Teens make statement in Australian Open
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At 42, Kimiko Date-Krumm is the oldest woman in the Australian Open draw and she has little in common with her competitors, aside from tennis. On the courts around her on Thursday were rivals less than half her age and some not yet out of high school.
Eleven teenagers advanced to the second round this year, compared with three in 2012. So many teenagers are rising through the rankings, in fact, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki feels like a veteran at the age of 22. There are still a few older ones than me,'' she joked after beating 16-year-old Donna Vekic of Croatia in the second round 6-1, 6-4. I still want to try to feel young out here. But it's the way of life, I guess _ 22, it's old in the tennis world soon.''
Just not yet. The next generation of female players have made a statement at the Australian Open, but there's no expectation they're ready to hoist a Grand Slam trophy like Martina Hingis and Monica Seles did at 16 and Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova did at 17.
Of the 11 teens in the second round, only three progressed _ 17-year-old American Madison Keys, who took out 30th-seeded Tamira Paszek; 18-year-old Laura Robson of Britain, who beat eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova; and 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens, who beat another 19-year-old, Kristina Mladenovic of France. Keys lost her third-round match on Friday to No. 5-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-2, 7-5. Robson plays Stephens next on Saturday.
It's much tougher than it was a decade ago for a young player to break through and actually win a major. Part of the reason is the sheer physicality of the game today, a change brought by better training and conditioning, more powerful rackets and, of course, more powerful players like the Williams sisters and Sharapova.
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