WTA Weekly Recap: Sakkari Ends Trophy Drought In Style, Wang Joins Winners' Circle

WTA Weekly Recap: Sakkari Ends Trophy Drought In Style, Wang Joins Winners' Circle

by Nurein Ahmed

It wasn't a blockbuster to appease the masses, but the WTA Tour served another thrilling week of action with Maria Sakkari and Xiyu Wang clinching the two titles on offer this past week.

Sakkari grabbed her second career title in Guadalajara, four years after her very first success on the red clay in Rabat. China's Wang joined the winners' podium for the first time, streaking to win the Guangzhou 250 in front of her home fans.


The 2023 Guadalajara Open was a bit of a lull for most Top 10 players who chose not to play this year due to scheduling concerns. Tennis fans voiced their frustration at the calendar slot allocated for one of the most prestigious events.

To put a bit of context into how badly affected this tournament was in terms of withdrawals, the qualifying draw had a shortage of entrants because a host of lower-ranked players earned direct slots in the main draw. Doubles players such as Demi Schuurs and Monica Niculescu ended up checking in to play in the qualifying draw in singles.

Back to the action though, the turnout was very impressive all week. Greece's Maria Sakkari was imperious and many people believed this was her moment to pounce. Sakkari played with regulation in her shots and discipline, and scaled her biggest hurdle in the semifinal, beating third seed Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-0.

Sakkari met USA's Caroline Dolehide in the final. Ranked 111th at the start of the tournament, Dolehide's run was as jaw-dropping as it was brilliant, as she became the lowest-ranked player to appear in a WTA 1000 final since Svetlana Kuznetsova four years ago.

The Greek duly delivered and overcame early nerves to end the American's dream run. It is Sakkari's first WTA title since 2019 and put paid to criticism about her abilities as a top-10 player and her trophy drought in the post-match interview.

Aside from Sakkari, Dolehide melted plenty of hearts with her mproable run to the final. Having been tearing it up on the ITF Tour for most of her career, her game clicked into place last week and will break in the world's Top 50.

Another American who also enjoyed an upturn in fortunes is Sofia Kenin who came mighty close to leaving the Top 100 two weeks ago. The 2020 Australian Open champion rose to 31st position in the rankings this week after reaching the semifinal in western Mexico. Incidentally, her run came to a screeching halt when she lost to resurgent Dolehide.


Guangzhou was the other WTA tournament running concurrently with Guadalajara this past week. Magda Linette and Tatjana Maria were the sole Top 50 players in the draw. But the German veteran lost a near three-hour dogfight to Yulia Putintseva in the quarterfinal stage.

That long battle was in the Kazakh's legs as she was hardly the freshest in her semifinal against top seed Linette. The Pole dropped just five games to reach her first final since Chennai at the back end of last year. And just like 12 months ago when she lost to an upstart in India (Linda Fruhvirtova), it was deja vu for the experienced Pole.

This time, it was 22-year-old Xiyu Wang, one of China's most precocious young talents who added to the agony. A former junior No. 1 and winner of the US Open juniors title in 2018, Wang's rise had been rather slow compared to some of her contemporaries.

But the improvements were clearly visible this past week as she tallied high-quality wins over Nadia Podoroska, Diana Shnaider, and Greet Minnen. On her way to the final, she dropped just one set in five matches, which came in the quarterfinal stage against Viktoria Hruncakova.

Wang produced a performance of supreme quality and dominance as she overpowered Linette 6-0, 6-2 to bag her maiden WTA title. It was also her first title at any level since 2019 when she triumphed on the ITF Tour. A full-circle moment for Wang means that she soars back into the world's Top 60 this week.


You may also like