The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week (or two) that was. Last week, Elena Rybakina made another bold move toward the summit of the Hologic WTA Tour by winning her first WTA 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Performance of the Week: Elena Rybakina
With her powerful yet unexpected run to the Wimbledon title last summer, Elena Rybakina served notice that she was capable of huge wins at any moment. By backing that up with a second Grand Slam final in Australia this year, Rybakina showed she could challenge for showpiece titles on a consistent basis.
Now, Rybakina has made her case to be considered within the topmost tier of players by capturing her first WTA 1000 title, at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Not only did Rybakina reverse the Australian Open final result by beating Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday, she upended an 0-4 head-to-head record against Sabalenka.
Rybakina won her first title since Wimbledon and her fourth overall, and the run feels consistent with her recent level of success against the top players. Rybakina has won her past four matches against Top 2 players, including the consecutive wins against World No.1 Iga Swiatek and No.2 Sabalenka in Indian Wells.
With performances like that, not much separates Rybakina from the top of the game. After all, she is alongside Swiatek and Sabalenka as the current reigning champions at the four majors.
"The three of us have a really good start to the season and the question is who can maintain this level," Rybakina told WTA Insider. "For now it's like this, but the season is still long, so we'll see how it's going to end."
Breakthrough of the Week: Karolina Muchova
Despite a stint in the Top 20, Muchova had never played the Indian Wells main draw before this year. Muchova made her debut an exceptional one, beating former champion Victoria Azarenka and Marketa Vondrousova before having her run stopped by Rybakina in the quarterfinals.
Muchova, who has been beset by injuries throughout her career, is posting strong results to start 2023. She has made back-to-back quarterfinals at this year's first two WTA 1000 events (Dubai and Indian Wells) and has seen her ranking rise from No.151 to No.55 already this season.
Aryna Sabalenka: The World No.2 fell just short of becoming the first player to win three titles this season, but she is narrowing the gap between herself and No.1 Swiatek in the rankings. Sabalenka has only 20 ranking points to defend from last year's Sunshine Double, and she already picked up 650 points in Indian Wells.
Maria Sakkari: The Greek player nearly defended her finalist points from last year, showcasing her Spartan spirit and winning four straight three-set matches before being stopped in the semifinals by Sabalenka.
Emma Raducanu: The 2021 US Open champion demonstrated some of her best tennis over the fortnight, beating two Top 20 seeds en route to the Round of 16 -- and we have the rallies to confirm it:
Sorana Cirstea: The Romanian was only 2-5 in main-draw matches this year coming into Indian Wells, but she grabbed four victories in the desert to reach the quarterfinals, including an upset of Caroline Garcia, her first Top 5 win since 2017.
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova: The world's best doubles team proved it again, winning another top-level title to add to their massive collection. And then they met P!nk.
531: The amount of aces which were served at 2023 Indian Wells. This is the highest tally in a single Hologic WTA Tour tournament over the last three seasons (excluding Grand Slam events).
41: Elena Rybakina became the 41st different player to secure a WTA 1000 title since the tier started in 2009.
1: Rybakina is the first player to beat the World No.1 and No.2 at the BNP Paribas Open in the same year.
1 & 2 - Elena Rybakina is the first player to defeat the world numbers 1 and 2 at the semi-final and final of a single tournament since Garbine Muguruza in Cincinnati (2017). Fearless.#TennisParadise | @BNPPARIBASOPEN @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/Q9uEN5Eox5— OptaAce (@OptaAce) March 19, 2023
3: The past three WTA 1000 events have gone to first-time WTA 1000 champions: Jessica Pegula won Guadalajara at the end of last year, Barbora Krejcikova won Dubai to start this year and Rybakina prevailed in Indian Wells.
24: Since 2018, when Aryna Sabalenka notched her first Top 10 win (over Karolina Pliskova in Eastbourne), she is the player with the most Top 10 wins: 24, surpassing Maria Sakkari's 23.
Photo of the Week
Petra Kvitova was jubilant after she saved four match points and defeated Jessica Pegula in the Indian Wells Round of 16. Take a look at all of the match points saved so far this season in our photo gallery.
The Sunshine Double comes to a conclusion over the next two weeks at the Miami Open, the third WTA 1000 event of the year. Main-draw play begins Tuesday.
Iga Swiatek is the defending champion and the No.1 seed, while former US Open champions Emma Raducanu and Bianca Andreescu will square off in a blockbuster first round.