Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Looking Out for No. 1
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Looking Out for No. 1 10/06/2008 - 3:26 PM

JjWhat do the rankings mean, exactly? It is a little absurd to have a number next to your name that can change from one week to the next, as this ESPN ad with Roger Federer once pointed out. “You know what I like about tennis are the rankings,” SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett says to Federer. “I like to know exactly where you stand at all times.” Federer—who, by the way, is the best actor among the current crop of pros—replies, “Yeah, it works for us,” before going on to say that Everett probably wouldn't make his Top 10 if he had to rank the network’s anchors.

While they can’t measure a hierarchy of excellence or ability in any precise way—was Serena Williams really the best tennis player in the world last week and the second-best this week?—the rankings don’t lie when it comes to achievement over the long term. That’s why Jelena Jankovic, who at 23 has reached just one Grand Slam final (which she lost), is at the top of the charts again as of today.

When Jankovic first ascended to No. 1 this summer, I wrote that it was indicative of a tour with a power vacuum, and that the women’s game made no sense in the wake of Justine Henin’s retirement. That was partly a reaction to the fact that Jankovic had made her jump at the same time that she was losing in a quarterfinal. It reminded me of the dark days on the men’s side a decade ago, when Yevgeny Kafelnikov lost six matches in a row even as he was taking over the top spot.

The women’s tour is still trying to fill the vacuum. Ana Ivanovic may not have been ready to take on that responsibility, and the Williams sisters, despite their wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, remain more committed to major titles than ranking spots. So that leaves us with Jankovic, a player of remarkable consistency, as well as mental and physical resilience. Most champions—like, say, Rafael Nadal in 2008—have success at Grand Slam events and then ascend to the No. 1 position. Jankovic has essentially eaten her dessert first. The question now is whether she’ll be heartened and inspired enough by this success to translate it back into a win at a Grand Slam sometime soon. The leading question for the WTA in 2009 may be, Is there more to Jankovic’s game than just week-to-week consistency and resilience, or is she just a placeholder for the next true No. 1?

The last two Sundays, in Beijing and Stuttgart, have made me think that our favorite distractible drama queen is getting more ambitious in her old age, and that her game may have more to offer than what she’s shown so far. Jankovic has struggled in finals in the past (she was 6-10 in them before Beijing) and has often seemed satisfied just to reach the later rounds of events. None of that is surprising for a late-bloomer and chronic head case who almost quit the game three years ago and likely never expected to be challenging for Slams. But rather than backing into the top spot this time, Jankovic seized both of these tournaments and won them with what I took to be a new sense of entitlement.

The match that was most representative of her attitude in Stuttgart was her three-set semifinal win over Venus Williams. Jankovic played the first set in her usual manner—smooth and steady, taking few risks and running everything down. There’s a wallboard-like efficiency to her game, but she’s a stylishly constructed wallboard. There’s nothing extraneous to her strokes, which doesn’t mean they’re strictly utilitarian, either. Jumping, taking the ball early, never off-balance, redirecting the ball at will, Jankovic has more grace than can be contained in the word “grinder.”

Against Venus, though, it wasn’t quite enough to get her through the first set, which she lost in a tight tiebreaker. It may have been a blessing. Rather than losing confidence, Jankovic reacted the way a No. 1 should: She got mad. She had already been hitting her first serve with a little more extension and authority, particularly wide in the deuce court, than she usually does. Through the second set, she did the same with her ground strokes. For the rest of the match, Jankovic took the initiative in rallies and got Williams on the run by hitting the ball earlier, harder, and closer to the lines. She followed those shots up with swing volleys, overheads, and touchy-feely stretch volleys. More than anything, Jankovic showed off her unique ability to hit the ball down the line with lots of pace and little margin. If she does go on to be a long-term No. 1, that may be her contribution to the evolution of women's tennis.

Two moments from her semi with Williams stick out. The first came when Jankovic was up 6-5 in the second set and at deuce on Venus’ serve. As I said, the Serb had worked herself back into the match by hitting with more abandon. But she had missed a go-for-broke forehand on the previous point, which would have given her the set. Now, after a long, exhausting rally, she went for another forehand up the line and even added a loud whoop as she hit the ball. It worked: The shot was a winner that left Williams, for one of the few times in her life, huffing and puffing. Jankovic hadn't let her earlier miss make her more cautious. She went on to break for the set.

The second moment came when Jankovic was up a break in the third set at 3-1, but was faced with three break points. Venus had broken her back at one point in the previous set, and she looked almost certain to do it again here—she's always been a tough player to finish off. But Jankovic went deep into her well and came back with three very different, but equally effective answers. She won the first break point with a big-cut forehand that landed near the baseline; she won the second by putting Williams on a string and moving her back and forth along the baseline; and she won the third with a crafty little sharp-angle, heavy-topspin flick forehand that landed at the corner of the service line and sideline. Jankovic held from there and never looked back.

Picture that last shot for a second: Who did it remind you of? That’s right, Martina Hingis. In her fluidity, variety, love of competition, and lack of explosiveness Jankovic bears more than a passing resemblance to Martina Hingis. The Swiss used those subtle skills to sneak in five major titles, but she couldn’t match the Williamses' power. Jankovic has had the same trouble at the big events; she fought hard but finally couldn’t track enough of Serena’s missiles down in the final at Flushing Meadows this year. In the last two sets against Venus in Stuttgart, though, Jankovic proved that she can go for more, can expand her comfort zone, can dictate rather than scramble, and still remain as consistent and versatile as she’s always been. She may have more explosiveness than she's allowed herself to show in the past. She'll need it, even if it costs her some consistency, to win the big matches that Hingis couldn't win later in her career.

