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The Slamless Ones 11/01/2010 - 2:11 PM

Woz

by Pete Bodo

Mornin'. I got a kick out of this comment left at the Blondes Away! post, and it also got me thinking about a few issues that ought to be raised regarding this Slamless No. 1 issue that has become a staple of the WTA conversation these days. This comes from a poster called Thomas:

manuelsantanafan wrote:

Pete, 44-74 being labelled a .500 winning percentage is consistent with "unreliable math."

When the history of my unexceptional (except for some serious boneheaded plays) baseball career is written, would you be so good as take on the task of calculating my batting averages."

LOL!

True 44 wins in 118 matches is a .373 winning percentage. (.369 if you inlude Capriati matches).

Thomas's outstanding mathematical skills extends, if inadvertently, manuelsantanafan's self-effacing reference to baseball. And while my own woefully poor grasp of statistics—actually, simple math—has often been laid bare in these posts, I can't help but notice that almost any batter in Major League Baseball history would be be more than happy with a .373 batting average against the best teams he faces. Which re-raises the question, how come Elena Dementieva didn't hit at least one out of the park in Paris, New York, London or Melbourne?

I admit the analogy is a bit too deft, and is relevant only because it's so inviting. Comparing baseball, a team sport, with tennis, is an apples and oranges exercise. Still, winning more than a third (oh, please tell me I don't have that percentage wrong!) of your matches against the very best players seems to me a pretty danged good record—especially in the comparative terms in which I used the stat. Anyone care to crunch the numbers and post Wozniacki's winning percentage, based on her 5-20 record against the best players of her time? (And yes, I did leave Jennifer Capriati off that considerably lengthy list; my bad.) I want to say .200. And that's a batting average that might get you shipped to the minors.

This morning, I posted on Wozniacki and the Doha result over at ESPN, and I'd like to further explore an issue I raised there. I might as well come out and flat-out declare it "The Curse of Number Oneness," a hex that befalls players who reach the year-end No. 1 ranking before they've won their first major. I'm not sure that the sample-size is large enough to draw hard and fast conclusions, and we all know that in tennis, anything can happen (if you're former No. 1s Dinara Safina or Marcelo Rios, that something is bad). But when I look at the career trajectory of the greatest of players, one thing really stands out: Most of them expressed their potential greatness before, and in some cases way before, they developed the consistency that enabled them to stay at the top.

In other words, the record suggests that you want to win your major first, then worry about rankings and all that other minutae of the pro life. And I believe this is one reason that most great players will tell you that they don't pay much attention to the numerical rankings, as well as the reason some No. 1 players (year-end and otherwise) have spent a fair amount of time almost apologizing for earning the top spot: Hey, don't blame me, I just swing the rackets. Take your beef to the computer!

Take someone like Amelie Mauresmo, who was No. 1 briefly, but never at the end of the year. She first claimed the top spot (and held it for five weeks) in September 2004, and her Grand Slam performance actually tailed off (if only by a little) for over a year before she won her first major, at the 2006 Australian Open. In any event, she ended her career with "just" two Grand Slam titles. Wouldn't a No. 1 ranking generally predict greater success? But given the history of other Slamless Ones, she acquited herself pretty well.

How about Kim Clijster? She hit No. 1 without benefit of winning a major in August 2003, but didn't win that first major until September 2005, at the U.S. Open (she missed four of nine Slams in that interim, but those are the dates). To date, she's still stuck at three majors, all captured in New York. She may add to that Grand Slam haul yet, but in terms of this discussion her results have been so-so.

The ATP has had only one Slamless One—hail, even Thomas Muster and Yevgeny Kafelnikov won majors before they smelled the roses at the peak of the game. But the ATP has never produced a slamless year-end No. 1 (more about that subset later). The man who came closest to performing what would be, in its own right, the remarkable feat of ascending to the top of the ATP pile without benefit of having taken a Grand Slam title is Marcelo Rios.

Rios became No. 1 on March 30, 1998, and engaged in a protracted tug-of-war for the top spot with Pete Sampras until the very last tournament of the year, the ATP Tour Championships. Sampras, driven by the desire to complete a record sixth-consecutive year at No. 1, practically killed himself in the course of his fall, "Stop Rios!" drive. In the end, Rios proved to be Sampras's greatest ally, as he was forced to withdraw from the year-end championships—and a potential showdown with Sampras for the top spot—because of a bad back that ultimately ended his career not long thereafter.

The big takeaway from all that? Sampras was driven less by the determination to finish No. 1 than by the extraordianary opportunity it represented for him that particular year. And rightly so. Sampras's six straight seasons as year-end No. 1 is a record that any future player will have only once chance to equal or surpass. When players say it's all about the majors, they're telling the truth, which is why there's really no harm in questioning the quality of any given year-end No. 1, especially on Jan. 1. What can't be questioned, though, is whether this or that player "deserves" the top ranking.

In some ways, becoming a Slamless One, especially a Slamless Year-End One, is as much burden as opportunity. Don't for a moment think that Wozniacki wasn't aware of her position as she went out to play Clijsters in Doha. The pressure on No. 1 is enormous, but even more importantly, certain facts suggest that becoming the year-end No. 1 without winning a major only makes the road ahead rougher.

