Johanna Konta tops the serve and return grass leaderboards going into the women’s draw at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships.
One of the biggest stories of the grass court season was the return of Johanna Konta. After a disappointing clay court run, Konta was able to regain ground on her favorite surface grass, reaching the final at Nottingham and the semifinal at Eastbourne. Konta’s steadiness over the grass court season lands her on top of the serve and return women’s leaderboards, putting the home-grown favorite on comfortable ground at the start of Wimbledon.
During the grass season so far, Konta has maintained an average adjusted serve percentage of 64% across three events. Her steadiness on grass has separated her from the other women during the weeks leading to Wimbledon.
Konta takes the 6th seed and 2nd highest spot in Simona Halep’s section of the draw. While Konta has had a packed grass season, Halep has played just one event since her loss in the French Open final. That was at Eastbourne where she got no further than the quarterfinal, losing to Caroline Wozniacki. This leaves the door wide-open for a first Grand Slam title run for Konta. Though Konta’s’ chances could be thwarted by a recent spinal injury and operation that kept her from the semifinals at Eastbourne.
We can also expect a lot from Kristina Mladenovic, who is in the top 3 among the grass serve and return leaders. Mladenovic is the 12th seed at Wimbledon and landed in Karolina Pliskova’s quarter of the draw.
Ash Barty is also at the top performers on serve and return. Yet Barty has the most unlucky Wimbledon draw of the three, as she will have to get past 4th seed Elina Svitolina in the first round to stay in the event. Barty is a fighter and might just have a chance if she can play to the numbers she has shown on grass so far.
Some other names to watch at Wimbledon are among the best grass return performers. These include Lesia Tsurenko, Anastasija Sevastova, and Tsvetana Pironkova who have all achieved an adjusted return average of 45% or higher, which puts them on par with Konta’s numbers.
Top 10 leader Pironkova has an especially impressive average of 50% on return. If she can keep that level on the intimidating stage that is Wimbledon, she could prove to be a dark horse of the ladies draw.
No discussion of the ladies draw at Wimbledon can miss mention of Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova, who are both still early in their return to the 2017 season. Sadly, Azarenka and Kvitova were both drawn into Halep’s quarter, which means only one of the 3 will have a chance at reaching the semifinals.
Having only one win and one event played so far in her comeback, Azarenka has to be the biggest question mark of the three. Kvitova has been humble about her prospects but her title win over Ash Barty at Birmingham should make her fans more hopeful. Despite having played only one grass event before Wimbledon this year, Kvitova is also among the top 30 among the women’s ‘serve and return grass leaders.
With names like Konta, Azarenka, Kvitova, Halep, Vesnina and a surging Vekic in the last quarter of the draw, it is anyone’s guess who will survive this “group of death”. But it is certainly going to be the quarter to watch in Wimbledon’s’ first week.