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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 04:47 PM

Sherlock Seeing I won big on the races yeaterday

I am still in Horse mode

Hence the Kick line

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 04:48 PM

Lock, you think he'll be the best pitcher in the league in a couple years, if he's not there already?

Posted by zenggi 11/02/2010 at 04:49 PM

Krajicek is 6-4 vs Sampras. His best ranking was nr. 7 in 1996.

And for all of you interested, Robin Soderling won 6-1, 6-4 against Albert Montañés in 1 hour and 1 minute.
And Kolya won 6-2 the first set against Martí.
The Murrays Bros are crashing the Duo Dinámico (Feli and Verdi) First set 6-3 and 4-3 with a break in the second set.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/02/2010 at 04:51 PM

In regards to yesterdays discussion, I should have said that how we judge players is very subjective and the criterias which people use are very individual. I place a heavy emphasis on GS and actual titles wons, but I know that there are people who disagree with that. I think among tennis fans there is a wide difference in what constitutes a good player. I have read in here where people will make the argument that they think Kournikova was a good singles player. Obviously they're not using the criteria of slams and titles to determine what they think is important in evaluating a player. They're probably using the ranking which is inherently flawed because it is design to measure quantity, or the player with the most points. I don't put much weigh on the ranking in evaluating a player because the computer can be fooled by the amount of tournaments a player participates in rather then how much they achieved in that tournament, ie, a title. I also don't put a great weight on a single good run in the slam because tennis is littered with fluke runs deep into the slams. I define a fluke run as an average player who plays far above his normal level for a two week period and then goes back to their norm. Pironkova, prior to her semi final run at Wimbledon went out of nine of her tournaments by the first round. After her great run at Wimbledon, she continued to go out of her tournaments by the first or second round. I would classify the runs of Oudin, Stevenson, Lucic, Kivitova, Kournikova, Pironkova has fluke runs, meaning the player never got close to a slam again. My point is that when you talk about what makes a player good, you're alway going to get a vast variety of opinions depending on the criterias people use. I use GS and titles to evaluate player because I think of all the criterias they have the least flaws and are the most accurate in judging players. Yes, you can fool the rankings by playing a lot, and an average player can go deep in the slams and play very well for a short period of time but consistently winning slams and titles shows the true quality of your game. That is why I use it to evaluate player.

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 04:54 PM

hahaha,Madame President,you know whatever goes on in my life, I have to come tell you(after all you only have Briony),so you have got to put up with my moods too,in case you could help!hahahahaha

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:55 PM

zengii Thanks for those scores

Glad to see Kolya with a win

I must say Valenica has some good players competing there

Posted by Sherlock 11/02/2010 at 04:55 PM

AM, does that mean you're taking me shopping with your winnings? :)

Oooh, good question, NP. While he wasn't as dominant this year as the last two, he's certainly in the discussion. Not many guys his age have 2 Cy Young's. The trick will be health. That's a lot of torque on a relatively slight frame. He reminds me of Pedro Martinez in that way. It'll be interesting to see how long he can keep it going.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:57 PM

Aube LOL!!!!!!!!!! I take your points on board

I must say I can wait for tomorrows change of your moniker

I feel already it could be the high light of my day

Just saying lol!


Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 04:58 PM

Sherlock Its that a Trick Question?

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 04:59 PM

There you go Madame President!

Posted by Sherlock 11/02/2010 at 04:59 PM

AM, lol. Couldn't resist. :)

Ok, work meeting is calling. Ciao for now, gang.

Posted by AB 11/02/2010 at 05:00 PM

It depends how efficient he is. Last night he was very efficient. But Matt Cain is 1 year younger and Madison Bumgarner is only 21, barely able to taste the champagne.

Can you believe it was those 3, plus Sanchez, while Zito never made the line-up? They hardly needed their excellent relievers.

Fear the Beard!

Go Giants!

It was an amazing series. I love good pitching ball games.

Posted by zenggi 11/02/2010 at 05:01 PM

AM,
Kolya and Javier on serve second set 2-all.

JKaren,
I've just read your comments about Tomas coming your way. Keep safe.

Posted by NP 11/02/2010 at 05:02 PM

Lock, one of my BFFs was touting him like crazy the other day. And looks like he started his (major-league) career pretty late, 2. I hope he can keep it up, if only to shut up the bigger-players-are-better crowd.

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

Aube LOL!

