Another Russian ready to enter top 10

Russian Anna Chakvetadze may have a similar look to that of Maria Sharapova, but she would prefer her game be compared to Martina Hingis.

Updated: March 19, 2007, 3:10 PM ET
By Lindsay Berra | ESPN The Magazine

Every leggy blond Russian player is compared with Maria Sharapova. Flattering? Sure. But 20-year-old Anna Chakvetadze prefers comparisons with Martina Hingis. Why? Because she would rather draw attention for her play than for her looks. Like Hingis, Chakvetadze covers the court effortlessly, winning points with quickness, patience and anticipation rather than with the strength of her ground strokes.

"I try to play smart," Chakvetadze said in January, after Tracy Austin made the Hingis comparison. "But I think I hit the ball a little harder than Martina."

Chakvetadze burst onto the WTA Tour in 2004, when she upset fourth-seeded Anastasia Myskina in the second round of the U.S. Open. Her goal for 2007 was to crack the Top 10, which she did for one week in February, giving Russian players half of the top spots. She now sits at No. 11.

This season, Chakvetadze has already won one tournament (Hobart), reached the quarters of a major (Australian) and posted a 16-4 match record (as of March 19). Even her losses have been solid: 7-6, 7-5 to both No. 2 Sharapova and No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo.

"I want to be in the Top 10," Chakvetadze said, "but it's more important now to improve my game and win some matches and tournaments."

Because being compared to a winner like Sharapova wouldn't be so bad.

Lindsay Berra is an avid CrossFitter and a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on twitter @lindsayberra.