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Marcelo and Jelena 10/02/2008 - 2:55 PM

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by Pete Bodo

On the face of it, you couldn't come up with two individuals more different than surly Marcelo Rios, the former ATP  world no. 1 who still retains the distinction of being the only male player who's been ranked no. 1 but never won a Grand Slam event, and the girl who stole so many hearts at the US Open while doing splits, dressed as a daffodil,  Jelena Jankovic.

But Jankovic may accomplish what just eluded Rios's grasp in 1988 - when he also came within a few matches of securing the prestigious year-end no. 1 ranking, rather than merely taking advantage of a seam in the calendar to sneak into the top spot. Rios was no. 1 for six weeks, which may seem a short time, but is a month longer than the tenure Carlos Moya enjoyed at the top (the "least weeks ranked no. 1" record will never be broken, although somebody might one day share it with our favorite bunned-out, zinc-oxide samurai warrior, Pat "Stinky" Rafter).

Pat Regular readers know that I hold the year-end no. 1 ranking in high esteem, and it me it's partly because the ATP has always produced worthy year-end no. 1s. To me, securing the annual top spot is the top accomplishment in the "general excellence" category - that body of achievements that can't be linked to performance a single event. Let's face it, in any given year, any of about a dozen or more candidates can play lights-out tennis for two weeks and take advantage of a confluence of circumstances to win a major (see "J" for Johansson, or "G" for Gaudio). I wouldn't belittle the effort it takes too win a major, but in order to be considered a great player you need to be consistent and able to step up and assert yourself on big occasions, too.

For that reason, I've always had a bone to pick with the women's ranking system, or perhaps it's just with the inconsistency (commitment or performance-wise) of the top women players of this era. Lindsay Davenport finished no. 1 on three separate occasions (2001 and '04 and '05) when she failed to win a major. But then, Lindsay' has been a Grand Slam semifinalist (or better) on 17 occasions, and won just three titles (by contrast, Justine Henin won 7 majors in 16 trips to the semis or better (feel free to fact check my math). I'd be tempted to call her the exception that proves the rule, but not when she's turned the same feat three times.

Now, Jankovic is poised to follow in Davenport's footsteps, following Li Na's upset of Serena Williams in Stuttgart. And if that happens, it will further de-value the idea of the year-end no. 1 ranking. The Kremlin Cup, which starts on Monday, is the last Tier 1 event on the calendar. Serena is entered in it, as well as the YEC in Doha - but that's it (as of now) for her. Jankovic also is entered in both, and Zurich as well - and she has almost no points coming off from 2007. Just about anything she earns will be gravy and padding for what seems more and more like an inevitable top-ranking for 2008. And let's face it: Jankovic is many things, almost all of them delightful. But she's not a great player - not yet.

And let's not forget Dinara Safina in this conversation, either  - she's defending semifinal points in Moscow, and a handful from Zurich and Linz. A strong finish capped with a win in Doha could vault her to the top, especially if Serena doesn't make a big push for the top spot, or if Jankovic doesn't have great results. The thing is, Jankovic almost always goes deep in events. So she's in the driver's seat. So we have three strong contenders for the year-end no. 1 slot,but only one of them has bagged a major this year.

Among the men, every year-end no. 1 in the Open era won at least one major before he collected the top annual ranking, and Lindsay did, too. But we're now in a position to have a female year-end no. 1 who's has yet to win a major. Compared to the realities coughed up by the ATP system, it's clear that the WTA is rewarding consistency and commitment to a degree that skews most people's sense of performance-based justice - or am I wrong about that? The WTA seems wedded to a ranking system that is more of a consistency rating than an accurate reflection of competitive ability, and one other unfortunate thing about that is the way it diminished the value of the year-end ranking . I prefer a rankings system that demands that you win a major in order to finish no. 1 for the year, although unusual circumstances could certainly conspire to create the exception - as they almost did in '98 i the ATP tour.