There's little data to go on, but the last person to run a mile in Wozniacki's shoes was Jelena Jankovic. And we saw how finishing the year at No. 1 impacted her performance. Her results took a nosedive from which they have yet to fully recover. She finished No. 1 (without a major) in 2008, and just plain hasn't been the same since. It's no longer a question of whether Jankovic will find her equilibrium; it looks more like she's just searching for niche in the rankings somewhere below—perhaps well below—No. 1.

If you look at the careers of the Steffi Grafs and John McEnroes and Roger Federers and Ivan Lendls of this world, it's obvious that winning a major was part of a process, the first giant step rather than the final one. The tension underlying what the numbers show is between greatness and consistency, and in that regard it's helpful to think of the present system as less of a ranking than a rating. But greatness and consistency don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, as Marat Safin and even Svetlana Kuznetsova have demonstrated, time and again. It's handy to keep that in mind.

Jelena2 Winning a major provides a kind of psychic and emotional fuel, and a stamp of credibility, that makes it easier to achieve a high rating. Mauresmo and Clijsters may argue that it works the other way around, too, although I'm not convinced. Perhaps over time Wozniacki will make me change my mind.

The quality percolating under the surface for these players is confidence, not skill. It's also a matter of priorities and focus. The rule of thumb for those who would be great might as well be: Set your sights on the majors, and the rest will take care of itself. Just look how long it took Rafael Nadal to become No. 1, and if you think that was only because of his rival Federer, think again. It took Sampras took about two-and-a-half years to become No. 1 after he won is first major, in 1990.

But I wouldn't despair if I was a Wozniacki fan. What was she supposed to do, tank matches in order to avoid the Curse of Number Oneness? In that sense, the ranking could almost be said to have fallen in her lap. And she has terrific chances to build on her reputation because of her relative youth (20) and the state of the competition. We're at one of those curious transitional times when a great group of champions probably is in the waning days of a collective career. Imagine if Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic were suddenly unable or unwilling to play and/or win enough to capture the top ranking. I'd say a handful of guys like David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling would suddenly like their chances of winning a major, and even more their odds on reaching No. 1.

It would have been silly for anyone over the past two or three years to claim that Nadal was in a position to put the hammer down and take control of the men's game as its undisputed top dog. But Wozniacki has that sort of opportunity now, which is why her loss to Clijsters has to be considered a set back. You can't expect every legitimate rival to be removed from your path, can you?

What Wozniacki has going for her is a solid game, a strong constitution, and a healthy appetitie for playing—and winning—matches. And she's handled the circumstances surrounding her rise very well, without seeming to get too high, or too low, as it played out. At this moment in history, those are valuable assets. She needs to focus on elevating her game at the most important moments, because that "living in the moment" and "you win some, you lose some" mentality will get her through many matches against her equals or lesser players, but it won't be good enough against players who have tasted ultimate Grand Slam success. And even in the worst case scenarios for the WTA, there will be a few of those players lurking in 2011.


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Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:27 PM

Good Morning Everyone,

Again thanks to other posters for their Birthday wishes and also the emails

Seeing its the 2nd of November here

I can do this all again no?

I would like to say Happy Birthsay to one of my fav posters at TW who dosent post that often

Happy Birthday Russ!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love you and I hope you have a great day!

Posted by Lump Of Kohlschreiber (this space for rent) 11/02/2010 at 02:28 PM

And on that note we end today's program. It was entitled "How To Make Something That Isn't About Roger, About Roger." I thank you and good night!

Posted by Vie 11/02/2010 at 02:29 PM

coolh questioning Sampras 6 years as #1 is tad crazy. Just look at his competition in top 5:

1993:
Sampras, Pete (USA)
Stich, Michael (GER)
Courier, Jim (USA)
Bruguera, Sergi (ESP)
Edberg, Stefan (SWE)
1994:
Sampras, Pete (USA)
Agassi, Andre (USA)
Becker, Boris (GER)
Bruguera, Sergi (ESP)
Ivanisevic, Goran (CRO)
1995:
Sampras, Pete (USA)
Agassi, Andre (USA)
Muster, Thomas (AUT)
Becker, Boris (GER)
Chang, Michael (USA)
1996:
Sampras, Pete (USA)
Chang, Michael (USA)
Kafelnikov, Yevgeny (RUS)
Ivanisevic, Goran (CRO)
Muster, Thomas (AUT)
1997:
Sampras, Pete (USA)
Rafter, Patrick (AUS)
Chang, Michael (USA)
Bjorkman, Jonas (SWE)
Kafelnikov, Yevgeny (RUS)
1998
Sampras, Pete (USA)
Rios, Marcelo (CHI)
Corretja, Alex (ESP)
Rafter, Patrick (AUS)
Moya, Carlos (ESP)


Posted by zenggi 11/02/2010 at 02:30 PM

Just on time to switch to Valencia for TW's favorites: Robin Soderling against Albert Montañés.

sf: Where are you?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/02/2010 at 02:30 PM

Lump: please continue with your serial about roger, mirka and the twins in the future. It was wonderful!

okay, gotta go pick up MY daughter who runs me ragged still and she's 17!

see you folks later..

Posted by Lump Of Kohlschreiber (this space for rent) 11/02/2010 at 02:32 PM

P.S.

Birthdays, anniversaries etc. Aussiemarg is a real celebration hog. Leave some for the rest of us darling!

Posted by Master Ace 11/02/2010 at 02:32 PM

Wednesday ATP Order of Play:

Valencia at 8 AM - Monfils vs Schwank followed by Youzhny vs Cuevas ending with Murray vs Monaco
Basel at 9 AM - Stepanek vs DeBakker, Nieminen and Isner vs Haase scheduled
Valencia at 10 AM - Paire vs Granollers
Basel at 11 AM - Roddick vs Querrey
Basel at 1 PM - Federer vs Tipsarevic
Valencia at 3 PM - Verdasco vs Simon
Basel at 3 PM - Kamke vs Berdych

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/02/2010 at 02:32 PM

A good buddy of mine and I had this exact same conversation yesterday at the changeovers. And we agreed that Wozniacki indeed has a golden opportunity to cash in on a diminishing field. But that said, we also agreed that she really is not a dominant-type player, and certainly not your typical "game's best" who can win the majors and essentially rule the roost.

The same thing is true at the amateur level, especially in age-group tournament play. Many a player has ended the year number 1 in their section or state, only to have failed to win the big one -- usually their state closed championship or their sectional closed championship. And most players instinctively react differently to the two -- the big tournament champ getting the most respect and generally being considered the best player in that age group.

I have the distinction of having won my state's 30s closed singles title (at the ripe old age of 37), but have failed to earn the year-end #1 ranking, although I've been #2, #3, #4 and #5 in age-group divisions 30s, 35s, 40s and 45s on various occasions. [pats self on back] ;-)))

Posted by Colette 11/02/2010 at 02:34 PM

Trying to work and switch streams as they kept freezing just didn't cut it! So thanks for match updates and especially the color commentary, Lump.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:35 PM

Lump LOL!

Hey when you get to my age you can celebrate all year ok

Posted by Lump Of Kohlschreiber (this space for rent) 11/02/2010 at 02:36 PM

Annie

The Roger/Mirka saga will continue.....wait till Rafa's next match though. I got a bit ready for that one that's gonna destroy this place. It's going to be a hoot. Don't miss it. It will literally be biblical.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:37 PM

Just reading back posts regarding Rafa's gear for Bercy

Actually its a good colour combo when I saw the photo

Hye its 100% better than some of those UGH things he has worn

Like Pink? I told myself I wont go there ever again

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/02/2010 at 02:37 PM

peeks back in to thank Vie for those stats. Yeah, really, that's heavy competition. Don't know what that person was talking about re: pete and weak eras. pffft.

slice: wow. very impressive. *pats slice on back* nice going!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:38 PM

Lump See even Rafa fans enjoy mythical stories regarding Roger?

Hell I cant wait for that one

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/02/2010 at 02:40 PM

Lump: I promise I will not miss it! Can't wait!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:40 PM

Slice Hey maybe you and I can play mixed doubles together

Have you a one handed back hand?

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 02:43 PM

Annie - sorry I missed you! have been in and out this morning - have fun in London if I don't catch you again !
and thanks for asking - the dog is behaving much better lately - I love our dog trainer - working very hard to turn this naughty beast into a good family dog !

got to check the scores from today - I see Djokovic and Gasquet both won in Basel
have not had a chance to see what is happening in Valencia -
next on my agenda

I love the Tudors - very interesting show and period - the costumes / setting must have cost them a fortune . I agree Ryhs Mayers is hot - but all the history I have read of a young Henry VIII claims that he was exceedingly handsome , athletic and virile . It was only when he was older that his excesses caught up with him. I think they got the casting right here - For once, in a Hollywood adaptation of his life , I can believe that he was the successful womanizer that he was . Not just using that famous pick up line - hey baby , I am the king ! :)

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:43 PM

Slice I agree with your thoughts regarding amateur tournaments etc

Thank you for that and it is like that in comparison to pro's

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:45 PM

Beth Hi thanks for the Birthday wishes

I loved watching the Tudors we got that program here a different twist on Henry the 8th.

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 02:47 PM

applauds slice n dice ! well done !

any links to this infamous Rafa kit ? I need to see Mustard yellow and magenta on the same clothing to believe that it is even remotely plausible
I was hoping that Nike would leave the vibrant pink / purples out of Rafa's kits for awhile
enough all ready

Posted by Vie 11/02/2010 at 02:48 PM

Slice-n-dice, who moves on to the next level up in competition, usually? Sorry, if this is a stupid q..

Regarding Wozniacki, she looks in my humble observation, to have the strength to win a major and soon. It is not just due to diminishing competition.

Regarding diminished competition, I looked at the year-end rankings from 1990, I think Roger cashed in on 3 years of them (2004-2006).

Posted by Jamaica Karen (dem a go tired fi see mi face - Bob Marley) 11/02/2010 at 02:50 PM

@beth, LOL at your " hey baby , I am the king ! :)"

One wonders what pick up lines male tennis players use to get women. Hey baby, do you know who I am? I am the guy that created history by taking out Nadal at the French, or hey do you know who I am? Lord Farquad at your service. LOL

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 02:50 PM

glad you had a great celebration , AM !
love the Tudors - I have been watching them on Netflix - a season at a time - as I don't get the Showtime network here at my house
However , I still think the actor who plays Henry's advisor , I believe the Duke of Suffolk - whoever Henry Cavall is - is way hotter than even Rhys Meyers
I know - had I been a maiden in merry old England - I probably would have been the one beheaded - cause I like the Duke a heckuva lot better than I like the King !
Off with her head !

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:51 PM

Just reading back posts

Babe I agree with your thoughts on Gilbus 100%

He was given soo many tennis gifts and I honestly dont think he realises it.I hope he can live up to his potential.

He is soo frustrating when he plays like this.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/02/2010 at 02:53 PM

Vie,

Thank you for showing us what I've maintained for quite some time--Sampras managed to best more than 8 eventual Hall of Fame players over a six consecutive years. Who else has done anything like that? Maybe Rod Laver.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:53 PM

Beth I will try to go back to the link where I saw the colour/combo

Actually its not that bad at all

You know my thoughts with Rafa and some of his colours

When they said Magenta? I thought oh noooooooooooooooooooooo

Its like a blueish steel grey colour I guess

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 02:56 PM

Vie I am looking at those stats regarding Sampras

Hmmm Wow thank you for posting them

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 02:57 PM

Karen - stay safe during those tropical storms / hurricanes - ok !

not sure - I know they have some good lines . the I'll pose for a picture with you if you let my friends take a photo with our camera seems to be a popular one . Used to hook up the entourage with a girl by using the famous guy as bait.

Then there is the classic - "hello " stand there blankly as girl rattles on in English - followed by " I no speak English good "
Only to be followed up the next year by " I speak english now - come to match / photo shoot / dancing ? "
That one worked - I happen to know - 3 times

I have never seen Lord Farquad even speak to a woman , other than a waitress - so I have no idea what lines he might use . He is a very private sort of guy . His coach however, seems to think that picking his nose and gazing at you while you eat breakfast is somehow a turn on . nope - that one was a epic fail.

Some work , some don't clearly . Marat needs no pick up lines - He just stands there and the woman come to him. Chase him down , actually.

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 02:59 PM

bluish steel grey and mustard yellow would be tolerable
but that is not magenta
wonder why they call it that - unless it has accents of that color

thanks for trying to find the link

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/02/2010 at 03:01 PM

Thank you, ladies. I really didn't mean to sound like a braggart, and hope you didn't take it that way. Now, I am a 52-year-old 4.5 rated player who's being forced to play at the 5.0 level by the USTA, despite the fact that most of the 5.0 players are half my age and hit the ball a ton. But experience does count for something, right?

Anyway, to answer a few questions.... very very few players at the highest amateur level go up to the next level, which would be the Futures or Challenger level. It's generally the other way around. For example, we have three or four players in my state (North Carolina) who compete aloingside guys like me who once played on the pro tour. They never made big splashes, but hey... they were there. I have a dohbles win over a guy who played (and lost to in straight sets, of course) Jimmy Connors in the first or secoind round of the U.S. Open back in 1986, I think. But I also had a Nigerian Davis Cupper for a partner. That, and I treed out of my bloody gourd that day. And the former ATP player broke all three of his graphite racquets at the throat on serves or pverheads (you'd think he'd have carried more), and was forced to use his partner's aluminum Prince Pro for the third set.

But again, guys over 25 don't jump from the amateur tennis ranks ontp the ATP tour. It just doesn't happen. And yes, I'd love to play mixed with you, Aussiemarg! Anytime!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:02 PM

Beth I guess Nike has run out of words to describe their kits at the moment lol!

Posted by Ruth 11/02/2010 at 03:03 PM

Vie: May I say how much I like your 2:29 post. The very first time that I listened in on one of the frequent GOAT-like discussions, I pulled out my Bud Collins Enclopedia of Tennis, and I spent a good hour looking at his lists of the top ten players in the 6 years when Sampras ended the year as #1, and, after that, comparing the lists for a couple other players (who are usually mentioned in the "great" discussions) when they were #1.

Then, I concluded my research! :-)

Posted by Vie 11/02/2010 at 03:04 PM

Slice, yes, the names of Sampras' contemporaries are out-of-this world. Thanks for summarizing that for me in words.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:05 PM

My Dear Slice I cant stand braggers though I will let you pass ok lol!

Ok your on with the mixed doubles as long as you use your one handed b/hand on court thats fine with me.

Hey I hope you have a one handed back hand?

I am soo tired of having to run around my 2 handed back hand no?

I can volley well though lol!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:08 PM

Vie My husband a Pete Samrpas fanatic fan will love those stats you posted I am going to save them and show him when he gets home

He will be in Pete Sampras Heaven lol!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:12 PM

Well I might start doing some stat work on Rod Laver seeing Slice brought that fact up and see myself.

I am just finishing Rafa's stats that I have been working on comparing him on a percentage basis in finals etc.

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 03:20 PM

Slice - not bragging - just the truth !
and yes, the step between the pros and us club players are just so different

Our club pro manager / head pro - never made it out of the Challenger events - but he is a really solid teacher - strategist . And his claim to fame is that in one of those Challenger / low tournaments he beat Derrick Rostagno - the man who held match point on Boris Becker in the US Open. Every one gets their fifteen minutes of fame, I guess

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 03:22 PM

I should add but for a lucky net chord that went Becker's way
Rostagno would have beaten Becker on that match point in the second round
that same year that Becker won the event .

