The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week (or two) that was. The first Grand Slam tournament of 2023 is in the books, with Aryna Sabalenka taking charge Down Under, Elena Rybakina almost backing up her Wimbledon run and Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova sweeping another Slam.
Performance of the Week: Aryna Sabalenka
Twelve months ago in Australia, Sabalenka's narrative was overtaken by a struggle with double faults. Even though that situation steadily improved as the season went on, she still finished 2022 without a title.
- How Sabalenka found her inner calm and a new level of success
- Sabalenka holds off Rybakina to win Australian Open, first Slam title
- Get the Gear: Check out Sabalenka's look in Melbourne
But things were already on the upswing for Sabalenka coming into this year's first Grand Slam event. In the first week of 2023, she swept to the Adelaide International 1 title without losing a set, putting her on the shortlist of Australian Open title contenders.
If Sabalenka had pressure to live up to a position as one of the favorites, she rarely showed it along the way to her first Grand Slam title. The No.5 seed did not drop until the final, then held off Elena Rybakina in three sets.
"I became calmer on the court and I started to respect myself a little bit more," Sabalenka told WTA Insider after her major victory. "I have belief more in myself because of the last year. I think that really helped me. Because of that belief, I am a Grand Slam champion, which sounds really crazy."
Elena Rybakina: After serving her way to the 2022 Wimbledon title, eyes were on Rybakina to see when her next big showing at a major would come. As it turned out, the wait was brief.
Rybakina charged into her second Grand Slam final just half a year later, and though she fell one win short this time, she was rewarded with her Top 10 debut.
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova: The dominant Czech pair extended their winning streak at major events to 24 straight victories after collecting their seventh Grand Slam title as a team in Melbourne.
Krejcikova and Siniakova have not lost a match at a major since the 2021 US Open. They won all three of the Grand Slam events they played last year (the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) before successfully defending their title this week.
Magda Linette: After World No.1 Iga Swiatek (and ATP World No.10 Hubert Hurkacz) lost in the Round of 16, Polish hopes in the singles draws fell squarely on the shoulders of the unseeded Linette.
The 30-year-old rose to the occasion, reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal in her 30th major main draw, defeating four seeds on the way (including No.4 Caroline Garcia). With her breakthrough week, Linette halved her ranking from No.45 to a new career-high of No.22.
I'm saying goodbye to #AO, but I'm proud of myself. This semifinal gave me even more motivation. This is just the beginning.— Magda Linette (@MagdaLinette) January 26, 2023
I would like to thank everyone who cheered me on. See you soon. 🤍#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/bsQSHaH1Hy
Zhu Lin: The 28-year-old from China considered retiring earlier in her career, but her persistence paid off. After reaching the Auckland quarterfinals to start 2023, she made her first Grand Slam Round of 16 in Melbourne, which included her first win against a Top 10 player (Maria Sakkari).
Linda Fruhvirtova: One of four Czech teenagers inside the Top 200, Fruhvirtova continued her ascent up the rankings in Melbourne. The 17-year-old reached the Round of 16 in only her second Grand Slam main-draw appearance.
Samantha Stosur and Sania Mirza: Two former Doubles World No.1 players wrapped up their Grand Slam journeys in Melbourne. Stosur closed out her career on home soil, while Mirza will play two more WTA events next month before retirement.
Alina Korneeva and Mirra Andreeva: Mark down two more teenage sensations on the rise. In the junior girls' final between two 15-year-olds, Korneeva outlasted her best friend and doubles partner Andreeva in a gripping 3-hour and 18-minute marathon on Rod Laver Arena.
29: Aryna Sabalenka is the 29th different women's player in the Open Era to secure the title at the Australian Open. She is also the 58th different women's player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title.
54: Elena Rybakina fired 54 aces at the 2023 Australian Open. The last player with more aces in a single tournament was Karolina Pliskova, who hit 64 aces at the 2021 US Open.
7: Linda Fruhvirtova is the seventh female player to reach the Australian Open Round of 16 before turning 18 since 2004. In that 20-year timeframe, she joins Tatiana Golovin (2004), Maria Sharapova (2005), Nicole Vaidisova (2006 and 2007), Caroline Wozniacki (2008), Amanda Anisimova (2019) and Coco Gauff (2020).
Photo of the Week
Sabalenka in the park with Daphne: The newest Grand Slam champion took the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup out for a stroll the day after her triumph.
This week, the Hologic WTA Tour hosts two WTA 250 events. The Thailand Open in Hua Hin has 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu as its No.1 seed, while the Open 6eme Sens Metropole de Lyon in France is led by World No.5 Caroline Garcia. There is also a WTA 125 event in Cali, Colombia.