That year, the defending no. 1 Pete Sampras got to semis or better in only the last two majors, while Rios built his strong showing on back-to-back wins at Indian Wells and Key Biscayne. He was also a finalist at the Australian Open, losing to Petr Korda, who later that year was convicted of a doping offense following his Wimbledon drug test.

You have to wonder how long Korda was able to get away with doping, and how much illicit drug use might have affected the final in Melbourne. Had Rios won that Australian final, Sampras might not have even bothered trying to catch him in the rankings. As it was, Sampras made a Herculean push in the fall to retain his year-end no. 1 ranking for a record sixth straight year, and even then the top spot was up for grabs until Rios pulled out of the year-end championships (with a bad back that helped cut short his puzzling career), averting a potential showdown match for the top spot.

I'm glad Sampras ended up with the top ranking in '98, because it's hard to argue that a guy (or woman) who can't manage to win a major ought to be considered the best player of the year. And while neither tour claims that the year-end ranking boils down to that, to my mind it does - and should. There's always room for argument on that, especially when there's no clear-cut, dominant player on the scene. That's fine, too. The New York Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs, and hence the best team in football - even though the New England Patriots had complied a perfect season going into that ultimate game.

Our sport doesn't have a Super Bowl, although some constituents have tried mightily to turn the YECs into just that. What we have, instead of a final showdown of that magnitude, is a year-end no. 1 ranking. And make no mistake about it - the prestige of the year-end no. 1 spot was ingrained in the sport long before we had quantifiable results via a points system. Back in the day, various entities (including Tennis magazine), issued a year-end Top 10, usually based on the vote of a panel of experts   (much like the college football rankings in the US). The system was a little too subjective, but it existed not to create confusion or stoke the egos of "experts" as much as to produce something for which everyone longed - an annual "champ" of tennis.

The WTA has struggled in recent years to promote the YEC, and build up its prestige. Now, with a move out of the media spotlight to Doha, it needs more than ever to make it seem as if the YEC matters. Here's an intriguing question: Will Serena make a Sampras-like drive to capture the top ranking, adding events to her schedule, or targeting Jankovic in a potential showdown in Doha. I hope she will. In addition to any other positive outcome, it would make the annual ranking something more than a laundry list of who compiled the most performance points.

Given the recent history of the WTA YEC, as well as the vagaries of the ranking system, Serena may be tempted to take a pass on Doha, especially if odds on snatching back the ranking from Jelena seem remote. In the bigger picture, one way to make the YEC more than "just another tournament" held at a time of year when everyone is tired and eager for a break is to tweak the system to try to ensure that whoever wins the YEC will also have won at least one major. It's a change from which everyone would benefit.


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Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:19 PM

bluesunflower - no qualms at all :)

Posted by Al 10/02/2008 at 08:22 PM

I see that Avid sports fan has already covered this topic .

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:24 PM

Tennis Fan - I was not talking about the break down which is correct but what you said before the break down that JJ has no points coming off. that is all.

Posted by Rosangel 10/02/2008 at 08:25 PM

The link should work totally now.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:25 PM

Al - ;-) I like the additional explanations you gave on the limited number of tournaments played.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/02/2008 at 08:31 PM

Thank you moderator, very nice job. Go Caroline, Scandinavia's #1!

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/02/2008 at 08:41 PM

"Also I do not see how Venus and Serena playing fewer tournaments than the rest translates to their support of the tour is questionable."

Technically, they are required to play 13 tournments outside the slams - both Serena and Venus will have played 9 (However, Serena has only played top events - 3 of Venus's event are tier III which she should not be playing in lieu of top events Tier I & II). I don't know if they are fined for this. However, fines probably would not affect them that much.

The real loss is Marquee players are lacking for tournments, which results in less interest and less money not to mention lower respect than the low respect they allready get.

However, the big problem I see is that they are not playing all and even the higher ranked players enough. The higher ranked players are not playing against the all the top players with their various styles. Don't you think that the Radwanskas, Cornets ven JJ need this experience exposure to judge their game and abilities against? Don't you think lower players would have to improve by playing Venus and Serena on a more regular basis? Don't you think tournments are more interesting and reflect well on the game when all or most or a significant amount of you top players show up. They are say and what this article is also saying is the WTA tournements don't matter. Only slams matter.

