World # 192, American Alison Riske (above).

The hope of American women’s tennis this week rides with big serving Alison Riske, who, for someone playing high school ball 2 years ago in Pittsburgh, has turned heads by qualifying at Birmingham on the lawn, and then by winning her first 4 matches on the main tour.  The 20 year old Riske upset veterans Anna Chekvetadze and Canadian Alexandra Wozniacki, and today took out rising Belgian star, Yanina Wickmayer, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 in a match in which she did not drop serve.

The timing of the run could not be better for Riske, who has yet to make the main draw of a major event, and would like her major debut to come at Wimbledon in about 10 days.  Tomorrow Riske will face Maria Sharapova, which should be a decent matchup for the young American, because she is serving so well, and because she figures to get opportunities to break on Sharapova’s serve, which has been the weakest part of her game since injuring her shoulder a few years back.

Riske closes out Wickmayer (below).

Last year Melanie Oudin began her ascent by playing excellent on the grass at Wimbledon.  Riske, a much better server who comes forward with relative ease, may have even better assets for fast courts than the counter punching Oudin. 

We will be watching her closely and pulling for her tomorrow.  The other semi-final will feature Na Li and Arevane Rezai.

–Crack (