British number one Elena Baltacha rises into the world's top 50

British No.1 Elena Baltacha
Baltacha was born in Ukraine and her father Sergie played for Ipswich Town

Elena Baltacha has hailed 2011 as the best year of her career after she climbed back inside the world's top 50.

The British number one reached the second round of all four Grand Slam tournaments and picked up her 10th ITF singles title in a successful year.

The 28-year-old Scot has risen eight places to 50th in the latest WTA singles rankings released on Monday.

"This has definitely been the best year of my career, no question, even better than 2010," said Baltacha.

She moved back into the top 50 despite losing 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm in Sunday's final of the French ITF £62,000 event in Poitiers, and is likely to end the year no lower than 50th with only two weeks of second-tier ITF events remaining.

Baltacha produced an encouraging showing at this year's Wimbledon, losing in three sets to 20th seed Shuai Peng in the second round, and that came shortly after winning the Aegon Challenge title in June.

And Baltacha, who reached her highest ranking of 49 in September 2010, still believes she can peak late in her career.

"My big goal for the year was to defend the ranking points I had coming off and keep my ranking up," she said.

"To have done that and got back inside the top 50 again feels like a really big achievement. I knew I would have to improve this year to do that - and I've done that.

"With the Olympics and all the other tournaments coming up, 2012 could be a massive year for me.

"It will be great to start it ranked around 50, because that gives me a really great platform to build on and it will take a lot of the pressure off during the first few events of the season, including the Australian Open."

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