Like I said, Jankovic’s mid-career desire for more success will be a—perhaps the—women’s story going into next season’s major events. It’s not like she doesn’t have the personality of a winner. I’ve never see anyone as simultaneously theatrical and wholly concentrated on the task at hand. Jankovic may be the least isolated, least alone great player on a tennis court since John McEnroe. During the most crucial games of the Stuttgart semi, late in the second set, she gesticulated wildly toward her box after missing a ball and engaged in running monologues with her coach and her mom. After one backhand miss, she let out a “Nooo!!!” that sounded not unlike a female Chewbacca. But when she finally broke at 5-6, Jankovic gave the crowd a wide smile as she watched her last shot sail past Venus and land on the line for a winner. It was a look of genuine joy at playing tennis, without a hint of gloating in it. She kept smiling toward her entourage as she walked off the court. Whether angry or happy or wacky, Jankovic is the rare player who can share the sport with the people watching her and still perform at her best.

That doesn’t mean Jankovic is a sweetheart. She milks arguments with the umpire to annoyingly dramatic effect, and, like her fellow Serb Novak Djokovic, she can lose her patience with the ball kids who don’t bring her sweaty towel to her quickly enough. And just because Jankovic engages the crowd doesn’t she isn’t single-minded, even a little ruthless, about winning—even up 5-2 in the third, she wasn't afraid to take an injury timeout.

Hmm…single-minded and a little ruthless on the inside, not always a sweetheart on the outside: Sounds like a No. 1 to me.



 
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Comments
 
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Posted by SwissMaestro 10/06/2008 at 03:35 PM

1st??

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/06/2008 at 03:51 PM

Steve-

For some reason I just can't see Jankovic being a long term, dominant and deserving (why not?) number one, there are still players that are better than her when they play their best when it matters the most -thus, at the Slams- and she could really go down to be considererd the female version of Marcelo Rios 10 years ago and in the view of many a Slam title would be the only thing to change that (then everyone comes up with the One Slam wonder thing). Jankovic's run to the top stop is yet to be prooved for legitimacy, not in numbers but in achievements, even more so if she happens to hold the no.1 ranking for the year and then win in Melbourne, that's when she will truly have to show what she's made of, that is when (in my view and in that of many) she'll feel she belongs where she stands.

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/06/2008 at 03:57 PM

I also don't think Jankovic can be compared to Martina Hingis. The Serbian's game style is a bit disguising in the sense that she gives the impression of always being in the chase of the ball to get back on the opposite side of the court without much purpose until she transitions to attacking rather than giving the sense that she's constructing points the way Martina Hingins used to do it but I do give you reason when you point out that Jankovic's game has more grace that can be contained in the word "grinder" but she still is one. Hingis by the way, was not.

Posted by Master Ace 10/06/2008 at 04:04 PM

Steve,
Well written and good picutre of her as she won the set with a FH winner on the sideline. If you look at the replay of that point, Jelena was already 3-4 steps to her right before Venus hit the ball toward the corner where JJ made contact.

Believe it or not, I think Jelena is the favorite to win the Australian Open for the reasons said in Steve's write-up. I believe that JJ still has 2-3 yrs to compete at the elite level since she turned her career around in 2006 after enduring a 10 match losing streak.

Posted by Markic 10/06/2008 at 04:04 PM

I don't think it's fair to call her a grinder exactly - she wins an awful lot of points drilling that backhand down the line - which was also a Hingis strategy. She doesn't play the ball in and just wait for errors, but nor does she make too many unforced errors. I think she's got almost the right mix, the same way myskina did (and who she reminds me of much more than hingis, with the same smooth, clean shots) for about six weeks in 2004. I had the same feeling steve did, though, that she's developing the entitlement - she even said in her presser 'I want to end the year as number one'

However, didn't her coach pass her a note during the final? that just isn't cricket...

Posted by Master Ace 10/06/2008 at 04:05 PM

Ace Rankings as of the completion of Stuttgart

Jelena Jankovic – Rome, Beijing and Stuttgart
Serena Williams - United States Open, Key Biscayne, Charleston, Bangalore
Dinara Safina - Berlin, Montreal, Tokyo, Los Angeles
Elena Dementieva - Olympics and Dubai
Ana Ivanovic - French Open and Indian Wells
Maria Sharapova - Australian Open, Doha, Amelia Island
Venus Williams - Wimbledon
Svetlana Kuznetsova - (Finals : Indian Wells, Tokyo, Sydney, Dubai, Beijing)
Agnieszka Radwanska - Eastbourne, Istanbul, Pattaya
Vera Zvonareva - Guangzhou and Prague

Posted by C Note 10/06/2008 at 05:14 PM

Love love love the post, Steve.

Posted by Al 10/06/2008 at 06:20 PM

Steve - an insightful article .
And Jankovic does remind me of Hingis in some ways but her game is more similar to Myskina's as one poster stated above .

Posted by ND 10/06/2008 at 06:29 PM

Damn it, Steve! No room for disagreement again :). It's interesting that your take on both Jankovic and Djokovic involves the ability to change the direction of the ball (at will). When I was watching Djokovic-Cilic at USO, it was this skill of Nole's that seemed to set him apart.

I wonder how important this particular skill will become in the near future. A potentially disturbing consequence is another disadvantage to the one-handed backhand, which doesn't allow the CC to DTL change as easily.

