Monica Niculescu

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Monica Niculescu
Nürnberger Versicherungscup 2014 - 1.Runde - Monica Niculescu 09.JPG
Country (sports)  Romania
Residence Bucharest, Romania
Born (1987-09-25) 25 September 1987 (age 28)
Slatina, Romania
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Turned pro May 2002
Plays Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Prize money US$ 3,383,112
Singles
Career record 403-264
Career titles 2 WTA, 18 ITF
Highest ranking No. 28 (27 February 2012)
Current ranking No. 39 (2 November 2015)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open 3R (2011, 2012, 2014)
French Open 2R (2014)
Wimbledon 4R (2015)
US Open 4R (2011)
Doubles
Career record 340-199
Career titles 5 WTA, 22 ITF
Highest ranking No. 24 (7 June 2010)
Current ranking No. 61 (31 August 2015)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open QF (2012)
French Open QF (2010)
Wimbledon 3R (2009)
US Open 3R (2009, 2010)
Team competitions
Fed Cup 28–16
Last updated on: July 21, 2014.

Monica Niculescu (born 25 September 1987) is a professional Romanian tennis player. Her highest WTA ranking is no. 28 in singles, reached on February 27, 2012, and no. 24 in doubles, reached on June 7, 2010.[1]

Niculescu was born in Slatina, Romania, but moved to Bucharest when she was four.[2] She is currently coached by Călin Stelian Ciorbagiu.[2]

Tennis career[edit]

2002–2005: Junior years[edit]

As a junior, Niculescu had the remarkable gift to win quite easily every final she reached. Thus, before reaching the age of 18, she won 11 ITF singles finals, losing only one set:

  • in Bucharest (August 2002), 6-1,7-6 to Tsvetana Pironkova;
  • in Cavtat (April 2003) 6-4,6-1 to Darija Jurak;
  • in Timişoara (August 2003) 6-2,6-3 to Veronika Rizhik;
  • in Albufeira (February 2004) 6-1,3-6,6-0 to Irina Kotkina;
  • in Portimão (February 2004) 6-4,7-6 to Nadja Pavić;
  • in Bucharest (May 2004) 6-2,6-2 to Simona Matei;
  • in Iași (August 2004) 7-6,6-0 to Raluca Olaru;
  • in Cairo (March 2005) 6-4,6-2 to Galina Fokina;
  • in Ain El Soukhna (March 2005) 6-3,6-4 to Magdaléna Rybáriková;
  • in Antalya (May 2005) 6-2,6-2 to Ekaterina Dzehalevich;
  • and in Coimbra (August 2005) 6-3,6-1 against Aravane Rezaï.

She also won 8 out of 14 ITF finals played in doubles, as a junior, in most of them having as a partner her older sister Gabriela Niculescu. She played finals in girls'doubles in Roland Garros (2004, paired with Madalinea Gojnea) and twice in Wimbledon (2004 and 2005, paired with Marina Erakovic).

By the end of 2005, now already a senior player, she was no. 271 in the WTA rankings and no.4 in Romania.

2006–2008: Constant progress as a senior, Top 50[edit]

Niculescu made her WTA debut in 2006 Istanbul, where she won to then junior Sabine Lisicki but could not pass the 3rd qualification round. In 2007 she continued to play many ITF tournaments, and she also played in qualifications in all 4 Grand Slams and 3 other WTA tournaments, but only in Dubai she reached the main draw. Still, winning several ITF tournaments and gathering many small points, she finished the year 2007 in Top 200.

In 2008, she reached the quarterfinals in Tashkent, and in all 4 Grand Slams she reached the first round, with round 2 reached in Wimbledon. Gathering points constantly on WTA tour, and also including some smaller successes in ITF tournaments, Niculescu was ranked 48th in the World, and 2nd in Romania, at the end of 2008.

2009: Setback and out of Top 100[edit]

Niculescu opened the season at the Brisbane International, where she lost to Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round in three sets.[2] She also lost in the first round of the Moorilla Hobart International to Alona Bondarenko. At the 2009 Australian Open, Niculescu beat Katie O'Brien in the first round, 6–4, 6–4, before losing to Sara Errani in the second, 2–6, 3–6. Alongside Sorana Cîrstea, Niculescu was the fourteenth seed in women's doubles; they lost to Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo in the second round, 3–6, 3–6.

