No. 1 Victoria Azarenka got off to a flying start in 2012, winning her first 26 matches. There are only two women who have started seasons better than Azarenka, including three separate seasons in which Steffi Graf won 31 or more straight matches. Hingis holds the record for the longest streak to open the season at 37 wins. She began 1997 ranked No. 6. But after winning six titles, including the Australian Open, she climbed to the top of the rankings by the time her 37-match winning streak ended in the French Open final.
2 of 11Bob Martin/SI
Injury prevented Graf from starting her season at the beginning of the '95 calendar year, but she came out on a tear once she hit the court in Paris in February. She won six straight titles, including back-to-back wins over Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the French Open and Wimbledon finals. Her streak ended in Toronto in August, when Amanda Coetzer knocked off Graf in the second round.
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In 1994, Graf won 27 straight matches without even dropping a set. Natasha Zvereva was able to finally take a set off the No. 1 player in the Miami final, but not the match. Graf's streak continued to the final in Hamburg, where she lost to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.
4 of 11David Walberg/SI
Graf started the '89 season with a win at the Australian Open, her second of four titles there. After grabbing the year's first major, Graf rattled off titles in Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Boca Raton and Hilton Head before finally falling to Gabriela Sabatini at Amelia Island.
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At the end of the 2011 season, it seemed like Petra Kvitova would take the top spot early in 2012. But an injury kept her from her best form and Azarenka authoritatively seized control. Azarenka dominated Maria Sharapova in two finals (Australian Open, Indian Wells) and made a powerful statement in filling the power void on the WTA. She was finally tripped up by Marion Bartoli, 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open.
6 of 11Bob Martin/SI
We're starting to see a pattern here. Graf began the 1990 season with five straight titles, including the Australian Open. Her first loss of the season came in straight sets to No. 3 Monica Seles in the Berlin final.
7 of 11David Callow/SI
Serena fought through a tough Australian Open final against older sister Venus to grab her first title of 2003, then reeled off 14 straight wins. In Serena's best career start to a season, she beat top-caliber players such as Venus, Kim Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport. Her streak was stopped when Justine Henin, then ranked No. 4, took her down in Charleston.
8 of 11Manny Millan/SI
Here's something that's perhaps as impressive as all these season-starting streaks. In 1992, on Seles' way to winning her first 19 matches, she beat No. 32 Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second round of the Australian Open. Yes, the same Date-Krumm who lost to Venus Williams in the opening round of the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open. That's a pretty impressive streak of a different nature. Back to Seles: She won the Australian Open, Essen and Indian Wells before Capriati halted her streak in the Miami quarterfinals.
9 of 11Dita Alangkara/AP
Sharapova was on the rise in 2008. She started the year ranked No. 5, then won 18 straight matches before Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated her in the Indian Wells final. Sharapova would go on to reach the top spot and win another title before a fateful shoulder injury required surgery and put her promising young career in a holding pattern.
10 of 11Matthew Impney/Action Plus/Icon SMI
Henin benefitted from Lindsay Davenport's withdrawal in Sydney to kick-start this streak, which included a win over Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open final. It was Svetlana Kuznetsova who played spoiler again, beating Henin in the Doha semis.
11 of 11David Callow/SI
The No. 1 player coming into the '93 season, Seles knocked off No. 2 Steffi Graf and No. 3 Gabriela Sabatini to capture her first title of the year at the Australian Open. She grabbed the title in Chicago by topping Martina Navratilova, but Navratilova got her revenge the next week in Paris and took down Seles in the final.
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