The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week that was. This week, we look back at the Toray Pan Pacific in Tokyo and the Hana Bank Open in Seoul.
Performance of the Week: Liudmila Samsonova
The 23-year-old once described her game style as "Boom Boom." That is an apt description of just what she's been doing on the court since the start of the summer hard-court season. With her unblemished run to the Tokyo title, Samsonova has won 18 of her past 19 matches, picking up three titles over that span.
More on Samsonova's week in Tokyo:
- Match Report: Samsonova edges Zhang to win third title of 2022
- Champions Corner: How Samsonova found her mental edge
- Champions Reel Video: Samsonova's best points in Tokyo
Breakthrough of the Week: Zheng Qinwen
The surging 19-year-old made her first Hologic WTA Tour final in Tokyo to become the youngest Chinese player to ever make a tour-level final. She paved the way for her breakout run with her first completed Top 10 win over top seed Paula Badosa and came back from a set down to defeat No.4 seed Veronika Kudermetova in a third-set tiebreak in the semifinals.
She was overpowered by Samsonova in the final, but Zheng will make her Top 30 debut Monday.
Ekaterina Alexandrova: The 27-year-old is knocking on the door of a Top 20 debut after capturing her second title of the season in Seoul. To win her third-career title, Alexandrova stood toe-to-toe with Jelena Ostapenko in the final, trading baseline blows that left the crowd in awe. Ultimately, Alexandrova's serve proved the difference as she edged Ostapenko out in a first-set tiebreak and rolled through the second set to tally a 7-6(5), 6-0 win.
Jelena Ostapenko: A champion in Seoul five years ago, Ostapenko was the star of the show as she made her way back to the final. She saved a match point in the first round, outlasted Emma Raducanu in the semifinals and put on a quintessential display of offense in the final before succumbing to Alexandrova with an apparent foot injury.
Zhang Shuai: The 33-year-old is enjoying one of her most consistent seasons. With her semifinal run in Tokyo, Zhang has now made the quarterfinals or better of three of her past three events. Her second-round win over No.2 seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5), was an outstanding display of her clinical poise and confidence and the highest-quality match of the week.
Veronika Kudermetova: Only Iga Swiatek and Simona Halep have made more semifinals this season than Kudermetova, who advanced to her sixth of the year, in Tokyo. She lost in a third-set tiebreak to Zheng Qinwen, but her Tokyo run puts her in a position to qualify for the WTA Finals. Ranked at a career-high No.13, Kudermetova rose to No.9 on the Race to the WTA Finals Leaderboard.
Emma Raducanu: For the first time since winning the 2021 US Open, Raducanu notched three consecutive wins to make the Seoul semifinals. Raducanu played a strong first set against Ostapenko before picking up a glute injury in the second set and retiring in the third.
6: Times Samsonova was broken in Tokyo.
2: Times Samsonova won a title without losing a set this season.
27: Aces struck by Caroline Garcia in her second-round match against Zheng Shuai, the most aces struck in a WTA match this season.
230: Aces struck this season by both Samsonova and Zheng Qinwen, tied for fourth on tour behind Caroline Garcia (345), Elena Rybakina (305) and Karolina Pliskova (249).
1: Player who has won more titles than Samsonova this season. Swiatek leads the tour with seven titles. Samsonova is tied with Garcia for second on tour with three titles.
2: Teenagers to make a final at a WTA 500-level or higher event this season. Zheng Qinwen joined the list with Coco Gauff, who made the French Open final in the spring.