2017 was a super dramatic season for the WTA Tour, including many stirring comebacks which lit up this season. This post covers the top 10 comebacks of 2017…
10. Roberta Vinci d. Kateryna Bondarenko, 7-6 6-7 7-6, Brisbane
Let’s start the countdown with a crazy one… Roberta Vinci saved five match points to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko in a two-hour and forty-six minute thriller. It was a match that I missed (blame WTA TV) but here’s a recap of the crazy match, where Vinci came back from a 5-1 deficit in the final set. I’m extremely sad that Vinci will officially be retiring in 2018; her backhand slice is a beauty 😦
9. Lucie Safarova d. Yanina Wickmayer, 3-6 7-6 6-1, Australian Open
This is another match that I didn’t watch but it sounded like an insane one. Lucie Safarova, down a set and 5-1 in the second set tiebreak, clawed to victory against Yanina Wickmayer having saved nine match points in the process. Here is a link of how Safarova saved those 9 match points. Heartbreaker for Wickmayer fans, but this is definitely one of the most brilliant comebacks you would ever see in tennis!
8. Caroline Wozniacki d. Dominika Cibulkova, 3-6 7-5 3-1 ret., Tokyo
All of us tennis fans know that Caroline Wozniacki is a fighter and she showed that to us again in Tokyo. Having been controlled throughout the whole match with Dominika Cibulkova’s power forehands and devilish play, Wozniacki managed to hit back with her defensive skills but it was not enough for the first set and a half. Down match point, Wozniacki hit one of the best backhands I have ever seen, with pin point accuracy and landing plum on the line. From then on it was cruise control from Wozniacki as an increasingly weary Cibulkova started to struggle with injury.
7. Ekaterina Makarova d. Angelique Kerber, 6-4 1-6 7-6, Cincinnati
Well if you thought the drama of Safarova-Wickmayer was unbeatable, cue Ekaterina Makarova’s win over Angelique Kerber in Cincinnati. With one set apiece, Makarova started cruising through the deciding set, grabbing hold of a 5-2 lead. However Kerber had other ideas, saving two match points to bring the match to a deciding tiebreak. In a crazy tiebreak where Kerber rallied to save a fourth match point at 6-5, Makarova came crashing down to the floor where she wailed in pain, however soon she immediately got up and hit an amazing return winner! Saving a match point of her own, she soon converted on her eighth match point to claim an epic victory. The loss still hurts as a Kerber fan, and I am completely unimpressed by Makarova’s antics as I think she completely over exaggerated her leg injury at one point. However, coming from a neutral point of view, I would definitely want to find a full replay of this match!
6. Caroline Garcia d. Caroline Wozniacki, 0-6 6-3 7-5, WTA Finals Singapore
Comebacks are always awesome to watch, and even more so when you are watching it live! Caroline Garcia came into this WTA Finals round robin match knowing that she needed a win to secure a spot in the semifinals, and boy did she do that in some style. Wozniacki was the in-form player having crushed both Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep in four commanding sets, and continued her outstanding form by dishing a bagel to Garcia in the first set. This was the moment where Garcia’s comeback started, as she started to pounce on Wozniacki’s increasingly passive play and broke serve twice to claim the second set. As the third set wore on, it seemed like it was going Wozniacki’s way… but wow… Garcia! At 5-4 40-40 (point linked below), she showed off her inner Wozniacki and chased every ball that the Dane threw at her. The crowd absolutely went crazy and this was the turning point as the Frenchwoman secured a first win over Wozniacki. Caroline lost in the semifinals thereafter, while the Danish Caroline went on to claim her first WTA Finals title.
More pictures of Wozniacki – Garcia here
5. Agnieszka Radwanska d. Christina McHale, 5-7 7-6 6-3, Wimbledon
Well this match is ranked so high mainly because it involved my favourite player Agnieszka Radwanska… but seriously, this was suchhhhhh and up and down match! Aga had been coming back from a viral illness, so we knew that she would be coming into this match a little lacklustre… and she indeed was as she lost the first set to an inspired Christina McHale. McHale had two match points in the second set tiebreak, but both were saved by a careful Radwanska, who eventually took the set and ran off with the match afterwards. It was one of my favourite Radwanska matches of the season and even though it was such a tough year for Aga, this match showed the grit that she still and will possess throughout her entire career.
4. Jelena Ostapenko d. Simona Halep, 4-6 6-4 6-3, Roland Garros
Well, this one… You could either classify this as a Halep choke or an Ostapenko comeback and I would say it’s the latter. Leading by a set and a break, Halep had break point chances to go up 4-0 in the second set and even had a second serve return to pounce on… but chose not to and instead land it passively in the court. This was the turning point as Ostapenko went on to hold and started playing with much more precision, pressurising Halep and eventually going on to win her first Grand Slam title.
3. Kristina Mladenovic d. Maria Sharapova, 3-6 7-6 6-4, Stuttgart
Highly anticipated matches usually don’t end up in high-quality matches, but this one was to be in a high quality affair between Kristina Mladenovic and Maria Sharapova. Mladenovic was one of the players who loudly stood up against Sharapova’s wildcard for Stuttgart, but it did not seem like she had the tennis to back her words at first as she quickly fell behind by a set and a break. She started though to play with more pace and variety, and saving a trio of break points at 5-5 was the key as she began to break down a growingly wearier, Sharapova in the third set. Mladenovic continued her amazing clay court swing thereafter, reaching the final in Madrid and the quarterfinals in the French Open.
2. Garbine Muguruza d. Angelique Kerber, 4-6 6-4 6-4, Wimbledon
Muguruza-Kerber in Wimbledon was personally one of my favourite matches of the year but such a pity Angie lost 😦 I was so happy when I found a long highlight video of this match! It was definitely one of Kerber’s best matches of the year (other than against Pliskova in Tokyo) amidst a tough season. Kerber was looking to claim her first win over a top 20 player having been up a set, going for her shots especially the forehand down the line, and was also potent from the baseline, passing Muguruza more often than not. However, Kerber wasted break point opportunities in two Muguruza service games, and the latter went on to break with Kerber serving to stay in the set. Both players were super aggressive and accurate in the deciding set – however it was once again missed opportunities that defined the match for Kerber, failing to capitalise on two break points at 3-3. Muguruza eventually went on to break for the win. This was a super comeback from Muguruza, who took her opportunities and her persistence with her net tactics paid off at the end.
1. Simona Halep d. Elina Svitolina, 3-6 7-6 6-0, Roland Garros
Simona Halep’s takedown of Elina Svitolina is my No.1 pick for the best comebacks of the year! I really wanted Simona to win RG this year (not to be in the end) and I was getting nervy as Svitolina went up by a set and 5-1 lead. Kudos to Svitolina at that time as she was doing everything right, showing off the aggressive side that she possesses. Halep though threatened to mount a comeback and with an increasingly nervy Svitolina leaking out errors, Halep played her best tennis of the match to run off five straight games and even had two set points. The comebacks continued though and this time it was Svitolina who saved both and forced it into a tiebreak. In and Svitolina set up a match point which was defended by Halep, hitting so close to the lines in an excellent, aggressive point by the Romanian. Third set point for Simona and a super fortunate let cord went her way, which marked the end of Svitolina’s run, losing her focus as the match wore on.
Thanks for reading this article! 🙂