Angelique Kerber's maiden Grand Slam victory in Melbourne set the tone for a rollercoaster 2016 WTA season, but she wasn't the only name to make her mark Down Under.
WTA Staff

Angelique Kerber's stunning maiden Grand Slam victory in Melbourne set the tone for a rollercoaster 2016 WTA season, but she wasn't the only name to make her mark Down Under as Victoria Azarenka, Monica Puig and Svetlana Kuznetsova highlighted the first few weeks of WTA action during the Australian Swing.

Angelique Kerber

The Rise of Angelique Kerber

Following a career-best season in 2015 - where she picked up four titles and finished the year at No.10 - Angelique Kerber stayed on course in Australia, but even she had no idea what was to come.

After being blown off the court by an inspired Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Brisbane International and being forced to withdraw from the Apia International Sydney in the second round due to a gastrointestinal illness, the German went straight to Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the year.

Kerber, who'd previously never advanced past the fourth round of the Australian Open - saved match point in her first match against Misaki Doi and went on to put together a clinical run to the final, where she locked horns with Serena Williams.

She stunned the tennis world by defeating the then-World No.1 in a thrilling three sets and lifting her maiden Grand Slam title, ending a 17-year major title drought for German tennis and cementing her place at the top.  

Victoria Azarenka

Vika's Red-Hot Australian Summer

Australia has been Victoria Azarenka's home away from home for several years, but this time it was in Brisbane, not Melbourne, where the two-time Australian Open champion made her mark.

Starting the year ranked No.22, Azarenka tore through the draw at the Brisbane International without dropping a set. In fact, the Belarusian lost just 17 games en route to the first title of the year, a feat which still stands as the fewest games lost in winning a WTA title in 2016.

She went on to reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, her best result there since 2014, and picked up another two titles before succumbing to injuries - a back injury in Madrid, a right knee injury during the French Open - and finally putting an end to her season following the announcement of her pregnancy.

Monica Puig, Svetlana Kuznetova

Puig and Kuznetsova Foreshadow 2016 Brilliance

In Sydney, a pair of surprising names reached the final at the second Premier-level event of the year.

Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig, then ranked No.94, reached the second WTA final of her career after posting wins over a trio of Top 30 players, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Samantha Stosur and Belinda Bencic (via retirement). She faced Svetlana Kuznetsova, who'd just pulled off her biggest win since 2009 over No.2-ranked Simona Halep in the semifinals.

Even though Kuznetsova went on to drop just two games in her dominant victory over Puig, the pair's surprise run to the Sydney final served as a preview for what was in store for Puig and Kuznetsova later in the season.

Elsewhere, Agnieszka Radwanska continued where she left off at the 2015 WTA Finals, returning to the home of her best tennis in Asia and picking up a title at the International-level Shenzhen Open. Sloane Stephens also took home the ASB Classic in Auckland and Alizé Cornet won in the Hobart International.

- Photos courtesy of Getty Images