After that Rostagno road off into the sunset in his VW surf van
and I don't think he ever did anything big on the pro tour since .
wonder what ever happened to him .

Posted by Vie 11/02/2010 at 03:23 PM

Slice, thanks for telling us about moving from amateur to pro and back. Kudos for competing at the higest levels. Well you're almost like a pro, and surely, you're a good source of info and opinion at TW.

Thanks people for reading the Sampras info. They're from ATP site.

Posted by smil 11/02/2010 at 03:25 PM

Maria Sharapova to Design Her Wedding Shoes http://tinyurl.com/267sr4r

Posted by Ruth 11/02/2010 at 03:28 PM

AM: Just before I saw your 3:08, I said to myself that I must ask you if those stats help you to understand the near-worship of Sampras by people like me (and your Peter). Or, maybe, you'd call Peter's attitude full (not near) worship! LOL

Posted by Sherlock 11/02/2010 at 03:29 PM

Great story, Beth. :)

That Rostagno-Becker match was so painful. Rostagno was a fun guy to watch, and the volley was right there for him before it hit the net and jumped over. Ouch.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 03:30 PM

It's not enough to say Pete had more competition than Fed just 'cause he had to overcome more HoFers. Had Fed been less talented, he wouldn't have won as many majors, which would've been claimed not only by Roddick, Hewitt or Safin but also by (so far) Slamless Murray, Nalbandian and others, which in turn would've made them HoFers. IOW this is classic circular reasoning.

Which doesn't mean the competition level has remained constant, of course. Anybody with even a decent understanding of tennis can see that Roddick would've never been a Courier in any era, or that Goran/Stich/Krajicek (take your pick) at his best was more dangerous.

But I gotta say some of us tend to shortchange the accomplishments (game- and result-wise) of Fed's contemporaries. Roddick has stayed in the top 10 for 8 years now (9 including this one). Among Sampras' contemporaries only Chang (and arguably Goran) can claim such longevity at the top level.

And I always stick up for Hewitt, who I feel is terribly underrated. People tend to forget how good his RoS and PS were during his prime--this is a guy who could at times make a Henman or even a Rafter look like an absolute amateur. And despite his short stature he was rarely overpowered thx to his great mobility (again, I'm talking about his prime). Now this is not to say that I think Rusty would've won 5-6 majors in another era--in the '90s alone top "S&Vers" (all-courters, really) like Sampras and Becker would've had too much firepower for him. But I do think he would've snuck out a major or two, and then he wouldn't be known as this fluke multi-Slammer who got luck during the Sampras-Federer transition era.

All this is a protracted way of saying, taking any stats at face value is a mug's game.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/02/2010 at 03:31 PM

Off the top of my head . . .

The Rocket went pro after his first Slam in 1962.

In 1963, Rosewall was considered the No. 1 player on that tour.

1964, it was pretty close between Laver and Rosewall.

1965-1969 it was clear that Laver was the No. 1 player in the world.

Perhaps, the same for 1970, even tho Laver won no majors in that year.

Hall of Famers (from playing) who were around from 1965-1970.

On the pre-Open era pro tour: Rosewall, Pancho (on and off), Hoad (on and off), Gimeno.

On the pre-Open era amateur tour: Emerson, Stolle, Santana, Pietrangeli.

Additional HOFers from 69-70 era: Ashe, Newcombe, Stan Smith . . . .

(I've probably forgotten a few.

When Pancho was the top player in the world in the 1950s-early 1960s, there were probably around 8 HOFers playing the amateur or pro tours.

When Tilden was the top player in the world for 7 or so years in the 1920s, probably close to 8 HOFers crossed Tilden's path.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 03:31 PM

luck = lucky

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 03:32 PM

hey , Sherlock !
your Ducks are freakin awesome !

Yeah , anyone who says luck has no part in winning a grand slam , needs to seriously look at Becker's US Open run . He got really lucky in that match . It could have been over in the second round .

Posted by tennis express 11/02/2010 at 03:33 PM

@NP

Thank you for your 3:30pm, you said what I wanted to say but much better. Stats should always be looked at in context to get the real story, the stats are only the skeleton.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:34 PM

Ruth LOL!

I have always admired Pete Sampras

Please dont tell my Peter ok lol!

I have lived with a Pete Sampras Worshipper for 25 years now I know what he like to eat for breakfast

I hope you can get my drift lol!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:36 PM

Manuel Thanks for posting that I will look further and also see what I can find out

I applaud your memeory

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:37 PM

NP Welcome I knew you would not be too far away when Pete Sampras came up

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:39 PM

NP I have to agree with you and your thoughts on Hewitt during that time period.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/02/2010 at 03:40 PM

aussiemarg:

My memory ain't that good.

I can never correctly spell Pietrangeli's name without looking it up.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 03:41 PM

Among the GOATs, Gonzales prolly spent the most time at the very top, arguably for 8 yrs. Laver is the only other GOAT I can think of who can arguably match him in that regard. I'd say 7 is a safe # for Tilden, and arguably Sampras, 2. And though Wiki has Rosewall at 6, I think 5 is a more reasonable #.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:45 PM

Tennis Express I agree 100% with you on stats they do not tell the whole picture in ways one has to go and reserch deeper into stats.Believe me lol! its very time consuming though I myslelf enjoy doing it.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (dem a go tired fi see mi face - Bob Marley) 11/02/2010 at 03:45 PM

Ruth, another way of looking at the era debate in terms of Federer/Sampras (and I cannot believe I am going there) is to look at the fact that perhaps one of the reasons why there are not a lot of HoF during Fed's reign is because he was so dominant. He never really left anything for anyone else to collect.

