The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week that was. On Sunday, Jessica Pegula stormed to another WTA 1000 title, this one at the Omnium Banque Nationale, where she re-asserted herself in the elite of women's tennis.
Performance of the Week: Jessica Pegula
Pegula heard 1990s dance hit "Cotton Eye Joe" twice this week. The first time, it was in the middle of a point, during a set she would eventually lose, in a tight semifinal against World No.1 Iga Swiatek.
The second time was on court the very next day, right after she finished dispatching Liudmila Samsonova in the final to capture her second career WTA 1000 title at the Omnium Banque Nationale in Montreal.
All's well that ends well, right?
"I lost a lot of points consecutively after 'Cotton Eye Joe' came on [in the semifinals], so I'm glad I got over the 'Cotton Eye Joe' jinx or whatever you want to call it," Pegula said in her post-match press conference. "It was almost my downfall yesterday, but not anymore."
Pegula made her 10th quarterfinal of the season in Montreal, and she kept going from there, with Top 10 wins over Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals and Swiatek in the semifinals. She became the first American to win the event since Serena Williams in 2013.
"Winning a week like this week makes it all worth it and makes you want to keep going for more," Pegula said. "I'll be right back at it tomorrow in Cincinnati."
Return of the Week: Caroline Wozniacki
Former World No.1 Wozniacki had an emotional retirement following a third-loss loss to Ons Jabeur at the 2020 Australian Open, then spent the next three-and-a-half years raising her children, Olivia and James, with husband David.
But after 1,293 days off tour, the Danish star came back to Hologic WTA Tour action in Montreal, and she has already made her mark. Wozniacki picked up the first win of her comeback with a first-round defeat of Kimberly Birrell, before being halted by reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in the second round.
3 years, 8 Months, 2 kids later! We are back baby!! Feels good to get the W today! 💪🏻— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) August 8, 2023
"I think there's a lot of positives I can bring with me, and then there's some things that I can work on," Wozniacki said at the end of her playing time in Montreal. "And I think the more I play, the better it's going to be for me."
Wozniacki can take additional inspiration from fellow returning mom Elina Svitolina, who came back to tour in April and is already back in the Top 30. Spoiler alert: She will get an up-close look at Svitolina in Cincinnati ...
Breakthrough of the Week: Liudmila Samsonova
Samsonova gritted through the rainy week to reach the first WTA 1000 final of her career, having never previously made a quarterfinal at WTA 1000-level.
The big-hitting Samsonova had no wins against Top 10 players this year before Montreal, but she collected two Top 5 victories this week, over Aryna Sabalenka in the Round of 16 and Elena Rybakina in the semifinals. As a result, Samsonova returns to her career-high ranking of No.12.
"So many matches, so many experiences, tough weather, but at the end I made such an incredible result," Samsonova said at the end of her week. "I'm so happy."
Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara: The Japanese duo won their second WTA 1000 doubles title this week in Montreal. Aoyama and Shibahara have an excellent 10-2 win-loss record in finals as a pairing.
Danielle Collins: The former World No.7 had a return to her top form this week in Canada. Collins won two matches in qualifying, then beat Svitolina, Maria Sakkari and Leylah Fernandez in succession before falling to top-seeded Swiatek in a three-set quarterfinal.
Dayana Yastremska: The 23-year-old Ukrainian made a long-awaited return to the winner's circle by taking the WTA 125 title in Kozerki, Poland. It was the former World No.21's first title at any level in over four years.
3: Adding the Montreal title to her 2022 Guadalajara title, Pegula became just the third American to win multiple WTA 1000 titles in her career since the WTA 1000 tier started in 2009. The other two: Serena Williams (13 WTA 1000 titles) and sister Venus Williams (3).
49: Excluding wins via retirement, the 49-minute Montreal final was the quickest final on tour since Swiatek defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 in 46 minutes in the 2021 Rome final.
2 - Liudmila Samsonova has defeated two top-5 opponents at the Canadian Open 2023 (Aryna Sabalenka #2 and Elena Rybakina #4) - more than in entire career prior to this tournament (one). Collecting.#OBN23 #NBO23 | @OBNmontreal @WTA_insider @WTA pic.twitter.com/HJS7q1ppKc— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 13, 2023
381: Behind her run to the semifinals, Rybakina remains the tour leader in aces this season. She fired 32 this week to increase her 2023 total to 381.
187: In Montreal, Victoria Azarenka collected her 187th match-win at WTA 1000 events, which is the most victories at WTA 1000-level since that tier began in 2009. She was tied with Simona Halep (186) in that statistic until her first-round win over Magda Linette.
Photo of the Week
Two friends shared a warm embrace at the net after Belinda Bencic defeated Petra Kvitova in an emotional Round of 16 encounter in Montreal. The match featured a compassionate moment where Kvitova comforted and tended to Bencic after a mid-match injury.
After a busy week in Montreal, the Hologic WTA Tour goes directly into a second consecutive WTA 1000 event, the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.
No.6 Caroline Garcia returns to Cincinnati to defend her crown after defeating Kvitova in last year's final. Top 4 seeds Swiatek, Sabalenka, Pegula and Rybakina lead the field.
Main-draw play begins on Monday, with an eye-catching first-round match already leading the night session: Wozniacki and Svitolina, two moms on the comeback trail this year, will go head-to-head.