2017 Season Review: Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson, the surprise WTA Finals finalists

Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson experienced a successful 2017 as they won 4 WTA titles before surprisingly making the final of the WTA Finals as debutants.

2017 Season Review: Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson, the surprise WTA Finals finalists
Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson capped off a successful year with a runner-up trophy in Singapore | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac

It has been quite a good year for the doubles team of Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson, who qualified and reached the final of the prestigious year-ending Championships in Singapore for the first time in their respective careers. They also capped off a relatively successful year with their debut in the top-20 in the doubles rankings, heading into 2018 with renewed confidence.

Win-loss record

Bertens and Larsson own a 27-11 win-loss record throughout the year, impressively taking home four WTA titles together as a pair. With this being their third consecutive season playing together, their partnership continued to prosper and flourish, with their most notable achievement this year being a qualification to the year-end WTA Finals.

Johanna Larsson and Kiki Bertens pose along with their trophy in Auckland | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac
Johanna Larsson and Kiki Bertens pose along with their trophy in Auckland | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

High Points

Bertens and Larsson started the year on the best possible note, strolling to the title at the ASB Classic without losing a set en route to grabbing the silverware. They also received a favorable draw which they managed to take advantage of, not having to face any seeded opponents along the way.

After a series of disappointing results, Bertens and Larsson finally managed to find their groove at the Mutua Madrid Open, where they rattled off some impressive victories over quality teams. They edged past Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kristina Mladenovic 7-6, 7-5 in the opening round before upsetting Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in straight sets, looking in incredible form.

Their second title of the year came at Gstaad, with Bertens and Larsson being the top seeds there. They were the obvious favorites for the title, and expectedly, the Dutch and Swedish lived up to expectations, overcoming a tricky pairing of Viktorija Golubic and Nina Stojanovic in the final and prevailing in three tight sets.

Bertens and Larsson celebrates their triumph in the first week of the year | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac
Bertens and Larsson celebrates their triumph in the first week of the year | Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

Bertens and Larsson soon went on an unbelievable eight-match winning streak, claiming back-to-back titles in Seoul and Linz. In both tournaments, they were the top seeds and yet again, the overwhelming favorites. Without facing any seeded opponents throughout the two weeks, Bertens and Larsson effectively sealed their spot at the year-end WTA Finals for the first time in their careers with the help of several withdrawals by the qualified teams.

Coming into the WTA Finals as the lowest-ranked qualified team, Bertens and Larsson were the huge underdogs and nobody would have placed a bet on them to even win a match. However, they defied the odds and proved everyone wrong after beating fourth seeds Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua in three sets, moving onto the semifinals. They produced an even bigger upset in the last four, ousting defending champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in straight sets, and was in excellent form as they reached the final on their debut. Bertens and Larsson then looked poised to complete the miracle but failed to convert on their opportunities as they ultimately fell in the final to Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova despite leading by a set.

Bertens and Larsson caused a couple of upsets in Singapore, the fifth biggest tournament in women's tennis | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac
Bertens and Larsson caused a couple of upsets in Singapore, the fifth biggest tournament in women's tennis | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac

Low Points

After their opening-week triumph in Auckland, Bertens and Larsson suffered a lengthy drought which saw them claim disappointing results in literally every tournament they played. Being the second seeds and favorites to take home the title at the Hobart International, they shockingly fell in the opening round to the eventual champions Raluca Olaru and Olga Savchuk.

Bertens and Larsson headed towards yet another early exit, this time at the Australian Open as they were upset by Viktorija Golubic and Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets. They could also blame their tough luck as the pair was then handed an extremely tough draw in Doha, where they ultimately fell in the first round to soon-to-be world number ones Chan Yung-jan and Martina Hingis, who went on to claim nine titles throughout the year. After a second-round exit to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova at the BNP Paribas Open, they withdrew from the Miami Open because of Bertens’ right knee injury.

Bertens and Larsson claimed an incredible win over reigning Olympic champions Makarova/Vesnina | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac
Bertens and Larsson claimed an incredible win over reigning Olympic champions Makarova/Vesnina | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac

Bertens and Larsson were unable to make an impact during the Grand Slams, failing to progress to the quarterfinals in any of those four events. They were thrashed by Chan and Hingis 2-6, 0-6 in just under an hour at the French Open, looking lackluster as the 13th seeds lost ten straight games along the way. A surprising exit ensued at the Wimbledon Championships, falling to the unseeded pairing of Aleksandra Krunic and Kateryna Bondarenko in straight sets.

Their only tournament leading up to the US Open was the Connecticut Open, where they barely recorded a quarterfinal result. Bertens and Larsson benefitted from a retirement of Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke in their first-round match but fell narrowly in their quarterfinal encounter against Elise Mertens and Kristyna Pliskova. Their lack of preparation ultimately proved to backfire, being easily blown off the court by eventual finalists Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova.

Season Grade: B

Although Bertens and Larsson failed to make any impact in the bigger tournaments, they have managed to secure their spot in the WTA Finals by winning four International events. Without a doubt, their appearance in the final in Singapore was the highlight of their season, and they certainly deserve a season grade of B.

Bertens and Larsson worked extremely well together this year | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac
Bertens and Larsson worked extremely well together this year | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac