By Juan Ignacio Astaburuaga
In an attempt to summarize what the WTA was in this crazy year, I picked fifty of the most relevant episodes lived this season. This is the chronological story of the WTA in 2022, with Iga Świątek, Ons Jabeur, Serena Williams, and Simona Halep, among others, as the main characters.
1. In Adelaide, Sofia Kenin scored a second-round win over Ajla Tomljanović, even saving match points in the second set. The 2020 Australian Open champion would not get a single victory in more than seven months thereafter, entering a nine-match losing streak.
2. Emma Raducanu lost 6-0 6-1 to Elena Rybakina in Sydney, and to Danka Kovinić in Melbourne. Not being used to the intensity of the tour, and her recurrent physical problems, both evidenced in these losses, would be her main obstacles in this transitional year of getting accustomed to the circuit.
3. Paula Badosa won the third title of her career in Sydney, defeating Krejčíková in the final. What seemed to be the start of a year of consolidating her high ranking, ended up being, disappointingly, her only notable result of 2022.
4. As the defending champion, Naomi Osaka wasted two match points and lost in the third round of the Australian Open to Amanda Anisimova in a third set tiebreak. Having barely played since Roland-Garros in 2021, Osaka left the top 80 for the first time since 2016.
5. Iga Świątek made back-to-back comebacks against Sorana Cîrstea and Kaia Kanepi to get her first major semifinal on hard court. These were vital wins for her mammoth winning streak later in the year, as they took her skills, tactics, mentality, and confidence to another level on hard courts.
6. Ashleigh Barty beat Collins 6-2 7-62 in the Australian Open final, becoming the first Australian to win the title in 44 years, and completing the career surface slam. Not even Barty at the time knew it would end up being the last match she would ever play.
7. In an interview moderated by members of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Peng Shuai said people misunderstood her words and that she never accused someone of sexual assault, and makes her retirement from tennis official. She has not appeared in the public eye since.
8. Anett Kontaveit won in Saint Petersburg for the sixth title of her career, and fifth in six months. Her indoor winning streak had grown to twenty matches and four titles, but this would end up being the only title of her season.
9. Jeļena Ostapenko beat four major champions and Veronika Kudermetova in the final to take the title in Dubai. Also, having defeated her in a second-round third-set tiebreak, Ostapenko became the only player in a five-month span to hand Świątek a loss.
10. Świątek started her record-breaking thirty-seven-match winning streak and went on to win the 1000 event in Doha, beating Kontaveit in the final. It was her first big title on hard courts, and first of the six consecutive ones she would claim.
11. On February 24th, Russia starts the invasion of Ukraine. Świątek used her Doha winning speech to speak up in support of Ukraine. The following week, Elina Svitolina refused to face Anastasia Potapova in Monterrey if she played under the Russian flag.
12. After the start of the war, Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska fled her country with her younger sister, going to France, and got a wildcard for the Lyon event. In an emotional run, she lost in the final to Zhang, having saved match points in the first round.
13. Leylah Fernandez successfully defended her Monterrey title in an epic final against Camila Osorio. In some last games full of drama, with an extended interruption on match point, she saved five championship points to win in a third set tiebreak.
14. Having had to win her first three matches from a set down, Świątek cruises afterwards, and beats Madison Keys, Simona Halep, and Maria Sákkari in Indian Wells for her second title in a row. She goes up to world number two, where she would stay for a mere five days.
15. After the Australian Billie Jean King Cup tie gets canceled because of Russia’s suspension, Barty shockingly announced her retirement and asked to be removed from the number one ranking. Badosa and Świątek were her only possible successors.
16. Świątek won her first match in Miami and became the 28th WTA player to reach number one, and the first one from Poland. Just four weeks earlier, she had been ranked eighth. Her jump from fourth to first happened in six days.
17. Osaka picked up her best result of the season, reaching the final in Miami. The signals were unequivocally positive, and she showed desire to get back to her best. Still, things did not improve ― she only won two completed matches in the rest of 2022.