JJ is the opposite, she playes, she goes to the marketing functions at tournments, she's enthusiastic, entertaining and inviting and she has good game. And she get knocked for it.

If there is a problem see the ones that don't show the same support. However, why should they support them if their not important - CATCH 22.

I hope JJ, after she wins slams, remains the same. However, unless if you like the ATP and force your top players to play at specific tournaments all this bad press may affect her the same way. Hope not though.

You could even make the case that JJ is the Savior of the the WTA, not the de-valuer, as she is pretty much carrying the tour, other than Safina in the second half of the season, whether at slams or not at slams.

Posted by Manolo 10/02/2008 at 08:43 PM

I think that JJ deserves the N1 ranking more than anyone else, not only because she worked for it, but she wants it.

Samantha

I am a little surprised that you don't like JJ at all, considering she is the player who most closely resembles Justine Henin...

1-Not a power hitter (in the strict sense)
2-Best surface is clay
3-Enjoys the game
4-Plays and wins consistently
5-Works hard and is motivated to do well.

She is closer to Justine than any other player on tour right now, more than Serena or Ivanovic or Safina.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/02/2008 at 08:43 PM

"I was not talking about the break down which is correct but what you said before the break down that JJ has no points coming off. that is all"

Avid: JJ has qualified for the YEC. You get 105 points for showing up and losing all your matches, so essentially JJ has already defended these points. Therefore she will at least replace 105 with 105. Hopefully, she will do better this year.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:43 PM

Al - Thanks also for the information on the quality points.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:47 PM

Tennis Fan - Thanks for the info.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/02/2008 at 08:47 PM

Manola, you're kidding right because JJ is nothing like Justine, Roger Federer is the ONLY player who is like Justine and her one hand backhand was prettier to watch then his.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:50 PM

Tennis Fan - playing were tournaments does not translate to their suppport for the tour is questionable. If this is the case that would mean many of the no. 1s and year end no. 1support for the otur was

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:50 PM

Tennis Fan - playing were tournaments does not translate to their suppport for the tour is questionable. If this is the case that would mean many of the no. 1s and year end no. 1support for the otur was

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing in miracles) 10/02/2008 at 08:52 PM

Tennis Fan - *continuation* is questionable because they did not play 17 tournaments. Also up until next year these tournaments are not mandatory (yes 17 will count towards your ranking) except the GSs and Miami.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/02/2008 at 08:53 PM

Manola, JJ never uses the net, Justine was the master of the net, slices, dropshots. JJ rarely moves off the baseline and her serve doesn't come close to Justine. I see them as opposites, she has nothing in her game that reminds me of the Queen. Roger is almost as beautiful a player as Justine because I think he has modeled his game off of her.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/02/2008 at 09:00 PM

Manola, the player JJ most remind me of is Hingis in her period when she stopped being able to win slams, the serve and lack of power are similar. Like Hingis she's able to get back a lot of balls and induce errors in her opponents. I don't want to insult the Hingis fans so I'll say that she will never be the great champion Hingis was.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/02/2008 at 09:03 PM

Avid:

Minimum Play - according to WTA

2008
Minimum: 17
4 Grand Slams
13 WTA tournaments (Miami – mandatory for all who qualify)
YEC if qualify

Tops player are supposed to play the top event and at least meet the minimim requirment. And yes as you say, tournments are not 'mandatory' only miami is (surprisingly everyone showed up for Miami this year except Sharapova who was legitimately injured. The WTA has commited to tournaments a certain number of top players - when they don't fulful the WTA must reimbuse tournaments. The WTA has given a lot of freedom and choice to the player and many of the top have responed with not playing. I call this questionable commitment and nasty articles are written in the press.

