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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 Rosangel 05/08/2009 at 09:23 PM

*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.*
*Don't listen to the haters who don't really understand the system.*

Tennis Fan: It's fairly obvious that you didn't entirely understand what I was saying. It was neither hostile, nor does it require anyone to "get over it". I'm not the one who was being hostile - you were. I expressed hatred for nobody, so your characterisation of my remarks is undeserved. Nor did I suggest that players should only include 8 or 10 results. There are other ways to rebalance a rankings system, including giving more points to more important events.

I have looked at the WTA ranking system, and I would have had to be completely out of contact not to know about the "Road Map". I don't follow the WTA anything like as closely as the ATP, but I understand the maths and how the system compares to what the ATP has.

Just because the WTA has a new system doesn't mean that I am required to think it's ideal. There are mathematical differences between the ATP system and the WTA system - there's certainly a difference between the numbers of mandatory events. I don't think the ATP system is ideal either, but it's better in assessing the top players when it comes to assessing average quality of field.

Including the Tennis Masters Cup (in Federer's case) Nadal and Federer each played 19 tournaments last year, plus Davis Cup, not 20-24 as you suggest. Other players probably play a little more.

Posted by Master Ace 05/08/2009 at 10:58 PM

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

Tournaments left after Madrid : Beijing, Cincinnati, Canada, Tokyo, and 2 700 K committed tournaments. JJ may have already reached this goal as we do not know what are her committed tournaments.

Posted by Or 05/08/2009 at 11:23 PM

I don't quite get it, and I admit I only read Pete's post.

Serena was way heavier than she is now in AO 2007, everyone laughed at her when she said she could win the title, and she did - while beating Pova (a GS champion, not a second tier player who just happened to get into the finas) into a pulp.

So, I don't know if it is a fitness thing. She was always and up and down player.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/08/2009 at 11:53 PM

As of today the number tournaments played by the top 10

Women

Safina - 18
Serena - 17
Dementieva - 22
Jankovic - 21
Venus - 15
Zvonareva - 23
Ivanovic - 17
Kuznetsova - 19
Azarenka - 18
Petrova - 26

Men

Nadal - 20
Federer - 19
Djokovic - 23
Murray - 22
JMDP - 24
Roddick - 24
Verdasco - 25
Simon - 29
Tsonga - 24
Monfils - 23

Clearly, the quantity argument does not hold water as the ATP men are playing more tournaments to get their resulst. Safina is #1 by narrow margine and has only played one more tournament than Serena in the past year. Further, Venus and Serena only have such high totals right now as they have been forced to play some more tournaments in the first quarter of 2009. If Serena had played IW or Charleston she would have the same or more tournaments than Safina. IW looms large.

Second, Venus and Serena not playing the tournaments and the top goes hand in hand with the quality argument. If they don't play the top events then the quality is diminished. So why is that the fault of JJ or Safina. Further, the other players have less opportunity to play Venus and Serena and improve their performance accordingly. It was reveal today the Safina and Venus have only play 3 times including today. That means the first time Safina played Venus was at Stuttgart in Oct last year. The second time was a YEC, the third time today. The third time was the charm. How can Safina and Venus never have met before this given the number of years both have been on the tour. Because Venus did not play that much and Safina used to got out earlier in tournaments. Serena and Safina have played more. Eight times. 6-2 in favor of Serena and one of Safina's wins was a WO. Safina won on clay. Serena dominates on hard court. There next match up should be interesting.

The men's mandatories have been dropped to 8. The WTA has the 4 official mandatories and the 4 of the premier 5s which are effectively mandatories for the top 10 and will have a similar field to the mandatories. Therefore, the WTA will have an equal amount of mandatories for it's top players.

Therefore, we will have more H2H with the top players. And as I said before the new system is being rolled on over a course of a year. So lets wait until the end of the year to judge the effectiveness of the rankings.

The Slams get 2000, the mandatories 1000 just like the Master series events, the premier 5s get 800. The lower tournaments get 470 and 280 respectively.

I don't think this system is all that radically different from the ATP. It is virtually equivalent and may be even harsher as the WTA counts 16 events total. The ATP counts 17, 18 of you make the YEC.

No system is perfect - any system is arbitrary. Yet overall the system is fairly reflect of results and therefore ranking over time.

And the hostile remark was not direct at you personal but to many with similar view who make statement based on half truth or misunderstanding. The WTA gets bashed over and over and I believe unfairly because it is not the ATP. Well it is not the ATP thank God and that is a good thing. But difference is not worse. The women and the game is different because they are women, that is a good thing.

Like Tignors post the incomplete game about Stuttgart that resulted in a final between Safina and Kuznetsova. So you have Rome with Venus and Serena both playing and what is the result - Safina and Kuznetsova in the final. Does that not validate the rankings and tour rather than negate it?

It really gets down to what I said in my prior post:

Men's game - "good", whether there is Nadal and Federer at the top or not

Women's game - "bad", whether or not Henin, Clisters, Evert, Navratilova, Seles, Court, Venus, Serena and all the other #1, worthy or not, were all playing at the same time and in their prime.

It never, never ends.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 12:23 AM

I found this on a tennis forum. However, I cannot find a press conference from after the match. However, considering Serena's movement and watch the match, I felt she was still not 100%. This only confirms my thought rather that have a knee jerk reaction - Serena is overweight.

"Serena's leg is not 100%. She didn't want to play Rome, but did not want to suffer the consequences. She's getting more work on her leg. She was very unhappy about the loss. She said that she tried and that she was so upset that she didn't leave her room for 24 hours. Someone said that she should have retired and she said that wasn't a bad idea, but she wanted to try. I think it's good she played to gauge where she is. Now that she knows, perhaps she shouldn't play Madrid."

Posted by Cosi 05/09/2009 at 12:24 AM

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 05/08/2009 @ 5:56 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!