Anyway, I do not particularly like these discussions. I prefer the ones where we try and figure out which player uses which pick up lines to get women. Do we know whether any of the women use pick up lines to pick up guys.

@beth, LOL at Marat just standing there. Did I tell you that he is going to be in Grand Cayman this weekend for the Legends tournie. I thought I would have been back on Island by that time but with the storm coming and with me not even packing just yet, that may prove to be a bit of a problem.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/02/2010 at 03:46 PM

A reminder to those who have access to ESPN3 (and that includes Time Warner Cable video customers):

Beginning tomorrow ESPN3 will be carrying some Valencia as well as Basel tennis. ESPN3 has been carrying some Basel (but no Valencia) today and yesterday.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:46 PM

manuel LOL!

I wont go there on spelling I make too many errors there myself.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 03:49 PM

tennis express, welcome.

AM, that doesn't change the fact that prime Sampras would've decimated Hewitt.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:50 PM

JK LOL!

My wild imagination is now working over time

"Do we know any of the women that use pick up lines to pick up guys"???

Posted by Arun 11/02/2010 at 03:51 PM

Hey, NP! Well said at 3:30. I would like to co-sign everything you said there (and yes I also agree that Pistol Pete's era was relatively tougher and much better "tennis players" not just splendid athletes). Seeing that it came from someone who understands (and opine on) Tennis across different eras while taking various metrics into consideration makes me happy.. Thanks.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:52 PM

NP I am fully aware of the fact

Thanks for reminding me though

Just to go o/t I saw highlights of the last Lakers game.Kobe and Pau seem to know how to get the ball into the basket just saying.

Posted by Ruth 11/02/2010 at 03:53 PM

Re: the Sampras information (not realy "stats" in the true sense of the word), I don't think that anyone is taking anything at "face value" or misinterpreting anything. What I thought of when I first that list years ago is that these are the players that Pete had to face day in and day out the quarters and semis and finals* of tournaments in order to win the titles he did and amass the #1 points he did. And that alone is very, very impressive!

*Yes, he did play some not-top-10-ers in a few Slam finals, but since he didn't sit out the early rounds and leap into the final match (as they did in some of the "olden" days), he still had to deal with other pretty tough competitors to get to those finals,no?

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 03:53 PM

Arun Please dont give NP too much praise it does go to his head ok

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 03:55 PM

Arun, anytime.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 03:58 PM

AM, Kobe is still being too generous. Not a single 30-pt game yet. Pfffft.

Ruth, I wasn't addressing anyone in particular. Just wanted to point out the oft-committed fallacy.

Posted by Master Ace 11/02/2010 at 04:00 PM

NP,
Since losing to Celtics, Heat has blown out their opponents especially against the Magic on Friday. Do not complain about Bryant production as Gasol has started strong.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:01 PM

NP Like you told me the other day the comp has just started

Kobe has always been too generous ok.

I am just listening to our sports radio here and a amercian guy said he feels Le Bron and Miami might win games this year but he doubts they will win the championship this year.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:02 PM

Thanks Master Ace I thought Pau had a good game myself

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 04:02 PM

Karen - I hope that you are safe , and that if there is any way possible , you get back to your home so you can see Marat !
but mostly - be safe -

I don't know , do women need pick up lines ?

Posted by Vie 11/02/2010 at 04:03 PM

msf, thanks for the rough outline of HOF'ers in the history.

NP, naming Sampras' competition was a qualitative exercise, jogging the memory of HOFers.

I did try my hand at a statistical comparison. I did a calculation of the average quality of the top 2 to 5 from 1990 to 2010:

Average % Points owned by top 2-5 from 1990-2010 is 18.1%. During the Sampras years, it was 18.6. And then you look at who the players are in those years and you recognize their work. Now the average %points owned by top 2-5 from 2004-2006 is 16.0%.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:03 PM

Beth LOL! good point on the pick up lines

Posted by Colette 11/02/2010 at 04:06 PM

Msf, thanks for the ESPN3 heads-up. I should have listened to MA earlier and tried them. The other streams were terrible.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 04:07 PM

MA, yeah, I saw that Heat-Magic game. Orlando played like crap in the 2nd half, and no, it wasn't 'cause of the Miami defense.

BTW what do you think of Dwight's improved form so far? He looked pretty damn good in the 1st half.

AM, wisdom is that guy's middle name.

Posted by Ruth 11/02/2010 at 04:08 PM

JK: I won't go there if you won't go there! :) And, really, we shouldn't because Roger is till playing tennis seriously, and his competition (other than Nadal) still has time to show themselves to be future HOFers and all kinds of other great things, even if they do so only after Roger leaves the scene.

Posted by Colette 11/02/2010 at 04:09 PM

AM, I'm glad the ponies cooperated and gave you such a nice birthday present. Now that Paul the Octopus is dead, maybe you can fill his shoes.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 04:09 PM

Vie, again I wasn't calling out anyone in particular. Just wanted to warn against the fallacy, that's all.

