On fire: Ashley Harkleroad

Ashley Harkleroad's career was early marked with the high expectations that American media and fans put on her, not only due to her promising game, but mainly for her looks, as media was in the quest for an American response to Anna Kournikova's popularity. So Ashley got nicknamed as the "American Kournikova" and got thousands of eyes behind her when she was just a teenager. Despite this pressure, Ashley's game kept on evolving and she broke into Top 100 in 2003 being 17 years old.
But Harkleroad couldn't handle all this pressure and she even kept away from the courts for a while after marriage with ATP player Alex Bogomolov Jr., which finally failed. After disappointing 2004 and 2005 seasons, Ashley focused again on tennis and with good performances on ITF tournaments in the USA and minor WTA events she finished 2006 and 2007 into the Top 100.

On 2008 it seems that she's moving a step forward. She started the year in good style with a semifinalist place in Hobart going through the qualy and winning 6 matches in a row. And on March she has proved that she can compete with the best, as she has reached the Last 16 in Indian Wells Tier I and the 3rd round in Miami Tier I, upsetting seeded players such as Dinara Safina, Lucie Safarova and Virginie Razzano. Now she's close to breaking into the Top 50.
But the highlight of her season was the Fed Cup tie between USA and Germany, where she assumed the leadership after a surprising defeat by Lindsay Davenport and secured victory for the USA winning her two singles points.

And, although Ashley hasn't reached the popularity level that American media predicted some years ago, she still has a big fan support and is one of the best looking players on Tour.
You can watch Ashley's gallery here.

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