No, what I'm saying is carrying too much weight can cause more stress on your joints that carry your body Your knees, back, feet ankles and hips are going to suffer from extra weight,that's why people with big weight problems often need hip replacement surgery more than thin people and that is why people who are obese are made to lose weight before surgeons DO a hip replacement on them. Anybody of any weight that plays tennis professionally can get a shoulder injury, and anybody of any weight can get a knee or back or hip injury too, but carrying extra weight will increase your chances of getting those injuries. Here you go,f rom a medical article:

Joint Pain and Obesity:
Our joints carry the weight of our bodies. The more weight we have to carry, the harder it is for our joints to work properly. Even small changes in weight can significantly affect the joint pain experienced by an individual. Don't believe that? Try a simple test of carrying 15 pounds of weight while doing all of your normal activities.
Even small weight changes make a big difference because joint forces in the hips and knees increase about 3 times that weight with normal walking. This means that 15 pounds of extra body weight is felt by the knees as an extra 45 pounds.

http://orthopedics.about.com/od/arthritisresearch/p/obesity.htm


Posted by Takver 05/09/2009 at 12:44 AM

Pete - after coming to the realisation that they are in fact two separate people, I think you are going to have remind yourself (once again) that Venus and Serena are not Siamese twins. There is never a point where it's okay to 'lump' the Williams sisters together, even if they share an opinion. How you voice an opinion and when you voice it also matters.

Serena has been downright aggressive about the rankings and her right to rule the roost. Venus by comparison made a thoughtful, contextualised statement that I would be hard pressed to call 'condescending' or even particularly personal. She was talking about the rankings a specific point in time when Safina gained the top spot - nevermind that while other players were winning titles, making finals or at least advancing deep into the draw Safina was specifically floundering. Sorry, but it didn't look good at that particular point in time - as Venus specified. ("Right now...")

At no point was she ever rude to Safina.
And funnily enough, at the particular point in time, few reacted to her comment with great outrage, since many were actually nodding along or shared the same concerns.

I disagreed with Venus (and still do because I find it rather easy to understand 'why' Serena isn't at the top of the rankings) but I could not detect any condescension (let alone 'oppression' or 'delusion') on her part, unless you are suggesting that anyone who had reservations about the way Safina rose to the top of the rankings and voiced them was 'condescending'. As Venus noted, she (Safina) in fact did NOT feel like she was the legitimate number 1 and frankly, under the circumstances, which player would.

Heck, I suppose even Safina was being condescending to herself when she wasn't exactly thrilled by the way she came by the number 1 ranking. And I guess you'll have to tell yourself off for 'condescending' to Jelena Jankovic and Kim Clijsters. At the moment, Safina's position is still rather similar to theirs. That may change, but for the time being at least she is yet another slamless number 1 with stretches of inconsistency.

Two good tournaments for Safina doesn't change the fact that the manner in which came by that ranking was less than ideal.

You might, however have an argument regarding Serena. Her petulant comments were directly aimed *at* Safina ('the girl' who 'went out early' 'or whatever' etc.) Unlike Venus, Serena has not been content to comment and confine her musing in the moment. Her complaints have vociferously continued even as *she* is now the one who is woefully underperforming while Safina is finally raising her game. She has declared that she is 'the best in the world.' Again, I've heard no such statement from Venus or any further comment on the matter. So I agree with that part of your post - that there might be some denial going on with Serena as genetics and time are against her.

(She is not 'obese' as you seem to be referring, but she is heavy-set.)

That said, can we please STOP treating Venus and Serena as if they are a twin-headed monolith?


Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 12:47 AM

Serena's own words from her blog. She is not liking the Road Map. the system the men are under. There is definitely less freedom.

Rules & Regulations: We All Share

Hello,

I know that you all are wondering how I am doing since my loss in Rome. So, I will provide you with a brief overview of my trip thus far. My flight to Rome was wonderful. I enjoyed relaxing with my girls although the flight was long. I went to practice straight away after adjusting to the time change, of course. I'm currently in a terrible mood because of my early lost. I understand that I can't win each time that I play however, I'm extremely disappointed in myself. As I stated previously, I'm my own critic. I honestly did not leave my room for over 24 hrs. Mentally sorting through the lost & attempting to determine reasons for the lost that I consider legit are important to me. I don't like to contemplate on the negative because I consider myself to be an optimistic person. Now, I'm getting my leg prepared for the French Open. I don't think it was good for me to play Rome but the WTA has rules & regulations that they enforce. There are moments like now where I feel they don't care if you are headless if u don't play a tournament you are severely punished. I personally disagree with some of the rules enforced by the WTA, yet I understand with a misunderstanding & I comply. So, for now I am preparing myself & trying to remain calm. A lost is a lost but my health is important to me.

Posted by sigmund 05/09/2009 at 12:48 AM

hey everyone,

nice reflective post and good comments.

i watched the match between Safina and Venus last night and I though Safina played like a world no 1, fighting until the end and winning - against Venus Williams, no less. It was actually a great tennis match, with a lot of points won on winners rather than errors. The third set was tense and very high quality, definitely was not a shankfest. Safina showed quite a resilient stubbornness and played some beautiful (and consistent) tennis against Venus.

i'm not so bothered by Serena's comment since, considering her career record against the other few no1s in the past year, she has every right to be cocky (though i don't believe anyone is "entitled" to be cocky). I actually think and HOPE comments like that will fuel Safina and the others to prove they deserve to their rankings. Judging from yesterday's match, I think Safina is very motivated to prove herself, so credits to her.

i hope the top ladies show some motivation and consistency at Roland Garros. After her few recent losses I thought Ivanovic might be another one-slam wonder, but then i remembered she is, after all, still 21 years old (Jankovic, Safina, Dementieva, Kuznetsova are around 23/24? correct me if i'm wrong). I think there is still time for Ana to develop wisdom on handling the pressure and cultivating a better mindset.

VERY MUCH looking forward to RG 2009.

Posted by Jbradhunter 05/09/2009 at 12:53 AM

Hey.
Genetically women are predisposed to having a bit more body fat than men, right?

Serena has never been what I would call thin, but she was certainly leaner in her early days- she appears to have gained a lot more muscle the older she has gotten. Her biggest challenge on court seems to be apathy- which I suspect is also a challenge for her off-court prep as well.

