her strengths and cover her weaknesses. Experience will surely help her. Matches will bring confidence, the quick reaction she needs to choose the right shot at the right time. She has to work hard and think one step at a time, that's the only way to succeed.

Tamara Zidansek