The WTA Season Review
Ubitennis reflects on the 2022 WTA season where Iga Swiatek won two Grand Slam titles.
Player of the year: Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek ended the year as the World number 1 for the first time in her career. The Polish player won eight titles, including the second and third Grand Slam titles of her career at Roland Garros and the US Open. She was also victorious at WTA 1000 tournaments in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome, as well as WTA 500 tournaments in Stuttgart and San Diego. She is the first player to win six titles in a row since Justine Henin in 2007 and 2008.
Swiatek achieved a 37-match winning run between February and June, equalling the longest WTA Tour streak since 1990.
Last June she beat US teenager Coco Gauff 6-1 6-3 to claim her second career title at Roland Garros in three years. She won her 35th consecutive match, tying Venus Williams for the best winning streak this century. The Pole has become the fourth youngest player to win the French Open more than once, only Monica Seles, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert were younger. She is the youngest woman to win multiple Grand Slam titles since Maria Sharapova won her second Major at the 2006 US Open at the age of 19.
Iga Swiatek: “I am more aware of how it is to win a Grand Slam and what it takes. How every puzzle has to come together and basically every aspect of the game has to work. With that awareness, I was even more happy and even more proud of myself, because in 2020 I just felt that I was lucky. This time I felt like I really did the work”.
Swiatek then beat Ons Jabeur 6-2 7-6 (7-5) in the US Open final to become the first Polish player to win the US Open. Earlier in the tournament, Swiatek came back from 2-4 down in the third set by winning the final four games in the semifinal against Aryna Sabalenka. She has become the third woman in the past 15 years to win multiple major titles in a season on different surfaces, joining Serena Williams and Justine Henin.
“I needed to stay composed and focused on my goals. It’s mind-blowing for me. I am really proud I could handle it mentally. At the beginning, I realized that maybe I could have some good results on WTA events. I also made it to the semifinal at the Australian Open, but I was not sure if I was on the level yet to win a Grand Slam, especially at the US Open where the surface is so fast. It’s something that I wasn’t expecting for sure. It’s also a confirmation for me that sky’s the limit. I am proud but also surprised a little bit. I am just happy that I was able to do that”.
Switek on her US Open win
At the WTA Finals in Fort Worth (Texas) she won the group stage beating Daria Kasatkina, Caroline Garcia and Coco Gauff before losing to Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals.
Swiatek ended the season with 67 match wins, the most since Serena Williams in 2013. She has also become the first player to finish a season with more than 10000 ranking points since Willams in 2016.
The comeback of the year: Caroline Garcia
French player Caroline Garcia returned to her best shape in the second half of the season by winning the most prestigious title of her career at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth. Garcia beat Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the championship match to become the second French player to win the WTA Finals title after Amelie Mauresmo in 2005.
Garcia also won three more WTA tournaments at Bad Homburg, Warsaw and the WTA 1000 in Cincinnati as a qualifier. She also reached the US Open semifinals in what was her career-best performance at Grand Slam level. She started the season outside the top 70 in the WTA Ranking and ended the year at number 4.
“It’s definitely a lot of giant happiness,” Garcia said of winning the biggest title in her career at the WTA Finals.
“A crazy final, a lot of intensity on every point. Just really proud of the work we did through all the year. It was a great match – really went for it. I’m really happy to win my biggest title.
The breakthrough of the year: Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon after beating Ons Jabeur in the final. Earlier in the tournament, the Kazakh player defeated Simona Halep to reach her first Grand Slam final to become the youngest Wimbledon finalist since Garbine Muguruza in 2015.
After dropping the first set, Rybakina battled back to beat Jabeur to claim her first Major title. She is the first Kazakh player in history to win a Grand Slam title.
Rybakina is the fourth youngest active Grand Slam champion, older than only Swiatek, Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu.
Rybakina won her third career title at Wimbledon and her first since Hobart in 2020. She had lost four finals. She also lost to Elina Svitolina in the bronze medal match at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Elena Rybakina on her Wimbledon triumph: “I am always very calm. I don’t know what should happen. When I was giving a speech in the end I was thinking: ‘I am going to cry now, but somehow I hold it. Maybe later when I am going alone in the room, I am going to cry somehow. Maybe because I can do deep inside. At the same time there are too many emotions. I was just trying to keep myself calm. Maybe one day you will see a huge reaction from me, but unfortunately not today”.