18. Świątek extended her winning streak to 17 matches, taking the title in Miami by beating Osaka 6-4, 6-0 in the final. She became the first player to win the first three WTA 1000 events of the year, and the youngest ever to win the Sunshine Double.
19. Ons Jabeur won her second career title in Madrid, and her first above 250-level, beating Pegula in the final. She became the second African woman to win a WTA 1000 title, and first since 1998. Jabeur maintained her great form to reach the Rome final.
20. After winning Stuttgart, Świątek kept extending her streak, successfully defending her title in Rome. She joined Nadal, Serena, Federer, Djoković, Azarenka, Murray, and Henin as the only players to win twenty-five matches in a row this century.
21. The AELTC and LTA had announced that Russian and Belarussian players would be banned from entering their events due to the war in Ukraine. Tennis governing bodies decided to strip Wimbledon of ranking points as a result, turning the tournament into a glorified exhibition.
22. In one of the best matches of the year, Angelique Kerber beat Kaja Juvan in the Strasbourg final. Having not played since Wimbledon, Kerber announced her pregnancy in August, just as Elina Svitolina had done three months before.
23. Jabeur had made three finals and won a big title during the clay season. As a clear title contender, and in one of the upsets of the year, the Tunisian was beaten by Magda Linette in the first round of Roland-Garros, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
24. In other big French Open first round matches, Barbora Krejčíková lost in her debut to Diane Parry, as only two other defending champions had done in history. She had not played a match in three months, but the match stung regardless, as the 2021 champion said during her press conference.
25. Świątek got the cherry on top of her epic winning streak, claiming the title in Paris. It was her second Grand Slam. In beating Gauff in the final, she tied Venus Williams’ streak of thirty-five straight wins, the longest streak on the WTA since 2000. She had won three titles in three clay events played.
26. Beatriz Haddad Maia had an incredible run during the grass season, with twelve wins in a row, titles in Nottingham and Birmingham, and a semifinal in Eastbourne. She became just the sixth woman to win two grass titles in a season since 1987.
27. After almost a year off the courts, Serena Williams makes her comeback to tennis. She played Eastbourne in doubles with Jabeur, where they won two matches, and Wimbledon, where in an epic first round battle, Serena lost to Harmony Tan in a third-set tiebreak.
28. The streak finally comes to an end. In the third round of Wimbledon, Alizé Cornet beat Świątek after thirty-seven consecutive wins and six titles in a row. Świątek’s run was the longest match winning streak of the century on the WTA, and joint-longest since 1990.
29. An incredible story from Tatjana Maria in 2022. Having just made her comeback to tennis at 33 years of age after giving birth to her two kids, she won her first title in four years in Bogota, and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon!
30. Unfairly questioned by some members of the media because of her country of birth, Elena Rybakina had one of the best Grand Slam event runs in recent years and took the title in Wimbledon. She is the first Kazakhstani ever to win a major. And she earned… no points for it.
31. Bernarda Pera had the best weeks of her life, winning back-to-back titles in Budapest (coming from qualies) and Hamburg. She beat the world number two along the way, and made the final at a 125. During the 16-match winning streak, she only lost one set!
32. Venus Williams finally made her comeback to tennis. In Washington, she lost a really close match to Rebecca Marino, having won the first set. She would also lose in her debuts in Toronto and at the US Open, to Jill Teichmann and Alison van Uytvanck.
33. Simona Halep won Toronto, the 24th title of her career, beating Beatriz Haddad Maia in the final, returning to the top 10 after thirteen months. Having also recently reached the Wimbledon semifinals, she was slowly getting back into top form and appeared to be well-positioned for the U.S. Open…
34. Serena announced her “retirement”, and that the US Open would be her last tournament. In an emotional farewell, she got one win in Canada over Nuria Párrizas Díaz before losing to Bencic shortly thereafter and to Raducanu in Cincinnati.
35. After some years of inconsistency, Caroline Garcia climbed back to her top level. She had an incredible run with titles in Bad Homburg and Warsaw and adds another one in Cincinnati, from qualifying. Her streak didn’t stop until the U.S. Open semifinals.
