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5 forgotten stars who have returned to the limelight in the Champions Tennis League

Alize Cornet Hong Kong Open 2015
The fast Frenchwoman has had a dismal 2015 and will look to turn her luck around

In their heyday they were stars, either ruling the roost in their respective disciplines or touted for great things because of their undeniable talent. Putting in stellar performance after stellar performance, these players were known for their strong shot-making and incredible talent, with the potential to become all-time greats.However, they failed to keep up their performance level, and with the sheer glut of tennis stars who have emerged in the last 15 years, these players were forgotten in the shadow of the Slam champions and World No. 1s.The Champions Tennis League, however, has given a whole lot of players a chance to return to the limelight and put their obvious prowess to the test once again. Here are five super-talented players who have been 'rediscovered’, so to speak, in the CTL.

#5 Alize Cornet

Alize Cornet Hong Kong Open 2015
The fast Frenchwoman has had a dismal 2015 and will look to turn her luck around

Although Cornet has never broken into the top 10 in the WTA rankings, she has come close, reaching No. 11 in 2009. Her 2015 season has not gone the way she would have liked, however, as the talented Frenchwoman, who ended 2014 in 20th, has dropped to No. 43 with a series of very early losses on the WTA circuit this year.

She has not progressed beyond the quarterfinals of any tournament at all in 2015, reaching only two of those and losing each one in straight sets – abysmally – 6-1, 6-1 against Venus Williams in Hong Kong, and 6-2, 6-0 against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in Poland.

Cornet is undoubtedly very talented; she’s repeatedly slain the true giant of tennis, Serena Williams, taking her third straight win over the World No. 1 last year and earning the nickname ‘Serena Slayer’. But this year has been a different story, and she is no longer in the conversation of title contenders.

Playing for the Raipur Rangers in this year’s Champions Tennis League, Cornet has rediscovered some of her best form, twice defeating the reigning US Open champion Flavia Pennetta. The Frenchwoman is still all of 25 years old, and she could well turn her career around if she continues putting in strong performances next year.

#4 Fernando Verdasco

Fernando Verdasco BNP Paribas Masters 2015
A former top-10 player, Verdasco has been most successful on clay

Spain's Fernando Verdasco hit his highest ever singles ranking of 7th in 2009, but since then has seen a steady decline in form. Currently just managing a top-50 rank, the talented left-hander managed only two semi-final finishes on the ATP Tour this year – both of them on clay, the favourite surface for most Spanish players.

Although he has only ever finished reached one Major semifinal – the Australian Open in 2009, eventually losing to his compatriot, former World No. 1 and ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal – Verdasco held his own in what is considered one of the greatest matches in tennis history.

He has had early exits in most tournaments this year, many of which have come against players far less experienced than himself.

Playing this year for the V Chennai Warriors, Verdasco had a renewed day in the sun, and he lit up the home courts with his heroics against Nagpur Orangers early in the tournament. He has continued playing at a high level after that, and has endeared himself to the Chennai crowd with his sparkling game.

#3 Marcos Baghdatis

Marcos Baghdatis Grigor Dimitrov Brisbane 2013
The emotional Baghdatis will look for a resurgence in his slowly declining form

Cypriot ace Marcos Baghdatis was a tennis prodigy, hitting #1 in the ITF juniors rankings at the age of 15 and joining the ATP world tour shortly thereafter. He had a standout year in 2006, finishing runner-up at the Australian Open, but from 2007 Baghdatis would see a decline in form.

The one-time 8th ranked tennis player dropped to 96 in the rankings, and although the ebullient Cypriot has managed a fairly steady rise to middle at 46th position in the ATP rankings, he's still far from where people expected him to be at this point of his career.

Known for his temper and expressive play, Baghdatis has occasionally attracted attention – and not all of it for the right reasons; he was fined by the Australian Open for breaking a racquet on court in 2012.

He has had a disappointing 2015 on the ATP World Tour, reaching just three semi-finals and one final, sadly taking none of those titles. However, the 30-year-old is keen to return to his once-stellar form, and with the Punjab Marshalls, he has continued his stellar play from the tournament last year.

Baghdatis memorably took the Pune Marathas to victory in the inaugural 2014 season, and he has been the talisman for the Punjab outfit this year. He may have been forgotten on the ATP tour, but he has certainly been a certifiable star in India the last two years.

#2 Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic Nagpur Orangers Hingis Hyderabad CTL 2015
Former No. 1 Jankovic has already beat another former No. 1 – Martina Hingis – at this year's CTL

Former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic has slid down to a lowly (for her) 21st spot, after having finished in the top 10 for four straight years from 2007 to 2010. She ended the 2014 season in 16th, so her form has actually been dipping with each passing year.

Through the 2015 season the Serb has been in shaky, unsteady form, suffering straight-sets losses to opponents far lower-ranked than herself. These losses eventually saw the 30-year-old drop out of the top-20 for only the second time in the past eight years.

She had her moments of brilliance this year, most notably at Wimbledon as she upset reigning champion Petra Kvitova, eventually crashing out of the Championships in the fourth round – her strongest performance at Grand Slams this year. Jankovic also won titles in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Nanchang, losing in the finals of Indian Wells to No. 2 Simona Halep. Despite some good performances, however, consistency has been missing from her game – she hasn't quite been like the Jankovic of old.

Playing for the Nagpur Orangers, however, Jankovic appears to have got back into her groove. The Serb, who has said she is aiming for the World No. 1 spot again, has shown flashes of brilliance as the league has progressed. She has beaten another former World No. 1 – Martina Hingis – already this year, and also defeated Heather Watson in the other singles match she has played.

Jankovic could well use this run of victories as a springboard for a successful 2016 season.

#1 Martina Hingis

Martina HIngis Hyderabad Aces 2015 CTL
Singles No. 1, Doubles No. 1, several ‘youngest-ever’ records - she’s done it all!

This might be a surprise choice to some, considering Martina Hingis is not what anyone would describe as ‘forgotten’, winning titles at three of four Grand Slams this year with partners Leander Paes and Sania Mirza.

But the Swiss Miss has not played singles since she took her second retirement, staying away from the format that saw her become the youngest ever World No. 1 in the history of the sport. She is considered one of the greatest singles players in the history of the sport, and even though she has stuck to doubles in her 'third’ career, she can still light up the court in the more popular format.

Hingis recently took on much-younger Heather Watson, the current British Number 1, utterly decimating her opponent and contributing massively to the Hyderabad Aces’ victory. Although she may have become a doubles specialist of late, it is the Hingis of the 1990s we have seen in full form at the Champions Tennis League, and that gives her the top spot on this list.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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