STUTTGART, Germany -- 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 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where World No.1 Iga Swiatek continued to amaze, and the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul, where a new champion was minted.
Performance of the Week: Iga Swiatek
The stats say it all. Four consecutive titles, 23 straight wins. The World No.1 has dropped just one set in her past 13 matches, 15 if you include her dominant performance at the Billie Jean King Cup. For a player who doubted her position as the new World No.1 after Ashleigh Barty's retirement, Swiatek has left no question that he is the most dominant force in women's tennis right now.
But if you look past the statistics, Swiatek's run in her tournament debut at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is even more impressive. With just four days to make her transition from hard court to the slippery and fast clay-court conditions at the Porsche Arena, Swiatek once again showed that she can manage a top-notch field without her best tennis.
Swiatek's most impressive win of the week came against No.31 Liudmila Samsonova in the semifinals, a 3-hour and 3-minute physical and mental victory that turned out to be the longest match of her professional career. The 20-year-old had a quick turnaround to play Aryna Sabalenka in the final. There were questions about whether Swiatek could rebound quickly and she answered all of them by losing only four games to race away with the title.
Swiatek: “I have no idea how I came back. Honestly, I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to try and find solutions.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 23, 2022
"I think Liudmila played Top 8 tennis. We both were fighting until the last ball. I was pretty fortunate that I was able to break her at 5-5.”#PorscheTennis pic.twitter.com/O1HBwGgCJs
Swiatek is now 14-1 in finals in her ITF and WTA careers, and she has not come close to losing a set in her past seven title matches. She leads the tour with 30 WTA main-draw wins, a particularly impressive feat considering she won 36 matches across the entire 2021 season. This season, she is now 5-1 against Top 10 opposition and leads the tour in comeback wins, posting a 6-0 record when she drops the first set and forces a third.
Surprise of the Week: Liudmila Samsonova
The 23-year-old enjoyed a breakout season last year, but her best tennis came on grass courts, winning her first WTA title in Berlin and making the Wimbledon Round of 16, and indoor courts, where she made two semifinals. Her goal for 2022 was to improve her clay-court game and Stuttgart's quick conditions set her up for immediate success.
With wins over Chloe Pacquet, Karolina Pliskova and Laura Siegemund, Samsonova advanced to her first WTA 500 semifinal since her Berlin title run and proceeded to wow the crowd as she played a near-perfect match to snap Swiatek's consecutive set streak - it ended at 28 - and push the Pole to the limit in the semifinals.
After her breakout on the grass in Berlin, Liudmila Samsonova’s goal for 2022 was to improve on clay.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 23, 2022
"I grew up in Italy on clay court so last year was...strange (laughs). You know how to play here. You played all your life on clay courts. It was about confidence." pic.twitter.com/4TXUyf1KTK
Aryna Sabalenka: For the second straight year, Stuttgart showed it takes the best to beat Sabalenka when she makes a tournament final. Sablenka has won seven of her past nine finals, with those two losses coming at the Porsche Arena to the reigning World No.1
Her path to the final this year was a tough one. She defeated Bianca Andreescu in three tough sets in her opener before notching back-to-back Top 10 wins over Anett Kontaveit and Paula Badosa. Despite the final loss, Sabalenka rediscovered her mojo in Stuttgart and will head to her title defense in Madrid with a full head of steam.
Paula Badosa: The 24-year-old Spaniard is the new World No.2 after advancing to her third semifinal of the season. Badosa's battling qualities were on display once again in Stuttgart, where she edged Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur in three tough sets before bowing out to Sabalenka.
Anastasia Potapova: The former junior No.1 powered through the draw at the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul to win her first WTA title. Playing as a qualifier, the 21-year-old lost just one set while scoring wins over Petra Martic, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Yulia Putintseva and No.3 seed Veronika Kudermetova in the final.
Bianca Andreescu: The Canadian star made a successful return to competition in Stuttgart, defeating Jule Niemeier to win her first match in more than six months. She bowed out to Sabalenka in the Round of 16, but not before taking the eventual finalist to three sets, losing 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Emma Raducanu: Playing her first professional clay-court event, the US Open champion showed that it could be a successful surface for her. The 19-year-old won back-to-back matches for the first time this season, defeating Storm Sanders and Tamara Korpatsch to set up a match with Swiatek in the quarterfinals, where she lost 6-4, 6-4. Raducanu has now made two quarterfinals since winning the US Open and will rise to a new career-high No.11 on Monday.
Emma Raducanu on having now made 2 @WTA quarterfinals since winning the US Open:— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 21, 2022
“I feel like it is definitely an achievement for me because making the QFs of any WTA tournament last year would have been like, ‘This is the best thing ever.’”#PorscheTennis pic.twitter.com/4Na3Tr1ReL
Eva Lys: The 20-year-old German qualifier was the story of the early days of Stuttgart. Ranked No.342, Lys qualified for her first Stuttgart main draw and earned her first WTA win, defeating Viktorija Golubic 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the joint fourth-longest match of the year so far.
61: Days over which Swiatek has won her 23 matches. The last time a player has won 23 matches in a row in fewer days was Serena Williams in 58 days in 2013, between Miami and Rome.
4: Consecutive tournaments won by Swiatek. The last player to win four consecutive tournaments was Serena Williams, who won 2013 US Open, 2013 Beijing, 2013 WTA Finals and 2014 Brisbane.
1: Loss for Iga Swiatek to a player ranked outside the Top 20 this season (8-1). That sole loss came to then No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals of Adelaide.
World No.1 Iga Swiatek wins Stuttgart to capture her 4th straight title and 7th career title. The run extends her winning streak to 23 matches, tying Naomi Osaka’s streak from 2020-21.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 24, 2022
The 20yo joins this list of longest win streaks since 2000: pic.twitter.com/HQl1Vcw37B
2: Players who have been able to win a set off the reigning No.1 in 2022. Coco Gauff won a set from Ashleigh Barty in Adelaide and Liudmila Samsonova won a set from Iga Swiatek in Stuttgart.
22: Consecutive indoor matches won by Anett Kontaveit. Aryna Sabalenka ended the Estonian's streak in the quarterfinals of Stuttgart.
28: Consecutive sets won by Iga Swiatek since Indian Wells. Liudmila Samsonova ended the streak in the Stuttgart semifinals after winning the first set.
28 - Iga Swiatek is the first female player to win 28 consecutive sets since Serena Williams, who did it between the 2012 US Open and the 2013 Australian Open. Annihilator.@WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/3CJnXG8lPe— OptaAce (@OptaAce) April 22, 2022
1: Player younger than Iga Swiatek to win 23 or more consecutive matches in the 2000s. Venus Williams won 35 consecutive matches in 2000.
Quote of the Week
Swiatek: “I just don’t have time to switch the legs so I have to do it from the left leg. When you do it that way, I guess it looks like something special.”— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 23, 2022
“It’s pretty hard to control it. I don’t know where it’s going go.
"But let’s pretend that I meant to play it there." https://t.co/WpT6uF5rpF