The Insider Wrap is a recap of everything you need to know from the week that was. Last week, Maria Sakkari boosted her championship credentials, while Caroline Dolehide made a singles breakthrough in Guadalajara. Wang Xiyu prevailed in her home country at Guangzhou.
Performance of the Week: Maria Sakkari
One month ago, Top 10 player Maria Sakkari left the US Open after a third straight first-round loss at a Grand Slam event, with thoughts of potentially taking a hiatus from tour swirling in her head.
But in tennis, a complete turnaround in fortunes can be just one tournament away, and Sakkari proved that at the Guadalajara Open AKRON.
Determined to smile through an event where she finished as runner-up last year, Sakkari went one better in 2023 and won her first Hologic WTA Tour singles title in over four years.
Having lost her last six finals, Sakkari returned to the winner's circle and collected her second career singles title, at a WTA 1000 event to boot. The first Greek to win a WTA 1000 title, Sakkari didn't drop a set all week as her positive perspective paid off.
"I’m just really grateful," Sakkari said, "that I could overcome all my fears, all my obstacles this week here in Guadalajara and just leave with the trophy."
Breakthrough of the Week: Caroline Dolehide
With her powerful game and an excellent doubles career already in full swing, there were signs that Caroline Dolehide was on the brink of a singles surge. In fact, Dolehide cracked the singles Top 100 for the first time earlier this year -- however, she had not notched a tour-level singles win since April.
After seasons of hard work, the 25-year-old broke through in a huge way this week. With only two tour-level quarterfinals on her resume coming into Guadalajara, Dolehide reached her first WTA singles final at the WTA 1000 event in Mexico.
Dolehide won five consecutive tour-level matches for the first time in her career, including a barnburner quarterfinal against Martina Trevisan where she saved four match points. Holding a career-high ranking of No.99 at the start of the week, Dolehide will now find herself inside the Top 50.
"Last week, [my coach and I] were talking and we were on court practicing," Dolehide said after the final. "I was feeling some shots, and we fixed a few things, and I was like, ‘Jorge, I’m ready to do something big.' And one week later, this is where I am. So it’s funny how things work out."
Wang Xiyu: The left-handed 22-year-old from China picked up her first WTA singles title, prevailing on home soil over top seed Magda Linette to win the Galaxy Holding Group Guangzhou Open. Wang, the 2018 Junior US Open champion and former Junior World No.1, has now started her trophy collection at WTA-level.
Sofia Kenin: The 2020 Australian Open champion and former World No.4 continued a strong summer run by reaching the Guadalajara semifinals. Kenin has gone 14-4 in her past four events and is edging closer to a return to the Top 30.
Caroline Garcia: Another former World No.4, Garcia posted her deepest tournament run in half a year by making the Guadalajara semifinals. It was her first trip to the final four of an event since she reached the Monterrey final in March.
Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens: The No.1 seeds claimed the Guadalajara doubles championship on Saturday for their second team title. Both of their titles as a duo have come at WTA 1000 events this year -- they also prevailed on the clay courts of Rome this spring.
Ana Bogdan: The Romanian No.3 captured her second WTA 125 title of the season by toppling top seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the Parma final. Bogdan is 3-0 in her last three WTA 125 finals.
Emiliana Arango: The 22-year-old Colombian, ranked No.180, posted a career-best result at a WTA 1000 event by storming to the quarterfinals, defeating Anastasia Potapova, Sloane Stephens and Taylor Townsend en route.
WTA Finals qualifiers: Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Elena Rybakina and the doubles team of Gauff/Pegula are the first players to clinch spots at the year-ending championships in Cancun, Mexico.
Photo of the Week
Jelena Ostapenko sometimes even surprises herself with her riveting play.
As an example, you can see a bevy of stunning Ostapenko winners from her second-round victory in Guadalajara here.
1: Maria Sakkari is the first player in 2023 to win a WTA 1000 event without the loss of a set. She is also the first to achieve that feat on hard court since Iga Swiatek won Miami without dropping a set in March of 2022.
111: World No.111 Caroline Dolehide is only the second player ranked outside the Top 100 to reach a WTA 1000 final since that tournament tier started in 2009. The other is two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who made the 2019 Cincinnati final ranked No.153.
2 - After having reached the final in San Diego last week, Sofia Kenin made back-to-back semifinals in WTA events for the second time in her career after Toronto and Cincinnati in 2019. Repeat.#GDLOpenAKRONxSantander | @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/hcX7FJcKom— OptaAce (@OptaAce) September 21, 2023
25: Victoria Azarenka reached the 25th WTA 1000 hard-court quarterfinal of her career in Guadalajara. She is only the fifth player to make 25 WTA 1000 hard-court quarterfinals since 2009, along with Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep.
35: Caroline Garcia served 35 aces at this year's Guadalajara Open AKRON. Garcia is one of only three players to serve 35 or more aces at a WTA 1000 event in 2023, along with Elena Rybakina (at both Indian Wells and Miami) and Petra Kvitova (in Miami).
The Hologic WTA Tour's Asian swing boasts two events this week. The Toray Pan Pacific Open will take place in Tokyo, Japan, with Top 5 players Iga Swiatek, Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina leading the WTA 500 field. Guadalajara champion Maria Sakkari will also feature in the Tokyo draw.
Also being contested is the Ningbo Open in Ningbo, China. Ons Jabeur and Petra Kvitova are the top two seeds at the WTA 250 event.