Posted by Syd 10/06/2008 at 06:34 PM

Steve, love this article.
I didn't see the match, darn it, but you took me there. As for Jankovic, no she does not remind me of Hingis, the clever way in which Hingis constructed points; and I do not know Myskina's game well enough to compare the two.

The big question: is she going to take a major. If she has enough self-confidence and belief, she will. I think she sort of dropped the ball playing Serena at the USO. JJ had her moments in the 2nd, running Serena all over the court - but it was too late. I don't think she'll make the same mistake again.

As for getting a note passed to her? Is that true? I mean, is it?

Posted by Jesse 10/06/2008 at 06:36 PM

Steve,

> Jankovic may be the least isolated, least alone great player on a tennis court since John McEnroe.

I'm curious what you meant by this - are you saying that McEnroe was not alone in that he always had the crowd with him? My understanding of McEnroe was the opposite; he felt alone and vulnerable on court, and in his autobiography mentioned that he always preferred team sports because he could rely on his teammates when he got down.

Posted by Ruth 10/06/2008 at 06:42 PM

I must thank Steve for pointing out two things.

First... "It reminded me of the dark days on the men’s side a decade ago, when Yevgeny Kafelnikov lost six matches in a row even as he was taking over the top spot." So often, people seem to think that these vacvuums and weird ascensions to #1 are the exclusive domain of the WTA. Such thinking (and commenting) may be acceptable from fans who started following tennis a year ago, but it is inexcusable among those who really should know better.

Second... I was also amused by the timing of Jankovic's "injury" timeout. Was there really an injury and if so, was it necessary to get the massage just before her opponent was about to serve?

I smiled when the trainer was called; but I thought that Venus, being an experienced player with some knowledge of JJ's "tactics," would be able to calmly use the unexpected break to catch her breath (she was clearly tiring) and get back into the match. Instead, she seemed to allow the break to rattle her, and, instead of using it positively, she actually lost her serve -- and the match. Venus has only herself to blame for that.

Posted by Master Ace 10/06/2008 at 06:57 PM

"As for getting a note passed to her? Is that true? I mean, is it?"

Syd,
Yes, the note getting passed to JJ is true. I did not see the note watching JJ play Nadia but I did see a tournament official with their walkie talkie talking to Snezana(JJ's mother).

Posted by Matt 10/06/2008 at 07:03 PM

Ruth,
What "tactics" was it? It's not that Venus had a momentum or something. She was trailing 2:5 in the third. By that time Venus lost 14 out of her 16 break points ...

Posted by Syd 10/06/2008 at 07:48 PM

Thanks Master Ace.

Well, I wonder what the consequences for that are? It seems these days there are no consequences. People taking water whenever they feel like it, taking ages to serve, going back to their chairs....talking to their box, e.g., Anna saying "what" to her coach when she couldn't hear him. It's a joke.

Posted by Syd 10/06/2008 at 07:51 PM

and the "injury" times out. They have to fix that..don't know how, but some players sure are abusing it. I'm a fan of JJ's, but really. How can someone be "injured" almost every time they play?

Posted by Markic 10/06/2008 at 07:53 PM

In a way, she's a bit of a throwback: the thing that makes her defence so great is that she doesn't try to do too much with the ball once she tracks it down - often she just chops it back, or lifts it high, rather than going for the williams-esque running crosscourt winner. I can see her staying at the top for a while, because all of her opponents have to pull off a high-wire act, playing high-risk tennis, to beat her. She might become a sort of lady Hewitt...

Posted by Ray J 10/06/2008 at 08:01 PM

A very well written article.Hardcore tennis fans like me however knew all along that Jankovic's potential to become truly great would only be fulfilled if she improved her serve.She has been working hard on it, and it's showing.She has always played her best tennis when she is aggressive.I think this year, she became a little tentative initially.(Maybe the injuries and the pressure of bieng ranked in the top 3).Now, she has started playing the tennis she first showed in 2006 un the US open SF against Henin.If she continues working on her game, i don't see why she couldn't stay at the top of the game for a while.

Posted by Gregg 10/06/2008 at 08:07 PM

finally someone giving jelena jankovic the credit she deserves...
cheers, steve.

Posted by Ruth 10/06/2008 at 08:21 PM

Matt: I think that that if JJ were as sure of you are that the trailing Venus was doomed to lose the match, she (JJ) wouldn't have used one of her well-known tacvtics and taken that "injury" timeout. Just my opinion based on having observed Jankovic for quite some time.

I would guess that Jankovcic's injury timeouts during the past two years exceed the combined totals of Venus's, Serena's, and those of one other player of your choice over the same two years. :)

Posted by darthhelmethead(lurker in reform) 10/06/2008 at 08:23 PM

I've grown to be a Jankovic fan, she's all I have after Henin retired, so I'm happy to hear a little praise for my favorite serbian drama queen. I've heard the comparison to hingis before but if that's true Jankovic is a bigger stronger version. I don't see the type of guile or touch that a true finesse player like hingis had. For me the shot that I think of with Jankovic isn't the backhand down the line, it's that inside out forehand angle that she hits from the middle of the court. It's a crafty angle but it's pragmatic more than anything else. That sums up Jankovic's game for me. And even as a fan I was a little turned off by some of Jelena's behavior during her match against Venus. Often times I'll turn a blind eye toward gamesmenship but I know that if I were across the net I would've been annoyed. I guess that's the price you pay for all that surplus personality.

Posted by Charles 10/06/2008 at 08:28 PM

I agree with Master Ace that JJ may be a favourite for the Australian Open. I think she's due.

