The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week that was. This week, we look back the standout performances at the Qatar Total Open (WTA 500) and Open 6ème Sens Métropole de Lyon (WTA 250), which saw two big hitters win through.
Performance of the Week: Petra Kvitova
It was one of those weeks for Kvitova, who captured her 28th title and first since 2019 Stuttgart by winning the Qatar Total Open. Kvitova overcame the wind and four tough opponents in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Anett Kontaveit, Jessica Pegula and Garbiñe Muguruza to take home her second Doha title and become the winningest player in the Qatari capital.
Kvitova lost just one set en route to the title and saved her best for last, reeling off the final six games in a dominant 6-2, 6-1 performance against one of the tour's hottest players in Muguruza .
Surprise of the Week: Clara Tauson
Playing in just her third WTA main draw, the 18-year-old Dane pounded her way to a decisive victory in Lyon. Tauson came through as a qualifier to make her first WTA final and converted with ease, defeating Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-1 in the final.
A former junior No.1 and heir apparent to Caroline Wozniacki, Tauson has been one to watch for years. She qualified for her first major last fall at Roland Garros, where she knocked out Jennifer Brady in the first round. She continued her good run of form through the ITF Circuit before heading to Lyon. Starting with a seismic win over top seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round and adding on wins over Timea Babos, Camila Giorgi and Paula Badosa, Tauson never looked like an inexperience rookie.
The win boosted Tauson's ranking inside the Top 100 for the first time, which will mean direct entry into Slams and other larger events. Here's to seeing more of what Clara Tauson can do.
The American followed up her first career Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open with her first Premier 500 quarterfinal in Doha. Pegula came through qualifying and defeated Wang Qiang, Jelena Ostapenko and Karolina Pliskova before pushing Petra Kvitova in a 6-4, 6-4 loss. With her Doha run, the 27-year-up is up to a career-high No.36.
While she's still looking for her first title since 2019 Monterrey, Muguruza is the only player on tour to tally two final appearances in 2021. En route to the Doha final, Muguruza also scored her tour-leading third Top 10 win of the year, getting past No.8 Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3 in the best match of the week.
It was a great two weeks for Swiss Tennis, with Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann making the semifinals in Adelaide (and Bencic making the final) and Viktorija Golubic making the Lyon final as a qualifier.
The former No.1 has taken some tough tight losses this season, highlighted by a two-tiebreak loss to Danielle Collins at the Gippsland Trophy and a squandered 5-0 lead in the second set to Karolina Muchova at the Australian Open. The Czech is still trying to find a consistent level after last summer's restart, but it's worth bookmarking her 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win over Ons Jabeur in the Round of 16 in Doha. Pliskova was gassed after her quick turnaround the next day, losing in straight sets to Pegula, but she should leave Doha with more confidence than when she arrived.
Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs
The American-Dutch duo linked up for 2021 and capped off a successful start of the season with their first title of the year in Doha and second team title overall. Coming off back-to-back semifinals at the Gippsland Trophy and Australian Open, Melichar/Schuurs beat four experienced teams en route to the title, beating Guarachi/Jurak, Mattek-Sands/Pegula, Mirza/Klepac, and Niculescu/Ostapenko.
As Iga Swiatek, Clara Tauson, Coco Gauff and Wang Xiyu continue to cement themselves on tour, one name that comes up repeatedly alongside theirs in the junior results is former junior No.1 Clara Burel. The 19-year-old Frenchwoman broke out at Roland Garros last fall, making the third round, and she came through two tough three-set wins over Alizé Cornet and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Lyon to make the quarterfinals, where she pushed Fiona Ferro to a third set.
Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina
Former doubles No.1s Elena Vesnina and Sania Mirza made their comebacks in Doha, with Vesnina playing her first match since going on maternity leave after 2018 Roland Garros and Mirza playing her first event since the pandemic stalled her comeback last spring. Neither looked like they lost a step.
Taking a wildcard with Laura Siegemund, Vesnina scored a tough comeback win over Azarenka/Svitolina, 4-6, 7-5, 10-8. Mirza, pairing with Klepac, made the semifinals before losing to the eventual champions.
Keys kicked off her 2021 season with a dominating performance in the first round of Doha, defeating Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-1. It was an impressive display from the American, who was playing her first match since the first round of the French Open.
3: Active players who have won more titles than Petra Kvitova: Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters.
3: Number of WTA main-draw matches Clara Tauson had played in her career before her title run in Lyon.
2: Teenagers to win titles in 2021: Iga Swiatek (Adelaide) and Clara Tauson (Lyon).
1: Number of players to have won 20 or more matches in Doha: Petra Kvitova.
Pic of the Week
Quote of the Week
Sania Mirza, on why she decided to come back on tour after having her son:
"It's my first tournament back, but obviously I'm able to still compete at this level and win matches. I think for me that's one thing.
"The other thing is that, which is something that's very close to my heart, I feel that there are a lot of young girls and women who look up to me or look up to us, and I feel that when there is people like Serena, I mean, there are so many mothers now playing on the tour, and I just feel like, especially on our side of the world, women sort of think that once they have a baby, life's kind of over. But it's not. You don't have to crush your dreams because you have a child. You can still go after them. You can still, you know, find ways to do it as long as you have a good support system around you.
"I think that my son's a really good motivation for me. I hope that one day he'll be proud to see what I'm trying to do after having him."