36. The upset of the year. Daria Snigur, a 20-year-old Ukrainian qualifier, beat Halep in the first round of the U.S. Open, despite losing a set 6-0. In an emotional on-court interview, Snigur dedicates the win to her country at war.
37. At the U.S. Open, Cornet broke the record for most consecutive Grand Slam appearances. She was set to face Raducanu, who became the third-ever defending champion to lose in the first round, falling out of the top 80.
38. Four-time major champion Osaka faced Danielle Collins in the first round of the U.S. Open. In a high-quality match, Collins prevailed in two sets over the out-of-form Osaka, who would end a season without a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2017.
39. Serena’s final career win became one of her most memorable ones ever. In her retirement tournament, and with an insane atmosphere, she beat world number two Kontaveit in the second round. The third set… wow!
40. The legendary Serena Williams said goodbye. Visibly exhausted after two incredibly tight sets, she could not do much in the third set against Ajla Tomljanović, losing it 6-1. The last game, though, was a fittingly epic end for her glittering career.
41. Muguruza faced Petra Kvitová in an epic third round match at the U.S. Open. The Spaniard, who had won back-to-back matches for the first time in six months, lost in a third-set tiebreak to the Czech, who was carrying momentum from making the Cincinnati final.
42. Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková won the U.S. Open, coming back from a set and a break down in the final, and became the first ever doubles team to complete the Career Super Slam: all four majors, Olympic gold, and the Tour Finals.
43. Świątek came to the U.S. Open after two irregular months. Not playing at her best, but adapting to the circumstances, she won her third major and her first on hard court, becoming the first woman to win multiple majors in a single season since Kerber in 2016.
44. A teenage breakthrough in Chennai: Linda Fruhvirtová came back from a set down three times, and from 1-4 down in the third set of the final. At just seventeen years of age, she won her first title and made her debut inside the top 100.
45. Liudmila Samsonova won titles in Washington, Cleveland, and Tokyo, compiling a record of 18-1 in four tournaments. The first two, won back-to-back, were part of her thirteen-match winning streak, which only stopped at the U.S. Open fourth round.
46. After a shaky year in singles due to injuries, Krejčíková returned to top form, winning back-to-back titles in Tallinn and Ostrava, ending Kontaveit’s indoor hard streak, and beating Świątek in an incredible match, handing the Pole her first final loss in her last ten title matches.
47. Immediately after the Ostrava final, Świątek won the eighth and last title of her season in San Diego, beating Vekić in the final, with an incredible third set in which she lost just five points. She would then reach the semifinals at the year-end championships.
48. On October 21st, two-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Halep announced that she has been provisionally suspended due to a positive doping test for Roxadustat. She had not played since the U.S. Open.
49. Jessica Pegula finally got her reward. Being one of the most consistent players on tour, she still had not won a title since mid-2019. In Guadalajara, a 1000-level event, Pegula beat Sákkari in the final to become a top-three ranked player.
50. Caroline Garcia won the biggest title of her career to finish her best ever season. By winning the WTA Finals, beating Sabalenka in the final, she finished the year ranked fourth, when not even five months earlier, she was outside the top seventy.
- Amanda Anisimova won her second career title, and first in three years, in Melbourne
- Garbiñe Muguruza lost to Riske from 6-0, 3-0 up in Indian Wells, the start of her downfall
- Simona Halep hired Patrick Mouratoglou as her new coach
- Belinda Bencic won Charleston, to finally get one title on each surface
- Aryna Sabalenka ended Kontaveit’s twenty-two indoor-match winning streak in Stuttgart
- Iga Świątek won Stuttgart, her fourth consecutive tournament, in her debut as number one
- Martina Trevisan won Rabat and ten matches in a row until the Roland-Garros semifinals
- Petra Kvitová won the title in Eastbourne, her first one since March 2021
- Caroline Garcia beat Świątek in Poland, ending her eighteen-match winning streak on clay
- Cori Gauff, at just eighteen years of age, became number one in doubles
- Emma Raducanu beat Serena and Azarenka in back-to-back matches in Cincinnati
- Mayar Sherif won her first WTA title in Parma, with a win over Sákkari in the final
- Switzerland won the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time in history