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 2022 BNP Paribas Open, the second WTA 1000 stop on the Hologic WTA Tour.
Performance of the Week: Iga Swiatek
There have been two WTA 1000 events in 2022 and Swiatek has swept them both. The numbers surrounding Swiatek's 11-match run to the titles in Doha and Indian Wells are astounding, as the 20-year-old continues to set a slew of career-best benchmarks. Her 11-match win streak is the longest of her WTA career, eclipsing her previous best of 10 consecutive matches. The tour has not even hit her favored clay and she already has more Top 10 wins than she's tallied in entire seasons and won as many titles as she has in previous seasons. Swiatek has already won as many hard-court matches as she had in entire seasons, tallying 20 before the tour even gets to Miami.
Champions Corner: Swiatek eyes No.1 after 'surreal' Indian Wells
Swiatek has leveled up by unlocking new ways to win. A notorious perfectionist who struggled when a Plan B or Plan C was required, Swiatek's versatility and problem-solving skills have been on full display in 2022. When she needs to stand toe-to-toe and go power for power, she's grown comfortable in a more aggressive game-style. When she's needed to keep things safe, as she did in the windy Indian Wells final against Maria Sakkari, she can play more conservative tennis. And when her back is against the wall, as it has been a number of times this season, she has proven herself a resilient three-set competitor.
Statistically, where Swiatek has set herself apart from the pack has been the ease at which she is breaking her opponents' serve. Going into the Middle East swing, Swiatek broke in 40.3% of her return games this season. Since then, across Dubai, Doha, and Indian Wells, she has broken serve 62.0% of the time.
Surprise of the Week: Harriet Dart
The 25-year-old Brit makes her Top 100 debut on Monday after her run to the Round of 16 as a qualifier in Indian Wells. Dart came into Indian Wells ranked No.122 and on a three-match losing streak. After two successful qualifying campaigns to start the season, at the Melbourne Summer Set and Australian Open, she had failed to qualify in St. Petersburg, Dubai, and Doha.
Read: How Harriet Dart is striving and thriving in Indian Wells
But it all came together for Dart in California, where she qualified and proceeded to defeat Ana Konjuh, Elina Svitolina, and Kaia Kanepi to earn the biggest result of her career.
Maria Sakkari: Since the start of the 2021 season, only Anett Kontaveit has made as many semifinals as Sakkari. The Greek star, who will rise to a career-high No.3 after making the biggest final of her career, is consistently putting herself in position for a big breakthrough.
Read: 'I took a step forward this week' - Sakkari stays positive as she eyes Miami
2 - @mariasakkari has reached her second WTA final in 2022 (after St. Petersburg): already her highest tally in a single season in her professional career. Propulsion.@WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/yMbamdvrPg— OptaAce (@OptaAce) March 19, 2022
Paula Badosa: The Spaniard admitted that she went into the first title defense of her career with a lot of pressure and lingering self-doubt. But Badosa managed her fortnight like a veteran, returning to the semifinals without dropping a set before losing to Sakkari in three sets.
Read: From cars to prodigies, the best quotes from Indian Wells Week 1
Simona Halep: Ranked No.26 going into the tournament Halep said she still felt very far from the level she expects from herself as she works her way back up the rankings. By the end, the former No.1 looked to have closed that gap significantly. Halep posted wins over Coco Gauff, Sorana Cirstea, and Petra Martic to make her first WTA 1000 semifinal since her 2020 Rome title run. She's now back in the Top 20 at No.19.
Read: Swiatek, Halep, Raducanu lead Billie Jean King Cup nominations
1st meeting between Halep and Cirstea in 12 years.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 15, 2022
- Winner will be the top-ranked Romanian after #IndianWells
- Halep has been top-ranked 🇷🇴 since Aug 26, 2013 (447 straight weeks, including IW)
- Last time Halep was not 🇷🇴No1: August 19, 2013 (Cirstea was No.21, Halep No.23) pic.twitter.com/gImcYReXQ9
Daria Saville: The Australian's goals for her first overseas trip in over two years was simple: have a good attitude and try to halve her ranking. Two tournaments in and not only has Saville (née Gavrilova) accomplished both goals, but she's shown she's well on her way to her best tennis.
Read: A new backhand, steadier serve, and a fresh outlook for Saville nets results
Saville was ranked No.610 when she boarded the plane to Guadalajara. After making the quarterfinals in Mexico and the Round of 16 in Indian Wells as a qualifier, beating Ons Jabeur and Elise Mertens along the way, Saville heads to Miami ranked No.249.
Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan: The Chinese duo found out they were into the doubles draw 30 minutes before the deadline. No bother. Xu and Yang coolly marched to their first team title, defeating Asia Muhammad and Ena Shibahara in straight sets in the final.
Champions Corner: Yang and Xu ready to celebrate their 'lucky' Indian Wells win
Asia Muhammad and Ena Shibahara book a spot in the #IndianWells Final.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 18, 2022
Muhammad has now won a combined 27 consecutive matches in singles and doubles across all levels.
Canberra 25K 1: 5S, 4D
Canberra 25K 2: 5S. 4D
Bendigo 25K: 5S
Indian Wells: 4D (and counting) pic.twitter.com/WHOv2WAues
Asia Muhammad and Ena Shibahara: Muhammad's unreal winning streak finally came to an end in Indian Wells. The American went into the doubles final having won 27 straight matches across all levels in singles and doubles. Both players were hoping to cap off Muhammad's run by winning their home tournament. They fell at the final hurdle to an outstanding performance from Xu and Yang, but there was lots to like about their almost-perfect run.
Petra Martic: The Croatian veteran had not won back-to-back matches since May last year and had not done so on a hard court in over a year. She found some of her best tennis to make her second Indian Wells quarterfinal, tallying wins over three seeds in Emma Raducanu, Tamara Zidansek, and Liudmila Samsonova.
5 - Iga #Swiatek is the first player to win 5+ WTA titles (Roland Garros 2020, Adelaide 2021, Rome 2021, Doha 2022 and #IndianWells 2022) before turning 21 since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009. Paradise.@WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/zYe5rWTkKU— OptaAce (@OptaAce) March 20, 2022
1: Final lost by Iga Swiatek in her entire ITF and WTA career. She has now won 12 of 13 finals, including her last 5.
2: Players who have won 2 titles this season: No.1 Ashleigh Barty and No.2 Iga Swiatek.
2: Iga Swiatek's new career-high ranking, matching Agnieszka Radwanska as the highest-ranked players representing Poland in tennis history.
3: Maria Sakkari's new career-high ranking, matching Stefanos Tsitsipas as the highest-ranked players representing Greece in tennis history.
Rankings Watch: Swiatek, Sakkari hit new highs
Iga Swiatek has now won 20 matches on hard courts in 2022.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 20, 2022
This equals her highest career tally in a single season on hard courts (also 20 in 2019 and 2021).#IndianWells
4: Top 10 wins for Iga Swiatek in 2022, the most on tour (4-1). Her sole loss came to No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the Adelaide semifinals. Prior to this season, Swiatek had yet to post 4 or more Top 10 wins in a single season.
8: Wins over seeded opponents for Iga Swiatek in 2022. In contrast, Swiatek was 8-11 across the entire season last year.
10: Consecutive sets won by Iga Swiatek in finals.
31: Years since a woman successfully defended the Indian Wells title (Martina Navratilova, 1990-91).
1: Player making a Top 100 debut this week: Harriet Dart.
Q. You hit a big forehand return that by my eyes looked like one of the bigger ones that you've hit. Did that just feel completely flush? Did it feel as big as it looked?— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 16, 2022
MADISON KEYS: I don't think anything I ever hit feels as big as it looks (smiling). #IndianWells pic.twitter.com/2AZQThC1Zu
Quote of the Week: Swiatek's book report
Q. Could you take a moment and just talk about the challenges that Maria Sakkari might have and the challenges that Paula might have and also have you finished The Great Gatsby and what are your final thoughts about that?
IGA SWIATEK: I finished. I mean, it was pretty easy to finish, because it took like a few hours to read it, honestly. I was hoping for something longer, but I mean, it was like easy to read, I would say.
There wasn't like much depth to all the stuff that is going on. But on the other hand, when I read that it's describing the Americans after the war and the confusion they have, it made sense. But honestly, if I wouldn't read that description and I don't know the opinions on the internet I wouldn't have even thought of it.
I mean, I read better books (laughing) but it's a classic, so I don't want to say anything bad. But it was interesting, it was easy to read and it was fun. But I don't know if the ending surprised me or not. But still, we don't know a lot about him, right? The Gatsby? So that's the nicest part, that it was all a mystery.
I forgot your first question.