In the other 3 Grand Slams, she did not go past round 1 of the main draw. Her best results of the year were quarterfinals in Tashkent and Starsbourg.

At the Open GDF Suez held in Paris, Niculescu defeated Timea Bacsinszky in the first round, before losing to eventual champion Amélie Mauresmo in the second. She then took part in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. She beat Peng Shuai in the first round in three sets, 3–6, 7–5, 6–2, and then lost to world no. 3 Jelena Janković in the second, 3–6, 2–6. Niculescu also partnered Elena Vesnina in doubles, and the two reached the quarterfinals in women's doubles; they lost to Anabel Medina Garrigues and Francesca Schiavone. Niculescu had two consecutive first-round losses, at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California (fell to Anna-Lena Grönefeld) and Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida (fell to Tamira Paszek). Partnering Alisa Kleybanova, she reached the quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open, where they lost to Maria Kirilenko and Flavia Pennetta. At the Sony Ericsson Open she partnered Kleybanova again, but they lost to second seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual.

Niculescu withdrew from the Andalucía Tennis Experience and Barcelona Ladies Open due to a forearm injury.[2]

At the end of the year, she had slipped out of Top 100.

2010: Comeback to Top 100, first WTA semifinal[edit]

Monica Niculescu at the 2010 US Open

In 2010, Monica started the season in Auckland, coming from qualifying. In the first round, she lost to fifth seed 5 Virginie Razzano, 5–7, 4–6. In doubles, she partnered Ioana Raluca Olaru, and they defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues and Carla Suárez Navarro, 7–5, 7–5. In the second round, they lost to Cara Black and Liezel Huber, 3–6, 2–6.

At the Australian Open, she lost in the first round to Jelena Janković, 4–6, 0–6. In doubles, she partnered Chan Yung-jan and defeated Monique Adamczak and Nicole Kriz, 6–3, 6–1. The pair defeated Alla Kudryavtseva and Ekaterina Makarova in the second round, 6–4, 6–4. In the third round, the lost to sixth seeds Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, 5–7, 3–6.

Niculescu then played an ITF tournament in Midland, but lost in the first round to Eleni Daniilidou 4–6, 2–6.

In Memphis, she lost in the first round qualifying to Valérie Tétreault. In doubles, she reached the semifinals along with Riza Zalameda, losing to Vania King and Michaëlla Krajicek, 1–6, 4–6.

At Indian Wells, she lost in qualifying to Tamarine Tanasugarn. In doubles, together with Michaëlla Krajicek, she lost in first round to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Yan Zi, 6–7, 2–6.

In Marbella failed to qualify in singles, but in doubles she partnered Sophie Lefèvre. They defeated Kristina Barrois and Ioana Raluca Olaru in the first round, 6–3, 4–6, [10–7]. However, in the second round, they lost to Virginia Ruano Pascual and Meghann Shaughnessy, 2–6, 4–6.

She made again her best in Tashkent, where she reached her first WTA semifinals but lost to Elena Vesnina.

Although in the first half of the year she was struggling between ranks 100 and 150, by the middle of the year she reached Top 100 again and ended the year as No.82 in the world, and no.2 in Romania.

2011: Consistent game, advance to Top 30[edit]

At the 2011 Australian Open, Niculescu defeated Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets, 6–0, 6–3. Facing off against the 32nd seed, Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, Niculescu cruised through the match winning 6–4, 6–1. In the third round, she lost to the 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, 0–6, 6–7.

Niculescu defeated Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in the first round and compatriot Alexandra Dulgheru in the second round, 6–3, 6–0, to advance to the third round of the 2011 US Open. In defeating Lucie Šafářová, 6–0, 6–1, Niculescu advanced to the fourth round of a Grand Slam singles competition for the first time in her career, where she lost 4–6, 3–6 to unseeded Angelique Kerber.

At the Tier 1 China Open, she shocked the world with a dominating victory over fourth seed Li Na, 6–4, 6–0 in the first round and advanced to the semifinals, where she lost to eventual runner-up, Andrea Petkovic.

She advanced to her first WTA final at the International tournament in Luxembourg, losing to Victoria Azarenka, 2–6, 2–6. En route to the final, she spent many hours on court with a 6–7, 7–5, 7–6 first-round victory over Karin Knapp, a second-round 7–6, 3–6, 6–1 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues, and a 7–5, 4–6, 6–3 win in 3 hours over 2010 finalist Anne Keothavong in the semifinals.