Rybakina opened the season by finishing runner-up to Ashleigh Barty at the WTA 500 tournament in Adelaide. She also reached her third final of the year in Portoroz before losing to Katerina Siniakova in three sets.
The historic Grand Slam performance – Ons Jabeur
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur made a major breakthrough by becoming the first African woman in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam singles final at Wimbledon after her three-set win over Tatjana Maria in the semifinal.
Jabeur: “I just love the atmosphere at Wimbledon. It was my main goal from the beginning of the season, and even from last year. I just love being here”.
She also finished runner-up to Iga Swiatek in the US Open final and won two WTA titles in Madrid on clay and Berlin on grass.
The African player reached a career-high ranking of world number 2 last June, becoming the first North African woman to break into the top 5 and qualify for the WTA Finals.
The Rising star of the year – Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff became the first US teenager to reach a Grand Slam final since Serena Williams. At the French Open she beat Elise Mertens in the fourth round, Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals, and Martina Trevisan in the semifinals before losing to Iga Swiatek in straight sets in the final.
At the Canadian Open Gauff became the youngest player to reach back-to-back quarter-finals since Jennifer Capriati in 1990 and 1991. She beat Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka in third-set tie-breaks before losing to eventual champion Simona Halep in straight sets.
Gauff reached the quarter-finals at the US Open for the first time to become the youngest US player to achieve this feat since 2009. She is also the youngest player to make their debut in the top 10 of the WTA Ranking since 2006.
The rising star became the youngest player in singles since Maria Sharapova to qualify for the WTA Finals. Gauff and her teammate Jessica Pegula also qualified for the WTA Finals in the doubles tournament, becoming the first US players since sisters Serena and Venus Williams in 2009 to qualify for both the singles and doubles at the WTA Finals.
WTA doubles team of the year
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova
The Czech team formed by Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova won three Grand Slam doubles titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. With their triumph in New York over Caty McNally and Taylor Townsend, they became the second team in WTA history to complete the career Grand Slam. They were undefeated in their three round-robin matches at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth before losing to Elise Mertens and Veronika Kudemertova in the final. They finished the season with a 27-4 win-loss record.
Krejcikova and Siniakova have now won six Grand Slam doubles titles together. They have won two Roland Garros titles in 2018 and 2021, two Wimbledon titles in 2018 and 2022, the US Open in 2022 and an Australian Open title in 2022. They have joined a list of past doubles teams, who have completed a set of Grand Slam doubles titles, that includes Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, Serena and Venus Williams, Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani.
Barbora Krejcikova: “I am really happy that we won the final Grand Slam that we were missing. It sounds great that we have achieved such an amazing feat”.
Veronika Kudemertova and Elise Mertens
Veronika Kudemertova and Elise Mertens crowned their successful season by beating defending champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova to win the WTA Finals doubles title in Fort Worth. Kudemertova and Mertens reached the semifinals at the Australian Open. They won four more titles in Dubai, Doha, Miami and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
The Billie Jean King Cup team of the year – Switzerland
Switzerland clinched the Billie Jean King Cup title for the first time in history after wins from Belinda Bencic and Jill Teichmann in the final against Australia. The Swiss team finished runner-up in 2021.
Belinda Bencic: “We were finalists last year and we were so heartbroken, but in the locker room Teichmann came to me and said: ‘Next year, we are going to do it, we are going to take it”. And we did, I am so proud”.
The match of the year
Krejcikova beats Swiatek 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in the Ostrava final
Barbora Krejcikova rallied from a set down to beat Iga Swiatek 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in an epic 3-hour and 16-minute final in Ostrava.
Krejcikova claimed her second title in consecutive weeks after winning the Tallinn Open. Meanwhile, Swiatek lost a final match for the first time since 2019.
Krejcikova broke to love to earn a chance to serve for the match, but she did not convert six championship points in an epic final game. The Czech player sealed the win on her seventh opportunity with her seventh ace to win the fifth singles title of her career.
Krejcikova: “It was a great atmosphere. We have been trying to offer the crowd the best match that we can. It feels great. I thank Iga for bringing the best out of me”.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Elena Rybakina Plays Jessica Pegula in the Semifinals
Due to rain on Wednesday, only one WTA semifinal will be played on Thursday.
