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 final WTA 1000 event of the season, the Guadalajara Open Akron.
Performance of the Week: Jessica Pegula
Jessica Pegula was already guaranteed a career-best season. She made her Top 5 debut and reached a first WTA 1000 final in Madrid.
She also made the quarterfinals in three of the four majors, and of course, clinched her spot in the WTA Finals in both singles and doubles.
But that wasn't enough.
On Sunday, she won the Guadalajara Open Akron, her first title at the WTA 1000 level.
Pegula came into the week with one WTA 250 title to her name (2019 Washington D.C.). In Guadalajara, she beat four Grand Slam champions in a row and had to save three match points in her second-round showdown with reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
"Super excited just to get a big title next to my name," Pegula said afterward. "That was something I really wanted this year, and I kept saying it was one of my goals, so to be able to accomplish it at the end of the year is really cool."
Surprise of the Week: Marie Bouzkova
"Surprise" comes with a caveat. Yes, it was only Bouzkova's second trip to a WTA 1000 semifinal in her career, and she came back from losing a 6-0 first set to shock one of the hottest players of the second half of this year, Liudmila Samsonova. Had Bouzkova beaten Maria Sakkari in the semifinals, she would have been the second lowest-ranked player to reach a WTA 1000 final this year.
But when Bouzkova sets foot in Guadalajara, throw the stats out the window, because the Czech knows how to win in this city. She has reached semifinals or better at events in Guadalajara on four separate occasions -- at the WTA 125 in 2019, the WTA 250 in 2021 and 2022, and now this week at the WTA 1000. Her 11 tour-level wins in the city are the most by any player.
Top 10 debut
Veronika Kudermetova made her way on to the Top 10 rankings list for the first time. Last week in Guadalajara, she reached the quarterfinals before falling to Maria Sakkari.
Kudermetova, 25, has strung together another terrific year, and next week she will head to Fort Worth in doubles alongside partner Elise Mertens. Kudermetova is also an alternate in singles.
She emerged on to the scene a year ago, where she won the Charleston title, her first career championship. Kudermetova also owns four doubles titles.
Maria Sakkari: She did not pick up her second career title, but it was still a successful week. Sakkari became the last player to grasp a singles spot at this year's WTA Finals. In 2021, she became the first Greek player to make it to the WTA Finals, and it is arguably an even more impressive achievement that she was able to make her way into the year-ending event again.
Victoria Azarenka: For the second straight year, Azarenka pulled together her best result of the season at the last WTA 1000 event. In 2021, the former World No.1 finished as the Indian Wells runner-up (held in October), and this year, she made her first semifinal of the year in Guadalajara.
Sloane Stephens: Like Bouzkova, Stephens thrives in Mexico. She has won two of her seven titles in the country, including earlier this year at the WTA 250 event in Guadalajara. Stephens posted another big result, notching wins against Top 20 players in Belinda Bencic and Caroline Garcia on her way to making the quarterfinals.
Storm Sanders and Luisa Stefani: They paired up for the first time just last week, and in their second event together, Sanders and Stefani combined their powers for a WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara. It is particularly heartening for Stefani, who was off tour for a year with a knee injury and has already won two titles since she returned last month.
Quote of the Week
"I think tomorrow I will feel that I cannot wake up. During all the week, I tried to keep myself strong and say ‘No, Maryna, you are not tired, one more match, one more match.’ I think tomorrow different things will arrive, but that’s OK, with a trophy I’m happy!" said a fatigued but thrilled Maryna Zanevska, who won this week's WTA 125 title in Rouen, France. She saved three match points in her opening round.
39: Jessica Pegula's match-win total at WTA 1000 events over the past two seasons, the most of any player. She even outpaces World No.1 Iga Swiatek, who is in second place with 36.
If you told me 5 years ago when I couldn’t string 2 matches together that I would have this stat… 🤯 you can always improve, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise https://t.co/W6gfFWGmNC— Jessie Pegula (@JLPegula) October 22, 2022
23: Victoria Azarenka's career total of WTA 1000 semifinal appearances. Only two players (Serena Williams and Simona Halep) have reached more WTA 1000 semifinals since the tier was created in 2009.
42: The amount of break points Maria Sakkari saved at the 2022 Guadalajara Open Akron. That is the most break points saved by any player at a WTA 1000 tournament over the past two seasons.
With the 2021 WTA Finals ranking points coming off this week, there are big moves by the top two Americans who will make their WTA Finals debuts in singles and doubles next week.
Pegula reaches a new career-high ranking of No.3. That is the highest ranking by an American since the week of Feb. 18, 2019, when Sloane Stephens was ranked No.3.
Coco Gauff also hits a new career-high ranking of No.4. With Pegula at No.3 and Gauff at No.4, it is the first time two Americans are ranked inside the Top 4 since Serena Williams (No.2) and Venus Williams (No.4) were both there during the week of Oct. 18, 2010.
Gauff, who is currently ranked No.2 in doubles, is the first teenager to be ranked in Top 4 in singles and doubles since the week of Oct. 18, 2004, when Svetlana Kuznetsova was No.4 in singles and No.4 in doubles.
The next WTA Tour-level event will be the last one of the season: the year-ending WTA Finals.