The insider wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the past week. This week we’re looking back at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose and the Citi Open in Washington, DC
Performance of the week: Daria Kasatkina
In San Jose, Kasatkina lost her first set of the tournament to reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, but as is her recent habit, she turned that match around and never looked back. Kasatkina won two more games by a set en route her first title since March last year.
“I’ve played many, many three-set matches, maybe more than two-set matches,” Kasatkina said said WTA Insider after her title. “I like these fights. … Of course I’d like to play shorter ones, but at the end of the day I’m happy with my mentality in these comebacks. I don’t give up on what’s important. “
Continue reading: Kasatkina feels “freer and happier” after coming out.
Kasatkina returns to top 10 in WTA singles rankings for first time since January 14, 2019, to achieve a new career high of world No. 9. Kasatkina, who reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros this year, is now No. 3 in the running for the WTA Finals.
It’s a full-circle moment for Kasatkina, who ended 2018 at her previous career rank of 10th but 12 months later dropped to 70th and spent the entire 2020 season outside the top 60. Quite likely a career-best season, her comeback to the elite has taken another big step.
Breakthrough of the week: Elizabeth Mandlik
21-year-old American Mandlik came to her leading man debut in San Jose with an intriguing backstory — she’s the daughter of four-time Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova — but left the race to make a name for herself.
Continue reading: Meet Elizabeth Mandlik
Mandlik made it through the qualifiers and then upset world No. 33 Alison Riske-Amritraj to claim her first WTA peloton win. Mandlik then scared Paula Badosa in the second round to lead the world No. 4 5-3 in the final set before Badosa used her experience to achieve victory.
“To be honest I think I played pretty well and she played just amazing and I have to accept it,” Badosa said of Mandlik, who is shooting up from No. 240 to No. 182 in the rankings. Undoubtedly, Badosa will be the last top player to be impressed by the up-and-coming American.
roll of honor
Liudmila Samsonova: The powerful 23-year-old won her second career title at the Citi Open on Sunday, averaging eight aces per match during their run. Samsonova claimed her second top 10 win of her career against Emma Raducanu in the quarterfinals.
Kaia Kanepi: Despite missing out on power hitter Samsonova in the Citi Open championship game, 37-year veteran Kanepi reached her 10th career final and is now ranked 31st – her highest rank since May 19, 2014.
Shelby Rogers: The American reached her first final since 2016 in San Jose, claiming victories over Bianca Andreescu, No. 1 Maria Sakkari, Amanda Anisimova and No. 9 Veronika Kudermetova. Roger’s reward is a top-30 finish for the first time in her career.
Daria Saville: The Australian has already had an amazing comeback year after her Achilles tendon surgery in 2021, rising to her current rank of 73 from 627th in February. Saville edged out No. 1 seed and defending champion Jessica Pegula en route to the semifinals in Washington — her first tour-level semifinal since 2018.
Venus Williams: The 42-year-old American played her first singles match in almost a year, narrowly losing to another strong server, Rebecca Marino. Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Williams has demonstrated robust form and fitness in her upcoming appearances at WTA 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati.
key game of the week
Paula Badosa defeated a stunning pass winner to start a reckless run through the end of a crucial tie-break along the way a win over Coco Gauff in the San Jose Quarterfinals.
“I think I’ve adapted pretty well [end] of the first set and I played a pretty perfect tiebreak so I’m really happy about that,” Badosa said afterwards.
The sixth WTA 1000 event of the season begins Monday in Toronto at the Rogers-presented National Bank Open.
As North American hard court swing continues to gain momentum, here are some fast hits from Canada: