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New Age Parity 05/08/2009 - 2:52 PM

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by Pete Bodo

The WTA these days is giving us a terrific snapshot of what tennis looks like when the game is in a state of parity, rather than in the throes of a clear hierarchy, or pecking order.I think of this as the WTA's  new-age parity, because it sometimes looks like the women of the WTA have crossed a Rubicon, choosing (unconsciously)  to share the wealth and accolades rather than fight over them.

Ordinary parity exists when there's a simple gridlock of ambition and talent and no player, no matter how hard she tries, has the game or the will to dominate.Our new-age parity exits because nobody wants to dominate badly enough. As a result, hard working players overachieve and emerge as champions or legitimate contenders at major events. Let's remember that two of the most recent no. 1 ranked players scaled those heights without having won a Grand Slam event.

The new-age parity isn't merely the product of an across-the-board diminished level of talent, dedication or even of increased indifference to traditional sops like a high ranking or a Grand Slam title. It was created by a tsunami of factors, some of them unfortunate or unexpected: injury (Maria Sharapova), premature retirement (Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters), flawed competitive character (Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova), and a ranking system that is first and foremost a consistency rating (Dinara Safina).

You'd have to be perverse to deny that Safina is the no.1 player in the world, when the WTA built an entire digital structure for identifying and rewarding the most consistently excellent competitor in the field. But you'd also have to be willfully ignorant to claim that Safina is the best player in the world when you have multiple-Grand Slam winners (the Williams sisters) and an Olympic games gold medalist (Dementieva) ranked below her - in some cases, well below her. Let's just say that the best player isn't always the no. 1 player and leave it at that - which is probably what Serena should have done early this week when, before she played her first match at the Italian Open, she proclaimed: “Quite frankly, I’m the best in the world.”

Serena then went out in Rome and lost her second consecutive first-round clay-court match to Patty Schnyder, a complicated young lady who's measure of courage has never equaled her measure of skill. I wrote  a post on this subject for ESPN last night, and spent part of this morning pondering Serena's attitude. She's venturing a little too close to the delusional, and I'm inclined to think that the more she finds herself struggling, the more volubly she'll declare her superiority - that means that by the time Wimbledon rolls around, she'll be shouting it from the rooftops of London. And if she goes on to win Wimbledon (which can't be discounted, this being Serena we're talking about), she'll again have the last laugh.

But it seems more likely that Serena has painted herself into a corner. Discussions about her "fitness" and weight have been perilous and largely unfruitful, often ending up with bitter accusations of stereotyping - or worse. Besides, who are we to question whether or not Serena is fit, if she herself claims that she's been working hard?

Okay, so let's say she's fit, and that all that flesh she's carrying around is a gift of nature. How then do you analyze and rationalize losses like her two most recent? Is Klara Zakopalova (who beat Serena in Marbella) so formidable that the match turned on little things - lack of adequate time on clay, a poor winner-to-error ratio?

Keep in mind that in 2008, Serena welcomed the clay-court season by winning Charleston (yeah, I know, it's green clay, blah, blah, blah. . .). She then lost a heartbreaker to Safina in Berlin, 7-6 in the third. Serena won a couple of matches in Rome and was ushered out of the third round at Roland Garros by Katarina Srebotnik.  It wasn't a great run on clay, but it wasn't awful, either. This year may be different.

Safina Just as alarming, Serena got exactly one game in each of the third sets she's played in her two-clay matches of 2009 (Marbella and Rome). Given Serena's zest for combat, those blowout sets tell me something. Something broke down and stopped working, either mentally or physically. Given Serena's confident nature and zeal, those breadsticks suggest that her main problem may be physical. And in tennis, the lines of communication between the physical and mental are always open. Me or you telling Serena that she's out of shape, vulnerable, and not to be trusted to win the match is nothing compared to Serena's own body telling her that.

This is where it gets tricky, though. Serena's body has been changing, seemingly right before our eyes. I don't know if all that extra flesh we've been seeing represents the fulfillment of some blind genetic mandate, or something as banal as a few too many late night trips to the drive-through window, or the convenience store. I just know that the extra flesh is there, and that it's impossible to think about her performance without wondering about the role her relative fitness plays in it. Those of you who play the game know that heavy people are sometimes surprisingly good, in singles as well as doubles, and the pro tour - especially on the WTA side - has always had its share of hefty lasses. But none of them were top-tier players, except in doubles.

It's also an open secret that women tennis players, far more than their male counterparts, are in peril of   really ballooning out shortly after they retire. I'm not going to embarrass anyone by naming names, but obesity is definitely a threat that any woman leaving the pro tour must take seriously. And while Serena is just 27, she's in her 11th full year on the  tour. She's playing a modest schedule (13 events in 2008; Jankovic played 22) that allows her plenty of down time to work on her game and fitness - or not.

While Serena still intimidates her WTA peers, that can change quickly. Dominant players like Serena are oppressors, and they stand a greater chance of being overthrown than of retiring peacefully. That's an occupational hazard for a top player, which is why most of them rarely crow about their triumphs or declare their superiority. They know their days are numbered, it's just a matter of knowing when that number comes up, and not shortchanging themselves.

Dinara Safina has been taking a lot of flack lately, and not just from the Williamses, whose attitude toward the reigning no. 1 is probably best described as condescending. But Safina keeps winning tennis matches, and that builds confidence just as losing matches destroys it. As I type these words, Safina has just dispatched Venus Williams, 6-4 in the third, to make the Rome final opposite Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Spring is here. Heads will roll.


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Posted by Jimbo 05/08/2009 at 03:15 PM

first! lol!

Posted by Phaura Reinz (Pat frm Philippines, new TW id) 05/08/2009 at 03:16 PM

Pete, did Vee say something wrong about Dina? I guess not! I hope you could write about the match between Vee and Dina. It's a nice match, high quality i guess.

Posted by gauloises 05/08/2009 at 03:18 PM

"The Williamses"?

Has Venus said or done anything particularly condescending in relation to Safina that I'm not aware of?

As for the "hefty lasses" and Serena's body ... it seems to me that every time Serena's been accused of being unfit and carrying too much weight, she turns round and wins a Slam. Whatever kind of weight she's carrying, I imagine there are a few on the tour who wouldn't mind some of it.

*hunkers down to read comments from more knowledgeable people*

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 at 03:24 PM

Pete gee Heads Will Roll? well it really depends on whose head you are referring to? lol.

Yay Spring is here time to move one.

Serena and her comments are not new at all.Gee the minute she loses our goes out early in a tournament its like Same Old Same Old?

With the current WTA system it does reward the player who plays and competes at a level to earn points and become the no 1 player in the world

Yes and a player can be slamless as well,may I remind people of JJ and the slack she got becaause of it.

Also lets look at another former No 1 player who won her first grand slam title at RG last year? hey where has she gone? Miss Anna and those boring Fist Pumps of hers.

Well in a way I must say Serena has come back and won AO and reclaimed the no 1 player position ok like we are seeing in the WTA Merry Go Round it didnt last long

Its like Musical Chairs? hey please someone stand up show some consistant play and sit on that last chair? isnt that how you win Musical Chairs?

Safina has got the no 1 position becuase of the WTA point system.

it will be now up to her to either swim or sink?

I personally feel some of these girls are Unfit? gee the last two years the amount of injuries have been appalling to say the least

Hey it never happened in the good old days? did it?

I feel certain we will see a different Serena in Madrid cause in Serena's eyes and mind she is the no 1 player in the world

Yeah as you say Heads Will Roll!

Posted by gauloises 05/08/2009 at 03:30 PM

Will the real world no. 1 please stand up ...

I respond to these kind of losses from Serena with a shrug and a 'it's Serena, she'll be back'. I have to confess I didn't see either of the matches, in Marbella or Rome. Was the way she lost them really so worrying - more, say, than the way she lost to Venus in Doha at the end of last year? I didn't hear anybody wondering then whether she was "out of shape, vulnerable, and not to be trusted to win the match".

Or maybe I just wasn't listening.

Posted by gauloises 05/08/2009 at 03:33 PM

Or maybe it had something do with the opponent.

See? This is why I shouldn't type words.

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Congrats to Djokovics for their commit to the game of tennis in Serbia! Wonderful event for 2009 and years to come. What can happen when one is committed. Thank you for your family's contribution to this wonderful game of tennis in this part of the world and thank you Novak for all that you bring to the game. It's a pleasure to share your success!

Posted by Nicole 05/08/2009 at 03:42 PM

I have always felt that the way that Serena carries herself is completely tactless, and have always felt put off by her. There are several things that make one a top level tennis player, and there is no singular tournament that can decide who is, besides maybe the year end championships. But the thing that bothers me about everyone saying that Safina and Jankovic have been undeserving number ones is this: The same rules apply to everybody. If Miss Serena believes that she's number one in the world, then she needs to play a few more tournaments during the year to offset her early round losses. As Safina herself said, her ranking did not fall from the sky. She worked very hard to get to where she is, and now there is so much negative press about how she can possibly be #1 without a slam. I'm sure the WTA would rather have a #1 player who plays 22 events a year than a #1 player who plays 13 events a year anyway.

Posted by Pete 05/08/2009 at 03:45 PM

Gauloises, just off the top of my head, I don't know if this qualifies as "particularly" condescending, but in Miami Venus said this of whoever is no. 1 other than Serena:

"But I don't think that they'll feel that they are the true no. 1. I think Serena is the true no. 1"

Posted by CL 05/08/2009 at 03:45 PM

First - - moderators - best of luck to ya...really... have a GE or two on me.

Question for Pete - so have you seen the videos of Serena and Safina talking about this? I'm just asking because some people who have seen the videos...as opposed to reading the quotes.. have a different take away of the latest Serenapallooza.

Posted by frances 05/08/2009 at 03:54 PM

AM question for you or whoever knows-- is the WTA ranking system similar to ATP and do women players get penalize for not participating in required events if there is such? i always think that serena would have been a solid 1 if she plays consistently

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 04:00 PM

When dealing with Serena I think it is vital to distinguish clay court tourneys form the rest of the season. The games of Venus, Serena and Sharapova are vulnerable on the clay because they all play a high risk match. At last years FO, Serena got beat by Sebotnic(not exactly the elite) and went on to win 2GS in on the faster surfaces. The match in Miami when she was clearly injured is hard to judge. A first round loss on the clay against Patti who she has lost to on the clay before tells me very little about how she will do on the faster surfaces which rewards her type of game. You know when Serena is at her best, when people start counting her out and saying other players are better. Her H2H is outstanding against the top ten. And Russia's best, Sharapova hasn't beaten her in over 4 years. No disrespect to Safina, but I believe that Sharapova with 3 slams and no injury is a far superior player. Furthermore, I think she's the best female player Russia has ever produced. What I found interesting was that Dinara never said what Serena said was untrue. I wonder why. Safina can win matches from now until Christmas, but if she fails to win a slam, the criticism and the debate over her legitimacy will continue. She placed second in weakest world's #1 poll and that wasn't for nothing. That was how many fans felt.

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 at 04:02 PM

Frances There are mandatory tournaments in the WTA like the ATP

Good example this year was in IW both Serena and Venus didnt play due to the controversey a few years back

Larry Scott the WTA boss then,fined both girls for not appearing at this event.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/08/2009 at 04:02 PM

First the WTA roadmap uses 16 tournaments to determine the ranking points and does not have the simple replace bad results with better ones in other tournaments with the cluases they have for withdrawing from say a premier (not mandatory) tournament that even if are injured and you show up to do promotion for the tour, you are still penalized and the result is counted in your ranking points. This is why for instance Vera went ahead to play in Charleston against doctors orders and sustained another injury to her ankle which has now kept her out. As for Serena who chose not to play Charleston but did promotion Charleston still stays on her ranking points as 0 and cannot be replaced. So what will be the essence of playing additional tournaments when the point can't count and won't make any difference.

For those who are talking about Serena playing more, she has already played 7 tournaments this year. Only Elena D in the top ten has played more than her. Prior to the clay season, she still had the overall best performance of the lot in the top ten (below is the race points stats in the link below which reflects that) doing SF or better in every tournament she entered (5 of them) before Marbella. No other person in the top ten could boast of that. Yes she has faltered so far during the clay season while those who had faltered earlier are picking up their game which is good for the tour. Does it mean she will just continue to go downhill forever? time will tell. So when Serena held #1 spot from after AO in January till April, she deserved it base don her performance over the 52 week period in that time frame just as Dinara deserves the spot now based on a performance over the 52 week period in this time frame.

As for the "we all know who the real #1 is" and "Quite frankly, I am the best in the world" comments, I have said enough about it on other threads already. Two totally unrelated responses to different questions one related to the "real #1" a phrase that came from the reporter who asked the question and another related to Serena not focusing enough on tennis to get to the point where she cannot be beaten. But everybody is entitled to their opinion on these. The full pressers are here for those interested.

Serena: http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=56115
Dinara: http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=56116

And finally I think it was unnecessary to lump both Serena and Venus together in that last paragraph. Here is what I posted in the other thread for that:

"Dinara Safina has been taking a lot of flack lately, and not just from the Williamses, whose attitude toward the reigning no. 1 is probably best described as condescending."

So let's *say* (not that she did) that ReRe was all serious and condescending to Dinara, did Vee do or say something towards Dinara that was condescending? But again it's usually the *Williamses* right they have no personalities. They are the one and same *sigh* I can see this is a losing battle. so I give up.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/08/2009 at 04:05 PM

CL - Do you have a video of the pressers? If you do I'll appreciate if you could post a link. I searched but could not find them.

Posted by whatever 05/08/2009 at 04:07 PM

avid-you protest too much.

Posted by Pete 05/08/2009 at 04:11 PM

But Avid, what if the Williamses really do both feel that Serena is the "true" no 1? Does the fact that they're sometimes unfairly lumped together mean that they can't ever be said to share a feeling or opinion?

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeee!) 05/08/2009 at 04:11 PM

Avid, I feel you. :)

I don't think parity is intrinsically a bad thing. It's just that Vee and Serena are the wrenches in the system, so to speak. They are focused on the slams (can't blame them at their ages), but it's only a problem because they can show up at the big stages and win, making a mockery of the rankings.

*rolls eyes at repeated references to Serena's "flesh"* I will just say that for a lot of women, it's a lot easier to stay in shape and keep weight off as a teen and twenty-something than it is as you start approaching 30 and beyond. Serena's built like Mama Oracene and brickhouse genetics are a strong thing indeed.

Posted by beckles 05/08/2009 at 04:12 PM

Does anyone know what the top 5 will look like monday. Obviously safina and serena will remain 1 and 2. Will venus ove up to 3 or 4?

Posted by CL 05/08/2009 at 04:14 PM

avid -sorry.... I don't... I haven't actually seen it myself. But I remember seeing people refer to it in yesterday's thread. Or maybe I miss read - I am often guilty of that. Maybe people were just referring to the FULL presser instead of the quotes that first appeared. Apologies if I lead anyone down the garden path. Unintentional honest...

Hmmm...now I gotta go see for myself whether such a video exists or merely a figment of my misreading and/or imagination.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/08/2009 at 04:16 PM

And oh I forgot the link to the race points.

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/rankings/race/singles.asp

Also note that Serena has never played more than 13 tournaments in all her eleven years on tour even when she dominated in 2002-half of 2003. Personally I don't see how *much* her *changed* body can cooperate now to suddenly play 16 tournaments so there are bound to be early exits. Every match she has lost this year she was served a breadstick so I would not read too much into the breadstick she got from Patty either. ElenaD served her a breadstick in Sydney but it did not mean much at AO.

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 04:19 PM

Wow, Pete, I've given you such a hard time for being rough on some players but always giving Serena a pass, but here you exhibit some parity of your own and some equal opportunity critique, which is very welcomed. As far as the weight issue with Serena, Serena has been alot heavier than this and still performed quite well. I really don't think she is a particular player that has to lose every ounce of fat to play high level. The main thing is, she sets herself up with the boasting and trash talking, then has to eat crow when she fails to live up to her own hype. You would think she would learn from this and stop doing that, but she doesn't. What really stinks is that she literally laughed at Dinara Safina in that interview and that is uncalled for. It's one thing to be proud of yourself and talk with confidence but another to cast ridicule on a fellow player that has been a good sport toward others while attaining a number one ranking with hard work and lots of effort. So to me, Serena got her just desserts in her first match loss in Rome, and Dinara has come out the winner by beating Venus and getting to another final while Serena was sent home immediately.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/08/2009 at 04:22 PM

"But Avid, what if the Williamses really do both feel that Serena is the "true" no 1? Does the fact that they're sometimes unfairly lumped together mean that they can't ever be said to share a feeling or opinion?"

Pete - No it does not and yes they can share an opinion. But you used the word condescending to Dinara which even if I *grudgingly* agree that ReRe was based on that last presser, I don't see Vee's "attitude to Dinara" as condescending.

sblily - I hear you. You can see that even when Vee is *unfit* she has never been as big as Serena so I understand the genes thing.

Posted by beckles 05/08/2009 at 04:25 PM

Is venus moving past jankovic and dementieva in the rankings monday?

Posted by beckles 05/08/2009 at 04:25 PM

Is venus moving past jankovic and dementieva in the rankings monday?

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 04:25 PM

JJ and Safina have made a mockery of the ranking system and it's does nothing to give the WTA legitimacy to have a world's #1 without a slam. Even Roger was critical of this. It's not their fault but both have been the beneficiary of a flawed ranking system.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 04:36 PM

Beckle, Venus will be no 3 by virtue of the fact that she made it further in the ranking than JJ. Geez, what is wrong with wanting a world's #1 that isn't in a contest for weakest no 1 in the history of tennis.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/08/2009 at 04:37 PM

beckles - Vee will be #3 on the coming Monday rankings.

Posted by TennisFan2 05/08/2009 at 04:38 PM

The press asked Serena about the #1 spot and she gave them just what they asked for - somthing to put in articles that will make people talk. Good for her! We'd have nothing to talk about it if she simply said, "Dinara earned the top spot."

Don't underestimate Serena in front of the press - I am confident in saying she knows how to play the media game. And, if she issued a challenge good for her.

I am not concerned about her last few performances - she'll pull it together and come up with some big wins this year. And, if she doesn't, she'll still have back to back years with at least one slam. Which is more than can be said for the other recent #1s (Dinara, JJ, Anna, etc...

Posted by CL 05/08/2009 at 04:39 PM

avid - I looked too but I couldn't find it... I must have misinterpreted what people were referring to. Humble apologies.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 04:40 PM

Should have read went further in Rome tourney.

Posted by TennisFan2 05/08/2009 at 04:40 PM

Pete: I don't know if all that extra flesh we've been seeing represents the fulfillment of some blind genetic mandate, or something as banal as a few too many late night trips to the drive-through window, or the convenience store.

Talk about condescending! Not everyone can look like Sharapova and Kournikova.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/08/2009 at 04:40 PM

CL - No qualms!

Posted by beckles 05/08/2009 at 04:41 PM

Thanks. I wonder what the rankings will look like entering wimbledon and will they play with the seedings and if so will venus or serena get 1 and/or 2

Posted by charles 05/08/2009 at 04:42 PM

Monday's rankings should like this (I think):

1 Safina
2 SWilliams
3 VWilliams
4 Jankovic
5 Dementieva
6 Zvonareva
7 Kuznetsova
8 Ivanovic
9 Azarenka

Posted by Master Ace 05/08/2009 at 04:43 PM

WTA Top 5 rankings come Monday:
(1)Safina
(2)S Williams
(3)V Williams
(4)Jankovic
(5)Dementieva

Posted by Pete 05/08/2009 at 04:44 PM

TennisFan2: and nobody said they should, right?

The point here is that to some extent in sports, physique is destiny.

Dang it, I forget the original epigram that I'm borrowing, but there it is.

Posted by charles 05/08/2009 at 04:44 PM

Yeah, ok, Serena is not great on clay... so the French may not be for her this year (even though Bookies.com still lists her as the top pick), but reports of her death are greatly exaggerated... let's not forget that she has played the final of the last 3 GS events, and won the last two...

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 04:45 PM

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 @ 4:25 PM

JJ and Safina have made a mockery of the ranking system and it's does nothing to give the WTA legitimacy to have a world's #1 without a slam. Even Roger was critical of this. It's not their fault but both have been the beneficiary of a flawed ranking system."

So would it be a mockery if players you wanted to be number one, were number one under this system? The system is made correctly, it rewards people for showing up week after week and performing well regularly, rather than rewarding people who pull out a slam win once in a while, then go out in the second or third round of the rest of the tourneys or don't even play. there are only four slams per year, and although they are the tournaments people put the biggest emphasis on they aren't all that matters. The other events matter too, they play the same players at those that they do at slams, so if they win those and beat those players there, of course they deserve the ranking they get from that.

Posted by Yummy Prince Fed - Still my heartbeat 05/08/2009 at 04:47 PM

OK then. Heads will Roll. I recall recently Pete wrote a post where he mentioned that when you see Serena moving around the court to receive serve, you have to wonder if something is wrong with her, the way she just plods along, then when the ball is in play it is like it is so hard to get a ball by her. Now we hear that she may not be fit etc. Clearly, people's memories are short and everyone forgets Australian Open 2007. I find that when Serena has these type of losses, it is either that she is shaking off rust, is a bit injured (as in Marbella where her leg was strapped) or she plays an opponent who has a do or die attitude who then ends up losing in the next round (Katarina FO08 and Schyner Rome 09 to name a few). Avid, who posts here has repeatedly posted the comments that Serena made during her press conference and I have to confess that I am a little disappointed that Pete has joined the bandwagon of those who are taking those comments out of context. The fact is that Serena has been on tour 11 years and she has made her mark. She has been maligned by every journalist and tennis commentator and to this day, the girl still does not get her due. So what if she says that she is the best in the world, she has the hardware to back it up and she has the performances under her belt. The fact of the matter is that if Dinara and the rest of the WTA are intimidated by the alleged pronouncements of a loud mouth, then they need to give her a what for. As of the time of writing Serena still has a positive head to head amongst most, if not all of the current crop of players. The only way they take her out these days is through injury or old age. I also think it is very disingenuous if not downright libellous for journalists to ask questions in an interview and then go out there and try and stir up trouble by then editing the comments of players. It is unfair and it goes to this particular thing where people feel that women must be involved in cat fights in order to be competitive. Why is it that no journalists ever splices and dices what the men say. Everything that the gods of tennis do is published as verbatim quotes, but the women's words have to be twisted. For my money the WTA and by extension its players do not require there to be cat fights in order to promote competitiveness. The WTA is going through a transition period right now and you have players who are at the top of the game, those in the middle and then you have the ones who are following behind. Guess what the ATP has the same thing. A comparison of the WTA and the ATP will show that there is a certain amount of similarity between both tours. The only difference is that the men's No. 1 is so dominant while there is a transition happening in the women's game.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/08/2009 at 04:49 PM

pete: i don't know exactly when it was, maybe the billie jean king cup(boy was that a joke) but i noticed serena's size and wondered if it was effecting her play and movement on the court. We've all see what losing 15 pounds did for Arod in terms of movement and stamina. But serena's been at this game for a long time. I'm sure she knows her body and what is best for herself.
We were discussing great past players who never reached number 1 yesterday and the list is impressive: wade, sabatini, mandlikova and many other slam winners. I hate to say it, but we are in a very weak era in the women's game right now.

Posted by Master Ace 05/08/2009 at 04:52 PM

In my opinion, I think the current WTA system is fine as far as ranking players. I do not like that the Top 10 have to carry a 0 for missing a Premier 5 or Premier event unless they did not meet the WTA quota for the year. Serena has to carry a 0 for Charleston under Premier. Top 10 players are required to play the Slams, Premier Mandatories, 4 of the 5 Premier Five, and at least 2 premier events. I think Serena 0 for Charleston should be erased if she plays Stanford and/or Los Angeles in late July/August. By the way, she has already played Paris. All the WTA need to do in the case of Charleston is to fine her.

However, when the French Open is over, the WTA rankings should correct itself. This was mainly,IMO, caused by the retirement of Justine Henin. 2nd place goes to the shoulder injury of Maria Sharapova. Therefore, it was not Jelena Jankovic(who backed up getting to number 1 winning 3 tournaments in a row) and Dinara Safina(who backed up number 1 so far by making it to 2 consecutive finals) fault when they became number 1.

Posted by Tfactor 05/08/2009 at 04:52 PM

Cosi,
Well said!

I asked Samantha how she would react to Caroline becoming #1 without winning slams. Although I didn't get an answer I imagine she would be singing a different tune.
The ranking system applies to all players. It's not their fault if they reach ranking positions higher than other players with more 'prestigious' results.

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 04:53 PM

Why is it that no journalists ever splices and dices what the men say. Everything that the gods of tennis do is published as verbatim quotes, but the women's words have to be twisted. "


You evidently haven't read too many articles on Federer lately, they splice and dice his comments with abandon these days to make him seem dismissive or rude or whatever to the point of being ridiculous. He says it doesn't probably matter to Murray moving up from 4 to 3 because he's sure Murray would rather be 1 or 2, and a writer captions an article with "Federer unimpressed with Murray".. now that's splicing and dicing to stir up something against a male player. Federer never said anything resembling "Im unimpressed with Murray" in his interview.

Posted by yello fuzzy 05/08/2009 at 04:54 PM

TennisFan2
Not everyone can look like Sharapova and Kournikova.
not every one wants to. and thank god they don't ,it would be one boring world. Variety is the spice of life.I'll take the junk in the trunk and the ample bosom over the bean pole any day.

Serena has a luscious body and it's getting more voluptuous with age, genetics or fitness, more like preparation.
she wasn't breathing heavy or laboring in her loss in Rome, it was more about footwork and timing...the same stuff was said about her a few years ago at the AO, and we all know how she demolished an in form, playing her best(slender) Sharpova .
coming off a knee injury probably had something to do with her preparation on the clay
and getting her footing and timing

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/08/2009 at 04:55 PM

Cosi: good point. the men get reedited just like the women.

Posted by charles 05/08/2009 at 04:55 PM

For the curious, here are the average odds from all Bookies for women to win Roland Garros from bookies.com for today

Williams, S 6.98
Jankovic, J 7.02
Kuznetsova, S 7.29
Safina, D 7.93
Ivanovic, A 8.92
Dementieva, E 10.80
Williams, V 11.30
Azarenka, V 11.70
Zvonareva, V 12.50
Wozniacki, C 24.00
Radwanska, A 29.60
Lisicki, S 32.00
Sharapova, M 36.56
Suarez Navarro, C 43.75
Pennetta, F 55.30
Cornet, A 56.80
Mauresmo, A 57.70
Cibulková, D 60.38
Petrova, N 60.44
Bartoli, M 76.88

Posted by gauloises 05/08/2009 at 04:55 PM

Thanks, Pete. I missed that. As I do so many things.

Posted by dj 05/08/2009 at 04:56 PM


she loses to world no7 twice in a row

and you call her Number1.

You must be delusional!!!

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 05:02 PM

TennisFan2
Not everyone can look like Sharapova and Kournikova.
not every one wants to. and thank god they don't ,it would be one boring world. Variety is the spice of life.I'll take the junk in the trunk and the ample bosom over the bean pole any day."

From a woman's point of view, I'd prefer to have the proportionally wonderful bodies of either Kournikova or Jelena Jankovic, or say Sabine Lisicki or Nicole Vaidisova to either extreme of "bean pole" or "too much junk anywhere".... I don't know how anybody could call Maria a bean pole anymore either, she's filled out as she's matured just like Venus has, and Kournikova was not a bean pole when she was healthy and on tour, she had a great figure until she quit playing and lost too much weight for whatever reason. They didn't put her in too numerous to count sexy photo layouts in gobs of magazines without good reason, and she didn't make a gazillion dollars off the court for any reason other than her physical attractiveness to men, which is legendary.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/08/2009 at 05:05 PM

As for Vee's comment, well may be I am picky here but I think there is a slight difference between

"I think Serena *right now* is the true No. 1" (what she said exactly). and
"I think Serena is the true No. 1".

Q. Is there something wrong, though? A lot of people are going to No. 1 and they haven't even won a Grand Slam title. That's the big prize.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, Serena has played fantastic.

Q. Well, she's won.
VENUS WILLIAMS: It's strange. It is a little strange that she's having to fight so hard to keep her ranking. Regardless of if she's No. 1 or not, I don't think the person who might take over her place or persons, whoever are up to that -- whoever, I don't know the numbers.
But I don't think that that'll feel that they are the true No. 1. I think Serena right now is the true No. 1.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 05:07 PM

Wrong Tfactor, I did respond immediately to your question, please go back and see. I have no problem with the question. Here's what I said. I don't believe anyone deserves the highest ranking in the game without a slam. I have been very consistent with my feelings about the importance of slam. I have said many time that I firmly believe that Serena was a better player than Justine who I adored. Why, because she has more slams than Justine. Further, I don't think Justine or Caro would deserve to be no 1 without a slam.

Posted by yello fuzzy 05/08/2009 at 05:10 PM

Cosi
Beauty is defined regionally, whats pretty over there may not be pretty over here, there's no consensus. ultimately it's about taste, personal taste and taste is as varied as we are .
and compared to Serena, Maria is a bean pole

Posted by Tfactor 05/08/2009 at 05:11 PM

My bad Samantha, I must be going blind because I checked twice and didn't see your answer. Thanks for reposting it though.
I understand what you're saying about your opinion on who 'deserves' to be number one or not. I just find it hard to believe you would give your favorite player such a hard time, like you have given JJ in particular, but of course I may be wrong.
Thanks for responding!

