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.
Across singles and doubles, the Hologic WTA Tour crowned 114 tournament champions this season. While the biggest tournaments were dominated by familiar faces, surprises continued to bubble up at the WTA 250-level and on the doubles circuit.
Here were our picks for the most surprising title runs of the year:
Maria Timofeeva, Budapest
Between 1968 and 2023, only three lucky losers had managed to win a WTA title: Kay McDaniel (Atlanta 1980), Olga Danilovic (Moscow River Cup 2018) and Coco Gauff (Linz 2019). In the space of six weeks this summer, that number doubled. Two of the lucky loser champions — Nao Hibino in Prague and Sara Sorribes Tormo in Cleveland — were proven quantities whose rankings had slumped temporarily.
But in Budapest, the 19-year-old Maria Timofeeva achieved the feat on her WTA main-draw debut, mirroring Danilovic’s accomplishment five years previously. Timofeeva had contested only five previous WTA qualifying draws and fell to Anna Siskova 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) in the final qualifying round — but came through four three-setters in the main draw, including her first career Top 100 wins, over Nadia Podoroska and Kateryna Baindl, in the last two rounds. Timofeeva has been out of action since the US Open with a foot injury but will be one to watch in 2024. — Alex Macpherson
Hsieh Su-Wei and Wang Xiyu, French Open
Hsieh Su-Wei and Wang Xiyu win at French Open stood out. I nearly gave the nod to Hsieh’s run to the Wimbledon title a few weeks later with Barbora Strycova until I looked up Hsieh and Wang’s draw in Paris. Playing in just their second tournament together — and not to mention that this was Hsieh’s first major in nearly two years, Hsieh and Wang survived a gauntlet that included Kristina Mladenovic-Zhang Shuai, Desirae Krawczyk-Demi Schuurs, Veronika Kudermetova- Liudmila Samsonova, Nicole Melichar-Martinez-Ellen Perez, and then came from a set down to beat Leylah Fernandez and Taylor Townsend to take the title. — Courtney Nguyen
Arantxa Rus, Hamburg European Open
Arantxa Rus, a well-traveled player from the Netherlands, had played more than 1,000 matches — and never won a WTA-level event when she arrived at the Hamburg European Open in late July. RankedNo.60, she had lost her previous match to Jasmine Pasolini, but Rus proceeded to win five straight. The first came on the clay against the afore-mentioned Timofeeva and the last over wild card Noma Noha Akugue. That helped Rus later secure a career-high ranking of No.41. — Greg Garber
Lauren Davis, Hobart
Some excellent picks here — Timofeeva winning as a lucky loser in her tour-level main-draw debut certainly stands out. I’ll lengthen the list by adding Lauren Davis’ early-season title in Hobart. Davis has been inside the Top 30, with five Top 10 wins to her name, but coming into this year, she was ranked outside the Top 80 and had not reached a final since she won her lone previous title at 2017 Auckland.
Just over six years later, Davis stormed through the draw in Tasmania, becoming the fourth qualifier to capture the Hobart International title. The way Davis pulled it off was startling as well — in two qualifying matches and five main-draw matches, the American did not drop a set. — Jason Juzwiak