Forgotten talents: Nastasja Schunk (Germany)

GERMAN young gun Nastasja Schunk is a player many might have forgotten about after a 12-month break due to shoulder surgery, but the 20-year-old has returned to the WTA Tour and is ready to make her rise back up the rankings.

The left-hander with the powerful forehand reached a career-high of 143rd in the world back on August 8, 2022, Schunk – who’s goal is to reach the Tour’s Top 10 – suffered ongoing shoulder issues in the back end of that year. Eventually her inability to play at 100 per cent meant the then 19-year-old opted for surgery.


Late last year, after a 12-month recovery, Schunk returned to the ITF circuit in Turkey where she earned a wildcard in an WTA 15 event, making the semi-finals, before qualifying for another event in Turkey a week later, reaching the quarter finals. Though only gaining her a total of two points, Schunk was back in the world rankings.

Then, to cap off her return, Schunk triumphed in the women’s German championships, only dropping one set across five matches and beating a host of fellow young German stars in the process. Though clearly at her best, Schunk is a class above that field, to be able to play such consistent tennis upon return from injury was promising.

Fast forward to 2024, and Schunk is playing in a W75 event in Porto, alongside some former Top 100 talents. Not seeded at the event, the German qualified for the main draw and made light work of fourth seed Emiliana Arango, 6-1 6-0 in a dominant performance.

The win helped move her right up to 838th in the world, and while a far cry away from her spot inside the Top 150, the German 20-year-old could rise as high as just outside the Top 500 with a title in Portugal. She has some stiff competition there including Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson who she could end up facing in a quarter final after the Swede dismantled fellow former Top 30 player Jil Teichmann in the first round.

But what makes Schunk different to other players who have undergone long-term injuries?

For one, she is a former Junior Grand Slam finalist, making the 2021 Wimbledon Junior Girls Singles final where she went down in three sets. Though largely playing in the junior circuit and then ITF after that, when on the WTA Tour, Schunk held her own against some powerful players.

In the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart back in April, 2022, Schunk defeated Russian Elina Avanesyan – a recent winner over Greek Top 10 talent Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open – to make the main draw, before falling to then world number 19 Elena Rybakina, 7-6 7-5. Three months later, Rybakina would be a Wimbledon champion, showing Schunk’s form stacks up with how she was progressing.

A month later, she again qualified for the main draw at Roland Garros but copped another Grand Slam winner, this time Simona Halep who won the French Open in 2018. Despite clearly being up against it, Schunk took a set off Halep in a dominant second set performance, only to go down, 6-4 1-6 6-1.

The fact Schunk took a set off Halep, and pushed Rybakina to the limit in two sets while both players were in form, shows she has potential. Like any youngster, she was not as consistent as others, but at the least belongs inside the Top 150, and pushing for a Top 100 spot.


Aces: 0 | Double Faults: 4
First Serve: 64% | 1st Serve Win: 55% | 2nd Serve Win: 50%
Break Points Won: 4/13 (31%)
Receiving Points Won: 41%
Winners: 24
Unforced Errors: 37
Forced Errors: 26

Schunk is a natural baseliner with plenty of power to worry opponents. The majority of her game is based around her ground strokes, and she was able to outhit Halep with 24 winners to 19. As Halep is traditionally a counterpuncher with plenty of smart shorts that include net approaches, she can force baseliners to come forward and make mistakes.

The German’s bread and butter is her forehand, hitting 13 winners, though still managed the 11 off her backhand side. Her backhand is an area of improvement for the future with 20 unforced errors in the match coming off that side, while the bulk of her game is done from the comfort of the baseline. Had she converted a few more of her 13 break point opportunities, and the then 18-year-old could have caused a massive upset.

Though not a particularly powerful server, Schunk positions her serves well to still maintain a high percentage, and as a left-handed talent, can prove tricky for less experienced players. Though she has missed a lot of tennis, the German has that natural ability to further develop areas of her game and is still only 20, having celebrated her birthday back in August.


If Schunk can stay fit and play some great tennis on the ITF Tour, no doubt the place where her WTA Tour debut begun – Stuttgart – might look at giving her a wildcard. As it stands, German tennis has plenty of depth with Schunk ranked 40th from her country, however she has the potential to quickly rise up the rankings.

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