However, bookies.com does not agree, ranking her fourth...
SWilliams
Sharapova
Ivanovic
Jankovic
VWilliams
Safina
Dementieva
Kuznetsova
Wozniacki
Petrova
Zvonareva
Chakvetadze
Radwanska

Jankovic has shown fight and self-belief. I think the AO is within reach for her because
1. SWilliams will no longer feel urgency to hold a GS title now that she's holding the USO
2. Sharapova is a huge question physically, plus she only seems to win GS in even years (next up, RG in 2010!)
3. Ivanovic is in a sophomore slump that likely won't end until she no longer holds the RG title
4. Venus has never surprised at the AO
5. The biggest competition for JJ at at the AO could come from Safina--but she seems just a little behind JJ's psychological-preparedness trajectory in being ready to win the big one--altho DS has been full of surprises this year...

all speculation...

Posted by Jason 10/06/2008 at 08:33 PM

I think this post is an overreaction to Jankovic's success. She has had two good wins. One over Kuznetsova in a final, a player w/ the talent but w/out the mentality to ever be a true Champion. And Venus Williams.

In fact of all the elite players Jankovic's H2H w/ Venus is the only one in the positive. She has losing H2H against Serena, Sharapova, Ivanovic. The big 3 at the moment. And she is 0-5 against the top 5 for the year. Yup that's right 0-5. The no.1 player has not beaten anyone in the top 5. I think the win over Venus is being overvalued. Venus is a 7 time slam champion so it makes it seem like Jankovic has beaten a really great player and maybe proven herself as a champion. But the fact of the matter is outside of Wimbledon Venus is a 2nd tier player. Look at her results. Venus had been in 1 SF outside of Wimbledon prior to Stuttgart. 1 SF all year outside of Wimbledon. She had won 0 titles. And had 0 wins against the top 10. Let me repeat that 0 titles, 1 SF, 0 wins against the top 10. And had lost in the first round of Tier IV against a teenager ranked outside the top 100. Venus outside of Wimbledon is barely a top 20 player. That is harsh but her results say as much. Wait and see what Jankovic does against the elite players when they're playing well. Cuz frankly unless a RG '04 comes around again Jankovic will have to beat at least one or 2 elite top players playing well to win a slam. And her H2H as of now doesn't indicate she has that ability.

Posted by 10/06/2008 at 08:50 PM

"She has losing H2H against Serena, Sharapova, Ivanovic. The big 3 at the moment"

Jason , I'm not going to count Ivanovic , Sharapova the big 3 "at the moment" . Sure they had good results at the beginning of the year but them being the players to "beat at the moment"
- I dont think so .

Posted by Charles 10/06/2008 at 08:53 PM

You have a point, Jason, but to be fair, JJ did beat Serena at the AO (ranked 7th at the time), the defending champ. Plus, I think you may be underestimating Venus slightly... Not only did she win Wimbledon, she was within a whisker of taking Serena out of the USO--leading in both sets, a match which, by much common concensus, could easily have been a final... That puts her 1 and 2 in probably the 2 biggest tournaments of the year--Venus is not to be underestimated... granted, the rest of her results have been a bit second rate this year, so I agree it's difficult to know how significant that Venus-Jelena match was...

Posted by Master Ace 10/06/2008 at 09:06 PM

Charles,
Your post at 8:28 PM is almost my thinking on why JJ can be considered the favorite. I am going to type my reason(s) which is basically the same as yours

(1) Maria returning from injury and she has never defended her first 2 Slam titles
(2) Venus do not play well in Melbourne
(3) Serena knows that if she did win over JJ at USO in straights, she may have lost the match in the 3rd. Also, Serena ankle won't be 100% even though she won the last 3 AO held in odd years
(4) Ana is a streaky player as we are seeing right now. She is the model of inconsistency. Win a title then flame out before the quarterfinals
(5) Even though Dinara does well Down Under, she is suspectible to an upset in the early rounds. Lost to Sabine Lisicki in first or second round.

Jason,
Jelena has been consistent for almost 2 yrs now but if she can continue to attack at crucial times instead of staying in retrieval mode, she may finally win a Slam.

Posted by FoT 10/06/2008 at 09:28 PM

Hey Beckham... that bus is going NO WHERE without ME!!!! You know I can't let the Federer bus leave without me helping Crazyone drive! lol!

If I had my way, Roger would tie Pete with #14 at the Australian Open; break the record with #15 and get the proclaimed GOAT by beating Nadal in 3 sets 6-1 6-2 6-1 at the French; go on to get his beloved Wimbledon back for #16, and capp off this fantastic season with his 6th straight US Open and #17! lol!

Now THAT is my wish for next year...

Posted by Master Ace 10/06/2008 at 09:31 PM

FoT,
The bus trip is being discussed in Monday Net Post. You may want to post that there also.

Posted by Jason 10/06/2008 at 09:32 PM

Charles,

Well the facts are the facts. Outside of wimbledon Venus has 0 titles, 2 SF, 1 top 10 win.

In fact Venus outside of Wimbledon has not won a Tier II + title since 2004. That's 4 years w/out a title higher than a Tier III.
Hell Wozniak (not to be confused w/ the young danish up and comer wozniacki) has managed to win a Tier II. I'm not going to pour over Venus' results over the last 4 years but I'm pretty sure has a losing H2H against the top 10 since 2004 and that's including Wimbledon. W/out Wimbledon she'll probably have an atrocious H2H.

I'm just saying Venus has 7 slams. Yes. But a win over her in 2008 hardly means as much as it did in say 2002 when she only had 4 slams. And Ivanovic may be struggling and Sharapova out w/ injury. But I'd bet good money they'll be back to business next year. And there is a power vacuum there's a severe lack of good top players. That'll change quickly in the next couple years. Look what happened to men's tour after Sampras for a couple years and look what happened after that. Jelena Jankovic=Marcelo Rios, Kafelnikov, Andy Roddick, etc. Transitional champions filling in when the elite are gone for those rare moments. She better win as many slams as she can soon cuz the tour won't stay like this forever.

Posted by CuMa 10/06/2008 at 09:58 PM

Right or wrong, you're the only commentator who goes deep into the subject, Steve. Like Rembrandt paintings you do player's psyche and analysys.

This time you're mostly right. JJ's play upgrade goes along with her court behaviour and her attitude. That was very subtle thing to notice. No doubt Jelena is getting ready both physically and mentally for the true champ. Now, it's only matter of other players how deep she is gonna go.

In any case there is a serious contender out there. I wouldn't be surprised if she win more than one Slam next season. Except Safina and Ivanovic I cannot see any other bigger challenge to her next year.

Posted by alex 10/06/2008 at 10:29 PM

Jankovic deserves to be #1 winning 2 tournaments in a row and beating venus williams. she will definitely win a grand slam next year and i think she can be #1 for a while. shes the best and if u dont like her too bad!

Posted by CuMa 10/06/2008 at 10:29 PM

Mentally there is no stronger player in WTA tour than JJ. She was laughing (that was not just a smile!) during a long rally while chasing deep DTL ball in the USO final against Serena!!! I never seen that before. And I am sure I will never seen that again. (Except when Jankovic is playing).

This, beside her always smiling, tells that she is a highly relaxed persona on the line of the fire. That explains why she is a "drama queen".

Before the final in Stuttgart she stated that the red porsche would go along her shoes! This kind of joke could allow only highly confident players.

Posted by Matt 10/06/2008 at 10:45 PM

CuMa, pretty much agree with your last post.
That's why I would not agree with Steve in calling her "chronic head case". If anything, she was a head case mostly when she was in the lead (e.g. RG and USO this year, to name a few). However, when she is down a break or set, she is far from being mentally weak. With her stronger serve, it will be interesting to see how she develops in the "head case" department.

Posted by Matt 10/06/2008 at 10:54 PM

Related to my previous post, just remembered that match point that Paszek had against JJ. Tells much more than words:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXgriI-9SMo

Posted by Ryan 10/06/2008 at 11:01 PM

Steve--

Thank you for writing [Williamses']. Their last name gets mangled gramatically constantly--it's nice to see a writer paying some freaking attention!

Posted by Ryan 10/06/2008 at 11:06 PM

Oh, and the Hingis reference sent me to YouTube. Her final against Majoli at the French in '97 is up. Ugh--what a joke! Did history really need Iva Majoli winning that tournament? THE Slam was up for grabs! Way to go, Martina. :/

Posted by syd 10/06/2008 at 11:14 PM

Matt: er.Paszek was 17 years old at the time.

However, I get your point. JJ and Safina are the best returners in the game right now, imho. The Williams sister are in a class by themselves, especially Serena, and very unpredictable. Sharapova is a question mark due to injury. Ivanovic is a poor mover with deer in the headlights syndrome.


Posted by tennisfreak 10/06/2008 at 11:26 PM

sharapova and jankovic are the best. next topic...

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/06/2008 at 11:33 PM

Wow! Tennis Fan is almost speechless. Great article!

Just a couple of comments:

Love the picture! A classic! JJ in red, on the ground, doing the spilts, a giant smile on her face, double fists and an alligator behind her ready to eat her!

“The shot was a winner that left Williams, for one of the few times in her life, huffing and puffing.”

Here is Serena v JJ 2007 AO – Even though she loses the point she does the same thing to Serena. She does it to both of them! Obviously, she helped Serena get in shape to win the tournament.

http://tinyurl.com/4omofx


Also, Here is a Video of a day in the life of JJ – looks like IW

It features her current coach who obviously believed in her long before anyone else did.

Watch for Sharapova checking her out.

Also, the section with her mother – sweet, but like a badly dubbed Japanese movie.

http://tinyurl.com/6hmhdb


How can you not like her!

Posted by Diane 10/06/2008 at 11:34 PM

You echo many of my own sentiments in this post. I am a huge fan of Jankovic's, and now--for the first time in a long time--I don't feel frustrated with her. The improved serve, the improved fitness, and the willingness to be more aggressive are exactly what she needed to get to the next level. I thought JJ was the real thing the first time I saw her play, and it has taken her a long time to evolve into the player she is today. I am no tennis expert; I just love to watch her play. Her athleticism is stunning, and she is much more clever than people give her credit for.

Posted by Syd 10/06/2008 at 11:47 PM

Tennis Fan:

"How can you not like her!"

Indeed, how can you not!

Posted by rg.nadal (Congrats Jelena!) 10/07/2008 at 12:00 AM

"single-minded and a little ruthless on the inside, not always a sweetheart on the outside: Sounds like a No. 1 to me"

That sums up JJ perfectly. Great article Mr. Tignor.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/07/2008 at 12:05 AM

Another great JJ article!

http://tinyurl.com/3gu6yy

Posted by Matt 10/07/2008 at 12:30 AM

OMG, Tennis Fan, Maria's expression in that clip at 3:50!
Priceless!
Strangely, it reminded me at all those jealous faces looking at Maria in the "Feel so pretty" commercial:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au17YpGAa-s&feature=related

Posted by Angélica 10/07/2008 at 12:43 AM

I think she will win a GS next year! but I don't undertand...How can you not liker her?? she is a great player!! I love to watch her play. and I think her time is closer, she will win AO...i know that!!

