2017 Season Review: Last full-year on tour for Roberta Vinci leads to disappointment

Roberta Vinci would be disappointed with her own results during her last full-year on the WTA Tour, failing to cement her place inside the top-100.

2017 Season Review: Last full-year on tour for Roberta Vinci leads to disappointment
Roberta Vinci failed to take her chances at the Grand Slams this year, falling in the first round on all four occasions | Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac

In Roberta Vinci’s last-ever full season on the WTA Tour in her storied career, the Italian would be relatively disappointed with her performances as she ended the year outside the top-100 for the first time since 2004. The 2015 US Open finalist started the year being inside the top-20, but a dramatic rout saw her fall from the top, amassing a negative win-loss record in the process.

Win-loss record: Statistically-wise, worst year for Vinci in her career

For the fourth time in her career, Vinci owns a negative win-loss record in a calendar year, but 2017 was a horrendous year for the Italian, ending the year with a disappointing 10-20 win-loss record. In terms of rankings, Vinci’s best win came against Daria Kasatkina in Madrid while her worst defeat was in the hands of Taylor Townsend in Miami. Furthermore, she was defeated in the opening round of all four Majors.

Had Vinci converted her 2-0 lead in the final set against Pliskova, who knows what would have happened? | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac
Had Vinci converted her 2-0 lead in the final set against Pliskova, who knows what would have happened? | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac

High Points of season: Decent start to the year

Despite the disastrous year, Vinci had a decent start to 2017 after reaching the quarterfinals at the Brisbane International as the eighth seed. The Italian had a thrilling opening match against Kateryna Bondarenko, saving five match points in the 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 marathon which lasted two-hours, 45-minutes. Her run ultimately came to an end in the hands of eventual champion Karolina Pliskova, despite leading by a break in the final set.

Being the defending champion in St. Petersburg, Vinci claimed some spectacular wins over Timea Babos and former top-10 player Andrea Petkovic, reaching the quarterfinals for the second successive time. Though, she was once again conquered by another eventual champion, this time by Kristina Mladenovic in the quarterfinals.

Roberta Vinci celebrates winning a point at the Australian Open | Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac
Roberta Vinci celebrates winning a point at the Australian Open | Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac

Despite clay being one of her least-preferred surfaces, she put up an excellent display at the Mutua Madrid Open. She shocked the clay-loving Daria Kasatkina in three sets before leading 5-2 in the deciding set against third seed Simona Halep but was unable to convert her chances as she was vanquished in a final-set tiebreak by the eventual champion once again.

Just her third WTA quarterfinal appearance of the year, Vinci stormed to the last eight in Mallorca. She blew former doubles partner Sara Errani off the court 6-2, 6-1 after just 58 minutes before stunning 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens in three sets. However, her run ended with a tough loss to Caroline Garcia.

Roberta Vinci serves at the 2017 French Open, but lost to Monica Puig in the opening round | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Roberta Vinci serves at the 2017 French Open, but lost to Monica Puig in the opening round | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Low Points of season: 13 first-round exits

Vinci endured through a disappointing Australian Open campaign, although it only lasted a day. She wasted a huge lead against eventual semifinalist Coco Vandeweghe, who was seemingly struggling with the overwhelming heat, and soon fell after an hour and 36-minutes of play. Her poor run continued with early-exits in the Middle East, being shown the door by lower-ranked players on both occasions.

A match which could have changed Vinci’s year was at the BNP Paribas Open — her third-round match against fellow veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Italian owned her chances during the encounter but was unable to convert as she came in second best against the Russian, missing out on a golden opportunity to go deep in the tournament. Straight-sets defeats to Taylor Townsend and Kristyna Pliskova followed respectively in Miami and Biel-Bienne.

Roberta Vinci had another disappointing exit at the hands of Taylor Townsend in Miami | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Roberta Vinci had another disappointing exit at the hands of Taylor Townsend in Miami | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

Clay hasn’t been Vinci’s best-performing surface, and her losing streak was extended to four at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where she was involved in a highly-anticipated encounter against the returning Maria Sharapova. Despite grabbing the early lead, Vinci was ultimately conquered in straight sets once more.

At the Internazionali BNL D’Italia where the court was fully-packed for Vinci, the home favorite, the Italian was surprisingly thrashed 2-6, 1-6 by former top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova. Her unsatisfactory clay-court season ended in the opening round of the French Open, falling to Monica Puig in three sets. For the third consecutive time in a Grand Slam this year, she exited in the first round of the Wimbledon Championships.

Roberta Vinci was part of a blockbuster match-up against Maria Sharapova in Stuttgart | Photo: Adam Pretty/Bongarts
Roberta Vinci was part of a blockbuster match-up against Maria Sharapova in Stuttgart | Photo: Adam Pretty/Bongarts

Vinci ended the year having lost seven of her last eight matches, with her only win coming against Timea Babos in Cincinnati. The Italian was part of a thriller against Daria Kasatkina in Toronto, falling 6-7, 6-7, but was outclassed by eventual champion Sloane Stephens in the opening round of the US Open. Her last tournament of the year was the Wuhan Open, where she competed as the world number 82. She eventually ended 2017 at the 116th spot.

Season Grade: D

After the poor year which saw Vinci fall out of the top-100, motivation could pose a huge obstacle but the Italian has already decided to retire after the 2018 Internazionali BNL D’Italia, her home tournament. She would be looking to end her career on a high note, and therefore we could be expecting some spectacular performances from the Italian next year.

Roberta Vinci in action at the US Open, where she fell to eventual champion Sloane Stephens | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Roberta Vinci in action at the US Open, where she fell to eventual champion Sloane Stephens | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America