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 05:12 PM

Posted by Tfactor 05/08/2009 @ 4:52 PM

Cosi,
Well said!

I asked Samantha how she would react to Caroline becoming #1 without winning slams. Although I didn't get an answer I imagine she would be singing a different tune.
The ranking system applies to all players. It's not their fault if they reach ranking positions higher than other players with more 'prestigious' results."

Thanks. We are in complete agreement. I think sometimes we get alot of sour grapes directed at these players who deservedly reach number one, whether they have a slam win or not. THey don't create the rankings system, they just play with them and play well within them and get the ranking they deserve. I also have a problem with the extreme emphasis on slams as if they are all that count. If they are all that count, then why have a tour at all,why not only play four tournaments a year then with that attitude? If the rest of the tournaments are so unimportant, it seems strange that these fans that are slam snobs get so worked up when their favorite loses at them.

Posted by dj 05/08/2009 at 05:12 PM

Samantha Elin

Caro has to learn to flatten out some of her shots, create surprise and variety.

Her topspin are too predictable and easy to read.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeee!) 05/08/2009 at 05:16 PM

Well said, Karen.

I agree with this:

"The fact of the matter is that if Dinara and the rest of the WTA are intimidated by the alleged pronouncements of a loud mouth, then they need to give her a what for."

It reminds me of a comment Richard Williams made in response to some grumbling from Capriati and other players about all-Williams finals being boring. His response? If you don't like it, do something about it!

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 05:19 PM

Posted by yello fuzzy 05/08/2009 @ 5:10 PM

Cosi
Beauty is defined regionally, whats pretty over there may not be pretty over here, there's no consensus. ultimately it's about taste, personal taste and taste is as varied as we are .
and compared to Serena, Maria is a bean pole"

I don't know where over here or over there is for you. I do know that Kournikova is a world wide sensation as far as her reputation for being something of a top tier sex goddess. Maria isn't doing too bad in that category either. It is about taste, that's why I must say you calling someone a bean pole is just your opinion and not necessarily reality, when a massive amount of other people have approved of the bodies of say Kourni and Sharapova to the point that it made them multimillionaires because of it. Of course if Serena is your litmus test for what makes a woman a bean pole, then about everybody would be a bean pole compared to her I would think, including her sister.

Posted by charles 05/08/2009 at 05:20 PM

parity, hmmmm...
the last person to win a GS event in an odd-numbered year besides a Williams or a Belgian was Jennifer Capriati in 2001...
(feeling hopelessly trivial...)

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/08/2009 at 05:23 PM

It ain't over to the fat lady sings!

"The WTA these days is giving us a terrific snapshot of what tennis looks like when the game is in a state of parity, rather than in the throes of a clear hierarchy, or pecking order."

To use a George H.W. Bushism:

Clear hierarcy or pecking order - "good"

Parity - "bad"

The only time I voted for this guy was when he ran against Clinton, who by the way seemed to appreciated fat or obese women.

Well I don't agree with this opinion as I have said many times in the past, to no avial - so I won't bother now except to say:

It never, never changes!

Not to defend Serena, but she is not dominating because she is fat? LOL! I think this article is more about new age Bobby Riggs type chauvinism.

men's game - "good"
women's game - "bad"

Is Serena a full figured woman? Yes

Is she obese? No

Is she in danger or being obese when she leaves the game? Who cares, it's her life.

Is she not number 1 because she is a full figured woman? No

Last year Serena when Serena had a little bit less "flesh carried on her body" was she No 1? No, further she was even farther from it than she is now.

I don't hold the Marbelle loss against Serena in fact I respect her for going to Marbelle when clearly she was injured and was not going to win a match in that condition, not matter who she played. But she went to live up her commitment to a tournament that (1) paid extra prize money to get her - which went to other players (2) was a new tournament and heavily promoted Serena's appearence and would have had many very disappointed fans in the first year of the tournament if she had not showed. So codos to Serena for going when she should have sayed home and is criticised here for it.

Venus and Serena have always been vulnerable on clay as they play the power game and their power is dimished on clay giving the others a fighting chance which is not there on grass or hard court. Serena won RG before Henin was in her prime and Serena was young. Venus and Serena have never developed there movement skills on clay because they haven't had too and they never really played the clay season all that much. However, I see Venus and Serena being contenders at RG as they are playing Rome and Madrid and will have time to adjust to the clay and their movement therefore better prepared than in previous years for the clay.

I think a primer for success is playing the Tournament leading up to slams. And a prime reason that Serena is not No. 1 right now is she did not play hardly at all last summer, while Safina did.

Venus and Serena are in their late 20's and more vulerable to injury just as Federer is starting to show. Nadal is still only 22.

Did Sharapova injur her shoulder because she was obese? I think the opposite is true. Sharapova as a young girl was a bean pole almost too thin and I think she overtrained in her young teenage years before her body matured and she is paying the price now. Maybe if she was carring more "flesh on her body" as a young person she would still be in the game. Further, Sharapova is not overweight right now yet did she not say that she would not be able to play 5-6 matches in a row after her one attempt to come back. So it really does not have to do with how much "flesh is carried on the body" as Serena has proved time and time again.

Not that it would not help Serena a bit to drop a few pounds, but just like Nadal with the cookies you have to be happy. If Serena is happy where she then maybe it's better for her to have a little more "flesh carried on her body" then be hyperthin and unhappy. I see Serena like an opera singer - she would be no good without that extra "flesh carried on her body". And it did not really slow her down in Melbourne in the extreme heat. All the thin girls went down. And Serena was moving like a Banshee.

So what we need is a tour with Slams only because that is really the only thing that matters.

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 05:31 PM

A tour with only four tournaments a year? I can only imagine the injuries that would ensue then, not to mention the lack of interest from the public,since with only four tournaments a year, all these colorful sports personalities would be like books that were on a shelf and just got dusted off four times a year to be brought out into the sun for a moment, then put back on a shelf. Sports all require a season long commitment for the top dog to emerge, no reason tennis should b e any different. If you can't show up at your best consistently more than two or three times a year, too bad, you don't get to hold on to number one and you don't deserve to.

Posted by charles 05/08/2009 at 05:31 PM

Tennis Fan:
hear, hear!

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 at 05:41 PM

Look as afar as I am concerned the issue is not how fat or thin you are?

Ok being a happy medium then?

A real issue of concern for me is this injury toll we have been seeing in the WTA over the last couple of years?

To my way of thinking some of these girls arent fit enough?

They just keep breaking down

How can any player,say play consistant tennis and move up the ranking ladder when injuries occur on a regular basis?

JJ is a player who seems to me has always got somehing wrong with her? how many times in the past and say present is a trainer called to her matches? gee her body is screaming at her Give Me A Break?

These girls to me have to take a long hard look at their overall fitness programes? or have a long hard talk to their trainers.

Cause its plain to see it just aint working.

Posted by Sherlock 05/08/2009 at 05:44 PM

The whole weight discussion kind of creeps me out after hearing of Monica's troubles that she talked about in her book.

Personally, I like all women's bodies, just the way they are. :)

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 05:45 PM

Tennis fan, an excellent and funny post except for the last line. I'm not saying that the only thing that matters in tennis are the slams. I'm saying that a world's #1 in my opinion should achieve certain things and one of those is the highest trophy for the sport. Would Tiger be considered the best without a master title, I don't think so. Clearly the lower tier events are important.

