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 National Bank Open, where Simona Halep sealed her return to the Top 10 and Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff continue to forge ahead.
Performance of the Week: Simona Halep
At the start of the 2022 season, Halep confessed she had one foot out the door toward retirement after her bad-luck campaign in 2021, where injuries ended her 373-week run in the Top 10. But she felt reinvigorated after pairing with Patrick Mouratoglou in the spring and the results, while not immediate, were strong. It was clear Halep was building something big.
Before Toronto, Halep had already made the semifinals or better at six tournaments, including Wimbledon last month. The stars finally aligned in Toronto, where she scored two strong back-to-back wins against Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula to make her second final of the season. Halep then used her experience to grind down Beatriz Haddad Maia in the final.
The Canadian Open is now Halep's most successful tournament. It's the only one she has won three times. She has now won it in both host cities, in Montreal and Toronto. But perhaps most meaningful for Halep, 30, is the boost into the Top 10 on Monday, nearly a year since she fell out. Halep is now firmly positioned herself for a qualifying run to the WTA Finals, rising to No.4 in the Porsche Race.
Rankings Watch: Halep returns to Top 10, Gauff ascends to No.1 doubles
5 - Only Iga #Swiatek (eight) and Simona #Halep (seven) have reached more semifinals so far this season than Beatriz Haddad Maia (five). Powerful.@WTA @WTA_insider #NBO22 pic.twitter.com/brLiRsAxoG— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 13, 2022
Surprise of the Week: Beatriz Haddad Maia
To be clear, Haddad Maia's run to a WTA 1000 final didn't come out of nowhere. She was arguably the most successful player during the grass-court season, winning her first two WTA titles in back-to-back fashion, in Nottingham and Birmingham, and following it up with a run to the Eastbourne semifinals. Since the start of June, only Caroline Garcia has won more matches than she has.
But it was the way Haddad Maia asserted herself in Toronto that inspired belief the 26-year-old Brazilian is here to stay. En route to the biggest final of her career, Haddad Maia defeated French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan, US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, World No.1 Iga Swiatek, reigning Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and former No.1 Karolina Pliskova.
In Sunday's final, Haddad Maia made Halep earn every point. She might have been outclassed by a more experienced opponent, but the gap between their games was minimal.
There's lots to like about how Haddad Maia has gone about her business to rebuild her ranking to now crack the Top 20. She'll be a dangerous draw wherever she goes from here on out.
Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff: The top two American women had strong singles tournaments, with Pegula making her fourth WTA 1000 semifinal and Gauff making her fourth quarterfinal in five tournaments. In doubles, the pair surged to No.1 on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals Leaderboard after winning their second WTA 1000 title of the season. Gauff became the second youngest doubles No.1 in tour history.
Not a bad week for American tennis.
1991 - Cori #Gauff is the youngest player to reach back-to-back quarterfinals at the Canadian Open since Jennifer Capriati in 1990 and 1991. Footsteps.@WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/VDIeJ4sIsd— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 11, 2022
Karolina Pliskova: The Czech has a bevy of points to defend over the summer. A year ago, she made the final in Montreal and semifinal in Cincinnati. It was a strong effort from the former No.1 to make the semifinals in Toronto, beating Barbora Krejcikova, Amanda Anisimova, Maria Sakkari and Zheng Qinwen along the way.
2013 - Qinwen Zheng is the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals at the Canadian Open since Na Li in 2013, also in Toronto. Route.@WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/FDyiDDcpbd— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 12, 2022
Zheng Qinwen: The 19-year-old from China continues to turn heads. Zheng rolled past Ons Jabeur and battled past Bianca Andreescu. Zheng was narrowly edged out by Pliskova in her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal. For some insight into Zheng's focus and ambition, how about this line regarding her narrow defeat by Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon:
"The loss at Wimbledon against Rybakina was really painful for me," Zheng said after beating Andreescu. "Because I remember that I had a break point at 5-All. She did a second serve, but I just missed that point so easily. So inside of my head I was thinking that I [gave] her that match. When she won the championship, I congratulate her, for sure, because she deserved that. But I should get this match.
"Yes, I know it's not good to say this, but I was really, really pissed about myself for that match."
3 - Only Monica Seles and Chris Evert (four each) have won more titles at the Canadian Open than Simona Halep in the Open Era (three, level with Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams). Elite.@WTA @WTA_insider @Simona_Halep #NBO22 pic.twitter.com/4XndKLhjSg— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 14, 2022
2: Number of players to rank in the Top 8 in the Race to the WTA Finals in both singles and doubles: Coco Gauff (No.5 in singles, No.1 in doubles) and Jessica Pegula (No.3 in singles, No.1 in doubles).
20: Number of three-set matches Beatriz Haddad Maia has played in 2022, the most on tour, posting a record of 15-5.
4 - Beatriz Haddad Maia is the 4th Brazilian female player in the Open Era to reach 3+ WTA-level finals (Nottingham, Birmingham and Toronto) in a single season after Suzana Gesteira in 1969, Maria Bueno in 1968 and Vera Lucia Giugni in 1968. Verdeoro.@WTA @WTA_insider #NBO22 pic.twitter.com/Rtwj0d4rnb— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 14, 2022
185: Wins for Simona Halep at the WTA 1000 level, the most by active players on tour.
18: Number of WTA 1000 finals Halep has contested, tying her with Serena Williams for the most on tour.
39 - Only Serena Williams (40) has won more WTA-1000 matches than Iga #Swiatek (39) after 50 matches played in such tournaments. Legends.@WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/rWqJlTO6Ed— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 11, 2022
38: Match-wins for Halep in 2022, the second most on tour. Only No.1 Iga Swiatek has tallied more (48).
18: Number of Top 10 wins for Belinda Bencic since the start of 2019. Only Ashleigh Barty notched more in that span (21).
2 - Jessica #Pegula is the first player to reach the semifinals at the Canadian Open in her first two tournament main draw appearances since Serena #Williams (2000 and 2001). Rerun.@WTA @WTA_insider #NBO22 pic.twitter.com/f6GnX6Pqca— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 12, 2022
Quote of the Week
Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula: Fire & Ice
Coco Gauff: Playing with Jess is great. Like I'm super up and down, and she's usually pretty cool the whole time. So I think it definitely helps in singles because I'm, like, I need to start trying to remind myself and be like a Jess in my head a little bit.
Like I'm serious, that's what I'm thinking. You guys know how I am on the court. So I need, sometimes I need a little bit of Jess in my life.
Jessica Pegula: I think my coach is like, 'All right Jess, like let's go! Like, you need more energy'.