For the third consecutive season, World No.4 Karolina Pliskova sits atop the WTA leaderboard as the WTA's Ace Queen. In a season that saw the 25-year-old Czech become the 23rd woman to hold the World No.1 ranking, Pliskova fired 452 aces in 69 matches to lead all players.
That Pliskova continues to lead the tour in aces without possessing a remarkably powerful serve is credit to her precision. "Against Karolina, it's impossible to read it," Alizé Cornet said after losing to Pliskova in the Brisbane International final in January. "That's the toughest thing ever. She has always the same toss. She just guides it with the wrist wherever she wants. It's pretty much nightmare."
"When I was younger I was not that tall and I was without power too," Pliskova told WTA Insider. "I think the serve until the juniors was not a big weapon for me.
"But obviously, we knew we were going to be taller than normal. So always if you're a little taller you have a chance to have a good serve. The timing came pretty naturally. I don't remember practicing just my serve for hours. I was practicing my shots the same way I was practicing my serve."
Pliskova did not serve aces at the same clip as she has over the last two seasons. Pliskova's 2016 mark of 530 aces in a single season remains a tour record, after she bested her own record of 517 aces in 2015. While her ace count took a dip in 2017, Pliskova was rarely concerned about her pure ace count this season. As her game has matured, she has found first serve percentage to be a far better indicator of her success.
"Sometimes it's tough to have those aces," Pliskova said. "What's important is that I have the points from the first serve. So even if she misses the return or if I kill an easy forehand, it's still a point because of the serve. I'm still working on the percentage, it can be a little bit better. But if I'm hitting the first serves in, over 50% and closer to 60%, then I feel like I can win the match."
According to SAP Tennis Analytics, breaking the 400-ace barrier remains a rare feat on the WTA. Since 2008, only Pliskova and Serena Williams had hit 400 or more aces in a season, with Pliskova doing so in each of the last four seasons and Serena doing so in four seasons from 2012 to 2015. This season, Germany's Julia Goerges became just the third player to join this exclusive club, firing down 412 aces in 68 matches.
While Karolina Pliskova set the mark for most aces and most aces in a single match this season, hitting 21 aces against Dominika Cibulkova en route to the Qatar Total Open title, her twin sister Kristyna Pliskova beats her out in pure efficiency. Kristyna also holds the all-time record for most aces in a single match, hitting 31in the second round of the 2016 Australian Open against Monica Puig.
Playing in 24 fewer matches than Karolina, Kristyna was No.2 behind Britain's Naomi Broady in aces per match, tallying a mark of 8.27 compared to Karolina's 6.55. The left-handed Kristyna also led the tour in number of matches with 10 or more aces, doing so 15 times in 2017.
Here's a breakdown of the 2017 ace leaders courtesy of SAP Analytics:
1. Karolina Pliskova (CZE): 452 (69 matches)
2. Julia Goerges (GER): 412 (68 matches)
3. Kristyna Pliskova (CZE): 372 (45 matches)
4. Carolina Garcia (FRA): 354 (70 matches)
5. Lucie Safarova (CZE): 323 (53 matches)
6. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA): 268 (61 matches)
7. CoCo Vandeweghe (USA): 250 (47 matches)
8. Kiki Bertens (NED): 243 (54 matches)
9. Johanna Konta (GBR): 241 (52 matches)
10. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): 217 (81 matches)
ACES PER MATCH (Minimum 15 main draw matches)
1. Naomi Broady (GBR): 9.59 (17 matches)
2. Kristyna Pliskova (CZE): 8.27 (45 matches)
3. Karolina Pliskova (CZE): 6.55 (69 matches)
4. Lucie Safarova (CZE): 6.09 (53 matches)
5. Julia Goerges (GER): 6.06 (68 matches)
6. Maria Sharapova (RUS): 5.64 (22 matches)
7. Petra Kvitova (CZE): 5.57 (28 matches)
8. CoCo Vandeweghe (USA): 5.32 (47)
9. Alison van Uytvanck (BEL): 5.26 (15)
10. Caroline Garcia (FRA): 5.06 (70 matches)
MATCHES WITH 10 OR MORE ACES
1. Kristyna Pliskova: 15
2. Karolina Pliskova: 13
3. Naomi Broady: 11
4. Julia Goerges: 8
5. Lucie Safarova: 7