The end of the year found her as No.30 in the World and No.1 in Romania.

2012: Career high, small setback, still top 60[edit]

At the Australian Open, Niculescu made it to the third round by defeating Alizé Cornet and Pauline Parmentier, but she was defeated by then–world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 2–6, 2–6.

She reached quarterfinals in Doha, where she lost to Samantha Stosur.

Her best result was again the WTA final in Luxembourg, lost to Venus Williams.

Although in February Niculescu had reached rank No.28, her career high so far, the inconsistent results during the season made her go down to World No.58 by the end of the year.

2013: Steady position, first WTA title[edit]

Aside two WTA semifinals in Shenzhen and Monterrey, Niculescu won her first singles WTA title in Florianópolis.

She played in round 1 of all the Grand Slams, but lost the games constantly.

Yet, winning enough games and points in WTA tournaments, she kept her Top 60 position, finishing the season as No.59 in the WTA rankings.

2014: Second WTA title, Top 50 again[edit]

In all, Niculescu had an improving season, reaching round 3 at Australian Open, round 2 at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, quarterfinals in Shenzhen, Hobart and Florianópolis, and semifinals in Bucharest. The best result was her winning the WTA tournament in Guangzhou, as her second WTA title.

Thus she entered Top 50 again by the end of the year.

2015: Tough matches, steady game[edit]

Much of early 2015 was particularly difficult for Niculescu, as she often faced difficult draws. For instance she drew world #1 Serena Williams twice in a row in the second round of Indian Wells and Miami. While she managed to test Williams with a 5–7 5–7 score, she was not able to win a set against her in either match. She also suffered first round losses at Shenzen, Hobart, the Australian Open, Dubai, Prague, and the French Open.[2]

Niculescu won the Marseille clay 100K ITF tournament in June. Shortly thereafter, she defeated first-seeded Agnieszka Radwańska 5–7, 6–4, 6–0 at the Aegon Open Nottingham WTA grass tournament to earn a place in the final where she lost to teenager Ana Konjuh 6–1 4–6 2–6. All five matches she played went to three sets. She then lost in the first round at Birmingham to the 10th seed Barbora Strýcová.[2]

Niculescu earned a spot in the fourth round at the Wimbledon Championships for the first time, defeating Mónica Puig 5–7 6–3 6–1 (1st rd.), Jana Čepelová 6–3 6–3 (2nd rd.), and Kristýna Plíšková 6–3 7–5 (3rd rd.). This is the second time she has made it past the third round at a major. Despite winning the first set of her fourth-round match 6-1 and having a positive head-to-head record against the player, she was defeated by 15th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky, who took the next two sets at 7-5 and 6-2. Bacsinszky has seen a dramatic improvement of her results, having recently also made the semifinals at the French Open.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Her mother, Cristiana Silvia Niculescu is a pharmaceutical sales representative; her father Mihai Niculescu is an engineer.[2] Niculescu has an older sister, Gabriela, who was a professional tennis player and attended University of Idaho, after transferring from USC after her junior year.[2]

Monica Niculescu cited Martina Hingis and Andre Agassi as her tennis idols.[2] She enjoys shopping, movies, reading, and spending time with her family.[2] Niculescu listed her favourite movie as The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher.[2]

Significant finals[edit]

Premier Mandatory/Premier 5 finals[edit]

Doubles: 1 (runner-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 2015 Wuhan Hard Romania Irina-Camelia Begu Switzerland Martina Hingis
India Sania Mirza
2−6, 3−6

WTA career finals[edit]

Singles: 5 (2 titles, 3 runners-up)[edit]

Legend (pre/post 2009)
Grand Slam tournaments (0–0)
WTA Tour Championships (0–0)
Tier I / Premier Mandatory & Premier 5 (0–0)
Tier II / Premier (0–0)
Tier III, IV & V / International (2–3)
Outcome No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Runner-up 1. 23 October 2011 BGL Luxembourg Open, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Hard (i) Belarus Victoria Azarenka 2–6, 2–6
Runner-up 2. 21 October 2012 BGL Luxembourg Open, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg (2) Hard (i) United States Venus Williams 2–6, 3–6
Winner 1. 2 March 2013 Brasil Tennis Cup, Florianópolis, Brazil Hard Russia Olga Puchkova 6–2, 4–6, 6–4
Winner 2. 21 September 2014 Guangzhou International Women's Open, Guangzhou, China Hard France Alizé Cornet 6–4, 6–0
Runner-up 3. 15 June 2015 Aegon Nottingham Open, Nottingham, Great Britain Grass Croatia Ana Konjuh 6–1, 4–6, 2–6