As far as my thoughts on the current revolving WTA #1's... I think the current rankings are fine, always room for improving the system, and Dinara fully deserves the ranking. Or whichever gal may come to occupy the position in the next year.
What disappoints me is that Dinara and Jelena and Kuzzie and Ana haven't evolved into Players with that special and at its best, inspirational Champion's 'Magic'. The kind of Warrior Ability displayed by all the greats of the past. But I guess that's also what makes the greats so great. And so special as well.
Dinara has it almost, saving All those match points at RG last year, but then she flamed out in the final

Posted by Cosi 05/09/2009 at 01:22 AM

Blaming the road map for her loss to Schnyder? Looks like Serena has found a new excuse.... oops, wrong, it's the same old excuse after a loss, she was "injured"...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 05/09/2009 at 01:23 AM

Hey everyone. :)

Pausing during post read - wasn't Serena injured during one of the finals, Indian Wells, I think. Not to take anything away from Azarenka but doesn't that add a little caveat to the too-heavy theory?

"Besides, who are we to question whether or not Serena is fit, if she herself claims that she's been working hard?" - is that sarcastic? Because we weren't giving Roger the same sort of pass a few weeks back. If not, well - I'll worry about Serena when she does badly at the Slams (not just at the French, but Wimbledon and USO too), she's always struck me as up and down.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/09/2009 at 01:30 AM

Cosi - wow! so from what Tennis Fan posted you concluded that Serena was blaming the roadmap for a loss that she herself was upset about and said she is trying to figure out what went wrong? I can understand not liking Serena or her attitude but this is not right. Vera said exactly something similar when she had to retire from her match at Charleston (which of course she eventually lost). She said doctors advised her not to play but she went ahead because of the WTA roadmap and its sanctions and ended up getting injured during her match. I don't see how any of this translates to she is blaming the roadmap. But again it's Serena right so whatever she says must have a negative interpretation or mean she is giving an excuse.

Posted by Cosi 05/09/2009 at 01:43 AM

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/09/2009 @ 1:30 AM

Cosi - wow! so from what Tennis Fan posted you concluded that Serena was blaming the roadmap for a loss that she herself was upset about and said she is trying to figure out what went wrong? I can understand not liking Serena or her attitude but this is not right. Vera said exactly something similar when she had to retire from her match at Charleston (which of course she eventually lost). She said doctors advised her not to play but she went ahead because of the WTA roadmap and its sanctions and ended up getting injured during her match. I don't see how any of this translates to she is blaming the roadmap. But again it's Serena right so whatever she says must have a negative interpretation or mean she is giving an excuse."

Perhaps you need to read more rather than asking me about what I percieved. If you read everything she said, she implied that she was not fit to play Rome, and only played because she "had to".. in other words she's blaming an injury for her loss in a roundabout way. Nothing unsual there, she's just being m ore cagey about it this time. If she wasn't FIT TO PLAY, she didn't have to, she's a multi millionaire that can take any fine they levy against her, and if she doesn't want a fine, she can do promotional work for them and avoid some of it. The fines come out of bonus money for the most part, are you telling me she's hard up for money and has to play injured because of fear of fines? I think not. It's laughable for any of the top earners in women's tennis to act like they have to play because of fines, I could understand it if we weren't talking about one of the richest players in the game, but we are. She also boasted that she was the best in the world and the true number one before her first match, don't think she would have been saying that if she felt too frail to win matches because of an injury. When Vera Zvonereva has even a quarter of the endorsement earnings and prize money stacked up in her bank account that Serena Williams most likely has, then we can talk about her acting like she can't afford a fine, too, but it's apples and oranges to compare them right now.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/09/2009 at 02:02 AM

Cosi I think you have missed my point here,

I know and realize that if someone is carrying too much weight they as a athlete in this instance say playing on a h/court can do damage to knees,ligaments.

Rafa with his ongoing knee problem has lost weight not muscle in order to combat this.Playing on h/court is bad for him

Though he is a very fit athlete isnt it? thats my point

Regardless sometimes whether your fat,thin if you are fit and strong of course your body is prone to breaking down?

Gee my point with JJ she got injured in the Hoffman Cup she is not fat or too thin she played on at the AO then her body started breaking down? why because she didnt give her body enough recovery time to repair the intial injury thats why

I still maintain to keep and strength overall weight training is the way to go.

Look Novak has even got new trainer because his fitness levels are woeful.Players also need endurance training especially for clay surfaces which really test you out on the fitness front.

So if you are saying over the last two years in the WTA the injuries are because some of these players are either too fat or thin sorry I just cant buy that notion.There is so much more to it I am afraid.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 05/09/2009 at 02:09 AM

"Perhaps you need to read more rather than asking me about what I percieved."


Cosi - You did not have to use this rude statement to make your point. Besides you you are missing the point. The issue is not the fine or money. The WTA waives the fine if you do promo work for the tour. Instead the penalize. Tennis Fan and Master Ace have already explained above the point penalties which unlike the ATP where you can replace the tournament with other tournament point you cannot with the WTA. Effectively the tournament is recorded in your sixteen and whether you play 20 or more it does not change anything. She already is already carrying a zero for Charleston. This is the explanation posted earlier by master ace. Basically even if they get injured just before a premier tournament they are committed to they will be penalized (not just fines). The fine is the least of issues here. And so I maintain that she is not blaming the roadmap for her loss just like Vera is not blaming the road map for the loss. If the ATP were using the WTA rule when Rafa, F-Ved and a few others missed Dubai after committing to it, Dubai will be recorded in their ranking points and they would not have been able to replace the points. (Actually this was the case initially but it seems it was amended when complaints were made about this). Not everything she says has to be painted bad. And I still stand by my point that the statement does not mean she is blaming the roadmap for the loss.

"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."

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 05/09/2009 at 02:12 AM

"...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."

You make it sound as if the WTA is a new-fangled socialist sporting experiment, Pete. LOL.

*adores Sherlock*

Agree with Master Ace about the rankings.

Agreed about lots of factors creating the odd situation...not sure why that leads to there being quite so much bashing, however. (talking generally not at anyone in particular.)

Don't think anybody would deny that both Williams sisters are greater players than Safina. But isn't she a few years younger? And younger than Dementieva too. So, to compare them over the lengths of careers seems totally unfair to me. Over the past year, not so much...but it didn't sound like that, as I think Venus is holding "only" one Slam, no?

Over the past year, well, there is a tension between slam performance and day-in, day-out consistency, but Safina's been to two Slam finals in the past year and won the Olympic silver medal, and she's had some pretty decent smaller tournament performances (Stuttgart and now Rome that I remember) - it's not exactly terrible and doesn't feel like such a vast gulf to me. Certainly not much of a gulf between her and Dementieva or her and Ana...nearly forgot she has a Slam, too. Sad she's been so out of form.

I suppose how you feel about the whole thing is mainly determined by the weight you place on the Slams...I'm probably more of a consistency, bread-and-butter girl than a highlight, apricot-jam-and-iced-cake one. :)

Posted by wILSON ATUD 05/09/2009 at 02:46 AM

I CAN'T HELP BUT WONDER IF MR. BODO HAS AN EDITOR.THIS ARTICLE WAS BORDERLINE OFFENSIVE....WOULD THE WRITER PLEASE TELL US WHAT WOULD BE THE IDEAL WEIGHT FOR A GREAT TENNIS PLAYER.I USED TO ENJOY YOUR WRITING IMMENSELY BUT THIS ONE AND THE NADAL ARTICLE TALKING ABOUT HIS PANTS IS QUITE FRANKLY STRETCHING THE BOUNDARY OF GOOD ETIQUETTE.....

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 05/09/2009 at 02:53 AM

About Serena's weight...she doesn't look any heavier to me than she did at the AO or even the USO (but I'll happily defer to people with more knowledge/expertise than I have of Serena). Although, she's never been the willowy type - she's always had curves that I could frankly die for. And people have always carped about her weight and so far she's always answered those critics. Hopefully she can do so again.

All this talk of extra flesh and suggestions of obesity (not that Pete is saying Serena is obese now) seem a little...over-the-top, to me. Once I got to the obesity part of the post I was kind of hoping for more about issues of loneliness after retirement, body image, attitude to food, etc - feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. I think it is harder and more complicated for women than for men all round, really.

Also - a picture taken from above of a woman with her shoulders hunched is *always* going to add some perceived pounds. (I know this from bitter personal experience, LOL.) *mildly disapproving of suggestive picture selection*

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 05/09/2009 at 03:00 AM

Neil H has a piece on Ana in the Times this morning, also talks about the WTA a bit, generally:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article6251661.ece

Posted by Kofi 05/09/2009 at 04:49 AM

I liked the post, thanks Pete.

The "state of parity" can also be the result of several equally great players instead of equally mediocre, no?

Serena will soon lose her present ranking too. When she becomes no.3, I hope she then keeps her Serenity (coherence) and declare ''Now I am the REAL NO.2'', lol.

Posted by Rosangel 05/09/2009 at 05:55 AM

*I don't think this system is all that radically different from the ATP. It is virtually equivalent and may be even harsher as the WTA counts 16 events total. The ATP counts 17, 18 of you make the YEC.*

You missed the point. I basically said that the larger a number of results that a player is allowed to discard from his/her points total, the more it potentially rewards quantity over quality. What other ranking system in sports allows an athlete to simply ignore his/her worst results?

Therefore the smaller number of tournaments that go into making up the total ranking points, the less the ranking system represents a player's average performance. The Best-18 (or best-16) rule was designed to encourage players to play more by allowing them to discard unfavourable results. At one extreme you could have a rather unfair situation whereby a very good and consistent player is forced to discard some extremely favourable results....now why on earth should he or she do that?

For what it's worth I think the WTA still has too few mandatory events. It's at least debatable whether the ATP has too many. However, one thing the Masters Series events has done is help to bring us top-level rivalries - 10 of the 17 encounters between Nadal and Djokovic have taken place at Masters events or the TMC, in a space of just over two years, for example. The same is true of the Nadal-Federer matches, 10 out of 19, though over a space of five years, with all but one of the rest taking place at Slam level.

Posted by Rosangel 05/09/2009 at 06:01 AM

*The "state of parity" can also be the result of several equally great players instead of equally mediocre, no?*

Kofi: my view on this is that what you're saying is theoretically possible. We can easily tell whether the parity is between several greats or several less-great players, though, simply by looking at player's performances (winning percentages, H2H records etc) against the rest of the field as a whole. Elite-level players on the WTA side have tended to be fairly dominant over most of the rest of the field.

The same is pretty much true for the men.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/09/2009 at 06:28 AM

I think AM made a great point. Like AM said, JJ is a player who has frequent injuries and calls for the trainer many times. Nobody would call her fat. It's a question of fitness and some of the girls aren't fit which leads to injuries. Sharapova has been injured for almost a year and certainly she's not fat. Serena recently has always had problems on the clay and was beat by Katina at last years FO, then went on to make it to the final of every slam. I see it has more of a surface than weight problem. I don't think she's fat, but that is her correct body type like mind is thin because I'm too tall. To me, she looks thiner than she was in 07 when people said she was too fat to win the AO and she did. Although I have been very critical of both Safina and JJ, I hope Safina can win a slam because I want someone legitimate has the world's #1 not someone who is on a contest for the weakest world's #1. Also, I think it's important to distinguish between the words earned and deserved. I think Safina has earned the world's#1 based on the present ranking system, I don't think she deserves to be #1 based upon the fact that I firmly believe that a player who has the highest ranking in the game, should also have the highest trophy in the game. To me, we must have concrete criterias by which we judge a players greatness and in tennis it's the slams. I have consistently said that I believe Serena is a better player than Justine because she has more slams. I would also say that if Roger ends his career with more slams than Rafa end his with, then to me Roger is the better player. BTW, I like Justine and Rafa better than Roger and Serena. For all the criticism Serena got for her comments, I noticed that not many people disputed the fact that she's the best player in the world. What she said was the truth and if you look at it from her perspective it must be very frustrating to see a ranking system reward quantity when quality is more important. Ok, who is everybody picking for the final? Kuzzy is my pick, but Safina was very impressive yesterday.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/09/2009 at 06:39 AM

Tennis roid, my apologies for not answering your question quickly. "Samantha, what would you accept has proof." A positive drug test would suffice has proof. With all due respect tennis roid, you can't look at a person and tell if they're on steroids. If you could, then people wouldn't need to waste money on costly testing they would just get somebody like you who can just look at the person and tell. (Hmmmmm!) I believe that before you make a serious accusation against a person, you must have concrete proof or you don't make it. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by great gams 05/09/2009 at 07:34 AM

in the midst of all this (fascinating) debate, what has been lost is the quality of yesterday's match. Safina and Venus played what is arguably the best WTA match of the year.

Safina was incredibly brave and fearless. dare i say it, Serena-esque.

and Venus' clay game has improved immensely though it seemed to me that she ran out of steam at the end. Dinara's legs and heart (and i believe the two are related) won it for her in the end.

the Williams' are playing more. Safina is just more consistent. in the end, isn't it a simple question of "the best" vs "number 1 in the rankings". the best incorporates a player's career history and trajectory. and that would be Serena. number 1 is a 12 month formula. which rates Safina.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 08:12 AM

What other ranking system in sports allows an athlete to simply ignore his/her worst results?

Is there another sport that has a "ranking" system?

I think we are confusing standings in a season with "ranking". What is the purpose of "ranking" in tennis? Obviously, tennis is a unique is a unique sport in all of sport. Individual performance as oppossed to team performance. The only "sport" that I could find that even comes close was 'racing' a much less physically demanding sport and there really is no "ranking" system. There is a season result tracking for rewards at the end of the season - similar to the race for the YEC. However, before each race each driver must earn his position or seed before each race. Who is sitting on the pole must be earned before each race. Unlike tennis - who is seeded #1 does not have to earn the seeding before the tournament. So really "ranking" while we put a lot of importance on it really only has one purpose - for assigning names to positions in the draw for each tournament. While we try too make a big difference between #1 and #2. There really is not much difference between the practical effect of being #1 or #2. As they are really the only positions that matter as #1 and #2 are assured of not meeting each other until the final. The other positions are for determining how deep in a tournament you can get before meeting a top player or #1 or #2. The higher your ranking, theroretically the better of you are. As far as Sharapova, she is currently ranked 63 and going lower, but does anybody doubt that she is a top player. However, due to unfortunate circumstance when she returns she must again "earn" her ranking over time. Maybe this is why she dreads coming back. I think we confused statistics in other sports with "ranking". Boxing is an individual sport, or maybe that is debateable but I don't really understand it. I don't think there are "rankings" per se as there are not multiple competitors and touraments and Don King essentially decides your "ranking".

So to answer you question, I don't think tennis can be compared to other sports. And there is no "ranking" system in any other sport.


You missed the point. I basically said that the larger a number of results that a player is allowed to discard from his/her points total, the more it potentially rewards quantity over quality.

I think you missed the point. The new WTA system has essentially the same # of madatories and this year we do have the top players playing the same tournaments. Rome was not a Mandatory, but essentially is for the top 10. The only top 10 players out Dementieva and Zvonareva (injury). Madrid is mandatory the only top 10 players out are Ivanovic (injury) Zvonareva (injury). Is the field really and different?

The Best-18 (or best-16) rule was designed to encourage players to play more by allowing them to discard unfavourable results. At one extreme you could have a rather unfair situation whereby a very good and consistent player is forced to discard some extremely favourable results....now why on earth should he or she do that?

That is the point, the system was put in place in order to (1) force the players to play certain events and (2) encourage play at other events by allowing them to ignore a bad performance, because if they couldn't they would be less likely to play. Further, in the case of a person such as Sharapova returning for injury or a new or young player trying to make their way up the rankings and will have wild flux in results this is a good system which allows them to move up the rankings. For the top players the extremes you mention should be negilible as the "good" results would be of less quality as it would usually come from a tournament where he/she was competing against not the top. The big events can't be removed.

10 of the 17 encounters between Nadal and Djokovic have taken place at Masters events or the TMC, in a space of just over two years, for example. The same is true of the Nadal-Federer matches, 10 out of 19, though over a space of five years, with all but one of the rest taking place at Slam level.

As I have said yes, this has been a great system. However, the WTA is moving to that this year and lets at least wait until the end of the year before criticism is laid on the new system. As note above the women are just coming to terms with being forced to play certain events which the men have been living with for quite some time. Get with the program ladies.

As for Serena words, I think you have to take some of what she says with a grain of salt as she has to explain away a bad loss and big boasting so maybe she is still injured a bit but also exaggerating a bit to explain a big loss and the men have handled being forced to play - this is Serena's first year and she is just getting used to it.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 08:26 AM

I forgot "ranking" is also used for getting into tournaments. Whether you get a free pass, have to qualify or are locked out is based on rank. And there is a delayed effect - as you entry is determined weeks in advance so "undeserving" players may still get into tournaments that their recent performance makes them "undeserving" - Vaidisova - she is just now having to qualify. And a "deserving" player may not get it - Lisiki did not make the cut for Madrid because her rise is so recent - we should be seeing her at the big tournaments this summer.

Posted by TennisFan2 05/09/2009 at 08:32 AM

There has a been commercial on this year featuring top female players (the "superwoman" theme - changing from street clothes to tennis attire). This commercial best symbolizes expectations for women in tennis: it's just not enough to be a good player - you have to be beatiful and lithe. The commmerical most prominently featured Anna and JJ with a few snipets of Venus and others - there was an extremely brief shot of Serena (apparently the marketers chose to highlight the players that look like models rather than the best in the game).

Undoubtedly Serena is the best woman on tour followed closely by Venus - when they are healthy and on they are unbeatable. Could Serena stand to drop a couple of pounds - probably - fitness can never be underestimated but she can only do some much about her genetics - she is athletic AND has curves (and quite attractive as well). I remember the first time I saw her in person several years ago at the US Open (around that time there were many comments about her being her at her heaviest) and I remember how surprised I was by her sheer muscle. TV is not kind to Serena.

The point is Serena has never been thin and as she ages she will certainly be battling her genetic make-up as well as players ten years her junior. I believe she's the #1 women's player despite the ranking system, points, etc... I don't believe there is a player on tour that looks at a draw sheet and sees they will be facing Serena and thinks "gee, she has to drop 10 or 15 lbs, I believe I can beat her."

Posted by jewell, at work. 05/09/2009 at 08:50 AM

Snooker has a ranking system, I know...not sure about others. Golf? Darts?

Posted by jewell, at work. 05/09/2009 at 08:54 AM

it's also played just as individually - if not more so - than tennis.

Posted by Master Ace 05/09/2009 at 08:55 AM

ATP Masters Series(8) - Believe that it is required for the top 40-45 players(more for IW/KB) at the time of direct entry a few weeks prior

WTA Premier Mandatory(4) - Basically the same as ATP Masters Series

WTA Premier Five(5) - 4 of the 5 events are required for the Top 10 players as of 12/31/2008. If they miss one in 2009, they are required to play that event in 2010. Vera missed Rome this year so she must play Rome next year.

Posted by Master Ace 05/09/2009 at 08:56 AM

Jewell,
Serena played with her injury at Key Biscayne. She has not played Indian Wells since 2001.

Posted by jewell, at work. 05/09/2009 at 08:58 AM

thanks Master Ace.

Memory fail!

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 09:16 AM

http://tinyurl.com/qjlwp5

OK here is the golf ranking system. It is radically different.

Essentially all these guys are #1.

Winner of PGA Championship or U.S. Open prior to 1970 or in the last 10 calendar years:

(Beginning in 1998, this is a five-year exemption.)
Jack Burke, Jr.
Angel Cabrera
Billy Casper
Dow Finsterwald
Jack Fleck
Ray Floyd
Doug Ford
Al Geiberger
Retief Goosen
Padraig Harrington
Don January
Gene Littler
Phil Mickelson
Bobby Nichols
Jack Nicklaus
Geoff Ogilvy
Arnold Palmer
Gary Player
Bob Rosburg
Vijay Singh
Lee Trevino
Ken Venturi
Tiger Woods

However, this does not says who is the best at the current time.

Golf is less physically demanding, does not have elimination from a tournament, even if you have a bad day or bad hole you get to keep playing, careers are much longer.

They don't need to # them so exactly to fill out a draw sheet.

However, I like the fact the past high achievers get a free pass regardless of current performance. At least the WTA has this as I believe a player with 2 slams and 14 years a pro gets unlimited WC. Lindsay Davenport could play forever, if she wanted - but that is not as likely in tennis as golf as the physcial demands are much greater.

So tennis is still unique.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 09:24 AM

'WTA Premier Five(5) - 4 of the 5 events are required for the Top 10 players as of 12/31/2008. If they miss one in 2009, they are required to play that event in 2010. Vera missed Rome this year so she must play Rome next year.'

Further, top players are given bonuses for playing all five and these are the tournaments with the most points after slams and mandatories and most likely the ones top players would chose to play.

Posted by Andrew Miller 05/09/2009 at 11:12 AM

6-1 loss in the third? That sounds more than mental or physical to me. It sounds like strategy.

Mr. Tignor said that Nadal WINS because he is always looking at a match as an opportunity to "cross another finish line." His competitive drive is enormous, and his team (yes, team) will to help him cross that is energized and constantly at worked. Call it the Perpetual Improvement Coupled With Ambition machine, or what not, but Rafael Nadal, one way or another, is out to prove something EVERY MATCH - every set, every game, every match, every day. He plays each match as though it's a puzzle and, during the match, he has enough time to solve it and triumph.

Serena Williams and Roger Federer, both amont the greatest tennis players that have ever lived, are finding life harder these days on tour. Federer, thankfully, is beginning to "see" the mismatch between what he used to state unequivocably ("I'm the best" - someone can say that in more than one way in conversation) and the reality of his results (0-11 in his last 11 matches against players in the top four in the world). I think he is seeing that his "game" is not quite right - beautiful all right, but not "quite right", He is not "competing" as well in the course of the matches at the latter stages of tournaments (slightly better now no doubt, but still room for improvement and lots of it). Serena Williams, to me, is doing what Federer HAD BEEN DOING after last year's US Open: coasting a bit. Where's the innovation in that champion's game? I expect Federer to dig deep, and I would like to see one of the greatest women's players of all time do the same.

That's what's needed on the dirt. Roland Garros is never easy, and Federer has shown himself to be right there. I hope he is there this year - I'd like to see him scratch and clay and adjust during matches and trick up his opponents. And I'd like to see Serena Williams follow suit, dig deep, and not substitute "I'm the best" statements for the actual painstaking work of doing the homework.

Posted by tennis roids 05/09/2009 at 11:39 AM

Serena was solid muscle just a few months ago (here's a pic link):

http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com/2009/03/tennis-still-has-steroid-problem.html

Now she is so soft that she is wearing a long sleeve shirt to cover up. This is likely secondary to steroid cycling. She juices up, looks pumped and is basically unbeatable, then starts to soften up, loses some tournaments, pretends to be injured, then juices up again, suddenly looking pumped up and invincible. It's not really a mystery. It's 'roids.

Posted by Rosangel 05/09/2009 at 12:00 PM

On the "discarding of results" - I think it would be fairer if some kind of average result was applied to the non-mandatory tournaments, perhaps split by points categories.

The rankings system isn't just an issue for top-ranked players - also those far enough down the hierarchy that they are not required to play mandatory tournaments. Sometimes there are very small points differences between lower-ranked players, so the quality of what they discard may be an issue depending on how many tournaments they play.

Anyway, there's something not quite right to me in a system that allows a player to discard bad results from their overall performance. I understand why it's being done, but I don't think the end necessarily justifies the means. It won't make a big difference to all players' rankings, but it may make a difference to some, and I do think the system should be fair to all players.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 12:18 PM

"Anyway, there's something not quite right to me in a system that allows a player to discard bad results from their overall performance. I understand why it's being done, but I don't think the end necessarily justifies the means. It won't make a big difference to all players' rankings, but it may make a difference to some, and I do think the system should be fair to all players."

I studied the ranking system and the system is essentially an average. So with averaging do you use a minimum tournament or do you use the number that player has played. Which in the case of Serena if she plays a few and does relatively well then she has advantage over a player playing by the tour minimum. Further average does essentially wipe out a bad loss.

If Safina and Serena were ranked by average Safina would still be #1 at 520 and Serena #2 at 503. Your also assuming the tournament discarded is a bad result. In may cases that is not the case. It could be a better performance or an also equavalent preforance like counting a 210 performance as oppossed to a 200 or 180. I did a lot a figuring last year and anyway it was sliced the results were about the same. No system is perfect. Average might not give you the results you want to see either as noted above.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/09/2009 at 12:22 PM

Tennis roid, it sure sounds like you got it all figured out to me. You're too much. LOL!

Posted by Rosangel 05/09/2009 at 02:34 PM

Tennis Fan: I mentioned the result of the non-mandatory tournaments being averaged, not the whole lot including mandatory tournaments. But for what it's worth, if the tour applies a minimum limit for number of tournaments played and a player doesn't meet it, they should have to include a zero in their average rating for any number below that minimum. That way a player couldn't just focus on one or two favourite tourneys and keep the average up by doing so, but poor results aren't ignored, just bring the average down.

As I mentioned before, I also think there remains a case for increasing the points available for Slams versus other tournaments - thia applies not just to the WTA but the ATP. I wouldn't want to double them, but I think there's a case for increasing them - not that anyone's listening.

That said, I think the scale has now become too steep when it comes to the difference between some of the ATP 500 tournaments and ATP 250 tournaments, while the difference is not quite so steep when it comes to the (roughly) equivalent Premier 5/Premier events on the WTA tour, where the points difference is 800/470 for the winner.

I'm also copying a section out of the WTA's own handbook on calculation of ranking points:
"The results used to determine a player’s Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Ranking shall be those yielding the highest ranking points during a rolling, 52-week period, and must include a player’s ranking points from the Grand Slams, Premier Mandatory Tournaments and the Sony Ericsson Championships plus the best two (2) Premier 5 Tournament results for Top 10 Players."

So basically an area where the WTA system differs from the ATP system (in terms of ranking calculations) is that a player must play a minimum number of Premier 5 tournaments - 800 points to the winner vs. 1000 points for a Premier Mandatory tournament. Basically I see the Premier Mandatory Tournaments + the Premier 5s as being the nearest equivalent to the ATP's Masters events), but the player can discard the worst two or three. I don't think that these should be discarded at all, unless the player plays less than the minimum needed in which case a zero-pointer should be recorded, otherwise there are effectively only two out of the five that need to count for the player. It would be good if most of the 5 (up to the minimum four that the top 10 player is required to play) counted.

BTW, the ATP system for Masters Series events also doesn't just apply to the top 10, so in a sense the analogy between these events and Masters Series events only partly works.

Posted by CJ 05/09/2009 at 02:48 PM

I miss Justine...

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/09/2009 at 04:04 PM

"Premier Mandatory Tournaments + the Premier 5s as being the nearest equivalent to the ATP's Masters events), but the player can discard the worst two or three."

The are only required to have the best two in their ranking total but they must play at least 4 of the 5 or get a zero. There is incentive to play all five. These tournaments would yeild the highest amount of ranking points unless they crash and burned. So rather than discarded they are still likely t be counted in best of the rest.

Posted by Cosi 05/09/2009 at 04:50 PM

So if you are saying over the last two years in the WTA the injuries are because some of these players are either too fat or thin sorry I just cant buy that notion.There is so much more to it I am afraid."

This is where we are misunderstanding each other. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that any athlete in any sport is risking more injuries by carrying too much extra weight... I never said there are more injuries in the WTA specifically in the last two years because of weight, fat or thin. There are undoubtedly other reasons for some of the players injuries. Like Jankovic, she tends to overplay, and, I have a theory that she doesn't handle pain well, because she seems to do poorly with any niggling injury whereas some players play though chronic small injuries without saying much about it. And etc etc...

Posted by Cosi 05/09/2009 at 04:59 PM

Cosi - You did not have to use this rude statement to make your point. Besides you you are missing the point. The issue is not the fine or money. The WTA waives the fine if you do promo work for the tour. Instead the penalize. Tennis Fan and Master Ace have already explained above the point penalties which unlike the ATP where you can replace the tournament with other tournament point you cannot with the WTA. Effectively the tournament is recorded in your sixteen and whether you play 20 or more it does not change anything. She already is already carrying a zero for Charleston. This is the explanation posted earlier by master ace. Basically even if they get injured just before a premier tournament they are committed to they will be penalized (not just fines). The fine is the least of issues here. And so I maintain that she is not blaming the roadmap for her loss just like Vera is not blaming the road map for the loss. If the ATP were using the WTA rule when Rafa, F-Ved and a few others missed Dubai after committing to it, Dubai will be recorded in their ranking points and they would not have been able to replace the points. (Actually this was the case initially but it seems it was amended when complaints were made about this). Not everything she says has to be painted bad. And I still stand by my point that the statement does not mean she is blaming the roadmap for the loss.

"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."

+++++++++++++++

I don't think I was making a rude statement to you. I don't think I missed the point of your post either, you basically said you didn't understand how I could say Serena was making an injury excuse for losing, I told you just how I could say that.If she doesn't feel fit to play somewhere, she really doesn't have to, there are options. She will lose ranking points of course, but anytime you withdraw you lose ranking points.She acted like she HAD to play, she didn't h ave to play. Besides, since she thinks she's the number one player no matter what the rankings say, why would she care if she lost ranking points? So if she's really so injured, why did she play? She lost early after running her mouth, and now she's making comments to make it look like she lost because she's injured, simple. Same old same old.

Posted by Rosangel 05/09/2009 at 06:02 PM

Tennis Fan - yes, I agree that's how it would probably work, however, the real point I'm making is that where a player "crashes and burns" in one of the bigger tournaments, that result should definitely be included in the ranking points. No discards. I understand why the tour is doing it this way, but it's not the best way, IMO. There are a number of examples I can think of where a player does "crash and burn" in a big tournament - the ATP includes the result, always (unless it's non-mandatory Monte Carlo as of this year), so why not the WTA?

Posted by Nancy J 05/10/2009 at 03:40 AM

Pete, you know that I've often been on the Serena needs watch her weight bandwagon. But, she looked fine earlier in the year, so it's gotta be the injury taking it's toll (which she apparently discusses on her blog).

These comments in your article really made me laugh"

"...all that extra flesh we've been seeing..."

Oh my lord! LOL

"...the pro tour - especially on the WTA side - has always had its share of hefty lasses."

Pete, you're sounding like that male pro long ago who upset the apple cart when he said that most of the women players were fat a**ses. Or was it lazy fat a**ses! I forget. Okay, he didn't use that last word -- but it seemed to me what he meant! I forget his name.

"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."

Admittedly Rosie and Wendy have gained a ton or two...!!!!! ;)! BUUUTTTT, Chrissie Evert looks FABULOUS! So does Sue Barker and Virginia last I saw them (which has been awhile). Martina N is holding her own. Of course, Stefanie Graf looks lovelier now than when she was a player!!!!!! Even Monica has finally gotten it all together, and Billie Jean looks to have svelted out of late.