So the WTA is changing it, to this

2009
Minimum: 14
4 Grand Slams
10 WTA tournaments (IW, Miami, Madrid, Beijing – mandatory for all who qualify)
YEC if qualify
Restrictions on tournament choice of top players (Maximum 25 events – See Tournament Choice)

More like the ATP which forces it's top players to play 9 master series events. Why because if they didn't they wouldn't show up just like the WTA. Would Roger have played in the US this summer after his hearbreaking loss at Wimbledon if was not required to? I don't think so.

Posted by LXV 10/02/2008 at 09:15 PM

The reason why JJ has accomplished such a high ranking this year has more to do with other players than herself. It's obviously because of Justine Henin's retirement, Sharapova and Ivanovic's injuries, and the Williams' sisters lack of play that she was able to reach the #1 spot with only one GS final, 2 titles, and no Olympic medal. As for her so-called "consistency" to go deep in tournaments, it is in fact overwhelmingly with low ranked players which she can routinely beat with her defensive game. It doesn't cut it with top 10 players with whom she's 7-10 and that's why she has only won 2 titles this year.

If anybody deserves to be #1 more than JJ at the end of the year, it's Dinara Safina who has also a GS final, but 4 singles titles, an Olympic silver and is so far 11-5 against Top 10 players which includes 2-0 against JJ herself. As another example, we would not have this conversation about JJ's #1 ranking if Dinara had not started the year so poorly by losing in the 1st round at the Australian Open...

(source: http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/players/)

Posted by Manolo 10/02/2008 at 09:19 PM

Samantha

You might disagree with me, but I truly believe that she is the active player who most closely resembles Justine, and, well, Federer doesn't count because he is a, (wait for this one)... guy.

I already gave my reasons why I think they are so similar. In fact, JJ is the only reason why I haven't lost all contact with the WTA.

Posted by Manolo 10/02/2008 at 09:21 PM

And, btw, it's ManolO, with an O.

And note that I said ACTIVE player who most closely resembles Justine.

Posted by Sama 10/02/2008 at 10:33 PM

LXV, what an analyser!

You could steal Bodo's job. Trying to prove that Jelena's success is directly related to the poor performances of her opponents! It must be that Jelena is at the TOP because the other players like her soo much, that they rather gave up their own titles, just to please JJ!? lol

Yeah, again: Jelena must be an afwul tennis player who definitelly doesn't desrve #1. It just happened to be #1 by pure luck, so we should now start hate her, and pronounce nobody!

Ohh, well,...biased opinions are wailing again! Nice to hear you guys.

Posted by crazyone 10/02/2008 at 10:37 PM

i haven't had time to read this post, but why is Rafter wearing a shirt that's 5 times too big for him?

Posted by Andrew Miller 10/02/2008 at 11:04 PM

Jenn and Tari are the best!

What Jenn commented was, to me, right on. Rios made me swoon and mystified by his sheer talent and artistry: he hit shots and combinations I have very seldomly seen and cannot fathom even being able to attempt (they are, at times, more impressive than those of Nadal or Federer - not to slight those two golden champions, but even for their vast and overwhelming repertoire, I have not seen them hit as many varieties of shots within a single tournament, as Marcelo Rios hit within one set).

However, he left me mystified and made me wince because of his inability to "seal the deal". Simply, there have been players, with far less talent - that have pulled out a major (Michael Stich and Thomas Johansen come to mind). Rios' attitude (and this is outside of his injuries) at times was horrible. It was frustrating to see so much talent - probably as much talent as 7 of the top 10 players on the ATP tour, combined in ONE tennis player - not realize a major triumph. Watching Rios as a fan could be exhilirating, and it could be disastrous.

I love Baghdatis also: he has as much talent as will ever be seen in a tennis player. He has that "magical talent" and the inconsistency. Being a Baghdatis fan is almost worse than being a James Blake fan. With James Blake, there is a sense that his "consistent ability to be inconsistent" will either lead to a huge Davis Cup win or a 3rd round flameout - it's boom or bust. With Baghdatis, it's either pure magic out there (in terms of unbelievable shot-making) against the best of the best (even having Federer on the ropes) or it's a first-round flame-out against lesser-known players.

