SAP Inside the Numbers recaps the 2018 grass court season, where Angelique Kerber cemented her return to form at Wimbledon.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
July 23, 2018

SAP Inside the Numbers is an ongoing series which looks to preview and reflect on the tour's major swings throughout the season. With the grass season in the books, SAP and WTA Insider dig deeper into the numbers to recap a dramatic grass-court swing, which saw former No.1 Angelique Kerber mow down the field to win Wimbledon for her third major title. 

Angelique Kerber, Wim Fissette (Getty Images)
SAP Ambassadors Angelique Kerber and Wim Fissette teamed up during the 2017 off-season.

Wimbledon: Angelique Kerber d. Serena Williams, 6-3, 6-3. 
Eastbourne: Caroline Wozniacki d. Aryna Sabalenka, 7–5, 7–6(5).
Birmingham: Petra Kvitova d. Magdalena Rybarikova, 4–6, 6–1, 6–2.

Ashleigh Barty (Getty Images)
Nottingham champion Ashleigh Barty became the second-youngest title-winner of 2018.

Nottingham: Ashleigh Barty d. Johanna Konta, 6–3, 3–6, 6–4.
Mallorca: Tatjana Maria d. Anastasija Sevastova, 6-4. 7-5.
Rosmalen: Aleksandra Krunic d. Kirsten Flipkens, 6-7 (0). 7-5. 6-1.

Angelique Kerber leads the season in overall match wins (39) as well as hard-court wins (21).

Sitting at a career-high ranking of No.16, Ashleigh Barty captured her second career title last month in Nottingham. Barty's grass-court prowess has been well-documented, having won the junior Wimbledon title at 15-years old in 2011. In her astounding comeback season last year, Barty made the biggest final of her career in Birmingham, losing to Petra Kvitova, and this year she won her first grass title by defeating Britain's Johanna Konta in the Nottingham final.

Wimbledon champion Kerber shrugged off a first-round loss in Mallorca to make the semifinals of Eastbourne, where she held match point against eventual champion Wozniacki, before rolling to her third major title at Wimbledon. Over the fortnight, Kerber lost just one set and knocked off a string of top-quality opposition in 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells runner-up Daria Kasatkina, former Eastbourne champion Belinda Bencic, and 7-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams in the final. 

With her win over Serena in the Wimbledon final, Kerber overtook No.8 Kvitova as the sole leader in match wins this season. Now ranked No.4, Kerber has made the quarterfinals or better at 10 of her 12 tournaments this year.

Ashleigh Barty and Julia Goerges also lead the tour in service points won and service games won this season.

Germany's Julia Goerges was as surprised as anyone that her major breakthrough finally came on the grass at Wimbledon. The 29-year-old came into this year's edition of The Championships having lost in the first round in the last five years. But armed with her improved serve - Goerges tops the WTA Leaderboard in aces this year (304) - the Regensburg resident not only made the Quarterfinals at a Slam for the 1st time in her career, but she went one better by making her 1st Slam semifinal. En route to the semifinals, Goerges struck 47 aces, just one behind tournament leader Serena

In 2018, Angelique Kerber is posting even better numbers than her stand-out 2016 season.

Kerber's 2018 rebound culminated in an exclamation mark at Wimbledon, but her improvements this season have been notable throughout the year on all surfaces. After finishing her astounding 2016 season as the WTA Year-End No.1 by winning her first two major titles at the Australian Open and US Open, Kerber struggled to build any momentum in 2017. The German began the year at No.1 and finished at a disappointing No.20. Across 22 tournaments in 2017. Kerber tallied just 1 Top 20 win. Through 12 events in 2018, she already has 12 Top 20 wins. 

After turning the page on 2017 and bringing on veteran coach Wim Fissette, Kerber is not just back to her best - she's posting career-high numbers. As she proved in breaking Serena's serve 4 times in the Wimbledon final, Kerber's return game is back to being a dominant threat. During her 2017 slump, Kerber won just 31.8% of her return games compared to 46% this year, a career-best. Kerber is also hitting career-high numbers in first serve points won (66.1%), service points won (59.8%), return points won (48.5%), service games won (71.5%), and return games won (46%). For the 1st time in her career, she is also converting over half of her break point chances (50.8%).

CoCo Vandeweghe kept raining down aces throughout her 2018 grass campaign.

More Grass Notes:

- For the Longest Time: The longest tiebreak of the season was played out in Rosmalen in a tightly contested quarterfinal between Americans CoCo Vandeweghe and Alison Riske. The match came down to a third-set tiebreak that lasted 26 points. Vandeweghe won 14-12. 

The longest grass match by games played was won by Wimbledon semifinalist Julia Goerges. The German booked her spot in the Round of 16 with a tough 7-6(3), 3-6, 10-8 win over her good friend and occasional doubles partner Barbora Strycova. The match lasted 40 games, the second longest match by games played on any surface this season.

- Serving it up in Rosmalen: When it comes to the most aces served in a single match on grass, 4 of the Top 5 performances came at the Libema Open. Vandeweghe (vs. Krunic, SF) and Ekaterina Alexandrova (vs. Rus, 1R) each fired 18 aces before losing. Aryna Sabalenka fired 17 aces in a second-round win over Ajla Tomljanovic. And Vandeweghe fired and other 16 aces in her quarterfinal win over Riske. 

- Rock solid Kerber: The German leads all players in average rank of opponent in defeat this season - 12.67 - proving that she's become the toughest out in 2018. 

Kerber: Avg Rank of Opponent in Defeat
2016: 27.39
2017: 66.08
2018: 12.67 (leads all players)

- Kvitova Quick: Petra Kvitova added to her tour-leading season title tally during the grass season, successfully defending her title in Birmingham. The win was Kvitova's 5th title of the year, and she has now won a title on all three surfaces for the first time since 2011. 

En route to her Birmingham title, Kvitova lost just 30 games, the fewest games lost in a grass-title run this year and 5th fewest games lost in a title-run this year (Kvitova also list just 30 games to win St. Petersburg). 

- Grass is a surface for the young and old: Barty, 22, became the second-youngest title winner this season after winning Nottingham. Tatjana Maria, 30, became the second-oldest title winner after winning her 1st WTA title in Mallorca. With her Wimbledon win, Kerber, who is about 5 months younger than Maria, became the third-oldest champion this year.