Editor's note: From Monday to Thursday this week, we will look at the road each of the eight singles players and eight doubles took to qualify for this year's WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Daria Kasatkina's last trip to the WTA Finals was as an alternate in 2019. This year she returns as an outright qualifier, one who quietly engineered the best season of her career.
Coming off a solid 2021 season in which she finished inside the Top 30 for the first time since 2019, Kasatkina went on to make back-to-back semifinals to open her season in Australia.
But Kasatkina's season truly began to gain traction on the clay. After a Round of 16 showing in Madrid, the 25-year-old made her first WTA 1000 semifinal (Rome) in four years. She followed that up with another breakthrough, making her first major semifinal, at Roland Garros, where she failed to drop a set until bowing out to eventual champion Iga Swiatek.
Kasatkina continued her consistency on the grass, making back-to-back quarterfinals in Berlin and Bad Homburg, inching ever closer to a return to the Top 10 for the first time in three years. But it took a title run to finally get her over the mark.
Back on the summer hard courts, Kasatkina two of her four tournaments before the US Open, taking the WTA 500 title at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic and the WTA 250 in Granby, Canada. She finished the regular season ranked fourth on tour with 41 match-wins, behind only Swiatek, Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula.
"The best players of the season go there and you want to be one of them," Kasatkina said about the WTA Finals. "The main thing is to be one of the best eight and then when you're there, to be one of the best of the best eight. It's like Formula 1."
- 1st major semifinal at Roland Garros
- Reached career-high ranking at No.8, returning to the Top 10 for the first time since 2019
- Won two titles in a season for the second straight year
- Made the semifinals or better at six tournaments, on all three surfaces