It has been quite an impressive first half of the year for Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova as they claimed two Grand Slam titles and they lived up to their expectations while solidifying their status as one of the most consistent and solid pairings on the tour recently. Despite missing the whole second half of the year, they still remain in the top-10 of the rankings, showing how dominant their performances were.
Mattek-Sands and Safarova owns an incredible 20-3 (.870) win-loss record in 2017 and imagine how good it could be if the American did not get injured and they continued to steamroll over the rest of the doubles field in the remainder of the year. They won three titles together and were also halfway to a Calendar Year Grand Slam before Mattek-Sands’ horrific knee injury kicked in. It is also notable that Mattek-Sands and Safarova qualified for the year-ending WTA Finals held in Singapore despite only participating in seven events.
Their first tournament of the year together as a pair was the Australian Open, with Mattek-Sands winning the Brisbane International earlier with Sania Mirza and thus got to the number one ranking for the first time in her career. Team “Bucie” looked to be invincible as they strolled to the semifinals having lost just 15 games in the process. Everything was going right for them until they suffered a huge scare in their semifinal encounter but still managed to safely get past the unseeded pairing of Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato in three tough sets. In the final, they recovered from a set down to beat Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai for their fourth Grand Slam title together.
Their second title of the year came at the Volvo Car Open, where they were the top seed and the overwhelming favorites. Easing past their opening rounds with repetitive 6-3, 6-2 scorelines, Mattek-Sands and Safarova brushed Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke off the court before prevailing in a thriller against Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova for yet another title. It is also worth noting that Groenefeld and Peschke, together with Hradecka and Siniakova all qualified for the year-ending Championships.
Being the top seeds at the French Open, Mattek-Sands and Safarova got off to a rocket start before suffering a slight wobble in the second round against the unheralded Ajla Tomljanovic and Aleksandra Krunic. Nonetheless, they managed to regain their composure and return to their comfortable winning ways, strolling to the final without losing a set since then. They beat the soon-to-be world number one pairing Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-jan 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals before thrashing Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua with a one-sided 6-2, 6-1 scoreline. This was their third consecutive Grand Slam triumph.
Mattek-Sands and Safarova had a tricky start to their BNP Paribas Open campaign, looking shaky in their opening matches. They earned a straightforward win over eventual Singapore finalists Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson before falling to the eventual year-end world number ones Chan Yung-jan and Martina Hingis in a tight 6-7, 5-7 semifinal encounter.
A disappointing exit ensued at the Miami Open, crashing out in the second round to the unseeded pairing of Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in straight sets. Mattek-Sands and Safarova were extremely lackluster during that match, being outclassed from the start to the end.
Their preparation for the French Open was definitely not what the pair wanted as they fell in the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open to Bertens and Larsson, looking sloppy in their play which ultimately caused them to lose in straight sets. Ironically, Mattek-Sands and Safarova went on to claim the title in Paris.
Mattek-Sands and Safarova were looking for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam triumph at the Wimbledon Championships, and they were duly the favorites at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. However, their campaign came to a sudden halt after the American injured her knee during the singles competition, ending their year as a result.
Season Grade: A
Though Mattek-Sands and Safarova suffered surprising defeats at times, it only happened on three different occasions. Furthermore, they also added two more Major titles to their trophy cabinet and looked on course to end the year as the top-ranked team once more. However, Mattek-Sands’ career-threatening knee injury effectively ended their year as a pair, but it was still a great year for the former world number ones.