Posted by Master Ace 11/02/2010 at 05:04 PM

AB,
The Beard was the definition of closer in the entire postseason. Also, The Freak, Cain, Sanchez(MVP of the team in September in my opinion) and Bumgarner was able to save the bullpen by eating up innings. Bullpen was valuable in the clinching game against the Philles as Sanchez was ineffective.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 05:04 PM

zengii oops I gave Kolya merit when his game hasnt yet finishes

Thanks for the updates

Posted by zenggi 11/02/2010 at 05:09 PM

Last post from me today. The Murrays' won 6-3, 7-6 and Kolya is up a break in the second set 4-2.

Have a nice day/night, everyone.

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

zenggi Thanks and good night.

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 11/02/2010 at 05:13 PM

hi guys..

thanks for the concerns, Jk, annie... annie had to facebook message me...

doing great in the philipines, it was last week with that typhoon, luckily it only affected much of the northern part, (ie luzon)... as im living in mindanao, the southern island...

btw, congrats to nole, and sad for gracia lopez loss... GGL looks orlando bloom to me... he's so handsome i say...

and, i love reading the discussion about the POY debate... hahahah... kimmy had a good shot at it, but serena can't be denied too, and so does caro...

anyway, good morning to all... mabuhay!!!

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 11/02/2010 at 05:15 PM

and happy birthday AM!!!!

hey... JK... we're friends on facebook... hahaha... im phaura reinz... =)

Posted by AB 11/02/2010 at 05:17 PM

Master Ace: very time I saw Brian Wilson's crazy eyes, I was reminded of Nole's after he beat Roger in the USO.

Aubry Huff is threatening to wear his lucky thong in the parade tomorrow...with only a t-shirt and spray-on tan.

Posted by Colette 11/02/2010 at 05:17 PM

Glad to see that the Murray bros. are playing doubles!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 05:21 PM

Pat Soo glad to hear that your ok

I have visited Manila many years ago and know that your country has had many bad tpyhoons.Ren a poster here also comes from the Philippines and has told me the horrid effects as well.

Take Care Pat and thanks for the Birthday wishes.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/02/2010 at 05:25 PM

To me, Caro has two more levels to really be at the top. She needs to beat players at Kim level. I believe that she is getting very close to this, she took Kim to three tight sets. The final level will be Serena. People don't know this but Caro had match point against Serena so she is getting there. Most improved player, definetly Caro. She is something else with how much she has improved. She squash Maria, a player she had never beat and Vika used to be a better player, but Caro has beat her in their lasts matches and has placed a WIDE gap between herself and the other young players. Why can't the other young players do what Caro has done? Simple they don't have her game or mental toughness. She is the future of the WTA. Kom sa, Caro!Scandinavia's and world's no l.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/02/2010 at 05:36 PM

Kim, "I'm not going to do this for that long, she can have it." Kim is passing the torch to Scandinavia's beautiful and talented world's no l.And it will burn bright in Caro's capable hands. Kom sa, Caro!

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 11/02/2010 at 05:38 PM

@sam..

hi sam.. havent talked to you for a long time.. but i swear there's someone on twitter who adores caro as much as you do... she's sabrina and she's from the scandinanvian countries too...

i have to agree on 'vika used to be a better player'... i swear i could have said it somewhere last year, wiht vika reaching 2 slam quarters adn winning miami...

but this year's caro is one to behold... one thing i like about her is her mental toughness... i think she believes she can win any matches that she can... she does not lose leads, and she serves matches perfectly... though she had somethings to improve (her game, her record against rere, vee, juju and kimmy, and maria)...

caro doesn't fold easily... she's resilient and is always finding the best ways to out maneuver her opponents... and that's something vika does not have these days...

vika started good this year, but fell out of grace since that fabled serena match in melbourne... btw, i think serena can produce the best/worst in players??? just a matter fo thought from me...

serena and other players:

1. serena v. venus 08, usopen
* since serena saved ton of set points, virtual match points against vee, vee has since lost some important matches she's about to win...

2. serena v. vika, '10, aussie open
*since having a big lead in the second set, vika then had a not so good year at the slams, and at other important tourneys...

....

Posted by Master Ace 11/02/2010 at 05:39 PM

Samantha Elin,
Remember we(or I) put Maria as part of the Elite Four with the other members being Venus, Serena and Justine. Now, I will have to reduct the Elite Four to the Terrific Three. With Maria's shoulder issues, Kim won 2 Slams and Svetlana won one.

Posted by Master Ace 11/02/2010 at 05:40 PM

Pat,
Did you know that Caroline is 93-4 when she won the first set of matches that she played since April 2009?

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 05:50 PM

Pat,it's really recomforting to see ya here,now only vote for Serena,you hear me???

Posted by lully 11/02/2010 at 05:58 PM

"only vote for Serena"

where you guys vote?