Elena Rybakina is just two wins away from completing the “Sunshine Double,” which is winning both Indian Wells and Miami. But in Thursday’s WTA semifinal, American No.1 Jessica Pegula stands in her way. The other semifinal is still to be determined, and will not be played until Friday, as Petra Kvitova and Ekaterina Alexandrova will contest their rain-delayed quarterfinal on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the ATP quarterfinals will be completed on Thursday. Indian Wells finalist Daniil Medvedev faces American Chris Eubanks, who has been the breakout story of this tournament thus far. Also, Karen Khachanov takes on Francisco Cerundolo, who is vying for his second consecutive semifinal in Miami. And delayed from Wednesday night, Carlos Alcaraz battles Taylor Fritz in another ATP quarterfinal.
You can find a preview of the Alcaraz/Fritz and Kvitova/Alexandrova quarterfinals in yesterday’s daily preview here.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Thursday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.
Chris Eubanks (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – 1:00pm on Stadium
Medvedev leads the ATP with 26 wins this season, as well as with three titles. Daniil has not dropped a set to this stage, though he’s only played two matches thus far due to a walkover earlier this week.
Eubanks has already won six matches this fortnight after coming through qualifying. And the 26-year-old achieved a career goal of breaking into the top 100 with this quarterfinal run. Chris became emotional on-court after clinching that feat on Monday, and followed it up with another upset the next day, over Adrian Mannarino. The American is projected to become ranked 85th in the world on Monday, but a win on Thursday would propel him into the top 60.
In their first career meeting, of course the self-proclaimed “hard court specialist” Medvedev is a strong favorite. But I’m quite interested to see how Eubanks performs in the biggest match of his career. During a rain delay on Monday, Frances Tiafoe provided Eubanks with some advice in the locker room, which Chris credited with helping him come back in the second-set tiebreak once play resumed. He’s played more freely since that comeback, and Eubanks may feel as if he has nothing to lose on Thursday.
Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium
Rybakina is 20-4 this season, and is currently on a 10-match win streak. If her 2,000 points from winning Wimbledon last summer counted, she’d currently be ranked third in the world. Elena easily dispatched of Martina Trevisan in the last round.
Pegula is 19-5 on the year, and 10-3 in Miami. This is her second consecutive semifinal at this event, and she’s the No.3 player in the world without Rybakina’s Wimbledon points counting. She saved multiple match points to come back and defeat Anastasia Potapova during Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Pegula is 2-0 against Rybakina, with both matches taking place on hard courts during 2022. A year ago at this same tournament, Jess prevailed in straight sets. And last fall in Guadalajara, Pegula outlasted Rybakina in a final-set tiebreak, another match in which the American saved multiple match points. As confident as Elena currently is, with her big serve and groundstrokes dictating play, it’s hard not to favor the reigning Wimbledon champ. But based on their recent history, as well as Pegula’s rising confidence after saving match points in the last round, I give Jess the slight edge in Thursday’s semifinals on home soil.
Other Notable Matches on Thursday:
Francisco Cerundolo (25) vs. Karen Khachanov (14) – Cerundolo was in danger of falling out of the top 40 with an early loss in Miami, defending the best result of his career at this level, but has impressed by returning to the quarterfinals, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime on the way. Khachanov upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last round, and is looking to reach his first Masters semifinal since 2019. Last summer in Canada, Karen defeated Francisco in three sets.
Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Indian Wells Champs Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz Collide
On Wednesday in Miami, 2023 Indian Wells champion Carlos Alcaraz faces 2022 champ Taylor Fritz for the first time.
Alcaraz is just three wins away from defending his Miami title, which he needs to do in order to remain World No.1. Wednesday’s other ATP quarterfinal sees Indian Wells semifinalist Jannik Sinner take on Emil Ruusuvuori, who is the first Finnish quarterfinalist at a Masters 1000 tournament in a decade.
In the WTA singles draw, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova are one round away from a big-hitting semifinal. But first, they must get past Sorana Cirstea and Ekaterina Alexandrova, respectively.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Wednesday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.
Ekaterina Alexandrova (18) vs. Petra Kvitova (15) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium
Kvitova is 14-5 this season, and has now reached the quarterfinals of both Indian Wells and Miami this month. Petra has also now advanced to the fourth round or better of this event for the fifth straight time, and has not dropped a set this fortnight.