Posted by Melissa 10/07/2008 at 03:03 AM

"How can you not like her"...it's not about disliking her, Mrs. Seinfeld, lol ! It's about JJ being #1 with no more titles this year than injured Sharapova, less titles than Serena and Safina, no Grand Slam, no doubles, and no Olympic medal while 3 of the other #1 have either retired or are/been injured. The mere fact that she is 0-5 against the other Top 5 players this year is even more proof that she simply is not the best player, period.

For those last 2 titles, she beat #7 Kuznetzova who hasn't won a title all year and 28 year old Venus (#8) who has only played 12 tournaments in 2008, the least in the Top 30. The truth is Jankovic has achieved the #1 ranking not by winning titles and beating the best players, but by playing defensive and percentage tennis. As such, she instead consistently beat low ranked players to reach the final rounds of each tournaments, thus raking the most available points...Brad Gilbert would be proud, lol ! It's no surprise she didn't win a Grand Slam and she will only do so if none of the Top 5 players are in the final, otherwise you can forget about it.

PS: I cannot believe some still buy JJ 's smile/laugh as a sign of strenght when it's obviously faked to throw off her opponents just like her so-called injuries...I mean c'mon folks, DUH!

Posted by JelenaFan 10/07/2008 at 05:35 AM

Great post, Steve. I enjoyed every word.

About the note: from what I saw, the tournament official spoke to Snezana before that girl passed the note to Jelena. It seemed to me that the official allowed it.

Posted by erin 10/07/2008 at 06:22 AM

serena williams is the best player on the tour and she will return to the number 1 spot for a long time...

Posted by SuzieQ 10/07/2008 at 06:22 AM

"For those last 2 titles, she beat #7 Kuznetzova who hasn't won a title all year and 28 year old Venus (#8) who has only played 12 tournaments in 2008, the least in the Top 30."

And? Those were the players who reached the final. Had Serena, Dinara, Elena, Ana, etc been able to string together a few wins, she may have faced them instead. The fact is she didn't, because they were unable to play well enough to win.

That's their problem, not hers. It doesn't devalue her achievements.

"The truth is Jankovic has achieved the #1 ranking not by winning titles and beating the best players, but by playing defensive and percentage tennis."

I can only assume you didn't watch her play at either Beijing or Stuttgart, as you'd know this wasn't the case.

Posted by jeff in rochester 10/07/2008 at 07:45 AM

Steve should write abouts the broads game more often judging by all the responses in a short time to his post. Then again, once a month is enough ........so let the dames go to the pb site.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 07:54 AM

SuzieQ,
Nicely said in your 6:22 AM post about JJ and jer titles in Beijing and Stuttgart. JJ said in her courtside interview after the match it is all about making your opponent play the game they do not want to play. She has succeed in the last 2 weeks. Only thing JJ needs to do is win a Slam 'cuz I think she has number 1 locked up.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 07:58 AM

Jelena record against the top 7 on Ace Rankings (career-2008)

Serena Williams : 3-4 (1-2)
Dinara Safina : 2-3 (0-2)
Elena Dementieva : 5-3 (2-1)
Ana Ivanovic : 1-6 (0-2)
Maria Sharapova : 1-4 (0-1)
Venus Williams : 5-3 (2-0)
Svetlana Kuznetsova : 3-4 (1-2)

Posted by Ade [early bus ticket holder] 10/07/2008 at 08:11 AM

Everybody can compare her to different players, and types but what makes Jelena special is her uniqueness. What other player demomstrates that glowing smile during tournaments?
Or involves the audience as a part of her life, not just competing in front of them because she has to. She genuinely loves the fans and that is something I see Serena do occationally, really acknowledge them. I don't see too many others involve them like her.
She is a delight to watch.

Posted by unknown 10/07/2008 at 09:05 AM

"But the fact of the matter is outside of Wimbledon Venus is a 2nd tier player. Look at her results. Venus had been in 1 SF outside of Wimbledon prior to Stuttgart. 1 SF all year outside of Wimbledon. She had won 0 titles. And had 0 wins against the top 10. Let me repeat that 0 titles, 1 SF, 0 wins against the top 10. And had lost in the first round of Tier IV against a teenager ranked outside the top 100. Venus outside of Wimbledon is barely a top 20 player. That is harsh but her results say as much. Wait and see what Jankovic does against the elite players when they're playing well. Cuz frankly unless a RG '04 comes around again Jankovic will have to beat at least one or 2 elite top players playing well to win a slam. And her H2H as of now doesn't indicate she has that ability. "

LMAO! 5 Wimbledons and 2 U.S. Open's is considered a second tier player? The only other active player who has more GS than her is her sister. If it weren't for Serena Venus would be in the double digits in GS. JJ just isn't a good match-up for her(right now). I'd be suprised if Venus doesn't figure her out-just like she did Hingis. JJ probably plays 2x as the sisters. She gets rewarded for it(#1),but that still doesn't get her a GS. All the weeks at #1 will never equal 1 GS.

Posted by 10/07/2008 at 09:09 AM

I am a huge Hingis fan and I also like jankovic's game. But I think she lacks the wizardry in Hingis' game , say, the drop shot cum lob? I hear a lot of names being compared to Hingis - mostly the ones with no explosive power shots - Chakvetadze, Radwanska, hantuchova. But I believe none of them approaches the skills and the intent in Hingis's game. But for me the one that really can compare to hingis is Chakvetadze.

Posted by 10/07/2008 at 09:12 AM

"Mentally there is no stronger player in WTA tour than JJ. She was laughing (that was not just a smile!) during a long rally while chasing deep DTL ball in the USO final against Serena!!! I never seen that before. And I am sure I will never seen that again. (Except when Jankovic is playing).
"


I've always thought JJ laughed "at" her opponents. That is what she and Martina Hingis have in common. I dislike her almost as much. I said almost...

Posted by 10/07/2008 at 09:17 AM

I am a huge Hingis fan and I also like jankovic's game. But I think she lacks the wizardry in Hingis' game , say, the drop shot cum lob? I hear a lot of names being compared to Hingis - mostly the ones with no explosive power shots - Chakvetadze, Radwanska, hantuchova. But I believe none of them approaches the skills and the intent in Hingis's game. But for me the one that really can compare to hingis is Chakvetadze.

Posted by SwissMaestro 10/07/2008 at 09:57 AM

no name poster-

Much more accurate assesment of the situation. I do agree.

Posted by ixvnyc 10/07/2008 at 10:24 AM

To everyone saying that Jelena is 0:5 for the year against top 5:

I'd like to remind you that Jelena kicked Serena's ass in the quarterfinals of this year's Australian Open.

Posted by Frances 10/07/2008 at 10:45 AM

Jelena plays the numbers game. This was her third title of the year out of how many tournaments? Just check the numbers. I am sure when the road map kicks in next year we the rankings will be telling.

Serena & Safina have won both won four tournaments this year. Both reached a grand slam final and one won a grand slam. The True number 1 lies between thosae two, not someone who plays a ton of tournaments so they can each reach number 1.

If Jelena is not careful, she will have the same result at the YEC this year as last year, when she was tooooo tired to play inspiring tennis.

Posted by Matt 10/07/2008 at 10:50 AM

Anon @ 9:12am

I am sorry, Jankovic does show her elements of gamesmanship, but "laughing at opponents" is not one of them.

If you look at about 20 minutes of youtube clips available from her recent match with Venus you will see that she smiles (or "shares the sport with the people watching her" as Steve calls it) __only__ when she hits a clear winner:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq3WdLaG_Ls @ 5:46, 7:33
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNtCT5mD8OA @ 1:05

On the other hand, when Venus makes unforced errors Jelena shows no reaction:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri12MmYx6rM @ 0:35
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNtCT5mD8OA @ 0:30, 8:50

In fact, we can easily find clips where Jelena applouds her opponents' winning shots - something one cannot see from the other top players so often. Even when she loses, she is very gracious and acknowledges she was worse on the occasion.

One can argue about her timeout tactics or arguments with umpires, but one can hardly say she is disrespectful to her opponents.

Posted by Rsquared 10/07/2008 at 11:00 AM

Not to take anything away from the always entertaining JJ. But she didn't win last week match against Venus so much as the elder sister lost it. Venus will figure it out. She gave away the Stuttgart match with too many errors in that final set. Of course, some of them were forced by JJ unusually aggressive play in the last set. But quite a few of them seemed to be the result of the doubt creeping into Venus's head.

Let's not forget the head games the JJ and her entourage were playing in the latter stages of the match, with their carping about time violations and whatnot. Ah well, the beauty of tennis is that the two players may have a chance to go at it again this week. Let's hope for a rematch.

Posted by Matt 10/07/2008 at 11:00 AM

Frances:
"Serena & Safina have won both won four tournaments this year. Both reached a grand slam final and one won a grand slam. The True number 1 lies between thosae two, not someone who plays a ton of tournaments so they can each reach number 1."

Everyone is talking how much Jankovic plays, but Safina played exactly the same number of tournaments with one W more than Jankovic, but worse GS results and about 500 ranking points less than Jankovic.

Posted by Well Left 10/07/2008 at 11:01 AM

Great article, Steve. I don't see JJ going back and eating the main course (say her first Slam).

It appears to me that the vacuum at the top of the ladie's game is alive and well. Perhaps Ivanovic will get maximally fit and take over for Venus and Serena (winning slams) and grab Jelena's #1 spot in the bargain.

JJ is very like the female Lleyton Hewitt, unfortunately she's just enough older to make it unlikely she'll reach his level of success. He peaked at 20, 21 and dominated, winning USO and Wimbledon and kept the #1 ranking for over a year. Then, well you know the story, folks.

Posted by Matt 10/07/2008 at 11:18 AM

Rsquared:
"But she didn't win last week match against Venus so much as the elder sister lost it. Venus will figure it out."

Yeah, right. The elder sister lost it for the 5th time. She better figure it out soon.

Posted by tennisesq. 10/07/2008 at 11:20 AM

Ruth,
I don't appreciate you questioning the legitimacy of JJ's "injury" timeouts. Pedicures and massages are well within the rules.

There's really no comparison between Venus (and Serena) and JJ. Venus had 4(?) slam titles by the time she was JJ's age. The grand slams are what matter most. Serena's 9 and Venus's 7 grand slam titles speak for themselves. I for one can live with Venus "just" winning Wimbledon and no other titles until she hangs up her rackets. I could care less about Stanford, Moscow, or Zurich. Titles like that are just icing on the grand slam cake.

Few people will remember how many Rome, China Open, or Stuttgart titles a player won. JJ can have them.

Posted by Nathan 10/07/2008 at 12:16 PM

IXVNYC= You're correct that JJ defeated SW at this year's Australian Open, but SW was not in the top 5 at the time. JJ has not defeated a single player this year while they were ranked in the top 5 (including Serena...twice).