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/02/2010 at 06:02 PM

Aussiemarg, I'm sorry to have left you hanging... I was working and had to take a call with a client, and then finish a draft to send out, etc. Yes, I have a one-handed backhand. People tell me my slice backhand is my best shot (and it's probably true), but if I get the right ball (and that's a mighty big if) I like to drill it crosscourt with a modicum of topspin.

Manuelsantana and others... no doubt Tilden nd Laver faced a slew of great champions like Sampras did. And it is one argument people might use to say federer doesn't really belong in the GOAT discussion (oh no, not THAT again). But, let's not forget that for a little more than five years, no one not named Rafa could steal any hardware from this guy Fed. I mean, it seems to me that in a less Fed-dominant era (okay, half-decade), guys like Roddick, Safin, Djokovic, Murray... maybe even Hewitt, Soderling would have a couple of trophies to their name and might one day be HoF inductees.

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 06:02 PM

Lully,I'm just kidding Pat from Phillipines about player of the year,I myself don't even know if there is a vote.In my heart she's always the one,vote or no vote

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 06:07 PM

Sherlock - before heading over to the newer post
so glad for hte info re Rostagno
yes, he was a cool kid
and that he has gone on , finished his education and has a good career says a lot about him
with that resume , no wonder Rob ( or pro ) brags about beating this guy once :)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/02/2010 at 06:12 PM

Slice:

I believe that Federer certainly belongs in the GOAT discussion.

To date, Federer has been the GOTE (a term someone was using on this board, recently) for his era, as well as the post-Laver era.

But, I'm in the camp of those who believe that it is impossible to determine who is the GOAT due to the largely different circumstances under which the various GOTEs competed.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/02/2010 at 06:16 PM

schizoid: loved your earlier post on the deep deep men's game in the 80's. What a wonderful bunch of players and all jockeying to win the slams. Not just 2 or 3 guys like today. I have to say those were great days for tennis lovers!

glad to see Pat checked in!

beth: cleavage works for women instead of pick up lines...

Posted by Pat frm Philippines... 11/02/2010 at 06:29 PM

@MA...

hi MA... wow.. what four matches she lost??? since last year...

@annie...

thanks for the concern... im back here at TW after that message...

@aube..

hi there... hows serena???... ofcourse ill vote for rere... but kimmy had a solid year and caro had an impressive one too..

but rere holds a lot more quality matches to boot (qf agaisnt vika, finals against juju, qf against sam, 4th round against maria) winning her slams...

kimmy had hers too (finals agianst juju, 3rd round against juju, finals against caro)...

it's a tough, tough one...

btw (off topic), how did the GOP capture congress???... was it the swing states??? ohio and illinois??? or has the tea party propaganda worked against obama??

Posted by beth 11/02/2010 at 06:37 PM

Annie - true :)

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 07:07 PM

slice Many thanks

I am soo happy that you have a one handed b/hand

I am a lefty with a good f.hand with top spin and was brought up on clay and I can move well on all surfaces.I can slide on a hard court too thought pfft to hard courts may I say no?

Hey sounds like we could be unbeatable no?

Also we are in that wonderful time age zone too may I add lol!

Remember 50 is the new 40 and my idol Borg still Rocks my world at age 54.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 07:14 PM

manuel I agree with your thoughts on the *G* discussion

Too many variables in the different era's for starters

I just look at a particular era and the players who competed in it

Though I know my friend NP may have other thoughts on this subject

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President,Dear Wayne Has Only Five More Days In Jail.Vamos Wayne 11/02/2010 at 07:20 PM

manuel Please note I didnt write the full word out

I wonder why lol!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/02/2010 at 07:26 PM

Yes, I remember Patrick, Maria has really been struggling when I saw her lose to a 40 year old with a bad back and Vesnina who has never won a title, I began to question if she can win a slam. Pat, to answer your question, the economy in the states is really bad and people tend to blame the party in office so that is Obama. When the reality is that any economists can tell you that it takes many years for an economy to work its way out of a deep recession, 12 years is the estimate I have seen. Its called the blame game. Many Americans suffering economically are looking for someone to blame for joblessness, bad debt and some problems they have gotten themselves into, so its the party in office. Blame game. They actually believe that a politician can fix their problems. Sure they can. Two years from now the same economic problems will exist.

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 07:42 PM

Hey Pat,really nice to read you,it's not official yet but it looks like democrats screwd up big time and only me voted for them...

the preleminary results are all booming for the GOP,oh well,hopefully something good come out of their recapture of the House,we poor people are dying right now,hahahah...

Thank you for restoring order with Rere...take good care of you!!!in Manilla or somewhere else!!!

