The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week that was. This week, WTA Insider looks back on the first week of the 2022 season, where World No.1 Ashleigh Barty dominated the Adelaide International, while Simona Halep and Amanda Anisimova showed resurgent form to win in Melbourne.
Performance of the Week: Ashleigh Barty
Playing her first tournament since the US Open, Ashleigh Barty won her second Adelaide International title with a display of both dominance and resilience. Looking rusty and scattered from a set and a break down in her first match against Coco Gauff, Barty leveled up and proceeded to win 35 consecutive service games en route to the title.
She shook off the rust from nearly three months away from the tour, but Barty's performance in Adelaide - which included wins over Gauff, Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina - sent a message for her Australian Open chances. After sweeping the singles and doubles titles in Adelaide, Barty withdrew from Sydney, citing a change of schedule and will head to Melbourne to fine-tune her game.
Surprise of the Week: Amanda Anisimova
The 20-year-old American won her first title since 2019 in Melbourne, rallying from 3-0 down in the final set to defeat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 in the final.
Ranked No.78 at the start of the tournament, Anisimova tallied wins against Alison Van Uytvanck, Sorana Cirstea, Irina Camelia Begu and Daria Ksaatkina over the week. The 2019 French Open semifinalist rediscovered her form, rendering her opponents as bystanders as she blasted the ball big and early.
Anisimova benefitted from the tutelage of Darren Cahill during Melbourne. It's a partnership the American hopes will evolve into a long-term union. But for the time being, Anisimova says her team and her work through the preseason has her in a positive headspace to start the year. She'll be a dangerous unseeded draw when the Australian Open begins.
Simona Halep: The former World No.1 wants to put her frustrating 2021 season behind her, and her title run in Melbourne seemed to do just that. A finalist at Melbourne Park in 2018, Halep tapped into her fighting spirit in her two-and-a-half hour win over Viktorija Golubic in the quarterfinals, winning 6-2. 5-7, 6-4.
Given her physical issues in 2021, Halep's resilience en route to the Melbourne 1 title was notable. She slipped out of the Top 10 last year for the first time since 2014 and made her goal to work her way back in. Her Melbourne title not only boosted her back up to No.15, but it earned her a Top 16 seed for the Australian Open.
Elena Rybakina: The big-hitting 22-year-old continued her trend of starting a season strong, making the final in Adelaide. She couldn't find a way past a top-notch Barty in the final, but the World No.13 looked fit and confident throughout the week. There's no reason to believe she won't be a threat at the Open.
Iga Swiatek: It was going to take something special to beat Iga Swiatek in Adelaide. Barty brought the goods to hand the defending champion her first loss in Adelaide, but Swiatek acquitted herself well throughout the week. She played relaxed, confident and dominant tennis to score wins against Daria Saville, Leylah Fernandez and Victoria Azarenka to make the semifinals. As a result, Swiatek earned herself a Top 8 seed in Melbourne. That's a good week.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich: There's just something about Sasnovich and Australia. Ranked No.107, the Belarusian successfully qualified in Melbourne 2 and made her first final since 2018 Brisbane. The run boosted her ranking to No.77.
Naomi Osaka: There was a lot to like about how Osaka played en route to the semifinals of Melbourne 1. She kept her cool after being forced to a third set against Alizé Cornet in her opening match and the confidence grew from there with wins versus Maryna Zanevska and Andrea Petkovic. She withdrew from the tournament with an abdominal injury ahead of the semifinals, but the former No.1 will have a week to recover before she defends her Australian Open title.
Pic of the Week
35: Consecutive service games won by Ashleigh Barty in Adelaide.
1: Losses to a Top 20 player for Barty since the start of 2021. With her run in Adelaide, Barty is now 16-1 against the Top 20 since the start of 2021.
15: Consecutive sets won by Iga Swiatek in Adelaide. Victoria Azarenka ended the streak in the quarterfinals, but Swiatek won 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
30: Rankings spots jumped by No.77 Aliaksandra Sasnovich with her run to the Melbourne 2 final, the biggest rankings move in the Top 100. Adelaide semifinalist Misaki Doi was right behind her, moving up 29 spots to No.76.
Supreme Strike Rate.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 9, 2022
Since the start of 2019, @ashbarty has played 32 tournaments, winning 11 titles, yielding a success rate of 34.4%
The next best over that span is Naomi Osaka at 16.7%. pic.twitter.com/TVT5J7AIM2
Quote of the Week
"It's like being in a swordfight, somebody is so fast that the only thing you can do is defend. You don't even have the time to think about attacking. That's how it feels with Naomi." - Andrea Petkovic
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