Doubles: 17 (5 titles, 12 runners-up)[edit]

Legend (pre/post 2009)
Grand Slam tournaments (0-0)
WTA Tour Championships (0-0)
Tier I / Premier Mandatory & Premier 5 (0-1)
Tier II / Premier (0–4)
Tier III, IV & V / International (5–7)
Outcome No. Date Tournament Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 1. 17 August 2008 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, United States Hard Romania Sorana Cîrstea Czech Republic Květa Peschke
United States Lisa Raymond
6–4, 5–7, [7–10]
Winner 1. 12 July 2009 GDF Suez Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary Clay Russia Alisa Kleybanova Ukraine Alona Bondarenko
Ukraine Kateryna Bondarenko
6–4, 7–6(7–5)
Runner-up 2. 2 August 2009 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, United States Hard Chinese Taipei Chan Yung-jan United States Serena Williams
United States Venus Williams
1–6, 4–6
Runner-up 3. 16 January 2010 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia Hard Chinese Taipei Chan Yung-jan Czech Republic Květa Peschke
Chinese Taipei Chuang Chia-jung
6–3, 3–6, [7–10]
Runner-up 4. 18 July 2010 ECM Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic Clay Hungary Ágnes Szávay Switzerland Timea Bacsinszky
Italy Tathiana Garbin
5–7, 6–7(4–7)
Runner-up 5. 23 July 2011 Baku Cup, Baku, Azerbaijan Hard Kazakhstan Galina Voskoboeva Ukraine Mariya Koryttseva
Belarus Tatiana Poutchek
3–6, 6–2, [8–10]
Winner 2. 14 January 2012 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia Hard Romania Irina-Camelia Begu Chinese Taipei Chuang Chia-jung
New Zealand Marina Erakovic
6–7(4–7), 7–6(7–4), [10–5]
Runner-up 6. 22 September 2012 Guangzhou International Women's Open, Guangzhou, China Hard Australia Jarmila Gajdošová Thailand Tamarine Tanasugarn
China Zhang Shuai
6–2, 2–6, [8–10]
Runner-up 7. 21 October 2012 BGL Luxembourg Open, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Hard (i) Romania Irina-Camelia Begu Czech Republic Andrea Hlaváčková
Czech Republic Lucie Hradecká
3–6, 4–6
Runner-up 8. 22 June 2013 Aegon International, Eastbourne, United Kingdom Grass Czech Republic Klára Zakopalová Russia Nadia Petrova
Slovenia Katarina Srebotnik
3-6, 3-6
Winner 3. 4 January 2014 Shenzhen Open, Shenzhen, China Hard Czech Republic Klára Zakopalová Ukraine Lyudmyla Kichenok
Ukraine Nadiia Kichenok
6–3, 6–4
Winner 4. 11 January 2014 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia Hard Czech Republic Klára Zakopalová United States Lisa Raymond
China Zhang Shuai
6–2, 6–7(5–7), [10–8]
Runner-up 9. 13 April 2014 BNP Paribas Katowice Open, Katowice, Poland Hard (i) Czech Republic Klára Koukalová Ukraine Yuliya Beygelzimer
Ukraine Olga Savchuk
4–6, 7–5, [7–10]
Runner-up 10. 17 January 2015 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia Hard Russia Vitalia Diatchenko Netherlands Kiki Bertens
Sweden Johanna Larsson
5–7, 3–6
Runner-up 11. 3 October 2015 Wuhan Open, Wuhan, China Hard Romania Irina-Camelia Begu Switzerland Martina Hingis
India Sania Mirza
2−6, 3−6
Runner-up 12. 24 October 2015 Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia Hard (i) Romania Irina-Camelia Begu Russia Daria Kasatkina
Russia Elena Vesnina
3–6, 7–6(9–7), [5–10]
Winner 5. 9 January 2016 Shenzhen Open, Shenzhen, China Hard United States Vania King China Xu Yifan
China Zheng Saisai
6−1, 6−4