Interesting stats, BTW.

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 04:10 PM

I have talked to one WTA player in my life. And we did not discuss men . We talked about her ankle which she twisted in a match . I had a seat in the stands cause I was waiting for the next match - and she twisted her ankle on about the next play . Long medical timeout - she came back , tried to play and had to quit. I ran into her in the hallway of the hotel and asked in what I thought was a friendly tone - how she felt and that I hoped the injury was not too serious
She responded with a look as if she had just smelled someone's gym socks - and was rather dismissive .
So - add that to another reason I will not cheer or watch the WTA . Particularly this player -
Anyway - she was not using any pick up lines - but if that is the way she greets people in a friendly setting - no line is gonna help her win friends and influence people.
Hopefully , she was just having a bad day - but , she came across as a real diva.

The male pickup lines I quoted were real for sure .

Posted by Vie 11/02/2010 at 04:10 PM

For the record, here are the top 5 from 2004-2006
2004
Federer, Roger (SUI)
Roddick, Andy (USA)
Hewitt, Lleyton (AUS)
Safin, Marat (RUS)
Moya, Carlos (ESP)
2005
Federer, Roger (SUI)
Nadal, Rafael (ESP)
Roddick, Andy (USA)
Hewitt, Lleyton (AUS)
Davydenko, Nikolay (RUS)
2006
Federer, Roger (SUI)
Nadal, Rafael (ESP)
Davydenko, Nikolay (RUS)
Blake, James (USA)
Ljubicic, Ivan (CRO)

Posted by Ruth 11/02/2010 at 04:13 PM

msf: Thanks for the reminder about ESPN3. Maybe, this time, my memory won't fail me, and I won't spend 5 minutes looking for it in my TV channel lineup brochure, as I did several weeks ago. Ah, age.... :)

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 04:13 PM

heading out to do an errand
be back in a bit

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:18 PM

colette I feel noone could fill Paul's shoes or may I say tentacles?

Hey it does take a lot to read form on horse racing though the horse that one did win the Arc De Triumph in Paris this year a very prestigous horse race world wide so I guess it had some good form and when he came to Australia I back it in a race before the Cup and it won easy.

Though may I say I cant wait for Melbourne Cup 2011.Also I am happy that AA a poster here from WA took my tips as well.Phew I am glad I was right and picked the 1st 3 place getters lol!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:24 PM

Beth Just read that discussion you had with that women player maybe she was just having a bad day

I must say when I have gone up to any women player say when they have finished with practice and have had a chat they have been very co operative.

I remember this year talking to JJ at Medibank she was just delightful.Also Dommy she was soo cute and when I said may I take a photo of you she said of course go ahead.Safina when in a good mood is nice toi talk to.Though I have read the signs with her and I know not to go up to her if she is having a bad day lol!

I hope that one incident dosent put you off in the future.

Posted by AB 11/02/2010 at 04:25 PM

Hi Ruth:

I'm back from voting and I must say, it's a lovely day in San Francisco with everyone wearing our favorite orange and black.

Go Giants!

Posted by Vie 11/02/2010 at 04:25 PM

Well, looking at the players in 2004-2006 list, even if the top 2-5 players had beter pctgs, it is safe to say, Roger would have been still #1.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (dem a go tired fi see mi face - Bob Marley) 11/02/2010 at 04:25 PM

Hmm, beth, I remember when I was much younger and more self assured and if my girl friends and I went to a dance (street dance type thing) and I saw a man that I liked, I would go up to him and start dancing. This usually happens if I am very much drunk (part of my misspent youth LOL). It could be that I was so very brazen.

I am hoping to stay safe. You can feel the pressure dropping here in Jamaica and of course I am getting sick and starting to have headaches already. We have had a few sprinkles of rain which makes the place smell quite fresh, but it is a bit of the calm before the storm.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (dem a go tired fi see mi face - Bob Marley) 11/02/2010 at 04:26 PM

In other news, Dustin Brown no longer plays under the Jamaican flag. He now represents Germany *cries loudly and shakes fist at beaucrats in Jamaican tennis*

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:29 PM

JK Keep safe please and I hope everything will be ok

Posted by AB 11/02/2010 at 04:32 PM

JK: keep your hatches battened down, stay safe and dry.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/02/2010 at 04:35 PM

Speaking of channel lineups, am I pissed off with TV Guide or its corporate masters.

Some of you may remember that print version TV Guide had a huge circulation in the 1960s-1980s.

Largely(?) because TV Guide couldn't keep up with all the cable programming that became increasingly popular, TV Guide lost much of its circulation.

At some point, TV Guide was sold (and probably, later resold)

AFAIK, TV Guide no longer has a print publication and just runs some cheesy website(s).

Now, for how TV Guide has offended me.

For many years, there was an excellent website called jumptheshark, or something like that--which had much interesting content provided by posters.

So, TV Guide bought that site and the operation--then took all or almost all of the content off the Internet.

I can see no major upside(s) to TV Guide in such a move, while I can see such a move creating much bad will and loss of web traffic for TV Guide.

I've read that the TV Guide honchos may have thought that some of the negative postings on the site were bad for the TV business. I thought many of the postings were positive and created or recreated interest in shows that were no longer on the air--which isn't a bad thing for sales of DVDs/etc. of such shows.

