Hua Hin, Thailand, 5 February 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Arina Rodionova creates history this week, becoming the first 34-year-old to make their top-100 singles debut on the WTA Tour.

“It’s crazy, I feel like I’m 10 years too late to the party,” Rodionova said. “But I guess it’s better late than never. I’m glad I finally made it.”

The Melburnian rises four places to a career-high world No.97 after scoring two top-100 wins in Thailand last week to advance to her first WTA-level quarterfinal since July 2017.

“To be top 100, I can finally say I’m actually a good tennis player,” Rodionova laughed. “Because when your career-best is 116, people are like ‘Oh, you’re just 116, That’s not that great’.”

> READ MORE: Rodionova leads rising Aussie women in the latest rankings

Since the introduction of the WTA Tour singles rankings in 1975, only five players aged over 30 have made their debut in the top 100.

Rodionova is the oldest among them, overtaking Israel’s Tzipora Obziler who had held that record for the past 17 years.

WTA Tour, top-100 singles
Players aged 30+ to make their debut
Player Debut Age
Arina Rodionova (AUS) February 2024 34
Tzipora Obziler (ISR) February 2007 33
Adriana Villagran Reami (ARG) August 1988 32
Emina Bektas (USA) November 2023 30
Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) August 2021 30

Twelve months ago, Rodionova was ranked No.309 and beginning her comeback from wrist surgery.

She enjoyed a stellar 2023 season, scooping seven ITF singles titles and winning a tour-leading 78 matches. This saw her climb to a new career-high ranking in December and become Australia’s top-ranked woman for the first time.

“I played week after week after week and just worked hard,” Rodionova said. “It’s obviously not an easy lifestyle, I was on my own for a lot of the year. I was away from home for 10 months. I played 107 matches.

“I don’t necessarily need to scream about it from every corner, but I know what I’ve done and it was not easy. So I’m super proud of my achievement.”

> READ MORE: Rodionova – “I think I surprised a lot of people”

Rodionova, who has scored four top-100 wins so far in an impressive start to the 2024 season, noted this hard work made her long-awaited top-100 breakthrough even sweeter.

“I feel like I deserve to be here because I put in so much work last year,” she said.

“I played more matches than anyone I think and I won more matches than anyone.

“I feel like I deserve to enjoy it a little bit more this year. Hopefully I can now make more money from tennis, because last year was not that great financially. It was great physically, I got really fit by playing a lot of matches but that’s not exactly why I work you know.”

With her ranking now inside the top 100, Rodionova hopes to maintain that position to earn direct entry into upcoming Grand Slam tournaments at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Rodionova’s 10 previous main-draw singles appearances at Grand Slam level came via either a wildcard or through qualifying.

“I’m just excited,” said Rodionova, who was 20 when she made her top-100 breakthrough in doubles.

“I’m going to try and enjoy this year. Obviously I’m going to try to play bigger tournaments.”

Rodionova is competing at a WTA 125 tournament in India this week, then plans to enjoy a short break in Australia to prepare for the American hard-court season.

“There lots of work to do, but hopefully it will be a bit more enjoyable,” she said.

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