The evolution of tennis has bred a new generation of players and style of gameplay. The fast-paced play of modern tennis has transformed the sport entirely, including footwork, techniques, and training methods.
Professional tennis players in both the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have enhanced their skill sets to stay on par with top-level talent. A new year brings a new season and with it comes intense nail-biting moments and rapid clapping fans immersed in the constant action unraveling before their eyes.
The tennis freaks at Fanatics decided to break down the stats for the ongoing 2017 WTA season to see which women are striking the meanest serves and setting the high-water mark a few levels higher. Keep reading to learn more.
Serving Is a Habit
If you know tennis, then you know winning a service game is easier by nature. By starting the point, servers have the upper hand in setting the pace of the match. In turn, this enables the player to secure command of the point, which ultimately increases their chances of winning.
Johanna Konta (GBR) appears to be quite the fan of service games as she dominates all others in the league, with 84% of service games won throughout the 2017 season. Much of Konta’s success is credited to her accuracy and placement when striking aces – serving 105 aces during her career in the WTA.
In the U.S., Serena Williams is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. A reasonable claim considering the American-born star just secured her 23rd Grand Slam title after defeating her sister, Venus Williams. Momma Smash is known for exerting great force, which is the primary factor behind her winning 82.4% of service games this season.
Break Point Power
Players on the opposite side of a serve tend to be at a slight disadvantage. When taking the court in a return set, it’s crucial to start the game off on the defensive. The goal of a receiving player is to neutralize the point to gain control. Once this is achieved, capitalizing on the break point is a surefire way to victory.
Elise Mertens (BEL) leads the women’s return winners ranks, claiming victory to 51.4% of return games this season. Since her induction into the WTA in 2013, the Belgian superstar has played in 74 return games with a 69.1% break point conversion (year to date).
Hailing from Latvia, Jelena Ostapenko joined the WTA in 2012. Ostapenko has come a long way since then and has been dominating the majority of her return games this season, winning 50.3% in her 14 matches. Seasoned swinger Shuai Peng rounds out the top three with 49.7% of her return games won.
Open Era Domination
Tennis was forever changed in 1968 when the sport ushered in new gameplay and rules known as the Open Era. For those of you unacquainted, the beginning of the Open Era is considered one of the greatest moments in tennis history. This period shed new light on the racket sport by allowing amateur athletes to enter world-class tournaments and compete alongside professional players for prize money.
For years, athletes were disgruntled they could not afford their lifestyle by playing tennis alone. To ensure financial stability, players began competing in matches held by private parties that dished out prize money. Once the governing bodies of tennis acknowledged the individual events, the game was forever changed.
The WTA has come a long way since ’68. Martina Navratilova, a retired Czech tennis superstar, dominates the new age with a combined 1,442 Open Era singles matches won. Navratilova retired with many accolades under her belt, including 18 Grand Slam titles, 21 WTA Championship appearances, and the longest winning streak of Open Era singles.
Chris Evert (USA) trails behind Navratilova with 1,304 Open Era WTA matches won, making her the only other professional female player to break the 1,000 high-water mark. Steffi Graf (Germany) rounds out the top three with a total of 900 matches won in the Open Era.
Hustle, Hit, and Never Quit
The WTA has reached new heights in the modern era with records being broken every season. Keep up with all the hype revolving around the sports world by heading over to Fantics.com. There you can find the latest fan gear, collectibles, and sports merchandise to hit the streets!