Singles performance timeline[edit]

Tournament 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 W–L
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian Open A A 1R 2R 1R 3R 3R 1R 3R 1R 2R 8–9
French Open A A 1R 1R LQ 1R 1R 1R 2R 1R 1–7
Wimbledon A A 2R 1R 2R 2R 1R 1R 1R 4R 6–8
US Open A A 1R 1R 1R 4R 1R 1R 2R 2R 5–8
Win–Loss 0-0 0-0 1–4 1–4 1–3 6–4 2–4 0–4 4−4 4−4 1−1 20–32
Year-End Championship
WTA Tour Championships Did Not Qualify 0–0
Olympic Games
Summer Olympics Not Held A Not Held A Not Held 0–0
WTA Premier Mandatory Tournaments
Indian Wells A A A 1R LQ 2R 2R 2R 2R 2R 4–6
Miami A A A 1R A 2R 2R 1R 1R 2R 2–6
Madrid Not Held 1R A 1R 1R 1R 1R LQ 0–5
Beijing Not Tier I A A SF 2R 2R 1R 7–4
WTA Premier 5 Tournaments
Dubai Not Tier I 2R A LQ Not Premier 5 1R 1–2
Doha Not Tier I A Not Held NP5 QF 2R 3R NP5 6–3
Rome A A 2R 1R A A 1R 1R LQ LQ 3–4
Cincinnati Not Tier I A 2R 1R A LQ LQ Q1 1–2
Canada A A 2R 1R 1R LQ Absent 2–3
Tokyo Absent 1R A NP5 0–1
Wuhan Not Held A 0-0
Year-End ranking 222 197 47 101 83 30 58 59 46

Doubles performance timeline[edit]

Tournament 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 W-L
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian Open Absent 2R 3R 2R QF 3R 2R 2R 11–7
French Open Absent 2R 3R QF 3R 2R 3R 2R 1R 12–8
Wimbledon Absent 2R 3R 2R 2R 2R 1R 2R 2R 8–8
US Open Absent 2R 3R 3R 1R 1R 1R 2R 2R 7–8
Win–Loss 0-0 0-0 3–3 7–4 8–4 4–4 5–4 4–4 4-4 3-4 38–31
Year-End Championship
WTA Tour Championships Did Not Qualify 0–0
Olympic Games
Summer Olympics Not Held A Not Held A Not Held 0–0
WTA Premier Mandatory Tournaments
Indian Wells Absent QF 1R 1R 2R 1R 1R 2R 4–7
Miami Absent 1R 2R 2R SF 1R 2R QF 9–7
Madrid NH NH NH 2R A 1R 2R A 2R 1R 3–5
Beijing Tier Tier Tier Absent 1R 1R Absent 0–2
WTA Premier 5 Tournaments
Dubai Not Premier 5 QF A 2R Not Premier 5 QF 5–3
Doha Absent QF Not Held NP5 1R Absent NP5 2–2
Rome Absent 1R QF 2R 2R 4–4
Cincinnati Absent 1R SF QF 1R A 1R 1R 1R 5–7
Montreal/Toronto Absent 1R 1R SF 2R Absent 4–4
Tokyo Absent 1R A NP5 0–1
Wuhan Not Held 1R 0-1
Year-End ranking 159 131 35 30 30 50 27 70 38

WTA Tour career earnings[edit]

Year Grand Slam
singles titles
WTA
singles titles
Total
singles titles
Earnings ($) Money list rank
2003 0 0 0 6,343 493
2004 0 0 0 9,073 433
2005 0 0 0 ? ?
2006 0 0 0 ? ?
2007 0 0 0 ? ?
2008 0 0 0 249,035 67
2009 0 0 0 315,414 67
2010 0 0 0 251,188 77
2011 0 0 0 549,493 38
2012 0 0 0 450,393 45
2013 0 1 1 406,372 62
2014 0 1 1 582,694 44
2015* 0 0 0 559,037 49
Career* 0 2 2 3,480,360 105

*As of September 14, 2015

References[edit]

  1. ^ Monica Niculescu stats at the WTA Tour's official website.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Monica Niculescu profile at the WTA Tour's official website. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "WTAinfo" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "WTAinfo" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ Wimbledon Draw Ladies Singles 2015 Wimbledon Draw.

External links[edit]