The Hungarian Grand Prix has provided significant opportunities for Hungarian players since 1996. The majority played their first WTA Tour tournament in Budapest, naturally with wild cards provided by the organizers. The following summary includes the main draw participants, but it would be worth presenting the complete picture once, including those who participated in the qualifiers and doubles events.
It is appropriate to begin the compilation not only because, based on the individual world rankings, she remains the most successful player to this day, but it’s also worth remembering that the predecessor of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the ITF 75K tournament, was won by Andrea Temesvári in 1995 (as the 3rd seed, she was already ranked 111th at that time). The following year brought her significant happiness and pride as she could welcome her fellow players in her own homeland. During the peak of her career in the 1980s, Hungary did not host any WTA tournaments, preventing her from showcasing her talent at home.
In the first Hungarian Grand Prix in 1996, she reached the quarterfinals where she was defeated in a memorable battle by Rita Kuti Kis (6-7, 6-4, 6-3). The following year, she essentially played her last professional match after a 16-year-long career at the Rome Tennis Academy. She was defeated by the 2nd seed and eventual champion, Amanda Coetzer, with a score of 7-6, 6-2.
Her last match at the Rome Tennis Academy in 2010 was against Irina Camelia Begu, who is now in the main draw of the Hungarian Grand Prix. Begu received a wildcard opportunity at the age of 15 in the qualifiers in 1999. She was just one win away from causing a sensation, but her progress was halted by Slovak player Martina Sucha. The following year, she started in the main draw with a wildcard and gave a tough fight to the top-ranked Swiss player Miroslava Vavrinec (7-5, 6-7, 3-6). Her best result came in 2001 when she advanced to the semifinals as a wildcard entrant, collecting victories including one against French player Emilie Loit – she couldn’t overcome the 2nd seeded Anne Kremer in the semifinals (Kremer had defeated Petra Mandula before that). In 2004, as the 3rd seed in the tournament, she easily defeated young Samantha Stosur in the second round (6-2, 6-1), but was bested by Czech player Iveta Melzer in the quarterfinals. The following year, still with a wildcard, she reached the quarterfinals again, where she was defeated by the eventual champion, Israeli player Anna Smashnova.
She first played at the Hungarian Grand Prix at the age of 18: in 1996, she entered the qualifiers and after winning two matches, she was defeated by American player Meghan Shaughnessy in her quest to reach the main draw. Her next appearance in 1999 at the Rome Tennis Academy saw her make it to the quarterfinals, only to lose a deciding set 7-6 to her local rival, Rita Kuti Kis. Two years later, starting from the qualifiers, she got her revenge against Rita Kuti Kis (meeting again in the Round of 16) and in the quarterfinals, she was stopped by the 2nd seeded Anne Kremer (2-6, 7-6, 6-4).
The following year, she was herself the 2nd seed, but surprisingly lost her opening match to lucky loser Lubomira Kurhajcova. She had difficulties with Slovak players and 2nd seeds: in 2003, the 2nd seeded Magui Serna (who later became the champion) halted her progress in the quarterfinals, and in 2004, she was defeated by Martina Sucha in her bid to reach the semifinals.
She initially received a wildcard to the qualifiers and at the age of 15, won her first match there. For the next three years (starting from 2005), she was granted wildcards directly into the main draw, but her real breakthrough came in 2007: she reached the semifinals, including a victory over Russian player Elena Likhovtseva. The following year brought huge expectations as she became the first Hungarian top seed in the history of the HGP. Likely due to excessive pressure and heightened expectations, she was defeated in her opening match by Slovenian player Andreja Klepac.
Returning to the Rome Tennis Academy the next year, she came back with more experience and as an even better player. With the support of thousands of enthusiastic fans, she managed to come from behind and win matches twice, becoming the first Hungarian champion in the history of the tournament. In the second round, she defeated Tathiana Garbin, the popular winner from 2000 in Budapest, in a thrilling match (7-6, 5-7, 7-5), and in the final, she overcame the top seed Patty Schnyder (2-6, 6-4, 6-2). Returning as the defending champion in 2010, she once again left her mark. She proved superior to the then lesser-known Alizé Cornet (who received a wildcard as a young French player). In the semifinals, she triumphed over the 2nd seeded Alexandra Dulgheru in a monumental match (6-1, 5-7, 7-5), and in the final, she faced Patty Schnyder once more. This time, Ági Szávay won convincingly with a score of 6-2, 6-4. At that moment, no one could have imagined it would be her last match at the Rome Tennis Academy.
One of the most successful Hungarian players in the history of the HGP, she holds the record: no one has appeared in the main draw more times than her – a total of eight appearances in the 32-player field – and combining both main draw and qualifying matches, she won a total of twenty singles matches. She reached the semifinals twice. In 1996, she started as the 752nd-ranked player in the qualifiers, and a year later, she had climbed to 175th in the rankings, mainly due to the 64 points she earned in Budapest. In her first tournament, she first defeated the 4th seed, 62nd-ranked American player Ann Wunderlich, then went on to beat the 1999 champion Sarah Pitkowski and in the quarterfinals, she triumphed over Andrea Temesvári. However, she was stopped in the semifinals by Austrian player Melanie Schnell (6-2, 6-1).
The following year, she again came through the qualifiers to reach the main draw but was immediately eliminated. In 1998, starting from the qualifiers once more, she progressed to the quarterfinals by defeating two players in the top hundred. In 1999, ranked 79th, she didn’t have to go through qualifiers and again reached the semifinals. This might have been her most exciting year: she defeated the 3rd seed and 25th-ranked Silvia Farina in the first round, then overcame Petra Mandula and lost in a third-set tiebreaker to Sarah Pitkowski in the semifinals. In the following years, there were instances when she was seeded, but she couldn’t achieve similar successes.
ARN GRÉTA 4 win | 6 loss
BABOS TÍMEA 3 win | 7 loss
BATTA LUCIA 3 win | 5 loss
BORSÁNYI CSILLA 0 win | 1 loss
BUKTA ÁGNES 1 win | 1 loss
CSURGÓ VIRÁG 0 win | 1 loss
SZABANIN NATÁLIA 0 win | 2 loss
TÓTH AMARISSZA 1 win | 1 loss