The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week (or two) that was. Last week, Elena Rybakina captured the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, her second WTA 1000 title of the year.
Performance of the Week: Elena Rybakina
Rybakina became the first player to win two WTA 1000 titles this year after taking home the Internazionali BNL d'Italia trophy.
She has reached the final or better at three of this year's five WTA 1000 events, posting a 19-2 win-loss record at this level. Before this year, her career win-loss record at WTA 1000 tournaments was 25-17.
Overall, Rybakina has notched 28 match-wins this year, only one victory behind tour-leading Aryna Sabalenka's 29. Compare that with 2022, where it took Rybakina until August to win 28 matches, including the Wimbledon title.
"I'm proud that I can maintain this level," Rybakina said after adding the clay-court Rome crown to her WTA 1000 Indian Wells hard-court title. "It's not easy, with all the scheduling, traveling. I think we're doing a good job with the team. I can see improvements on the court, physically also. I think we're on a right way."
Rybakina now reaches the Top 5 of the Hologic WTA Tour singles rankings for the first time, rising from No.6 to No.4. Rybakina also solidifies her spot at No.2 in the Race to the WTA Finals. She is only 564 points behind leader Sabalenka.
Breakthrough of the Week: Anhelina Kalinina
Kalinina came into Rome on a four-match losing streak and her ranking had dipped from a career-high No.28 in March to No.47 when the tournament began.
In Rome, Kalinina surged to her second career final, becoming the second player from Ukraine to reach a WTA 1000 final since that tier started in 2009. The other Ukrainian to make WTA 1000 finals is two-time Rome champion Elina Svitolina.
Kalinina beat three Top 25 players in her run to the final. And just like that, Kalinina can now call herself a Top 25 player for the first time, as she will rise to a new career-high of No.25.
Despite retiring from the final with a thigh injury, Kalinina looked back on Rome fondly. "I'm most proud of my fighting spirit these two weeks," she said. "I was fighting despite the score, any situation, any weather conditions, opponents. Everyone was very tough. A serious draw."
Beatriz Haddad Maia: Haddad Maia became the first Brazilian woman to reach the Rome quarterfinals. She was stopped only by Kalinina, who needed 3 hours and 41 minutes to prevail in their showdown -- the longest match of the year.
Photo Gallery: Marathon Marvels 2023: All this year's three-hour matches
Zheng Qinwen: Last season's WTA Newcomer of the Year Zheng will make her Top 20 debut in this week's singles rankings after she became the third Chinese woman to make the Rome quarterfinals (after Li Na and Zhang Shuai).
Veronika Kudermetova: Kudermetova is the only player to make the semifinals at both of this year's clay-court WTA 1000 events in Madrid and Rome. The former No.9 is just one ranking spot away from reclaiming a place in the Top 10.
Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens: Hunter and Mertens paired up for the first time four months ago at the Australian Open, and they prevailed in Rome for their first doubles title as a team. Hunter and Mertens did not drop a set in their last four matches of the fortnight.
19 - Rybakina is the player with the most WTA-1000 wins in 2023 (19): since 2009, only Swiatek in 2022 (22), S. Williams and Sharapova in 2013 (21 each) and Azarenka in 2012 (20) had more after the first 5 events of the year. Super.#IBI23 | @InteBNLdItalia @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/dJchTn9NJp— OptaAce (@OptaAce) May 20, 2023
278: Elena Rybakina is the current ace leader this year on tour with 278. Thirty-two of those came during her title run in Rome.
47: At No. 47, Anhelina Kalinina became the lowest-ranked player to reach the Internazionali BNL d'Italia final since Raffaella Reggi in 1985.
12: With her run to the Rome quarterfinals, Paula Badosa becomes the player with the most tour-level quarterfinals reached on clay courts since 2018, when she made her first career clay-court tour-level quarterfinal. Rome was her 12th clay-court quarterfinal in that timeframe.
Photo of the Fortnight
It was a rainy two weeks in Rome, but players battled through the conditions to perform their best at the last clay-court WTA 1000 event of the season. Below, Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania celebrates match point in the first round, which she converted just as storm clouds were opening.
Main-draw action started on Sunday at this week's two WTA 250 clay-court events, at the Grand Prix Son Altesse Royale La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat, Morocco, and the Internationaux de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France.
In Rabat, reigning champion Martina Trevisan returns to defend her title as the No.1 seed. The 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens is seeded No.2, and former Grand Slam finalists Leylah Fernandez and Vera Zvonareva are also in the field.
In Strasbourg, this year's Australian Open semifinalist Magda Linette is the No.1 seed. Already on Sunday, Elina Svitolina picked up the first Hologic WTA Tour-level victory of her comeback from maternity leave.
Roland Garros qualifying also takes place this week, with 128 players vying for the last 16 spots in the main draw of the year's second Grand Slam event. Main-draw play at Roland Garros begins on Sunday, May 28.