Peng Shuai has been one of the few players who silently had a consistent and solid season, having made a return to the top-25 for the first time since a career-threatening back injury in 2015. After a stellar 2016, Peng was able to back up her results and solidified her status as one of the game’s most dangerous players lurking around on the tour.
Peng owns a 42-24 win-loss record this year, which is considered a very decent performance. It is also just the third time in the Chinese’s career where she earned more than 40 wins in a single season. Only 10 of her losses came against players of a lower ranking, which is a respectable figure.
The Chinese could blame her luck for her missed opportunities throughout the year as she had to face top-20 players on 14 different occasions this year, but was able to triumph in five of those matches. Her biggest win of the year came at the BNP Paribas Open when she defeated then-world number six Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets.
Peng’s first win of the season was an impressive one, with the talented youngster Daria Kasatkina unable to match up against the consistent groundstrokes of Peng at the Australian Open. Her good run continued when she stormed to the final at the Taiwan Open, defeating Lucie Safarova and Samantha Stosur along the way, falling to Elina Svitolina ultimately.
The BNP Paribas Open was also a successful tournament for the Chinese, having come through the qualifying rounds and defeating Agnieszka Radwanska before falling to the legendary Venus Williams in the fourth round, putting up a spirited display only to fall in three sets.
The grass-court season was fairly impressive for Peng, who was playing some good tennis but was only hindered by tough draws. She reached the third round in Eastbourne, defeating Timea Bacsinszky before falling in a tight match to soon-to-be world number one Karolina Pliskova. At the Wimbledon Championships, the Chinese was once again given an extremely tricky draw but still got past the teenage sensation Marketa Vondrousova and Carla Suarez Navarro before losing to Simona Halep 4-6, 6-7.
After Wimbledon, Peng started her hard court swing in her home country as she stormed to the title in Nanchang, getting the silverware having lost just one set in the process. More importantly, that was just the second WTA title in the Chinese’s career. She also reached the semifinals of the Tianjin Open, where she fell to the eventual champion Maria Sharapova. Arguably, her most impressive win of the year came at the Wuhan Open when she defeated 11th seed Petra Kvitova in the first round, triumphing with an incredible 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 scoreline after three hours and 34 minutes of play.
Peng had a very poor start to the year, falling to the eventual champion Katerina Siniakova in the first round of the Shenzhen Open. The Chinese also had a surprising exit in the qualifying rounds of the Qatar Total Open before busting a golden opportunity to claim the title as she crashed out in the second round at Kuala Lumpur where she was the huge favorite to triumph.
The clay court season was definitely a disappointing one for Peng, having fallen in the first round on three different occasions. With the red clay not being her most preferred surface, poor results were definitely expected but the Chinese still suffered disappointing losses, especially at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia where she lost to Mona Barthel. Peng also fell short to Sorana Cirstea at the French Open.
The devastating knee injury affected Peng greatly at the US Open, as she failed to find her best tennis with her movement being hampered. Falling in the second round of competition to Donna Vekic with a 0-6, 2-6 drubbing, Peng decided to finish the season before getting a lengthy treatment in Germany during the off-season.
However, the decision to continue playing proved to backfire a little considering she was defeated by Yanina Wickmayer in the second round of the Guangzhou International Women’s Open before having to retire against Jelena Ostapenko at the China Open due to the same knee injury. Peng also exited in the group stage of the WTA Elite Trophy, falling to Coco Vandeweghe before benefitting from a retirement during her encounter against Elena Vesnina.
Season Grade: B-
Peng’s injuries have prevented her from achieving more success during the latter part of the year, but her consistent results throughout the year were able to keep her inside the top 30 of the rankings. If Peng could sort out her knee injury before the start of 2018, a return to the top 20 should not be much of a problem.