Saturday School: Women who have struggled against left-handed opponents


In today’s times 10% of the tennis players are recorded to have their left hand as their dominant upper limb. It indeed is a challenging aspect for the remaining 90% of the right-handed players to get the better of the southpaws. Time and again left-handed players have often created problems and shaken the adaptability component of a right handed player’s tennis skills. A data was collected that showed the active tennis players who have been bothered the most by southpaws. The criteria laid down while collecting this data was that the player must have lost at least 20 matches against left-handed players and should have a win-rate of less than 50%  against them. The results recognized the players’ performance against left-handed opponents up until 20th October 2018.


ELINA SVITOLINA (Win-Loss Record: 19-20, Win rate: 48.7%)

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Current World No.6 Elina Svitolina is the highest ranked player that has made it to the list of players struggling against left-handed opponents. Svitolina has faced Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova and Mihaela Buzarnescu on multiple occasions. She has faced Kvitova in eight career meetings and has managed to win only one match against her. Kvitova has currently on a 12-set win streak against the Ukrainian. Svitolina has faced Kerber 13 times and she leads the German 8-5. At the 2016 Canadian Masters, Kerber won against Svitolina to have a 5-2 lead against the Ukrainian in head to head record. However, since then, Svitolina has won their last six meetings, including their Fed Cup meeting in 2017. Svitolina, who has won three tour level titles this year, has a discouraging record against Makarova. In their four meetings, Svitolina has failed to win a single set against the Russian. They met thrice in 2015 and their last meeting took place at Miami in 2016. Svitolina, who reached a career high of World No.3 has faced a southpaw only once in the finals of a tournament. She faced Kvitova at Zhuhai in 2016 wherein she lost the match in straight sets. At the majors, Svitolina is 2-7 against southpaws. The Ukrainian No.1’s lone two victories came in 2015 Wimbledon against Misaki Doi and against Taylor Townsend at the 2016 Roland Garros. Earlier this year, Svitolina was ousted by left-handed Mihaela Buzarnescu at Roland Garros in the Round of 32.


ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA (Win-Loss Record: 22-25, Win rate: 46.8%)

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Former World No.13 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has struggled against southpaws, having a win rate of 46.8% against them. The Russian has faced Kvitova on 11 occasions and trails her 4-7 in the head to head record. However, in their last meeting that took place after three years, Pavlyuchenkova defeated the Czech in three sets at Wuhan. The Russian has a fierce rivalry with Kerber. Both players have faced each other on thirteen occasions. On the thirteenth occasion which took place at Cincinnati earlier this year, Kerber nicked ahead 7-6 in the head to head rivalry. Kerber is the only left handed opponent that Pavlyuchenkova has faced at the finals of a pro level tournament. Both the finals took place at Monterrey and the Russian won both the matches in three sets. In career meetings, Pavlyuchenkova has a 6-4 lead over Makarova. In 2018, they met once at St.Petersburg which Makarova won in straight sets. Pavlyuchenkova leads Safarova 5-2 in the head to head record. The duo’s last meeting took place in 2015 at the Kremlin Cup. The 2018 Strasbourg champion is 2-4 in grand slam meetings against left handed opponents. The two victories came at 2010 Wimbledon against Iveta Benesova and at the 2012 Roland Garros against Melinda Czink. Pavlyuchenkova won only one of the four matches she played against southpaws in 2018.


JULIA GOERGES (Win-Loss Record: 15-23, Win rate: 39.4%)

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2018 Luxembourg Champion and current World No.9 Julia Goerges finds herself as one of the top six players who have found left handed players difficult to overcome. The German has faced Kvitova on six occasions. They first met at Linz in 2010 which Goerges won 6-2 6-1. Since then, Kvitova has won all their matches. In 2018, they faced each other thrice, one of which ended in Goerges retiring mid-match due to injury. Goerges has faced Kerber only thrice and trails her compatriot 1-2. They last met in 2012 at the Rome Masters. Goerges trails Makarova and Lepchenko with a head to head record of 1-3 against each player. The 2017 Washington final contested between Makarova and Goerges was the lone final that the German has played against a left handed opponent. Makarova won the match in the deciding set which she won 6-0. Goerges has a bizarre record against southpaws in the quarterfinals. She is 1-4 against left handed players in the quarterfinals and her lone victory came against Makarova earlier this year at New Haven. Goerges has a 4-2 lead over Safarova in career meetings and she won both her meetings against the Czech that took place in 2018. In 2018, Makarova has a 5-7 record against southpaws. At the slams Goerges is 2-5 against left-handed players. The two victories came at Roland Garros in 2010 and 2011 against Melinda Czink and Lucie Safarova respectively. This year at the US Open, Goerges lost to Makarova in the second round in straight sets.


POLONA HERCOG (Win-Loss Record: 13-20, Win rate: 39.39%)

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World No.77 Polona Hercog bags the bronze medal in struggling against the southpaws. The Slovenian lost her lone meeting against Kvitova at the 2012 US Open in straight sets. The former World No.35 has won two matches each against Kerber, Makarova and Safarova and trails them in the head to head to record by 2-4, 2-5, 2-5 respectively. Hercog is 0-3 in the quarterfinals stages and has a 1-5 record against left handed players in the first round of majors. She has never faced a left handed player in the finals of a pro level event but has once met a southpaw in the semis. She met Safarova at the 2012 Charleston semifinals and failed to win a single game against the Czech.  At the slams, Hercog is 3-7 in main draw matches and her three victories came against Lepchenko, Safarova and Misaki Doi at the 2017 Wimbledon, 2010 Roland Garros and 2010 Wimbledon respectively. Hercog was 0-3 against southpaws in 2016 and 2-0 against them in the 2017 season. Interestingly, Hercog never faced a left handed opponent in the 2018 season.


MONA BARTHEL (Win-Loss Record: 10-20, Win rate: 33.33%)

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Germany’s Mona Barthel has played 30 matches against southpaws in the last eight years. The World No.80 has faced Kerber five times and trails her 2-3 in the head to head record. Barthel trails Safarova 1-3 and and has not registered a win against Kvitova in their three meetings. Ekaterina Makarova too is unbeaten against Barthel in their two career meetings. Last year, Barthel reached the finals at Prague as a qualifier and defeated Kristyna Pliskova in the finals to win her fourth career title. It was also the only match that Barthel had played against a left-handed player in the final. In majors, Barthel has won only two of her eleven matches against southpaws. Both the wins for the former World No.23 came in 2011 at the Roland Garros against Sybille Bammer and against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez at the US Open. Barthel has won only two of the ten matches that she has faced against southpaws in the Round of 32 at any event.


VARVARA LEPCHENKO (Win-Loss Record: 3-22, Win rate: 12%)

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We now come to the player who has been most troubled by left handed players. Ironically, Varvara Lepchenko is herself a left-handed player. She has won only 3 matches in the past eight years against southpaws and lost 22 of them. Currently placed at No.168 in the rankings, Lepchenko broke into the Top 20 in 2012. Formerly an Uzbek, she became an American citizen in 2007. Lepchenko has lost all her six Round of 64 matches against southpaws. The three wins of Lepchenko came against Kerber at the Ponte Vedra Beach in 2010, against Na Lae Han at Seoul in 2014 and against Ksenia Pervak at the Roland Garros in 2012. Lepchenko trails Makarova 0-2, trails Kvitova 0-8, trails Safarova 0-5 and trails Kerber 3-4 in the head to head record. Apart from her win against Ksenia Pervak at the 2012 Roland Garros, Lepchenko has lost all the other six matches that she has played at the majors against southpaws.  


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