July 24, 2024

Open Court


Michelle Larcher de Brito – still loud

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – It had been a long time since we’d seen – and heard – Portuguese player Michelle Larcher de Brito in the flesh.

Her ranking the last few years hasn’t allowed her to play the bigger events we’ve covered.

But we caught up with her at the Indian Wells qualifying.

Here’s what she sounded (and looked) like:

In the interim, what stands out is that even though she’s still awfully loud, there are such bigger perpretators at the top of the game (the sisters, Azarenka, Sharapova) that she almost seems tame in comparison these days.

But what hasn’t changed, is her game. It still has the same holes it always did. There’s no serve. Every time she gets anywhere even close to the net before the handshake, she scrambles back to the baseline and ends up somewhere in no man’s land. And in the current environment, she doesn’t even hit the ball all that hard.

That’s probably why she remains in that never-never land between mainstream and anonymity.

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Larcher de Brito is currently ranked No. 124 in the world; that’s that little area between getting straight into Grand Slams (and guaranteeing yourself at least another extra $100,000 in prize money a year) and struggling to qualify each time.

It was nearly five years ago that she reached her career best of No. 76. And it seemed she was going to be a comer, since she was only 16 at the time.

Here are her year-end rankings the last few years:

2013: 109
2012: 116
2011: 173
2010: 205
2009: 116
2008: 124

Basically, she’s back where she was six years ago. This is not a good thing.On the horizon for Larcher de Brito loom a couple of massive point chunks to defend: that surprise fourth round at Wimbledon (220 points), and a repeat performance at the U.S. Open (160 points).Without those two results (and she may be headed for the qualifying so there’s no guarantee she will even have a shot at defending them), she’d  have 125 points. Right now, that would put her somewhere in the area of No. 340 in the current WTA Tour rankings.

It is, to overuse a cliché, crunch time.

Larcher de Brito did quality at the Family Circle Cup, but lost in three sets in the first round to American Grace Min.

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