The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week that was. This week, we look back at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose and the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.
Performance of the Week: Daria Kasatkina
In San Jose, Kasatkina dropped her first set of the event against reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, but as is her recent custom, she turned that match around, then never looked back. Kasatkina won two more matches from one set down on the way to her first title since March of last year.
"I've been playing many, many three-set matches, maybe more than two-set matches," Kasatkina told WTA Insider after her title. "I like these battles. ... Of course, I would like to play shorter ones, but at the end of the day, I'm happy with my mentality in these comebacks. I'm not giving up, which is important."
Kasatkina returns to the Top 10 of the WTA singles rankings for the first time since Jan. 14, 2019, hitting a new career-high ranking of World No.9 to boot. Kasatkina, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at Roland Garros this year, is now No.3 in the Race to the WTA Finals.
It is a full-circle moment for Kasatkina, who finished 2018 at her previous career-high ranking of No.10 but fell to No.70 12 months later and spent the entirety of the 2020 season outside of the Top 60. With a career-best season looking quite likely, her comeback to the elite has taken another big step.
Breakthrough of the Week: Elizabeth Mandlik
The 21-year-old American Mandlik came into her main-draw debut in San Jose with a intriguing backstory -- she is the daughter of four-time Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova -- but she exited the even making a name of her own.
Read more: Getting to know Elizabeth Mandlik
Mandlik made it through qualies and then upset World No.33 Alison Riske-Amritraj to earn her first WTA main-draw win. Mandlik then gave Paula Badosa a scare in the second round, leading the World No.4 5-3 in the final set before Badosa used her experience to tough out the win.
"To be honest, I think I played pretty good and she only played unbelievable, and I have to accept it," Badosa said of Mandlik, who shoots up from No.240 to No.182 in the rankings. It is doubtless that Badosa will be the last top player to be impressed by the rising American.
Liudmila Samsonova: The big-hitting 23-year-old won her second career title at the Citi Open on Sunday, averaging eight aces per match during her run. Samsonova picked up her second career Top 10 win over Emma Raducanu in the quarterfinals.
Kaia Kanepi: Despite falling to fellow power hitter Samsonova in the Citi Open championship match, 37-year-old veteran Kanepi reached her 10th career final and is now ranked No.31 -- her highest ranking since May 19, 2014.
Shelby Rogers: The American made her first final since 2016 in San Jose, picking up wins against Bianca Andreescu, No.1 seed Maria Sakkari, Amanda Anisimova and No.9 Veronika Kudermetova. Rogers' reward is a spot in the Top 30 for the first time in her career.
Daria Saville: The Aussie has already had an amazing comeback year following her 2021 Achilles tendon surgery, rising from No.627 in February to her current ranking of No.73. Saville ousted No.1 seed and defending champion Jessica Pegula en route to the Washington semis -- her first tour-level semifinal since 2018.
Venus Williams: The 42-year-old American played her first singles match in nearly a year, falling just short to another powerful server, Rebecca Marino. The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Williams exhibited sturdy form and fitness as she heads into upcoming appearances at WTA 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati.
Key play of the week
Paula Badosa knocked off a stunning passing winner to start a ruthless run through the end of a pivotal tiebreak en route to a win over Coco Gauff in the San Jose quarterfinals.
"I think I adapted pretty well in the [end] of the first set, and I played a pretty perfect tiebreak, so I’m really happy about that," Badosa said afterward.
The sixth WTA 1000 event of the season starts Monday in Toronto at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers.
Here are some quick hits from Canada as the North American hardcourt swing kicks further into gear:
- Draws, dates, prize money and everything you need to know
- Draw breakdown: Loaded top quarter features Swiatek, Serena, Osaka
- Swiatek looking forward to the hard courts of Toronto
- Canada's Fernandez ready to get back on court
- Raducanu eyes 'a clean slate'; Sakkari faces a tough truth
- Video: How defending champion Giorgi won 2021 Montreal