I think it's just wanting Baghdatis to go out and take what's there for the taking and treat each opponent seriously and thank his stars that he is able to have an experience that others can only dream of. I had been hoping Rios would have done so, but his days on tour are over.

So- Jenn put it much better than I did :)

Posted by Jenn 10/02/2008 @ 5:04 PM

"Andrew Miller... I second what Tari said. And I wondered about one of your comments: You said "Because of Rios, I always marvel at magical players like Baghdatis." I love Bhaggy, and wondered if you could expand on what you meant by that? I think he is one of the most fun players to watch, but not sure if I get the connection to Rios, unless you were talking about some "magical" shotmaking, in the midst of inconsistency."

Posted by Sam 10/02/2008 at 11:28 PM

Andrew Miller: I agree about Johansson (sp?), but I think Stich was up there talentwise.

Posted by Andrew Miller 10/03/2008 at 12:21 AM

You are right about Stich,Sam! He was very good

Posted by crazyone 10/03/2008 at 12:22 AM

somewhere I saw it claimed that Federer based his game off of Rios...is this true?

Posted by Aussie Angel (All Aboard the Crazy Elf Train) 10/03/2008 at 12:24 AM

My fav player at net was Hingis, and agreed C1 about Rafter's shirt but hey any pic of Rafter is a welcome site.

I need to go and read this thread tonight when I am at home.

Posted by 10/03/2008 at 12:28 AM

YE raking for me has got to be one of the most inflated achievements in tennis.

I'm on the same page as Venus and Serena Williams on that score. No reflection on who's more talented or skilled. It proves nothing meaningful.

Given the choice of playing a limited schedule and winning a GS or two with a lower ranking, or playing a Davy/Janko type schedule and winning no majors, I'll take the former any day.

When Pete was whoring himself in the 4Q trying to rack up points it just seemed kinda ridiculous and sad at the same time. Especially in 98, it was embarrassing. And I LIKE Pete Sampras.
But given his lifestyle tennis was all he had so his choices would be very different for a more well rounded person.

That said it's amazing what he accomplished, but if we are to take the #1 ranking very seriously, what Federer did was even more impressive.
The man was #1 for almost 4 1/2 years STRAIGHT.

Also, if the ATP ranking changed hands as much as the WTA, we'd be hearing about how much depth they have, not inconsistency. But those are the breaks.


Posted by Sam 10/03/2008 at 01:03 AM

"Rios made me swoon and mystified by his sheer talent and artistry"

Andrew Miller: Great description of Rios.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling and believing :) 10/03/2008 at 01:23 AM

Tennis Fan - I know that is what the WTA expects wrt to the numbers and explanation that you gave but players also know what their physical limitations can permit. If they are fined or penalized in one way or the other for not showing up to tournaments then the WTA is able to reimburse etc the tournament organizers. That does not mean the players do not work with the WTA behind the scenes on other things and commitments. So I still say that appearing at tournaments is not what defines whether a player's support is questionable or not. So I end with this.

The other time you also translated it sucks to mean Serena was blaming the system. If you had read the complete interview question and answer when she said it sucked, you will see clearly that that was not the case.

Posted by Charles 10/03/2008 at 05:41 AM

as an arduous tennis stats collector, and a non-fan of the WTA ranking system, I have taken to ranking WTA players by their average points per tournament, to a max of 17 tournaments. Using this methodology the current ranking would be

1 WILLIAMS, SERENA 4091 15 272.7
2 JANKOVIC, JELENA 4070 17 239.4
3 SHARAPOVA, MARIA 3041 13 233.9
4 SAFINA, DINARA 3747 17 220.4
5 DEMENTIEVA, ELENA 3470 17 204.1
6 IVANOVIC, ANA 3328 17 195.8
7 WILLIAMS, VENUS 2271 12 189.3
8 KUZNETSOVA, SVETLANA 3000 17 176.5
9 ZVONAREVA, VERA 2167 17 127.5
10 RADWANSKA, AGNIESZKA 2146 17 126.2

Clearly, SWilliams is way out in front. I think this more closely resembles a player's actual performance. Contrary to much of what was stated by various posters above, SWilliams is more consistent than Jankovic.