Alexandrova had a losing record this year before arriving in Miami. She defeated Belinda Bencic two rounds ago, and advanced in the last round after Bianca Andreescu’s upsetting ankle injury. This is Ekaterina’s second WTA 1000 quarterfinal, after first achieving that feat last year in Madrid, when she advanced to the semifinals.
Their only previous encounter occurred three years ago at the Australian Open, when Kvitova comfortably prevailed 6-1, 6-2. Ekaterina does not possess the same offensive weaponry of Petra, so on a hard court, the two-time Wimbledon champion is a considerable favorite to win again on Wednesday.
Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (9) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium
Alcaraz is 17-1 on the season, despite missing all of January due to injury. His only loss came to Cam Norrie in the final of Rio, a match in which Carlitos reaggravated his leg injury. He’s yet to drop a set during this tournament.
Fritz is 20-5 in 2023, and has now reached the quarterfinals or better at his last five events. This is Taylor’s first quarterfinal in Miami, and his third consecutive quarterfinal as Masters 1000 events in North America. Like Alcaraz, he’s also yet to lose a set in Miami, but he’s 1-4 in his last five Masters quarterfinals.
This is the first career meeting between the World No.1 and the American No.1. Fritz certainly has the firepower to threaten Alcaraz on this day. But based on Carlitos’ recent sharp form, the 19-year-old is the favorite to advance to the semifinals.
Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:
Sorana Cirstea vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka is now a stellar 20-2 on the year, and has allowed her opponents this past week an average of just 2.5 games per set. Cirstea is having an excellent March, having advanced to her second consecutive WTA 1000 quarterfinal, a stage she hadn’t reached since 2017. This is another first-time career meeting.
Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Sinner is vying for his second consecutive Masters semifinal, and has not dropped a set thus far in Miami. This is Ruuuvuori’s maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal, at the only Masters event where he had ever previously advanced beyond the third round. Jannik is 4-0 against Emil, with all of those wins in straight sets, except a match in Miami a year ago that went to a third-set tiebreak, and saw Sinner save three match points.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Elena Rybakina Donates Money To The Next Generation Of Kazakh Tennis Players
Elena Rybakina says her decision to provide financial support to a group of young players is a way for her to say thank you for the support she has received from the Kazakh Tennis Federation.
The reigning Wimbledon champion has donated 2.5 million Kazakhstani Tenge (£4500) to 14 players on the junior Tour to help fund their development for the future. She helped pick who would receive the donations after holding talks with the KTF about the country’s rising stars. Rybakina had previously pledged to provide support to young people in Kazakhstan after winning her maiden Grand Slam title last year but she hasn’t been able to finalize her donations until recently due to her commitments on the Tour.
“We actually talked with the Federation earlier. It just happen now recently because I was travelling a lot and it’s not easy,” Rybakina told reporters following her quarter-final win over Martina Trevisan at the Miami Open.
“We talked with the Federation as I don’t know the girls that well as I’m travelling all the time.”
The 22-year-old was born in Russia but became a neutralized Kazakh citizen back in 2018. Her decision to do so was aided by the financial support she has received from the Kazakh tennis federation to help her development in the sport. Last year she was asked if she felt Russian or Kazakh and responded by saying ‘tough question.’
“It was just a big help for me when I started working professionally, from the Federation, so I was thinking that there is going to be a good way to thank back,” she said of her donation.
“Also, I think it’s important for young girls to have some kind of support since it’s not easy for everyone. Hopefully, they are gonna be around (on the Tour) soon.”
Rybakina is just two victories away from winning the sunshine double. A term used to describe a player winning events in both Indian Wells and Miami within the same year. She is currently on a 10-match winning streak and has only lost three sets during that period.
Awaiting the world No.10 in the semi-finals of Miami will be home favourite Jessica Pegula who won her maiden WTA 1000 title last year in Mexico. Pegula saved two match points to defeat Anastasia Potapova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), in her latest match. In their head-to-head, Rybakina is yet to defeat the American after losing to her twice in 2022.
“For sure it’s gonna be a tough one. She’s a really good player and very consistent. I will try just to do my best to try to be fresh for that match.” She commented.
At the Miami Open Rybakina has already served 10 or more aces in four different matches. The last female player to do that at the same tournament was Serena Williams at the 2020 US Open.
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