Serena, I think, is just a girl who is always gonna have to be diligent about her weight. Some do. Ask Oprah!

Posted by Nancy J 05/10/2009 at 03:55 AM

Tennis Fan wrote:

"Women's game - "bad", whether or not Henin, Clisters, Evert, Navratilova, Seles, Court, Venus, Serena and all the other #1, worthy or not, were all playing at the same time and in their prime."
----------------------------

Well, as they say opinions are like a**holes - everybody's got one!

I saw Chrissie Evert play several Slims events in person along with a US Open. The woman came to play and delivered! Chris played the likes of Court, King, Evonne, Martina, Tracy, Nancy R. Plus late in her career girls named Seles and Graf! There were other good players in between like Rosie, Wendy, Kerry, Dianne, Hana, Zina, Andrea, Sukova, and many others that Evert took on. Evert didn't duck, but rather stepped up to the plate -- the proof being her 80 matches against Martina N! 80!!!

Bad?! HA! Women's tennis in the Evert/Navratilova era was far from "bad!" It's gets no more dramatic and exciting that "THE Rivalry!" These women not only had game, but they had HEART!

Now. Get thee to a nunnery!

Posted by 05/10/2009 at 04:04 AM

Cosi wrote:

"So if you are saying over the last two years in the WTA the injuries are because some of these players are either too fat or thin sorry I just cant buy that notion.There is so much more to it I am afraid."
---------------------

In the past, one of the most injured pro players of all time was Stefanie Maria Graf, who had a perfect physique! Weight had nothing to do with her injuries.

I think the current problems are the pounding the players take in the modern "ping pong" power game. Plus starting younger and younger playing the pro tour. The travel is more intense than ever too. The stress mentally and physically from the tour has gotta take its toll sooner than it did to the ladies of old.

Just my theory.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/10/2009 at 10:53 AM

Nancy J:

Obviously, you must be new around here, and did not read my post completely - the sections you pulled out were sarcastic comment abouts the general feeling toward the women's game by reporters not only on this site but in general. I enjoy and always defend the women's game. So we agree. Therefore, I will forgive you other comment.

Posted by Tennis Fan 05/10/2009 at 11:00 AM

"Admittedly Rosie and Wendy have gained a ton or two...!!!!! ;)Even Monica has finally gotten it all together, and Billie Jean looks to have svelted out of late."

So the ones that took the most abuse and did most of the hard work to start and grown the game gained a little wait, while the one's who benefited didn't. Isn't that interesting.

Who cares if they have gain a few pounds, I have more problems with people who have foul mouths.

Posted by Ruth 05/10/2009 at 03:28 PM

Nancy J: If/when you're around...the player that you were thinking of who made the disgusting comment about women tennis players was Richard Krajicek. I resented his comment so much that, a couple years ago and years after he made the comment, when I read how his two youngsters had burst into tears in the stands when he lost a match on the Senior Tour, I actually laughed out loud.

Then, I had to scold myself -- and feel sorry for the kids -- because, after all, it's not the little ones' fault if their father's an idiot. :)

Posted by Nancy J 05/10/2009 at 11:58 PM

Thanks, Ruth. That comment really stuck with me all these years later! ;)!

Posted by Nancy J 05/11/2009 at 12:04 AM

Tennis Fan wrote:

"Nancy J:

Obviously, you must be new around here, and did not read my post completely - the sections you pulled out were sarcastic comment abouts the general feeling toward the women's game by reporters not only on this site but in general. I enjoy and always defend the women's game. So we agree. Therefore, I will forgive you other comment."
----------------

Hi Tennis Fan. Actually I'm an "old" member of the tribe. I just don't visit like I used too. Sorry I miss read. I apologize for taking your comments out of context!

So many people attack the WTA it turns my stomach. I cut my fan teeth on Chrissie Evert and Evonne and Billie Jean and Rosie plus Gladys Heldman and the other ladies who had the guts to sign on her "tour!" The Virginia Slims circuit and WTA in general will always own my heart! Glad to to read the same of you.

Posted by Nancy J 05/11/2009 at 12:14 AM

By the way, Ruth, doesn't Richard K. now have a young female relative on the tour? Wonder if he considers her lazy fat... ;)!

Posted by Todd and in Charge 05/11/2009 at 11:54 AM

Pete, conversely Safina has slimmed down, toned up, and seems much in much better playing shape lately.

Posted by Ruth 05/12/2009 at 12:21 PM

Yes, Nancy J, Krajicek has a much younger half-sister, Michaela, on the Tour now, and I'm sure that he wouldn't like to hear her being included in statements like the one he made about the WTA players.

Posted by creig bryan 05/12/2009 at 01:49 PM

Lately, seams two bee a pandemic of mist or missing points around hear (and everyware). Pundits rap the language around there opinions and send them up fore ridicule, from loquacious critics that wrap they're retorts around the same language. It mussed bee the language--sumhow gnuly-minted words our kneaded too help clarify everyone's points. With passion sometimes comes pity...logic can knot bee found.

Nancy J: Nice to hear from you. Keep up the griot work.

Ruth: Hi. Sorry. Keep Smiling. Check out "The Namesake."

ks

Posted by creig bryan 05/12/2009 at 01:49 PM

Lately, seams two bee a pandemic of mist or missing points around hear (and everyware). Pundits rap the language around there opinions and send them up fore ridicule, from loquacious critics that wrap they're retorts around the same language. It mussed bee the language--sumhow gnuly-minted words our kneaded too help clarify everyone's points. With passion sometimes comes pity...logic can knot bee found.

Nancy J: Nice to hear from you. Keep up the griot work.

Ruth: Hi. Sorry. Keep Smiling. Check out "The Namesake."

ks

Posted by creig bryan 05/12/2009 at 01:49 PM

Lately, seams two bee a pandemic of mist or missing points around hear (and everyware). Pundits rap the language around there opinions and send them up fore ridicule, from loquacious critics that wrap they're retorts around the same language. It mussed bee the language--sumhow gnuly-minted words our kneaded too help clarify everyone's points. With passion sometimes comes pity...logic can knot bee found.

Nancy J: Nice to hear from you. Keep up the griot work.

Ruth: Hi. Sorry. Keep Smiling. Check out "The Namesake."

ks

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