Having ended 2018 as the World No.190, Paolini finds herself ranked nearly 100 places higher just over 12 months later after climbing to World No.96 this week - becoming the first Italian to break the Top 100 in over seven years. If the first half of this decade saw the country's 'Golden Generation' come to late-blooming fruition as Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani all played Grand Slam finals and hit the Top 10, the last few years have seen something of a drought following the retirements of Schiavone, Pennetta and Vinci and the downturn in Errani's career. Prior to this week, no Italian woman had cracked the Top 100 since Camila Giorgi powered her way into it in July 2012.

Tuscany's Paolini offers new hope, though, both in terms of quality and flair. The Castelnuovo di Garfagnana native, who has Italian, Ghanaian and Polish heritage, has impressed on her way up with the bold panache of the aggressive game she essays despite her 5'3" frame - something she first displayed on the WTA Tour stage in 2018, when she scored her first Top 20 win over Daria Kasatkina on the way to the Prague quarterfinals that year. But having reached World No.130 first in June 2017 and then again in May 2018, this year has seen Paolini find consistency to soar into the world's elite - becoming the new Italian No.1 in the process.

Credit WTA Official Site