For those interested I have been keeping such records for a number of years... without supplying an exhaustive list of the top 10, here's the #1 year end player list for the last several years, compared with the computer ranking.

Year Ave pts/tourn #1 Computer #1
2007 Henin Henin
2006 Henin Henin
2005 Henin Davenport
2004 Henin Davenport
2003 SWilliams Henin
2002 SWilliams SWilliams
2001 VWilliams Davenport
2000 VWilliams Hingis
1999 Hingis Hingis
1998 Hingis Davenport
1997 Hingis Hingis
1996 Graf Graf

Certainly, for seeding purposes, the computer rankings are quite unreliable for the women. While I appreciate the argument that a seed should be earned, call me old-fashioned, but I believe that likelihood to win the tournament should reflect one's seed. A perusal of bookies.com at the beginning of a tournament would be a much more accurate seeding guide than the WTA rankings. For example, at the 2007 Aus Open, SWilliams was ranked 6th by bookies, not 83rd (or whatever) as per the rankings...

Cheers!
Charles

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/03/2008 at 07:48 AM

I hope that Serena can rebound and reclaim the #1 position. Another thing is in a debate, you present your side of the argument without calling the person you disagree with names. I think some of the comments last night about Pete's article were unfair, if you disagree with him say it in a respectful way without using words such as "moronic." His arguments on Jankovic were sound and supported by facts. Let's agree to disagree respectfully. Thank you. Now back to tennis, the match between Venus and Safina looks like a good, just sorry I'll be in school and won't see it. Happy Friday, my favorite day next to Saturday.

Posted by Victor 10/03/2008 at 08:06 AM

I nice way to have a look at it would be to calculate the equivalent ATP rankings (on a race points basis) of the women and see what comes out.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/03/2008 at 09:46 AM

Charles:

You make a case for a different ranking system.

Your averaging system did not take into account 2 factors.

(1) Serena just lost in the first round in Stuttgart so her revised ranking based on 15 tournments average is 268.

(2) Is is fair, when JJ plays more, that you average 17 for her and only 15 for Serena?

If you penalized Serena for not fulfilling her required # of tournaments - 17 then her average is - 241

If you average JJ's best 15 then her average changes to 257.

The gap closes.

In the next tournament Serena has to defend 300. What if she goes out in the first round again? Ave - 248

What if she goes out in the second round - aver 253.

Maybe your system is better and if this was the system for all from the beginning of the year and all players understood it and played accordingly it would could be more reflective of 'performance'.

If you look only at slam performance only as Pete wants too, then:

Serena would be #1 with 2040
Ivanovic #2 1850
JJ #3 1740
Venus #4 1590
Dementieva #5 1290
Safina #6 1242
Sharapova #6 1200
Radwanska #9 780

Do you think this is a better reflection of who, over a course of a year earned the #1 spot? Maybe you would feel better with Serena at #1, but do you really think Ivanovic is #2 and Safina #6 given recent 'performance'.

Clearly, the WTA is trying to reward those who play and support the tour with something and that is ranking.

Clearly, the WTA lost a couple of marquee palyers who put the system into a bit of disorder this year - does that mean the system is bad? I don't think so. And don't bash JJ for it.

And dispite what everyone thinks JJ, does have the potential to win any tournament she enters, just as Serena does. So whether the two are one or two is really irrelevant if you think about it. However, I'm happy for JJ to have the top honor, if only for a short time, for all her hard work and the enjoyment she gives to fans.

And we forget that the system is not just for the top players, it is for everyone. And I do think, over the long run that the system does reflect pretty well 'performance' overall for all players. However, there is short term anomolies like when some has an injury such as Serena 83 ranking in 2007 and #1 players retiring out of the blue.

