Anna Lapushchenkova - 2007

2007

The new year began poorly for the young Russian as she lost in the first round of three of her first four draws, all of them at $25,000 level, and reached only the second round at the fourth. This string of disappointments for her included an uncharacteristically early first-round loss at Minsk, where she was surprised by a British player, Amanda Keen.

But at the end of April, and not for the first time in her career, she responded defiantly to her indifferent recent run of results by challenging herself to step up to a higher level of competition, entering the qualifying draw for the WTA Tier II tournament at Warsaw. Although she did not quite succeed in qualifying, she achieved a significant personal breakthrough by defeating two highly respected players in succession in the first two rounds of the qualifying draw, taking out Stéphanie Foretz of France 3–6 6–3 6–0 in Round One and fellow-Russian Yaroslava Shvedova 6–7 6–1 0–0 (RET) in Round Two. And she put up a close fight against Bulgarian star Tsvetana Pironkova in the qualifying round, but lost by a single break of serve in each of two straight sets.

In May, she gained direct entry into a $75,000 tournament for the first time at Jounieh, Lebanon, but lost in the first round to Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus, 0–6 3–6.

Later that month, she made her fourth attempt to qualify for a WTA Tour main draw, and her second at Istanbul, but was vanquished in the opening round of the qualifying draw by Romanian Sorana Cîrstea.

A couple of disappointing though close first-round losses at lower-level ITF tournaments followed, and it was not until July that Lapushchenkova next won back-to-back main draw matches, reaching her career-first semi-final at $50,000 level at Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, thanks in part to a second-round gift by Johanna Larsson of Sweden, who withdrew injured without a point being played. Her most hard-fought win came against her compatriot Anastasia Pivovarova at the quarter-final stage, Pivoravova taking the first set before losing the match. But in the semi-finals Lapushchenkova lost to little-known Stefanie Vögele of Switzerland, 4–6 3–6.

At the end of that month, she found herself in Sweden itself, entering the qualifying draw for the Tier IV WTA event at Stockholm, her fifth attempt to gain entry to a WTA Tour main draw. She won through to the final round of qualifying with victories over Liana Ungur of Romania and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, but lost a nail-bitingly close three-setter at the last hurdle to veteran Lina Stančiūtė of Lithuania, 6–7 6–2 5–7.

In August, she returned to Moscow to play her first $10,000 level draw of the year, and won it fairly comfortably, losing just one set in her semi-final match, to gain her third career title.

The following week, she easily surpassed her career-best result by emerging victorious from a $50,000 tournament at Penza, Russia, without dropping a set. She beat Kristina Antoniychuk of the Ukraine in the final 6–4 6–2.

The very next week, she extended her winning streak to fourteen matches at a $25,000 event in Moscow, with victories over her familiar opponent Oksana Lyubtsova and emerging fellow-Russian talent Vesna Manasieva at the quarter-final and semi-final stages respectively, but in the final Anastasia Pivovarova avenged her recent defeat at the hands of her compatriot by conqueroring her in straight sets, 6–3 6–4.

The following week, however, still in Moscow, Lapushchenkova's run of success was resumed, as she notched up her second career $50,000 tournament title for the loss of just twenty-two games spread over five matches. This was her fourth career ITF singles title to date and her third of the same summer. Her vanquished opponents included Oksana Lyubtsova and Lina Stančiūtė at the second-round and quarter-final stages respectively, and Galyna Kosyk of the Ukraine, who had won all three of their previous head-to-heads, in the final.

In September, she gained direct entry to her career-first $100,000 tournament, and defeated capable player Darya Kustova of Belarus in the first round before losing to Russian veteran Galina Voskoboeva in the second.

Her run of summer successes having improved her ranking sufficiently to afford her direct entry to a WTA Tour main draw for the first time, despite the fact that she had never succeeded in qualifying for one in five attempts, the young Russian came up against an inspired Nathalie Vierin in the first round of the Tier IV event at Portorož, Slovenia, and could only take one game from her in suffering a fairly comprehensive drubbing at her hands.

In October, she found herself back in the qualifying draw of the next WTA Tour event for which she entered herself, which was the Tier IV event at Tashkent. She failed to qualify after losing in the second round of the draw to compatriot Yevgeniya Rodina, 5–7 4–6.

A week later she tried for the seventh time to qualify for a WTA event, and for the second time it was the Tier I event at Moscow that she targeted with this ambition. Despite again beating Darya Kustova in the first round of qualifying, she suffered an uncharacteristic loss to Oksana Lyubtsova in Round Two, 4–6 4–6.

Returning to the ITF circuit later that month to enter a $25,000 event at Podolsk, Russia, Lapushchenkova had few problems in the first few rounds, but had to battle past a gritty opponent in the form of compatriot Vesna Manasieva at the semi-final stage, beating her 7–6 2–6, 6–4. In the final, she then came up against Yevgeniya Rodina for the fourth time in her career, and as every time previously, came out the loser, this time by the convincing margin of 1–6 3–6.

In November, she could only reach the second round of a $50,000 event at what was formerly her luckiest venue, Minsk. She defeated upcoming Czech player Petra Kvitová in three sets in the first round, having previously lost to her at the first round of a $25,000 tournament back in June; but then in the second round she bowed out 6–7 2–6 to fellow-Russian Eugenia Grebenyuk, whom she had beaten comfortably in their only previous tie two weeks previously at the quarter-final in Podolsk.

Later that month, she came through qualifying into a $100,000 tournament for the first time (although she had previously gained direct entry to another) at Poitiers, France, beating fellow-Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the qualifying round 6–4 6–1. Then she enjoyed her most successful tournament yet in the main draw, racing past Angelique Kerber of Germany, Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden, Viktoriya Kutuzova of the Ukraine and Stéphanie Foretz en route to the final, without dropping a set. However, she then came up against an on-form Marta Domachowska of Poland, who snatched the title 7–5 6–0.

In December, after gaining direct entry into the main draw of a $75,000 tournament at Dubai, she faltered once again at the hands of her nemesis Yevgeniya Rodina, who beat her 6–1 7–5 in the second round.

But after an unpromising start, 2007 had turned into a year of great improvement for Lapushchenkova, who finished up 169 places year-on-year at World No. 144, despite having still been ranked as low as No. 298 as recently as the middle of July that year. Her final win-loss record for the year was 43–21, a ratio of more than two wins for every loss.

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