Posted by Sherlock 11/02/2010 at 04:37 PM

Beth, regarding the Ducks, thanks. When you guys went ahead in the 3rd, I was stressing big time. :)

My apologies for this long post, but Beth got me going on Rostagno. :)

He was one of the players that I followed closely back in the day. He had a cool way about him, both on and off the court. But he was also a classic case of a player most people never heard of, yet was so talented and capable of great things on a given day. Anyway, from his Wiki entry:

Rostagno turned professional in 1986. He won one top-level singles title (at New Haven in 1990) and one tour doubles title (at Tampa in 1993).

Rostagno's best performance at a Grand Slam event came at the 1988 US Open, where he reached the quarterfinals before being defeated by Ivan Lendl. At several other Grand Slam events, he defeated or almost defeated several tennis hall of famers. At Wimbledon in 1988, Rostagno lost a five-set third round match to Jimmy Connors, who at the time was ranked fifth in the world. At the 1989 US Open, Rostagno had a match point in his second round encounter with Boris Becker, who won that point on a lucky net cord passing shot and eventually the match 1–6, 6–7, 6–3, 7–6, 6–3, en route to his lone US Open title. At Wimbledon in 1990, Rostagno defeated John McEnroe in straight sets in the first round. At Wimbledon in 1991, Rostagno defeated ninth ranked Pete Sampras in four sets in the second round and Connors in straight sets in the third round.

Rostagno finished his career with a 3–2 win-loss record versus McEnroe, winning their last three matches, and a 2–3 record versus Connors, winning their last two matches. Against other top players, Rostagno was 2–1 versus Sampras, 1–0 versus Yannick Noah, 1–1 versus Mats Wilander, 2–3 versus Lendl, 1–2 versus Becker, 3–6 versus Jim Courier, 0–1 versus Michael Chang, 0–1 versus Todd Martin, 0–2 versus Andre Agassi, and 0–4 versus Stefan Edberg.

Rostagno's career-high singles ranking was World No. 13, which he reached in 1991. His career prize-money earnings totaled US$1,621,535. He retired from the professional tour in 1996.

After retiring from the tour, Rostagno completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, obtained his MBA from UCLA and his Law degree from Loyola University. He is now a practicing lawyer in Los Angeles, California, actively engaged in civil litigation in the firm that bears his name.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 04:40 PM

"Rostagno was 2–1 versus Sampras...."

Pistol Pete was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too generous to his opponents.

And speaking of the Giants, Lincecum was simply superb last nite. This kid's for real.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:41 PM

Sherlock I brought some white grapes from you area yesterday

May I say I ams still alive and kicking

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 04:41 PM

Jamaica K!I'll pray that all our friends twibers be well,hurricane or otherwise...
Peace be with you all!!!

Ruth,I did vote but I do not really know where we're going...

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:43 PM

AB Yes indeed

Go Giants and what a win!!!!!!!!!!

Yay!!!!!!!!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:44 PM

Aube May I say I cant keep up with your ever changing monikers lol!

Posted by Master Ace 11/02/2010 at 04:44 PM

Pete has posted the thread for the day and Angel of the Surf may be pleased

Posted by Sherlock 11/02/2010 at 04:45 PM

NP, lol. I knew you'd like that Rostagno stat. :)

Agreed on Lincecum. Game 1 was a bit up and down, but last night, he was amazing.

AM, seriously? That's so cool! I probably drive by the source fairly often. And I'm glad that you're still alive. The kicking part sounds dangerous though. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:45 PM

oops that reminds me I have to change mine

Dear Wayne has only now 2 days to go before he gets out of jail lol!

Posted by 21st century schizoid man 11/02/2010 at 04:45 PM


80's; toughest era in tennis ever

1985
1)Ivan lendl(8 majors)
2)John Mcenroe(7 majors)
3)Mats Wilander (7 majors)
4)Jimmy Connors (8 majors)
5)Stefan Edberg (6 majors)

1986
1)Ivan Lendl (8 majors)
2)Boris Becker (6 majors)
3)Mats Wilander (7 majors)
4)Yannick Noah (1 major)
5) Stefan Edberg (6 majors)

1987
1)Ivan Lendl (8 majors)
2)Stefan Edberg(6 majors)
3)Mats Wilander (7 majors)
4)Jimmy Connors (8 majors)
5)Boris Becker (6 majors)

1988
1)Mats Wilander(7 majors)
2)Ivan Lendl(8 majors)
3)Andre Agassi (8 majors)
4)Boris Becker (6 majors)
5)Stefan Edberg (6 majors)

1989
1)Ivan Lendl(8 majors)
2)Boris Becker(6 majors)
3)Stefan Edberg (6 majors)
4)John Mcenroe (7 majors)
5)Michael Chang (1 major)

1990
1)Stefan Edberg(6 majors)
2)Boris Becker(6 majors)
3)Ivan Lendl (8 majors)
4)Andre Agassi (8 majors)
5)Pete Sampras (14 majors)

Posted by Jamaica Karen (dem a go tired fi see mi face - Bob Marley) 11/02/2010 at 04:46 PM

Thanks guys. At the rate we are going I may have to start asking you guys to put me up during the months of June-November. I will be glad when this hurricane season without end is finally at an end. Who knew. A hurricane in the month of November. Oy vey

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