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 05:49 PM

Aussiemarg, I think it's a personal thing with each player how much weight or little weight works for them as an athlete.It seems since Dinara pared down to what looks like almost zero body fat, she has been playing her best tennis and moving much better. On the other hand, you have players like Jennifer Capriati and Serena who play/played well with an extra ten or fifteen or not on a regular basis. David Nalbandian has also won alot of big matches and tournaments with a decent sized spare tire. That said, extra weight adds stress to your joints, pounding the courts with extra means more of a beating to your body, and your body has to work harder than the thin person's body to run around the court. Being too thin makes you more prone to illnesses like viruses etc and your recovery time is longer. Lacking in flesh and muscle also makes it harder for the thin person to generate power on their shots, timing has to be even m ore perfect.

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 at 05:49 PM

Sherlock That so is a Sam comment if ever i heard one?

Yeah you guys stick like mud?

Posted by dj 05/08/2009 at 05:50 PM


The School of Hard Knuckles

Is Serena fat -- YES!

Is being fat bad? -- NOT NECESSARILY; IT'S A LIFESTYLE YOU CAN FREELY CHOOSE

IS fat good for tennis? -- NO, IT CAN LEAD TO MORE INJURIES, AND LOW QUALITY TENNIS. IT SHORTENS A PLAYER'S LONGEVITY.

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 at 05:51 PM

Cosi I see your point there

Gee in other era's of the womans game we had all players with different size,shapes etc?

My point being we are not seeing the injury toll like now

Sorry i feel some of them arent fit enough

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 05:55 PM

Ok AM, I can't stop laughing."JJ is a player who always seems to have something wrong with her. how many times has a trainer been call to her matches." LOL!

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 at 05:56 PM

So you are saying,

If your fat you will get more injuries? hey come on now?

If you are thin say like Maria with her current shoulder problem ok she dosent have enough flesh on her bones? right

What about strength training more? it works and strengthens every major muscle group in your body?

Also works for me when I was plahying tennis at a high level

By the way I go into the thin to slim build if anyone is interested? lol!

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 06:00 PM

I think body types are largely genetic, Venus has her dad's body and Serena has her mom. The difference may have nothing to do with what each eat. I could eat all of Texas and my body type won't pick up weight. Then you have people like Nalby and one donut and they get man breast.

Posted by Rosangel 05/08/2009 at 06:00 PM

I''m wholly on board with "Serena is the best player in the world", regardless of what the rankings say. Biased I ain't, because I could never be accused of being a Serena fan.

It's unfortunate for players like Safina and Jankovic that they're apparently taking flak for a ranking system that rewards those who play more events more than it appears to do Slam winners. I have a hard time forgetting the pitiful performance of Safina in her second GS final in Australia earlier this year, but it's not her fault that the ranking system has thrown her up as the current number one. As I understand it (someone will correct me if I'm wrong) the ATP tour has more mandatory events than does the WTA tour, which means that the ATP tour has a noticeably larger number of events (Masters Series) where all or almost all of the top players consistently turn up. In the latter system there's more chance of the performers who are consistent against the very best at the highest-level events getting close to the top. Regardless of the "slump" that Roger Federer has been in, he's not only reached three Slam finals and won a fourth in the past year, but he's also strung together enough decent results at Masters events to maintain the number two ranking so far. Those Masters Series results do matter.

So, consistency at Masters Series events is an important component of the ATP ranking system ((just ask Andy Murray, next week's number three), but I'd argue that it's worth a lot because of the quality of field at these events. As far as I can tell the WTA ranking system is more diluted in terms of event quality. They would look better with more mandatory events with consistently high-quality fields. It would also lend more legitimacy to the ranking system.

The issue with the WTA right now isn't personally caused by the Safinas and the Jankovic's - there's just a void ("the next big Champion") that's too big for them to fill right now. The Williamses are what I'd call Tier 1 or elite players - the rest aren't. Maybe some of them will become Tier 1 players, but right now their results don't support such status.

I still think the ranking system could be tweaked to give more emphasis to quality as well as consistency. The system allows players to discard their worst results after they have played more than ?16 events. That doesn't even properly reward consistency. It rewards the Davydenko-like players who don't reach Slam finals (or if they reach them, lose them), but play extra events and don't suffer ranking-wise for their poorer performances. In theory you could have a player with both consistency and quality who is forced to discard some very good results, while another with less consistency is discarding some rather poor performances within the ranking system. The women have reduced the number of events that they need to play - so this becomes more rather than less likely.

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 06:04 PM

Posted by Sherlock 05/08/2009 @ 5:44 PM

The whole weight discussion kind of creeps me out after hearing of Monica's troubles that she talked about in her book.

Personally, I like all women's bodies, just the way they are. :)"

Everybody should like their bodies just as they are. Naturally thin girls that are long and lanky shouldn't be made to feel they are unhealthy or unattractive when mother nature made them that way. Just as there is bias and ridicule toward more plump people, there seems to be a growing bias toward thin people, and some people are thin due to genetics and body type, not some eating disorder, and I'm sure they get sick of people bashing them or speculating that they don't eat and saying they are bad examples for girls, when they do eat and take care of themselves just like everybody else. Dani Hantuchova is an example. The girl is naturally built like a runway model, tall and slim with very long legs, and if she drops a few pounds people freak out and think she's got an eating disorder. Too much focus on someone for being skinny is just as bad as too much focus on somebody for being fleshy. I think people have focused way too much on Serena's body in relation to her game. She's never needed to be zero fat or ten percent fat to win, and her kind of body will probably never allow her to have a very low fat ratio, so people need to get over it and realize that she is healthy and fit with some flesh on her figure. The continuous comments about her weight year after year may not be good for her psyche either and are really not very nice, nobody wants to be judged like that over their body incessantly, especially young women. If Serena gains a massive amount of weight, then yes, people are probably justified in commenting because she's an athlete, but for small fluctations, it's not justifiable to put her body under a microscope all the time.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 06:06 PM

Ros, I would also add Maria to the tier 1, elite players. I don't know if her injury is permenant, but prior to it, she definetly had the game to win many slams.

Posted by Rosangel 05/08/2009 at 06:11 PM

Sure, Samantha - I just don't know what's happening with Sharapova at this time. I didn't include her in the discussion because she's been out. But a healthy Sharapova playing as she was a year or 18 months ago would have to be considered a key contender for most Slams.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 06:12 PM

Just wanted to add that after Juju retired, and without the Williamses who she has problems with, Sharapova had the game to dominate the tour, prior to her injury.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 06:16 PM

So dj a "fat" girl is the best player in the world, has a winning record against most of the thin top ten, and more slams than any other player. Break out the Dunkin donuts because obviously fat has been helful to Serena.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 06:17 PM

should read helpful.

Posted by deeps 05/08/2009 at 06:21 PM

Interesting post - esp considering the discussion for the past week.

About the fat thing - I don't know whether Serena is fatter than she was at her peak - to me she looks the same. Or whether that is the reason she can't play more than her 13 tournaments or is it as avid says she has been playing 13 for so long, her body isn't conditioned? Its just weird that it is okay to say Nalby is unfit cos of his belly or Verdasco has put on too much muscle mass leading to his frequent niggles but its not polite to talk about Serena's weight affects her fitness.