Posted by mwu 10/03/2008 at 10:04 AM

I think the key to solving all of this is to throw the rankings points system out the window and simply allow Pete to create a bracket for each tournament based entirely on his own perceptions and a desire to create better narrative.

We'd never have Venus and Serena on the same side of the draw again, we could be sure that no non-slam winner will ever be #1, and the little tournaments Pete doesn't deign to follow would cease to matter.

In fact, a Pete-based system would result in a shorter season and greater involvement by the top players in the same tournaments instead of the fragmentation we so often see between majors -- where Tournament A has #s 1, 4, 7 and 8, while B has #s 2, 6 and 9 (3 and 10 are injured, naturally), when we'd all be better served as fans were everyone in the same draw for 14 tournaments per year.

(Y'know, I started out sarcastic, but I'm starting to think this is actually a pretty good idea...)

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/03/2008 at 10:33 AM

"The other time you also translated it sucks to mean Serena was blaming the system. If you had read the complete interview question and answer when she said it sucked, you will see clearly that that was not the case."

Avid: I only saw her on court interview and she only said "it sucks" without detail. So if I missed her in depth interview where she clarified this statement then I apologized.

I think Venus and Serena are great players and great for the game and their lack of appearance does hurt the game. Especially, when the top player retires and another top player is out due to injury, maybe they could step it up and at least play there required amount of tournments. That is all I'm saying.

JJ takes some mean spirted hits for playing despite having a potential career threatening knee injury.

Posted by FeFe 10/03/2008 at 12:20 PM

Let's see. You can get into the Hall of Fame by winning one slam or none. Why not be YEC with one week as #1? I see little difference. It's all subjective as a fan and subject to media justification or not.

With top players stepping out on something other than a tennis court this year and those waiting in the wings to take their closeup, Mr. DeMill, why begrudge their good performance? I know the understudy isn't supposed to get rave reviews but don't fault the audience for enjoying the performance. If those who call in sick look over their Prada and choose to fight for the spotlight, all of Broadway will take notice. A renewed sense of purpose? As a fan, I would be delighted to see those movie star players on my scoreboard (subject to freeze, no Macs may apply, streaming optional, option to work not implied).

All the glory or media junkets come from the slams. The cream of the crop. But if you want to ride into this Tier III or slam town and kiss the trophy, go ahead and try. If you have to take the cattle drive into town, good luck being rested. I sure hope Tire Boy can fix or patch you up on your next breakdown. But no matter how you get here or if you started out from Hollywood or a trailer park in AZ, we will not belittle your accomplishments! Heck, we might even begin to like you. But no matter, the effort will be celebrated and remembered along with those glorious shots. Thanks for the memory: Every dropper a thrill. I've been through the mill. I've lived a lot and learned a lot, you loved me not and still; I miss you so much.

What? The year isn't over yet? There is professional tennis being played? Gee. Let me consult my scoreboard. Ah, familiar dependable names who keep me returning to tennis (correct pronunciation not guaranteed). I see you caught that stagecoach out of Dodge. You're brave to ante up all over again. You deserve your success.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/03/2008 at 12:23 PM

Now it just about over but the shouting.


Serena Williams has pulled out of Moscow. In a statement to tournament organizers, she said she needs time to physically recharge and recover from a left ankle problem:

"My left ankle has been bothering me since the US Open and I need to take a break now to get it back to 100%, which is why I have to regretfully take this decision and withdraw from the doubles in Stuttgart, and Moscow next week.

"I have played a lot this year and my body needs to recover. It’s obviously my goal to try and get the No. 1 ranking back and it hurts my chances pulling out of Moscow since I reached the final there last year.

"My only wish now is that with a week to 10 days of rest I can recover and be at my best for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha. I am confident the Moscow tournament will be a very successful one and hope to see my fans back there again next year."

It's seems it is between two non-slam winner's this year JJ and Safina. Who I think will also be the contenders for slams in the comming year. However, this does open the door for Ivanovic, if she can put it together enough to win Moscow and Linz she is right back in the thick and everyone would be happy with a YE #1, who is also a slam winner.

