Going into the WTA 500 event in Berlin this past week, Liudmila Samsonova had only ever been to the quarterfinals or better at a WTA event one time—reaching the semis of the WTA 250 clay-court stop in Palermo, Italy two years ago—and she only had 10 tour-level match wins to her name.

That all changed in the German capital, as she won five more tour-level matches to win her first WTA title—as a qualifier, no less—finishing her run off with back-to-back wins over No. 16 Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals and No. 12 Belinda Bencic in the final.

With the win in Berlin, the 22-year-old Russian soared from No. 106 to No. 63 on the new WTA rankings, blowing past her previous career-high of No. 105 to make her Top 100 debut.

“I was so, so nervous today, even before the match, during the first set,” she told WTATour.com after her 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 championship win over Bencic. “I said, ‘Okay, let’s try to put more aggressive game.’ And it worked.”

Samsonova then revealed she had received a wild card into the main draw of Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam she hasn’t played in the main draw of yet. She fell in qualifying there once in 2019.

She’s now the No. 6 Russian on the WTA rankings. At No. 19, Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is No. 1, followed by four players ranked in the 30s: No. 32 Veronika Kudermetova, No. 34 Daria Kasatkina, No. 35 Ekaterina Alexandrova and No. 38 Svetlana Kuznetsova.


Samsonova was born in Olenegorsk, Russia, which is in the Arctic Circle close to the border with Finland

Samsonova was born in Olenegorsk, Russia, which is in the Arctic Circle close to the border with Finland

On the ATP side, a pair of 500-level events took place. World No. 9 Matteo Berrettini won Queen’s Club, and though he stayed at No. 9 this week, he’s now just 347 points behind No. 8 Roger Federer (4,815 to 4,468). The man Berrettini beat in the final, Cameron Norrie, rose from No. 41 to No. 34—which wasn’t just his Top 40 debut, it also guaranteed him a seed for Wimbledon, given that four players ranked ahead of him (as of time of writing) have already withdrawn.

Ugo Humbert was the winner at the other ATP 500 event in Halle, and subsequently rose from No. 31 to No. 25 on the new ATP rankings, surpassing his previous career-high of No. 29.

And though he didn’t play this past week, Norwegian trailblazer Casper Ruud took one step closer to the Top 10, going from No. 15 to No. 14 after David Goffin slipped from No. 13 to No. 15.