Bypassing all the real number 1 talk, I think Pete nailed it by talking about a bunch of people not ready to be at the top. Graf and Sampras declined about the same time. But when Graf retired, there were a bunch of players knocking at her door - Hingis, the Williamses, Davenport, ushering one of the best periods of the WTA. When Sampras started his decline, there was nobody to take his place and the ATP was in disarray for some time.

Federer always talks about the different pressure you are under when you reach the top - being the hunted instead of the hunter. And most players take some time adjusting to the change. Sampras took over a year before he got his second slam and became number 1 without defending any slam points. Serena took over 2 years between her first and second slam. For a more current example, Djokovic's relative fall after the great start to 2008.

Normally though, you have other players at the top of the game to give you cover as you adjust or don't. (After all, for every Graf, you have a Novotna.) The current WTAers though are being forced to take center stage before they are ready. Some of them will find their groove. Others will not. The hope is though that even if none of them are destined for greatness, one of them - an injured Williams or the current slamless wonders step up long enough like Hewitt did back in 2001 to give it some respectability until the next GOAT comes along.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeee!) 05/08/2009 at 06:25 PM

Cosi - Well said (though I don't think Hantuchova's the best example of a thin woman catching crap for losing a "few" pounds).

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 06:34 PM

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeee!) 05/08/2009 @ 6:25 PM

Cosi - Well said (though I don't think Hantuchova's the best example of a thin woman catching crap for losing a "few" pounds)."

Thanks. I think Dani is a good example, because she's the kind of person that is naturally thin and long,sure, she had a period where she was upset and lost weight, but in her case, it wouldn't b e hard for her to look really thin, she seems like somebody that would have to work to gain much weight, whereas alot of women have to work to keep weight off.


Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 at 06:37 PM

I have seen Danni up close and personal at Sydney Medibank this year

She is very tall and thin,though she has 12ft legs? lol!

She is built in proportion though,long arms,legs and torso

Posted by onehandbackhand 05/08/2009 at 06:45 PM

Schnyder is a 30-year-old woman, not a "young lady." You got the complicated part right, though.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeee!) 05/08/2009 at 06:46 PM

Cosi - I just think that when Dani lost all that weight, it wasn't just a matter of an already thin girl being upset and losing a few pounds. She was approaching Karen Carpenter territory (gaunt face, hollowed out eyes, etc.) :(

But I agree with your basic premise that a weight gain or loss of a few pounds can be really noticeable or not noticeable at all, depending on a person's build.

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 06:50 PM

That's what I meant, Sibily, Dani is naturally tall and lanky, any weight she loses is noticeable, doesn't mean she's starving herself.

Posted by Ruth 05/08/2009 at 06:54 PM

"Not everyone can look like Sharapova and Kournikova." And, believe it or not, not everyone WANTS to look like them -- especially the current Anna K. look! :)

I tend to gauge the fitness of athletes by the way that they perform on their appropriate fields of play, especially by how quickly they move and how winded they are after an extended period of activity.

So, while I've seen tennis players -- like Nalbandian, Serena, Groenfeld, Kanepi -- carrying around more "flesh" that some would like them to carry, as long as they can perform effectively and they don't have to gasp for air after a 10-stroke rally (as some thin tennis players regularly do), I would not think of questioning their fitness.

Posted by CL 05/08/2009 at 07:10 PM

deeps - good point...sauce for the gander, sauce for the goose. As far as athletics are concerned. It is just that is is difficult to remover gender skewed perceptions from the larger social and/or health issues and see them in purely physical fitness terms.

Posted by Cosi 05/08/2009 at 07:15 PM

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 @ 5:51 PM

Cosi I see your point there

Gee in other era's of the womans game we had all players with different size,shapes etc?

My point being we are not seeing the injury toll like now

Sorry i feel some of them arent fit enough"

I agree with you, I think some of them are not fit enough, in different ways. Some are overweight and it affects them, Some are not muscular enough and don't train in the gym enough. Some over do it with too many tournaments. Some lack any endurance and are out of gas in one and a half sets.

Posted by tennis roids 05/08/2009 at 07:16 PM

It would appear that the main thing for Serena is when she was last able to juice up on 'roids. When she cycles down, she slumps or gets "injured". When she's juiced up, like in the Australian Open, she is unbeatable. Now that WADA has taken over drug testing in tennis this year, she may be in some big trouble unless she has a steroid that isn't detectable or finds some other way to beat the tests.
http://www.tennisha sasteroidproblem.blo gspot.com/

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/08/2009 at 07:22 PM

"It's unfortunate for players like Safina and Jankovic that they're apparently taking flak for a ranking system that rewards those who play more events more than it appears to do Slam winners. I have a hard time forgetting the pitiful performance of Safina in her second GS final in Australia earlier this year, but it's not her fault that the ranking system has thrown her up as the current number one."

You seem to have completely forgot about Serena's pitiful performance at RG last. But it was in the third round and not the final so you probably were not watching. One performance does not a #1 make nor negates #1 status. Ivanovic, performed wonderful in the final at RG and has done nothing since.

"I still think the ranking system could be tweaked to give more emphasis to quality as well as consistency. The system allows players to discard their worst results after they have played more than ?16 events. That doesn't even properly reward consistency. It rewards the Davydenko-like players who don't reach Slam finals (or if they reach them, lose them), but play extra events and don't suffer ranking-wise for their poorer performances. In theory you could have a player with both consistency and quality who is forced to discard some very good results, while another with less consistency is discarding some rather poor performances within the ranking system. The women have reduced the number of events that they need to play - so this becomes more rather than less likely."

People don't listen to people than have a vague understand of the ranking system - because they can lead down the primerose path to wrong thinking.

The WTA ranking system has been tweeked. It's called "the Road Map" to make it more like, but not exactly like, the ATP system and the PR is that you will have a ranking system that rewards quality not quantity. However, the issue of quantity in the WTA was not that players like JJ were playing too much it was that player like Venus and Serena were not playing enough which they could not have gotten away with under the ATP system. If you look at the number of tournaments played for JJ, Safina as opposed to the top males it is about the same or less for the women. Nadal and Federer and top 10 have consitently played 20-24 tournaments per year. While Venus and Serena its been more like 13-14. While JJ/Safina are more like 20-22. The former WTA system helped lower ranked players like Bartoli who has 25 tournaments or Wozniacki who has 27. They are the ones who more benefit from wiping out a bad result from a good one.

The ATP system:

Tournaments counted - result cannot be replaced:
4 slams
9 Master Series
(However not all the players qualified for all the master series, so if you did not, as in the case of JMDP, you can use other tournament (not as important tournments) in place of the master series. If you miss these events you get a zero and a better result at another tournament may have to be set aside. See Andy Roddick.
Then 5 best of 5 other tournaments. However, this part has been changed this year - the top players must include the best of 3 results at 500 series tournaments and 2 of the best of the rest.

Additionally, if you qualify for YEC this is an additional tournament to add to your total. This weighs in favor of those who qualify as they get extra points that other have no chance to count.

Former WTA system: 17 results counted.
4 slams and Miami were required to be counted. 12 best results of the rest were counted.

The YEC is only counted if it is one of the best of the rest, it is not an additional tournament like the ATP. However, with Venus and Serena it effectively was an additional tournament as they did not even play enough to have 17 results.

