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WTA season review: Swiatek finishes on top

The 2023 WTA season is in the books following Iga Swiatek's victory at the WTA Finals and we're taking a look back at all the storylines from the biggest events in women's tennis over the last 11 months.

Sabalenka pips Rybakina in Australian Open thriller

Aryna Sabalenka served notice that a big season was on the cards with a win in Adelaide in the opening week of the campaign and the Belarusian, known for her brutal hitting from the baseline, would soon realise a long-held Grand Slam dream at the Australian Open.

Sabalenka bulldozed her way through the draw in Melbourne, winning her first six matches in straight sets, but she had to dig deep in a classic final win over Elena Rybakina, losing the first set against the Wimbledon champion before roaring back to record a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

After Barbora Krejcikova's success in the first WTA 1000 event of the season in Dubai, the two Australian Open finalists met again at Indian Wells in March, where Rybakina would turn the tails on her Australian Open conqueror in the final in Tennis Paradise.

The Kazakhstani almost went back-to-back in Miami the following week, falling at the final hurdle in pursuit of the Sunshine Double when beaten by the evergreen Petra Kvitova.

Pole reigns supreme in Paris before Vondrousova shock

Attention soon turned to European clay and, in particular, the health of Iga Swiatek, who had endured a difficult start to the season, winning in Qatar but falling short in the most important events before a rib injury forced her to skip the Miami Open.

The Pole returned to action with another title in Stuttgart, although she found Sabalenka too hot to handle in the Madrid final before Rybakina defeated her at the quarter-final stage in Rome on the way to taking that title.

However, Swiatek has always looked at her very best in Paris and so it proved once again as the 22-year-old tournament favourite beat Karolina Muchova in the French Open final to claim a fourth Slam title and a third in the French capital. She is 1/1 to make it four in 2024.

While the favourite delivered in France, a wide-open Wimbledon singles draw looked ripe for a shock and so it proved as Marketa Vondrousova, a runner-up at the French Open in 2019 before injuries threatened to derail her career, took the title.

While the Czech was fortunate to avoid Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina, she still did it the hard way by becoming the first unseeded winner of the Wimbledon women's title, denying Ons Jabeur in the final. She is 14/1 to win again next year.

Rising star Gauff comes of age in New York City

After Vondrousova's Wimbledon win, the North American hard-court season would signal the emergence of Coco Gauff as a genuine superstar as the 19-year-old began the summer on home turf with a win in Washington.

It was the turn of her doubles partner Jessica Pegula to win in Montreal but Gauff was back on the trophy trail in Cincinnati, winning the Western and Southern Open title with a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win over Sabalenka in the final.

The teenager, who has previously never been beyond the quarter-finals of her home Grand Slam, brushed off the fans' lofty expectations in New York, winning the US Open title with another three-sets win over Sabalenka, who assumed the world no.1 ranking despite the loss.

Gauff won 18 of her 19 matches in the North American Swing, only losing out to Pegula in Canada, and she's 6/1 to keep hold of her US Open crown in 2024.

Swiatek finishes on top thanks to WTA Finals success

With the four Grand Slams all going to different champions, there was plenty up for grabs in the final few weeks of the season including September's Guadalajara Open, which was won by Maria Sakkari, the Greek claiming just her second career title in Mexico.

But, after a moderate season by her immensely high standards, the end of the year would ultimately belong to Swiatek, who won the China Open title in Beijing in October, keeping alive her chances of finishing the season as the world no.1.

The WTA returned to Mexico for the Tour Finals, where Swiatek relished the conditions in Cancun, breezing through her group before a semi-final win over Sabalenka before the Pole captured a last title the last big title of 2023 with a 6-1 6-0 demolition of Pegula in the final.

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