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 07:48 PM

Samantha E,I'm very impressed with your analysis of the election and the democrats loosing,good girl!!!exactly what's happening,who said you could only sing Caro beautiful Scandinavian?Thumbs up with a wink!!!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/02/2010 at 07:55 PM

Aube, I do pretty well in an American college, and can discuss more topics then just tennis.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/02/2010 at 07:56 PM

Beth, are you telling me that women have actually known about the power of cleavage all along?! That's shocking, I tell you. Shocking!

Posted by Aube,can't believe the congress is going back to the GOP,han?! 11/02/2010 at 08:02 PM

I'm sure you do Samantha,don't mind my teasing too much...Much much respect to you,keep shining!!!

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/02/2010 at 08:13 PM

Samantha E, your girl Caro has really grown on me over the past year. First of all, she and I share an affinity for hitting against a wall. And some of you may remember that I defended her when she wore those Stella Somebody dresses at last year's US Open (or was it the Aussie Open? No matter. I still thought she was a knockout. And now, she has become quite the peach. I hope this doesn't sound sexist, but in my estimation she has the best legs in the game. And I'm not talking about thir shapeliness. I mean she has the firmest, most solid base, great leg strength and structure. It gives her great balance and stability, and agility. She has great posture, too. I think from the hips down she's tops, save for Kimmie, perhaps. Azarenka's not too far behind.

But, I feel that she needs to round ouot her game to stay at the top or to contend regularly for the major titles. She'll need to develop a better serve (mostly second) and learn to be more comfortable in the mid- to forecourt. That said, it's easy to underestimate the power of her mental game--and that would be a mistake.

If she is willing to continue to develop certain areas of her game over the next two or three years, she could be the one to beat. While conventional wisdom would suggest that grass will be her worst surface, I think her movement and balance should serve her well. If she can back up her defensive game with a bigger, beter service delivery, she can win on any surface.

I enjoy watching her compete, even if her game style doesn't particularly thrill me. What others before her seemingly from the same mold did that made them more compeeling (Evert, Hingis, to name two) was they brought something extra, something special, in their shotmaking ability. Evert had uncanny passing shots. The kind of shots that made you stare in disbelief, as she casually turned and flicked or blew her hair out of her face. Hingis could put the ball on a dime, and had soft hands at net. Just the kind of game to drive anyone who didn't move particularly well or who didn't have a big weapon nuts.

Let's see what Caro will bring to the table in terms of shotmaking. She's still so young, I expect her to succeed.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/02/2010 at 08:23 PM

Thanks Slice-n-Dice, she is improving so much that I'm looking forward to next year. Need to study so thanks everyone. Enjoyed the discussion.

Posted by timmberlaine 11/03/2010 at 04:33 PM

wow...its scary to think that zvonereva could go to no 1 backup with only one title the lower tier event in pattaya...but luckily wozniacki held on to it coz at least she won 6 titles..and still zvonereva seals the no 2 ranking which doesnt look right coz she only wins once this year, one small event ..okay she get to other six finals but there are other like kim(5 titles incl - 1 slam and 3 big or tier one 1 events )..even dementieve got 2 much bigger titles but still end at no 9, aravane won tier one in madrid, maria jose won in rome , jankovic won at indian wells , schiavone won 2 titles incl FO ...those are others who won bigger titles..
okay that probably the benefit of playing more tourneys so u can get to higher ranking but the current ranking just doesnt seem right if someone with once title victory can get to no 1 ranking or no 2 while others who won more quality title are still out of reach..
frankly i think..the year-end ranking should be
1 - kim clijster
2 - caroline wozniacki
3 - venus williams
4 - franchesca schiavone
5 - victoria azarenka
6 - elena dementieva
7 - samantha stosur
8 - vera zvonereva
9 - serena williams

Posted by Tennis Fan 11/05/2010 at 09:46 AM

This is like having a Nadal/Federer GOAT debate. It's pointless.

Wozniacki is #1 because Serena hardly played all year, and Cljister's just a little bit more than Serena. All the slamless #1s have come in the Williams era who have consistently played very little concentrating on slams by the very virtue of the gist of this article - only slams matter. So why play tour events?

If you want to blam someone blam the WS.

Dementieva never came close to being #1 all during the WS era and she is considered the best slamless player. With the age of the WS and the fact that Cljisters will only be around for a short while, I think Woz will eventually claim a number of slams. Henin will probably win Wimbledon and JJ may win the FO one day or more. Safina is another story.

The real story is Ivanovic, Schiavone and Kuznetsova (a multi-slam winner). Is there credibility any better because they are slam winners? It just goes to show, a slam win does not a major star make. But a major star must have a slam to make them a superstar.

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