Editor’s note: This week, the WTA editorial team looks back at our top moments from the 2023 Hologic WTA Tour season. On Wednesday, we unveil our most memorable matches.
On any given day, on any given week, tennis players’ fortunes can turn on a dime. Favorites methodically forging a seemingly processional title march can get blindsided by the plucky efforts of an overlooked talent. Underdogs amid a slump can suddenly catch fire and become world-beaters.
It’s the high that everyone is chasing on the Hologic WTA Tour.
Here are the upset specials that left a lasting impression this season:
No.79 Alycia Parks d. No.5 Caroline Garcia, Lyon final
Alycia Parks’ maiden title run in Lyon was quite the ride, featuring a viral tweener-lob winner in her second-round win over Petra Martic and culminating in an upset of local heroine and No.1 seed Caroline Garcia 7-6(7), 7-5. In the final, Parks fired 15 aces and saved all four break points she faced.
Parks upsets Garcia in Lyon to win first WTA singles title
The most indelible moment came when she combined those stats at 5-5 in the second set. With the crowd roaring Garcia on to a potential comeback, Parks faced the moment in style. After slamming an ace down the tee to save one of three break points in the game, the 22-year-old American raised her hands to the sky as if to demand her share of appreciation. A few minutes later, having held and quickly broken Garcia for the title, she had fully earned it. — Alex Macpherson
No.30 Barbora Krejcikova d. No.1 Iga Swiatek, Dubai final
This isn’t about one match so much as it is about Barbora Krejcikova’s trio of upsets to cap off her first WTA 1000 title. We know Krejcikova’s quality, but she came into that tournament searching for her Top 10 form. In fact, she hadn’t beaten a Top 10 player in over a year.
Champions Corner: Behind Krejcikova’s stunning Dubai win
The 2021 French Open champion ended that drought by saving match points to beat Daria Kasatkina in the second round. Then she snapped No.2 Aryna Sabalenka’s 13-match win streak in the quarterfinals, beat No.3 Jessica Pegula, and capped it off with her best performance of the season, a 6-4, 6-2 masterclass over No.1 Iga Swiatek, who was fresh off a dominant Doha run. With that, Krejcikova became the third player in tour history to beat the reigning Top 3 en route to a title, joining Stefanie Graf and Serena Williams. — Courtney Nguyen
No.76 Elina Svitolina d. No.1 Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon quarterfinals
This wasn’t as pure an upset as, say, Emma Raducanu winning the 2021 US Open, but this one resonated because of all the emotions involved. I understand that grass isn’t Iga’s best surface and that Svitolina was a former Wimbledon semifinalist. But to enter the tournament as a relatively new mother and ranked No.76 with a wild card – and then burn through four major champions (Venus Williams, Sofia Kenin, Victoria Azarenka and Swiatek), well that’s really something.
At Wimbledon, Svitolina serves as a symbol of hope for Ukraine
Swiatek wearing the Ukraine ribbon, supporting Svitolina’s country in a desperate time of need, only added to the poignancy.
“She’s done so much, and doing still so much for Ukraine,” Svitolina said after the win. “We really admire her in Ukraine. In the way when you’re playing your good buddy, it’s tough because you don’t want to see her losing.”
— Greg Garber
No.128 Sofia Kenin d. No.7 Coco Gauff, Wimbledon 1R
For two reasons, I’ll pick Sofia Kenin’s first-round upset of her fellow American Coco Gauff at Wimbledon as the year’s most memorable. First, it was a key victory for Kenin, the Australian Open champion and Roland Garros finalist in 2020, who had to battle through the qualies just to make the Wimbledon main draw. A big win over one of the top players on tour accelerated Kenin’s comeback, spurring her on to more strong results, including the San Diego final and the Guadalajara semifinals. Kenin is now nearly back into Grand Slam seeding range, which is beneficial for both herself and the rest of the field.
Resurgent Kenin stuns Gauff at Wimbledon
Second, Gauff has pointed to this result on numerous occasions as an impetus to revamp aspects of her game in advance of the summer hardcourt season. The rest is history. — Jason Juzwiak