The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week that was. This week, WTA Insider looks back at the Sydney Tennis Classic (WTA 500) and Adelaide International 2 (WTA 250).
Performance of the Week: Paula Badosa
In her breakout season in 2021, Paula Badosa went a long way in establishing herself as an all-court threat. Though clay was her clear comfort zone, the Spaniard won Indian Wells, made the semifinals of the WTA Finals in her tournament debut, booked her first Wimbledon Round of 16, and made an indoor hardcourt semifinal in Lyon.
But Badosa unlocked another level to her game en route to her third career title at the Sydney Tennis Classic. On a quick hard court against a string of elite hard-court opponents,
Badosa got out of her comfort zone and embraced a more aggressive game-style. Her adjustment earned her wins over Jelena Ostapenko, Ajla Tomljanovic, Belinda Bencic, Daria Kasatkina, and Barbora Krejcikova in a riveting top-quality final.
Read and hear from Badosa herself as she explains how she shed her clay-court roots to embrace a winning style in Sydney in the latest Champions Corner.
Surprise of the Week: Madison Keys
Madison Keys began the 2021 season as a Top 20 player. Yet when she arrived in Adelaide last week, she was ranked outside the Top 80 after enduring a rough 2021 campaign that netted just 11 wins on the year.
But with a new "let it go" mindset, the 26-year-old American rediscovered her joy on court. En route to her first title since 2019 Cincinnati, Keys dug in to tally two Top 20 wins over Elina Svitolina and Coco Gauff and then dominated the final against frequent practice partner Alison Riske to win Adelaide. To do so she played with controlled aggression and belief, particularly in her comeback win over Gauff in the semifinals.
"I think for me it's so easy to get suckered into just trying to hit hard, then I get frustrated that I'm not hitting winners or getting people off the court," Keys said. "I think if I look back at some of the times in my career where I've been doing well or had good wins or things like that, been consistently having good results, I had shape on my forehand and I was looking to come forward.
"It's just been a very conscious effort to get back to trying to hit some shape, looking for forehands, trying to get to the net, really putting all those things together. That is how I play my best tennis. When I can put those things together, it's not only better but it's definitely a safer way to play tennis."
Barbora Krejcikova: In her first tournament of the season, the World No.4 acquitted herself incredibly well and inspired confidence that she's ready to build on her 2021 success. Her incredible win over Anett Kontaveit in the semifinals, wherein she saved seven match points, was an incredibly high-quality affair. The same can be said of her performance in the final against Badosa.
If there were any doubts in her ability to replicate her 2021 form, the Czech quieted them immediately.
Anett Kontaveit: Sydney was all about taking the temperature of the hottest players of 2021. Badosa and Krejcikova passed that test with flying colors, as did Anett Kontaveit. The Estonian looked sharp in her first tournament of the year, making the semifinals only to lose to Krejcikova. The World No.7 solidified herself as a darkhorse pick in Melbourne.
Daria Kasatkina: The Russian scored a good win over Garbiñe Muguruza in the Sydney quarterfinals. Having made the semifinals in Melbourne the week before, this is the best start to a season Kasatkina has enjoyed, making back-to-back semifinals.
Coco Gauff: After advancing to the semifinals in Adelaide, the 17-year-old will be the highest-ranked teenager on tour on Monday.
10: Consecutive tiebreaks won by Paula Badosa. She has not lost a tiebreak since the Tokyo Olympics.
11: Total number of match points saved by Barbora Krejcikova and Anett Kontaveit in their Sydney semifinal. Kontaveit saved four match points, Krejcikova saved 7 before finally converting on her fifth match point.
202: The number of spots down the rankings you have to go to find a player younger than Coco Gauff: 16-year-old No.202 Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva.
Quote of the week: Madison Keys
"I was getting really caught up in what my ranking meant and winning and losing. All of a sudden it was like this number next to my name on a single website meant more about me than literally anything else in the world. I just got way too in all of that.
"I think for me being in bubbles and all that was really hard because it just felt like it was tennis all of the time and you couldn't really escape it. It just felt like it was more and more and more piling on top of me.
"I've kind of just decided to let it go. I told my boyfriend after I lost last week, I was like, C'est la vie, just vibes, we're vibing out here, it's fine, we're good."
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