V Vili (NZL)
Pro Since: 1997
Current Rank: 9
Highest Rank: 9
Current Year (2001) W/L: 0-0 (0%)
Career W/L: 212-80 (72.7%)
Playing Style: Power Baseliner
Biggest Strengths: Serve, Groundstrokes
Biggest Weaknesses: Movement, Stamina, Finesse Shots
Career Titles: 4
1999: Tashkent (Tier III/IV; Hard), Zurich (Tier I; Indoor Hard)
2000: Auckland (Tier III/IV; Hard), Doha (Tier II; Hard)
Best Grand Slam Results:
Australian Open: QF (2000)
French Open: 4R (1998)
Wimbledon: 3R (2000)
US Open: QF (1998, 1999, 2000)
The Story So Far: We join New Zealand tennis player Valerie Vili in the fourth year of her career. But first a bit of history. 1997 and some of 1998 saw her slumming it out on the Futures and eventually Challengers circuit, during which she encountered fellow up-and-coming players such as Elena Dementieva. During her time on the Futures and Challengers circuit she won 3 Futures and 2 Challenger titles.
Vili didn't begin to hit her stride until the 1998 clay season. Here, she performed respectively in the lead-up events, and surprisingly reached the fourth round of the first Grand Slam she ever contested, the 1998 French Open. While she was overpowered by Anna Kournikova in the fourth round, it was nonetheless a notable run as she upset two seeded players along the way - the #21 seed Chanda Rubin and the #12 seed Mary Joe Fernandez, both in straight sets.
Following a disappointing grass-season, Vili once again showed promise by reaching the quarterfinals of the US Open, stunning 5th seed and defending champion Jana Novotna in 3 sets in the fourth round.
Her next two years on tour saw her establish herself as a solid top player. In 1999, she won the Tashkent and Zurich tournaments back-to-back on a streak which lasted for 13 matches. Her Zurich run was particularly amazing - she defeated the #4 seed Venus Williams, the #2 seed Monica Seles, and finally the #1 seed Lindsay Davenport in the final. This remains her longest winning streak to date.
2000 saw her win two further titles - her home title in Auckland (beating Rennae Stubbs in the final), and Doha (defeating Aranxta Sanchez Vicario in the final). She also reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time, and the quarterfinals of the US Open for the third year in a row. She finished the year ranked world #9.
2000 Year-End Top 5:
1. Venus Williams (USA) 5170
2. Martina Hingis (SUI) 4825
3. Mary Pierce (FRA) 4150
4. Conchita Martinez (ESP) 4040
5. Monica Seles (USA) 4015
9. Valerie Vili (NZL) 2695
Vili enters 2001 with a sharp focus. Beginning the year as defending champion in Auckland, Vili knows that with the women's field as strong as ever (with 5 of the Top 10 being slam champions and another 3 slam finalists), she'll need to step it up like never before to accomplish her goal of attaining the #1 position and winning a Grand Slam.