No matter what happens in Saturday’s women’s final, Miami Open finalist Carla Suarez Navarro will wake up Monday morning knowing that for the first time in her career she’s ranked in the top 10.
That said, it is highly unlikely that Spain’s finest will rise-and-shine early just to see her name inked among the most elite players in the game.
Nor is it likely that the 12th-seeded Suarez Navarro will toss and turn the night before playing in the biggest final of her career, despite facing the winner of Thursday night’s semifinal between top-seeded Serena Williams and third-seeded Simona Halep of Romania.
Apparently, when Suarez Navarro’s head hits the pillow it’s straight to slumberland.
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“Well, I just want to sleep as long as I can,” said Suarez Navarro, when asked to reveal something unknown about herself. “I’m relaxed on court and also off court.”
On Thursday, Suarez Navarro reached her second final of the year with a 6-3, 6-3 win over ninth-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany. She was set to play Petkovic in the Antwerp, Belgium, final in February but had to withdraw from the match with a sore neck.
Suarez Navarro is having a grand year on the court. Besides this second final showing, she was a semifinalist at Doha, Qatar, and a quarterfinalist at Brisbane and Sydney, Australia; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
At the Miami Open, Suarez Navarro has beaten seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, 16th-seeded Venus Williams and Petkovic in her past three matches.
What separates the Spaniard from the rest of the field is her style of play — she’s not all about how hard she can hit the ball. She is most often likened to former world No. 1 Justine Henin, catching players off guard with a variety of shot-making options as well as possessing a rare single-handed backhand.
“I had the honor of playing Justine Henin when I was very young, 19, shortly before she retired,” Petkovic said. “It was the same thing: she just made you move that one step farther on your backhand side and was opening the court. [Carla] always gives you the feeling that you’re sort of late on your strokes because you have to move one extra step.”
A late-comer to the game, Suarez Navarro started playing tennis as a 9-year-old back home in the Canary Islands.
“I played tennis not every day, but two days per week,” she said. “Then when I was 11, I played or practiced every day. [Then] I go to Barcelona when I was 18 years old.”
Now at 26, Suarez Navarro is the highest-ranked of five Spanish woman currently in the WTA top 100. She’s also the third Spanish woman to attain top-10 status, and the first to do so since May 2001, behind former world No. 1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and No. 2 Conchita Martinez.
Although Suarez Navarro is the self-proclaimed seniorita-of-siesta, it turns out her favorite tennis dream isn’t at all exclusive.
“Normally, all the tennis players want to be No. 1, but the first step, I think, is to be in top 100, and top 50, then top 20, top 10, and you never know,” she said.
“But I want to be No. 1, yeah.”