I got my first glimpse of Anastasia Myskina as she was en route to winning the first Grand Slam title of her career, the 2004 French Open. I thoroughly enjoyed Myskina’s surprising title and expected even bigger and better things from her in the future. Although Myskina has yet to win Grand Slam number two, I tend to believe that fact is due more to the parity in the upper echelon of the WTA these days than any underachievements by Myskina.
Whatever the case may be, Myskina remains a legitimate contender in nearly every tournament she plays in these days. However, her trek to the top, although steady, has not been without its trials and tribulations.
Myskina turned professional in 1998, and quickly broke into the WTA top 500. The very next year, she entered the top 100 and went on to break the top 20 in 2002 and the top 10.
Myskina has now won 10 WTA tour singles titles in her career including the 2004 French Open in which she had to beat two former world number ones Venus Williams and Jennifer Capriati on her way to the final where she crushed fellow Russian Elena Dementieva 6-1, 6-2 to become the first Russian woman to win a grand slam singles event.
Myskina also led the Russian team to its first Fed Cup title in a dramatic final against France in ’04, winning all three points for her country.
Myskina is one of the game’s best baseline players, but actually prefers to play on faster court surfaces. Myskina’s backhand is by far, her best shot, as her forehand tends to break down at times during matches.
Myskina, reached a career high ranking of No. 2 on September 13, 2004 and finished the season at number 3.
However, the following season, Myskina made ignominous hstory by losing her opening match at the 2005 French Open against Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, to become the first woman in the history of the event to lose as a defending champion in the first round.
It soon transpired that the reason for Myskina’s relatively poor 2005 results was her mother’s battle with cancer in Moscow while Myskina was travelling on the WTA Tour. As her mother’s health recovered, so did Myskina’s form.
Myskina then reached the quarterfinals of that year’s Wimbledon, before bowing out to Amelie Mauresmo. Myskina also went on to win her only singles title of 2005 in Kolkata, where she also won the doubles title (teaming with Elena Likhovtseva). She backed this up with a second doubles title of the year, winning in Filderstadt with Daniela Hantuchova.
2006 has seen much more consistent results for Myskina, including fourth round appearances at the Australian and French Opens, and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
Once again, Myskina is a fine player, but she will continue to seek her secone Grand Slam title until she overcomes some of her weaknesses, like her erratic forehand and mediocre second serve. Until then, she may be remembered as being a Russian “one-hit wonder.”