Who were the 2017 WTA Drama Queens? SAP Tennis Analytics breaks down the numbers behind the tour's best when matches went down to the wire.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
December 21, 2017

Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko found herself deep in the third set far more often than she would have liked in 2017, but the key to her breakout season was her ability to find a way to get over the line with the win. The 20-year-old led the tour in both three-set matches played (27) and won (19) in 2017, finishing the year with 19-7 record. Prior to 2017, the Latvian phenom had notched just 10 three-set wins total in her first two years on tour. 

MOST THREE SET MATCHES PLAYED

1. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): 27
2. Daria Gavrilova (AUS): 27
3. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): 26
4. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS): 26
5. Elina Svitolina (UKR): 23
6. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP): 22
7. Caroline Garcia (FRA): 21
8. Julia Goerges (GER): 21
9. Lucie Safarova (CZE): 21
10. Simona Halep (ROU): 21

Daria Gavrilova also found herself embroiled in long three-set matches throughout the season, matching Ostapenko's mark of 27 three-set matches played. It became such a common occurrence for the young Aussie that after she and Shelby Rogers set the US Open record for longest women's match in the history of the tournament, she joked, "If I was gonna hold any record it was always gonna be that one haha! Not the fastest serve, unfortunately."

Gavrilova is the only player in the Top 10 in three-set matches played who did not post a winning percentage over 60%, winning 51.9%. It was a growing frustration for her throughout the season, but disappointments were tempered after Gavrilova won her first WTA title this year at the Connecticut Open, beating Dominika Cibulkova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, naturally. The 23-year-old finished the season ranked No.25, her best season finish ever. 

Jelena Ostapenko focuses on a drive volley, sticking to her aggressive strategy (Getty)

MOST THREE SET MATCHES WON

1. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): 19-8
2. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): 18-8
3. Caroline Garcia (FRA): 16-5
4. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP): 16-6
5. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS): 16-10
6. Elina Svitolina (UKR): 14-9
7. Daria Gavrilova (AUS): 14-13
8. Elise Mertens (BEL): 13-6
9. Karolina Pliskova (CZE): 13-7
10 Julia Goerges (GER): 13-8

Four of the WTA Top 5 feature in the top five list of three-set matches won: Ostapenko, Caroline Wozniacki, Caroline Garcia, and Garbiñe Muguruza, with No.4 Karolina Pliskova also landing on the list. Of the four, Garcia posted the best winning percentage of them all at 72.6%.

That Ostapenko tops the list in both three-set matches played and won is notable for a variety of reasons. Heading into the clay season, Ostapenko had lost four of her first five three-set matches. She would go on to lost just four three-setters for the rest of the year while notching 18 wins. En route to the French Open title, she won four consecutive deciding sets, capped off by her incredible comeback against Simona Halep in the final.

No lead is safe against Ostapenko, and she her three-set prowess in 2017 was undoubtedly linked to her ability to break her opponents' serve. While her own serve could be vulnerable at times, Ostapenko broke serve 46% of the time, the best mark on tour from anyone who played a minimum of 50 matches.

HIGHEST RETURN GAMES WON % (Minimum 50 matches)

1. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): 46.4% 
2. Elina Svitolina (UKR): 45.2% 
3. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): 44.3% 
4. Daria Kasatkina (RUS): 43.2% 
5. Simona Halep (ROU): 42.5%

Kristyna Pliskova (Tashkent Open)

Ostapenko may have set the mark for three-set matches, but when it came to going the distance in a set, the Czech women ruled the roost. Three of the Top 5 in tiebreaks played hailed from the Czech Republic, led by Kristyna Pliskova, who played the most tiebreaks in 2017 (22) and tallying a 12-10 record. Garcia also features highly in the clutch stats, playing 21 tiebreaks and winning 12.

MOST TIEBREAKS PLAYED

1. Kristyna Pliskova (CZE): 22
2. Caroline Garcia (FRA): 21
3. Lucie Safarova (CZE): 21
4. Karolina Pliskova (CZE): 20
5. Daria Gavrilova (AUS): 19
6. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA): 18
7. Elina Svitolina (UKR): 17
8. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS): 17
9. Anett Konaveit (EST): 16
10. Johanna Konta (GBR): 16

Svetlana Kuznetsova, Roland Garros, French Open

But it was Svetlana Kuznetsova who set the mark with respect to efficiency, winning 12 of the 14 tiebreaks she played. The American crew also fared well in the clutch, with CoCo Vandeweghe, Venus Williams, Varvara Lepchenko, and Shelby Rogers each winning 11 tiebreaks and dropping no more than four each. 

MOST TIEBREAKS WON

1. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS): 12-2
2. Caroline Garcia (FRA): 12-9
3. Kristyna Pliskova (CZE): 12-10
4. CoCo Vandeweghe (USA): 11-2
5. Varvara Lepchenko (USA): 11-3
6. Venus Williams (USA): 11-3
7. Carina Witthoeft (GER): 11-4
8. Shelby Rogers (USA): 11-4
9. Sorana Cirstea (ROU): 10-3
10. Elina Svitolina (UKR): 10-7