Posted by † Hallelujah 10/03/2008 at 12:34 PM

The year end ranking isn't worth all that much imho. It's a nice stat for a player to have in their resume, but it's grand slams that count.

Putting the disappointment of his never wining a GS, Rios was one of my favorite players to watch, ever. Pete Sampras, as great a winner as he was, could be like watching paint dry at times. Watching someone win pragmatically wasn't what got me into tennis. I respect the accomplishment, but that's not why I care about tennis.

Posted by Andrew Miller 10/03/2008 at 01:15 PM

Crazyone: here is the quote from March 27, 2008 of Federer on Rios

"Q. Ten years ago was very important for my country, Chile, because Rios was No. 1 here. You were very young, but maybe you can remember something about that, about his career.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I was a big admirer of Marcelo. I thought he was one of the players with the best talent around. He was one my favorite players at the time being.

Him and Pete Sampras back then were my favorite players.

Happy for him that he got to No. 1 in the world. Not happy that he never won a Grand Slam, you know. But I was fortunate enough to play him a few times and practice with him a few times. So, yeah, I have good memories of Marcelo."

And here is a fun clip of Federer vs. Marcelo

www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXMnsDODx4

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/03/2008 at 01:25 PM

With the events of today - Serena pulling out of Moscow and Safina losing to Venus, Safina cannot pass JJ at #1 even if she wins Moscow. Therefore, JJ will be #1 at least until YEC.

So now you can get your cookies in a bunch!

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!) 10/03/2008 at 07:43 PM

Ok – coming late to the party – but….

IMO, The year end #1 ranking should NOT in any time be linked to ‘bagging’ a slam. It’s a year long ranking, to reward someone who has played well, and prolly at times excellent tennis.

The slams are only 8 weeks out of the year. If someone has amassed enough points to be #1 over 52 weeks, they deserve it.

Take player A who is in the final of all 4 events.

In Oz – they turn their ankle, fite through it but manage to lose the trophy to player B – who is having the run of the life. Player B is ranked 54.

In the French – Player A runs up against Player C and loses it in 5. Heartbreaking, but amazing effort. Player C is ranked at 17. Player B mind you - got bumped in the 4th round and is hovering at a ranking of 26…

At Wimbledon, Player A play lites out but gets beaten by Player D , who is currently ranked 21 in the world and has a game completely tooled for grass, big serve, ok movement and was the beneficiary of the top seeds in their section going out unexpectedly early. And they win a slam! Whoohoo!

At the US open, Player A gets beaten by player E. Player E is ranked 6, and was on fire!

At the end of the year the rankings are..


Player A – 1
Player B – 29 w/ 1 slam
Player C – 6 w/ 1 slam
Player D – 11 w/ 1 slam
Player E - 4 w/ 1 slam

OK – so Player A – appearing in 4 finals and holding enough points to be #1 – doesn’t ‘deserve’ the year end ranking? Does Player E – 1 slam and ranked 4?

I think it’s a hail of a lot easier saying this player made it to 4 finals and holds the most points on tour and is year end #1, than that this other player is 4 – but they got a slam and so they deserve to leap frog the players ranked higher than them. They already GOT the bump from the extra points, that’s how they got to 4! IMO, the reward for a couple weeks of great play is a trophy, the reward for an entire YEAR of good play is the year end ranking.

As for weighting slams higher than the master by MORE than double, I’m also not in favor of that. I truly don’t think they’re more than twice as difficult as a masters. Yes, they’re 2 weeks, but there’s days off within those 2 weeks. The masters the players are often times playing 4 days in a row, which is dang tough, no matter how you look at it.

Posted by greenhopper 10/03/2008 at 07:57 PM

jb -- That was a very good logic. Nice post. Thank you. :)

Posted by Arun 10/03/2008 at 09:50 PM

"IMO, the reward for a couple weeks of great play is a trophy, the reward for an entire YEAR of good play is the year end ranking."

Well said, jb! Also, though GS is obviously very highly prestigious, I'm with you on the ranking_point_weightage for GS and AMS..

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