Losing to a Tournament’s Eventual Champion: Part One (WTA)

By Jack Edward

As you may have already seen, I released a couple of pieces on Popcorn Tennis detailing the ATP players that had lost the most times to a tournament’s eventual champion (TEC).

Having come to some pretty interesting conclusions on the men’s side, it would be remiss of me to overlook the WTA.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Before we dive in, please note this does not include team/exclusive entry events/tournaments that didn’t finish i.e. WTA Finals/BJK Cup/ATP Cup!

Now without further ado…

Joint-Fourth: Four Losses

At four losses each to a TEC, 14 players made it to joint-fourth on our list.

Too many to rifle through the lot but at a quick glance…

  1. Muguruza (#3)
  2. Ka. Plíšková (#4)
  3. Sakkari (#6)
  4. Rybakina (#14)
  5. Mertens (#21)
  6. Gauff (#22)
  7. Bencic (#23)
  8. Kasatkina (#26)
  9. Azarenka (#27)
  10. Collins (#29)
  11. Vondroušová (#35)
  12. Garcia (#74)
  13. Bouzková (#89)
  14. Kozlova (#144)

Unsurprisingly, the top-10 are comprised solely of top-30 players with Vondroušová sneaking the #11 spot at #35 in the world.

It’s worth taking a closer look at our last three players, however, who made the list despite being ranked outside of the top-70!

Caroline Garcia:

  1. Mertens at the Gippsland Trophy (3R)
  2. Osaka at the Australian Open (2R)
  3. Krejčíková in Strasbourg (2R)
  4. Kontaveit in Cleveland (2R)

Caroline Garcia’s gruelling comeback continues. Though she played some shockers this year, her fans can take plenty heart in knowing she was frequently handed some pretty tough draws.

Marie Bouzková:

  1. Barty at the Yarra Valley Classic (3R)
  2. Kasatkina at the Phillip Island Trophy (F)
  3. SST in Guadalajara (SF)
  4. Tauson in Luxembourg (QF)

Marie Bouzková started the year with a bang, only being beaten by some of the best players in the world in the first few tournaments of the year before losing a lot of momentum.

Kateryna Kozlova:

  1. Cirstea in Instabul (1R)
  2. Konta in Nottingham (3R)
  3. Putintseva in Budapest (SF)
  4. Zanevska in Gdynia (SF)

Kateryna Kozlova, ranked as low as #144 in the world, lost to four TECs this year! Istanbul and Nottingham were particularly unlucky – when she did make deep runs in Budapest and Gdynia, it took three sets and the TECs to put a stop to her.

Joint-Third: Five Losses

Two players share joint-third on five losses to a TEC.

Elina Svitolina (#15):

  1. Mertens at the Gippsland Trophy (QF)
  2. Barty at the Miami Open (SF)
  3. Barty in Stuttgart (SF)
  4. Świątek in Rome (QF)
  5. Krejčíková at the French Open (3R)

Bar an Olympic bronze (still essentially a glorified semifinalist), by her standards, Svitolina had a pretty unremarkable 2021. Gael will take heart in some closely contested matches against these TECs, serving for the match against Barty in Stuttgart and pushing Mertens to a match tiebreak at the Gippsland Trophy.

Ekaterina Alexandrova (#34):

  1. Tauson in Lyon (2R)
  2. Krejčíková in Strasbourg (QF)
  3. Krejčíková at the French Open (2R)
  4. Tauson in Luxembourg (2R)
  5. Kontaveit in Moscow (F)

Alexandrova had a ton of good wins this season but unfortunately this didn’t translate to a ton of deep tournament runs. In fairness to her, she came up against both Krejčíková and Tauson twice whilst they were ranked relatively low. In her one final of the year, she came the closest of anyone to beating Kontaveit indoors but ultimately lost from a set and a double break up.

She’s been trapped in top-30-to-40 purgatory for three years now – her luck will surely change at some point!

Losing to a TEC in 2021

Let’s go a bit easier on these folks, eh? Particularly Garcia and Alexandrova, who have had some very tough draws this year.

Okay, after your moment of silence for our poor TEC-victims, you’re probably hungry to find out who has been even more aggrieved than them.

You sick bastards.

Join us in part two for the three players in joint-second and the ONE player in first. Any guesses?

Jack

Jack Edward can be found @jackedward1994 on Twitter. He is the author of the ‘On The ‘Line’ blog and the host of the On The Line Tennis Podcast. His work features plenty more deep statistical dives and a very fine attention to detail. You can check out each of his creations here.

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