Therefore in the case of JJ who played 22 tournaments 5 were required to be counted and 12 of the best of the rest. Leaving 5 results not counted. However, in the case of JJ there was not much difference in the points of tournaments that were counted 220, 200 and the ones not counted 180, 150. So the benefit was minimal. With Venus and Serena they just did not play enough so they (1) did not count as many tournaments (2) had no other tournaments to replace a bad showing. This does not necessarily mean the JJ and Safina are Davedenko like. It more like there is not a Nadal and Federer like players in the Women game. That does not negated the women's game or the ranking system.

The new WTA system: 16 results counted:

Must be counted - if you don't play you get a zero.
4 slams
4 mandatories - IW, Miami, Madrid, Bejing.

For the top 10 - Must count best of two premier 5 events (Dubai, Rome, Canada, Cincinati, Tokyo). Further, the top 10 must at least play 4 of the 5 or they get a zero. Forcing Venus and Serena to play and effectively making 8 WTA tournaments mandatory.
Further the top 10 must play 2 700k tournaments or get a zero effectively making them mandatory also, if committed (Paris, Charleston, Stuttgart, Standford, LA.

so the top 10 have 10 tournaments that must be counted. Leaving only 6 results that can be replaced by other results. The premier 5 results can be replaced but only be better results at a premier 5 event. The 700k results do not have to be counted unless the player gets a zero or they are one of the best of the rest.

Therefore, the WTA system has moved to be almost extactly like the ATP system. But the new system is still being put into place as it goes into effect over the year. So the current system is a highbrid of the old and new system as the new system is being rolled on. However, the new system has had an effect as Venus will be #3 as she is forced to play more, same with Serena. JJ has two first round loses at IW and Miami and has a total of 10 points as result and cannot count better results at other tournaments of 220 and 200. Therefore she has taken a 410 point hit to her ranking points put her at #4 and not #3 and relatively close to Serena at #2. Further, it will put her in jeapordy of dropping even farther if she does not do well in Madrid and RG.

So:

the WTA system has changed - however it is not fully in effect yet.

Venus and Serena did not play enough in the past. They will be required to play more this year. They both have an irreplaceable zero for IW. Serena might be #1 if she had played IW.
Don't listen to the haters who don't really understand the system. And any system is arbitratry to a point but overall the system is good and valid. Venus and Serena have chozen for whatever reason not to play by the system in the past. That does not mean the system is invalid as we saw today - the higher ranked players won.

If you only counted 8 or 10 results Venus and Serena would be #1. Is that what you want at the expense of the tour and all the players? I don't.

If players are relatively close in points then they #1 ranking can be changed by results at one tournament. Unlike the ATP which has a player so far ahead that if he did not win the remaining slams of the year he would still be number one.

Get over it. If Serena wins or does well in Madrid and RG she will be #1, give it a rest.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/08/2009 at 07:24 PM

Tennis roid, everytime you post this nonsense, people ask you for proof and you never give it. But I have to admit I get a LOL everytime you post. Ciao dudes!

Posted by tinalidav 05/08/2009 at 07:55 PM

"Tennis roids" once lost an arm-wrestle to a high-school girl and hasn't let it go. Sad, really.

Posted by JDnSD 05/08/2009 at 08:07 PM

You wrote (concerning full-figured gals in the WTA):

"...But none of them were top-tier players, except in doubles."

When she won at Wimbledon, Jana N. was not exactly svelte...

Posted by streams 05/08/2009 at 08:23 PM

All I can say is fantastic tennis and fantastic match from Venus and Safina in the semifinal. Anyone with a problem with the WTA should go watch the replay.

Posted by tennis roids 05/08/2009 at 08:30 PM

Samantha,
What would you accept as proof? I don't recall anyone asking for proof when Americans accused the East German women swimmers of using steroids. You could look at them and see the obvious. You can look at many of the top women tennis players and see the obvious as well. 3 days ago, you could have asked for "proof" that Manny Ramirez was using steroids or a few months ago that A-Rod was using steroids, etc. Eventually, they'll be caught.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/08/2009 at 08:31 PM

"According to new Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rules, Ana must visit the Madrid area at some point in the next 51 weeks and perform promotional activities to avoid a fine and suspension. She will also forsake up to $250,000 in Top 10 Bonus Pool payments."

From Ivanovic's website, her punishment for missing Madrid.

Serena forsakes $400,000 for IW
Venus forsakes $200,000 for IW
Zvonareva forsakes $125,000 for Madrid. She missed Rome so must play all other premier 5s or loses another 100,000.
Sharapova missing everyting $225,000 forsaken.

So far the WTA has saved 1,225,000 - not bad.

JJ still on track for a 1,000,000 bonus.

Posted by Moneypenny 05/08/2009 at 08:58 PM

OK. I never understood why both tours moved away from a point average approach to rankings - sure it was ugly to look at but it didn't discriminate as much against players with light schedules whether by choice or injury. That said, the players know how the rankings game works & I don't see why players who take advantage of it, or otherwise benefit, should be lambasted by or on behalf of those who don't. The ranking system is not a beauty contest.

I think Serena's position is less about weight and more about commitment (altho a lack of the latter may lead to more of the former). In any event I don't think she is woefully unfit because of a few pounds. (Ditto Davenport when she was ruling the roost)

Anyway, I think it is a pity that people seem to think that the #1 ranking is deserved on reputation rather than as a measure of actual results. If Serena Williams wants to be ranked #1, she needs to play a bit more and win more. Not *much* more because obviously she is very close to the top now.

Also, are the people who heave mud in the direction of Safina, Jankovic, Pat Rafter, Thomas Muster, etc equally discriminating when drawing a line through total periods a player spends at #1? For example, do you put * against Martina Hingis because she was able to hold onto the #1 ranking for quite some time despite not winning grand slams - she lost in GS finals or semis, and was winningly consistent in regular tour events (Ivan Lendl was the same I think? Correct me if I am wrong?). Likewise, do you put a * against Steffi Graf's tenure at #1 because of Monica Seles' layoff?

What I'm trying to say is that for all the talk about prematurely or undeservedly getting to #1 in the first place, sometimes a player might manage to hang onto it for longer than perhaps they "deserve to". And I suspect the reasons are mcuh the same (ie, it's as much about what the other players are doing, as for the player who finds themselves top of the tree from time to time).

Perhaps people take the #1 ranking a bit too seriously - it's a performance gauge over a 52 week cycle. If players think it's really important to become #1 and/or stay there, they should plan schedules accordingly and ensure they win enough matches, and perhaps hope that their main rivals don't.

Of course, how you 'rank' players over a season (player of the year) or career is an entirely different conversation...

The sermon endeth here. (and the congregation goes wild)

Posted by 40 L'Oeuf 05/08/2009 at 09:11 PM

Serena is the current best player in the WTA period. She has won the most Slams (10) and the last 2 in a row for Christ's sake (US and Australian Open). Neither Safina or Jankovic come even close, and the new ranking is a refreshing system that will block the likes of Jankovic to pile up points from smaller tournaments and GS semi-finals to wrongly end up as #1. Especially when she had a losing record against the Top 5 in 2008.

Some of you also need to check the WTA race and you'll see who's indeed currently #1 and who's not even in the Top 10:

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/rankings/race/singles.asp

There's so much info and data that explains it all at the ATP, WTA and Wikipedia websites, and there's no excuse to not be aware of it.

Posted by deeps 05/08/2009 at 09:14 PM

Moneypenny - you need your top players playing non-grand slam events to make a viable tour. Its to give the other tournaments a shot to generate interest, get money etc... Would anybody be interested in the Serbia Open if Nole wasn't playing? Personally don't have a problem with it. I feel the schedule can be rearranged a bit though so that they are not playing 11 months of the year.

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