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Tennis: Five breakout stars to watch on the 2024 WTA Tour

The 2024 WTA season begins with Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka the two top at the head of the rankings with Coco Gauff, Elena Rybakina and Jessica Pegula not far behind.

That elite quintet are expected to mop up titles on the biggest stages this season but there are a number of improving young performers who are aiming to challenge their dominance. 

Below, we identify five players who could make big waves on the women's circuit in 2024.

Qinwen Zheng

The highest-ranked player on our list is China's Qinwen Zheng, who climbed to a career-high 15th in the world following two excellent performances in her homeland in October.

Having won the Palermo Ladies Open in July, Zheng would claim her second career title at the Zhengzhou Open towards the end of the season before reaching the final of the Elite Trophy, losing out 6-7 6-7 to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The 21-year-old saved the best Grand Slam effort of her career for the US Open and there should be a lot more to come from her in next year's most important tournaments, although she will need to improve on a 5-9 record against top-ten players.

Trailblazer Li Na remains the only Chinese woman to have claimed a Grand Slam singles title with wins at the 2011 French Open and the 2014 Australian Open but Zheng is just fancied to emulate her compatriot at the sooner rather than later.

Leylah Fernandez

It's possible to argue that a Grand Slam runner-up should not be considered as a breakout star but Leylah Fernandez has spent much of the last two seasons struggling to replicate the form which took her to the final of the 2021 US Open.

Fernandez's performances at Flushing Meadows were understandably overshadowed by the victory of Emma Raducanu but the Montreal native had just turned 19 and was outside the world's top 70 heading into the tournament.

Like Raducanu, success on that scale was all new to Fernandez and it's perhaps no surprise that she has managed to win just one WTA 250 title in each of the subsequent seasons.

However, Fernandez came of age in November, leading Canada to the Billie Jean King Cup title with a semi-final win over Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova and a doubles victory before beating Italy's Jasmine Paolini in the final.

That success - Canada's first in the long history of the competition - could help to reignite Fernandez's career and she's one to watch in 2024.

Mirra Andreeva

One of the most talked about youngsters of 2023, Mirra Andreeva had not even turned 16 when she won back-to-back ITF 60K titles in Switzerland in April but the Russian was soon being earmarked as a future Grand Slam champion.

A week after her second Swiss win, Andreeva made only her second WTA Tour appearance, beating three top-50 players on the way to the last 16 of the Madrid Open, then she claimed two main-draw wins at the French Open before making the last 16 of Wimbledon.

A supremely talented prospect, Andreeva is 14/1 to win the French Open, 16/1 to win Wimbledon and 14/1 to claim the US Open title.

Emma Navarro

The American collegiate system is increasingly throwing up some high-quality performers in both the men's and women's games, with 2022 Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins the most notable player to emerge from that pathway.

Peyton Stearns was not far off making this list but Virginia University's Emma Navarro could turn out to be the better of the two American college stars.

Navarro climbed from 149th in the world to 32nd by the end of 2023, reaching the final of the WTA 125 event in Bastad and winning five times at ITF level, and a big 2024 campaign looks in store.

Brenda Fruhvirtova

Brenda Fruhvirtova is not even the highest-ranked Fruhvirtova on the WTA Tour but the 16-year-old Czech could soon leapfrog older sister Linda following an impressive campaign in lower-grade events last season.

Fruhvirtova is yet to win a WTA Tour match but she finished 2023 in superb form at ITF level, claiming six titles from August onwards and compiling a 49-9 record. It would come as no surprise if she can make her presence felt at 250 Series level at least.

The teenager is currently ranked 111th on the WTA Tour and a top-100 debut beckons.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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