Karolina Pliskova reached greater heights in her career during 2017, breaking new grounds as she created history after being the first-ever Czech woman to be ranked world number one. Being the 23rd number one player in the WTA, Pliskova added three Premier titles to her trophy cabinet, adding to her list of accomplishments.
Win-loss record: Best career-year for Pliskova
Pliskova impressively owns a 53-18 (.746) win-loss record throughout the year, her best win percentage in a calendar year during her entire career. Being ranked inside the top-10 for the whole season, the Czech was able to defeat her counterparts, claiming a total of nine top-10 wins in the year. Disappointingly enough, as a successful server, Pliskova won just a mere 40 percent of her tiebreaks, causing her to lose several important matches along the way.
Nonetheless, it has been a decent year for Pliskova, who did not lose to any players ranked outside the top-100. The average ranking of opponents who defeated her stands at an impressive 28.7, while only suffering two opening-round defeats in 2017.
High Points of her season: Three Premier titles, 15 quarterfinals reached
It was a year of consistency for Pliskova, who reached an incredible 15 quarterfinals throughout the year. The Czech started 2017 with an impressive run to the title at the Brisbane International, defeating Elina Svitolina and Roberta Vinci in the process, before demolishing Alize Cornet in a one-sided final. This gave her to the confidence she needed, ultimately recording her best result at the Australian Open with a quarterfinal run.
Pliskova played a pivotal role in bringing Czech Republic to the semifinals of the Fed Cup, defeating Lara Arruabarrena and world number seven Garbine Muguruza in straight sets during both of her rubbers. Outstandingly enough, the Czech defeated the 2016 French Open champion with a one-sided 6-2, 6-2 scoreline.
It looked to be Pliskova’s year after she claimed her second Premier title of 2017 at the Qatar Total Open, defeating four consecutive top-30 players to triumph and winning 15 of her first 16 matches in the year. Furthermore, she only lost one set during her title run. From being close to defeat against Dominika Cibulkova, Pliskova was able to overturn 0-3 head-to-head deficits against both the Slovakian and Caroline Wozniacki, defeating the Dane 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
Pliskova’s impressive start of the year continued during the North American hardcourt swing, reaching consecutive semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open. Her Indian Wells campaign started with a narrow win over Monica Puig, coming from 0-3 down in the decider to take the victory. She defeated Irina-Camelia Begu and benefitted from Timea Bacsinszky’s retirement before sliding past seventh seed Garbine Muguruza 7-6, 7-6.
However, she fell to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals with the exact same scoreline, missing out on a place in the final. Pliskova rode on her momentum entering Miami, rattling off four consecutive straight-sets wins to reach the semifinals. There, Caroline Wozniacki was just too good for Pliskova, rebounding from a set down to triumph 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.
Pliskova’s best Grand Slam performance of the year surprisingly came on her least-preferred surface, at Roland Garros. She took advantage of her beneficial draw, clinching some tough wins along the way. Defeating the home favorite Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals, Pliskova had her fate in her hands — if she defeats Simona Halep in the semifinal, she will be the world number one. However, she failed to take the win against her nemesis, coming up short in the high-quality three-setter, ending her impressive Paris campaign on a disappointing note.
Being part of the star-studded field at the Eastbourne International, Pliskova received a challenging draw but nonetheless, still powered her way to her third final of the year. Coming from 1-4 down in the decider to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova, Pliskova then ousted world number six Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4 in the final, sealing her third Premier title in 2017.
After being so close to the number one ranking in Paris, Pliskova finally managed to top the rankings in July, after the Wimbledon Championships. Having three titles under her belt, the Czech certainly deserved her position, being labeled as the best player on tour after all her successes.
Despite a disappointing stretch of results from Wimbledon to the conclusion of the Asian Swing, Pliskova managed to qualify for the year-ending WTA Finals after a strong first half of the year. Being drawn into a group full of hard-hitting players, the Czech surprisingly performed well on the slow surface in Singapore, outclassing both Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza with 6-2, 6-2 scorelines. Although she lost her final group match to Jelena Ostapenko, she still qualified for the semifinals. There, she fell to Caroline Wozniacki in a thrilling one-hour, 56-minute encounter, marking the end of her season.
Low Points of her season: Occasional poor performances
Pliskova’s triumph in Brisbane allowed many to envision her as the winner of the first Grand Slam in 2017. Receiving a favorable draw, the Czech was the favorite to claim her maiden Slam trophy. She impressively stormed to the quarterfinals, but shockingly fell short against the surprise package in Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, ending her nine-match winning streak. It was a disappointing match for Pliskova, who had 6/1 odds to take home the trophy.
After claiming her second title of the year in Doha, Pliskova looked to complete the “Middle East Double” at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships. She faced a tough opening-round opponent, falling to the in-form Kristina Mladenovic in a one-sided straight sets loss after just 75 minutes of play. The Czech also fell short in the semifinals of Indian Wells and Miami, being defeated by Svetlana Kuznetsova in two tiebreak sets and Caroline Wozniacki in three sets respectively.
Pliskova’s lowest point of the season is arguably her lead-up to the French Open. She had a poor clay-court season, having not gone past the quarterfinals in any of her lead-up events. It all started with a loss to Laura Siegemund in Stuttgart, in what could be a potential Match of the Year contender. In front of her home crowd in Prague, Pliskova was on the receiving end of a huge upset by world number 99 Camila Giorgi in the opening round. Other disappointing results which followed were a second-round exit in Madrid to Anastasija Sevastova and a loss to eventual champion Elina Svitolina in Rome.
The Czech managed to reach at least the quarterfinals in every Slam this year, with the exception of the Wimbledon Championships. There, she once again entered the tournament as a huge favorite especially after her success in Eastbourne earlier. Her odds to claim the Venus Rosewater Dish were 9/1, the top in the women’s field. However, in the biggest upset of the tournament, Pliskova was shocked by the dangerous Magdalena Rybarikova, who surprisingly stormed to the semifinals eventually, showing that the Czech could have had a clear path to the final had she defeated the Slovakian. Nonetheless, she still became the world number one after the fortnight.
Although she achieved decent results in Toronto and Cincinnati, Pliskova certainly did not display some of her best tennis as she failed to regain her form. In a thrilling two-hours, 56-minutes, the Czech fell to a familiar foe in Caroline Wozniacki during their quarterfinal match at the Rogers Cup but Pliskova managed to exact revenge for her loss just a week after, at the Western and Southern Open.
However, she failed to defend her title there, being totally outclassed by eventual champion Garbine Muguruza in straight sets. She had a bulk of points to defend during the US Open as well, having to reach the final for any chance to remain number one after the tournament. Despite facing a tricky draw, Pliskova marched into the quarterfinals before an inspired Coco Vandeweghe stopped her run, triumphing in straight sets. This loss pushed her down to fourth in the rankings.
Her poor run continued during the Asian Swing, with Pliskova rattling off just five wins during this period of time. The Czech’s game wasn’t at its best, and her shots all visibly looked powerless and lackluster, with nothing working well for her. She lost to Angelique Kerber in straight sets at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, before suffering defeats to Ashleigh Barty and Sorana Cirstea in Wuhan and Beijing respectively. Though, amidst her loss of form, Pliskova reached the semifinals in Singapore to end off her year.
Season Grade: A-
Although Pliskova ended the year as the fourth-ranked player, it has been quite the year for the Czech after reaching the pinnacle of the rankings while also claiming three WTA titles in the process. She also solidified her status as one of the game’s best servers, leading the WTA in terms of aces served. In a nutshell, it was a successful year for Pliskova.