Australian No. 1 Arina Rodionova has made tennis history by becoming the oldest woman to appear in the world’s top 100 for the first time.
The 34-year-old climbed to the highest ranking of her career when she defeated China’s Bai Zhuoxuan 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 at the Thailand Open in Hua Hin on Thursday evening.
The win ensures Rodionova, aged 34 years and 52 days, will crack the top 100 when the next WTA rankings are announced on Monday, continuing her astonishing late-career rise fueled in part by outrage became.
Rodionova has finally broken the top 100 barrier after a professional career that began 20 years ago in Russia.
The veteran is Australia’s top-ranked player but was denied a wildcard into the Australian Open by Tennis Australia last month and later bowed out in qualifying.
Rodionova revealed that she felt she was suffering a personal vendetta from the governing body.
“The only thing I regret today is that I gave Tennis Australia a reason to celebrate,” Rodionova said defiantly after her first-round defeat in Melbourne.
“I think they are very happy with my result today and that is what upsets me.”
Rodionova won seven lower-level ITF singles titles in a breakout year in 2023 after recovering from a serious wrist injury.
In her first competition since the Australian Open, the Russian-born player has given authorities further food for thought by now becoming the only Australian to break into the top 100.
Currently ranked 101st, her run in Hua Hin will propel her provisionally to 96th when the new rankings are released, continuing the stellar rise of a player who was ranked 302nd at the start of 2023.
If Rodionova wins the tournament, she could move to the edge of the top 70.
The second best Australian is Kim Birrell at number 124.
By winning the last 11 games in a row against the 21-year-old Bai, Rodionova has now secured her place in only the second tour quarter-final of her career.
The last time she made it to the last eight was seven years ago in Nanchang, China.
Having already eliminated two Chinese players during her run, Rodionova now has to get past third, second seed Zhu Lin on Friday.
World number 45 Zhu ensured three Chinese players would be in the last eight when she beat Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2 6-2.
Rodionova will also be in the doubles semifinals on Friday alongside her Chinese partner Yuan Yue, whom she defeated in the first round of singles.