Venus is my favorite player, but I do recognize her game is declining. She conserves her energy for the tournaments dear to her, meaning she seemingly tailors the entire season to winning Wimbledon. No harm for her, as it has worked. Yet, she may learn how to consistently beat JJ as she did Hingis, Davenport, and Henin. All of whom she had a losing record to, before giving them all kinds of fits.

I suspect that JJ will one day win a major, but I seriously doubt she'll win more than 3, if that. The only other two players to reach #1 in the world before winning a Grand Slam are Mauresmo (who eventually won 2), and Clijsters (who eventually won 1)

If you use the ATP ranking system then the top five women would be ranked as so:

Serena Williams 3,700 pts.
Dinara Safina 3,650 pts.
Jelena Jankovic 3,275 pts.
Ana Ivanovic 2,835 pts.
Maria Sharapova 2,595 pts.

If Maria and Ana played a full season they'd been higher ranked. Does this ranking order look more like an accurate reflection of reality?

Posted by Nathan 10/07/2008 at 12:16 PM

IXVNYC= You're correct that JJ defeated SW at this year's Australian Open, but SW was not in the top 5 at the time. JJ has not defeated a single player this year while they were ranked in the top 5 (including Serena...twice).

Venus is my favorite player, but I do recognize her game is declining. She conserves her energy for the tournaments dear to her, meaning she seemingly tailors the entire season to winning Wimbledon. No harm for her, as it has worked. Yet, she may learn how to consistently beat JJ as she did Hingis, Davenport, and Henin. All of whom she had a losing record to, before giving them all kinds of fits.

I suspect that JJ will one day win a major, but I seriously doubt she'll win more than 3, if that. The only other two players to reach #1 in the world before winning a Grand Slam are Mauresmo (who eventually won 2), and Clijsters (who eventually won 1)

If you use the ATP ranking system then the top five women would be ranked as so:

Serena Williams 3,700 pts.
Dinara Safina 3,650 pts.
Jelena Jankovic 3,275 pts.
Ana Ivanovic 2,835 pts.
Maria Sharapova 2,595 pts.

If Maria and Ana played a full season they'd been higher ranked. Does this ranking order look more like an accurate reflection of reality?

Posted by woome 10/07/2008 at 12:27 PM

Jankovic does not deserve the #1 ranking in my opinion. Never won a GS and lucky for her, Henin retired. She never beat Henin so guess Jankovic lucked out! LOL!

Posted by Lawrence Ian Reed 10/07/2008 at 12:39 PM

was Serena Williams really the best tennis player in the world last week and the second-best this week?—

I'd so no. This doesn't mean that the ranking system is problematic though. The ranking system doesn't measure who the best tennis player is,... that's impossible. It measures performance over the past year. We can use that as a proxy for who the best player is if we want, but that's not what it measures.

Posted by carnap, New York City 10/07/2008 at 01:06 PM

Normally, I yell at the TV when med time-out is called, but I actually felt that JJ was justified since nobody called Venus on taking so much time to serve in order to catch her breath.

Posted by Ruth 10/07/2008 at 01:36 PM

teenisesq: I'm at work and just saw your 11:20am comment. LOL

Every time I see a player taking one of those questionable and well-timed breaks, I remember dear, crazy Jeff Tarango's rant (just before he retired) about the players being allowed to have massages etc in the middle of a match.


"Venus is my favorite player, but I do recognize her game is declining. She conserves her energy for the tournaments dear to her, meaning she seemingly tailors the entire season to winning Wimbledon. No harm for her, as it has worked."

Amen to that, Nathan.

Posted by Pat Kernan 10/07/2008 at 01:51 PM

Did Champagne Effin Kimmy and Amelie Mauresmo have to deal with this level of media scrutiny regarding validity of their number one rankings? Certainly no male pro ever has.

Give Jelena a break, and wish her congratulations if you get the chance.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 02:03 PM

Pat Kernan,
Do not remember now but Amelie had to deal with it. When Amelie won the YEC in 2005 over Mary Pierce, this propelled her to win Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. However, I agree that JJ deserves the top spot.

Posted by Nick E 10/07/2008 at 02:16 PM

Nice piece, articulated a lot of things I like about her better than I would have. She now has ten straight 4th round appearances in grand slams, which is a pretty impressive achievement, and this year has reached the quarterfinals in all 8 Tier I tournaments as well as the Olympics.

This was very well said:

'There’s a wallboard-like efficiency to her game, but she’s a stylishly constructed wallboard. There’s nothing extraneous to her strokes, which doesn’t mean they’re strictly utilitarian, either. Jumping, taking the ball early, never off-balance, redirecting the ball at will, Jankovic has more grace than can be contained in the word "grinder."'

Posted by Nick E 10/07/2008 at 02:19 PM

Note: the most consecutive 4th round slam appearances Henin achieved was nine (though she had an earlier run of seven), which stretches across the Australian Open she didn't play. Obviously Henin is by far the more accomplished player, but that puts Jankovic's consistency in perspective.

Posted by Joy 10/07/2008 at 02:24 PM

Federer—who, by the way, is the best actor among the current crop of pros—
=============

This can't be serious. Federer is by far the WORST actor of the bunch, as well as worst singer.

Good old Steve, Federer's biggest fanboy in the media.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 02:38 PM

Nick E,
To add to your Tier I comment in your post, JJ made it to the QF in all events played except Wimby where she played a hot grass court player(Tamarine Tanasugarn) on a hyper extended knee and Tamarine defeated Dinara to win s'=Hertogensbosch

Posted by mesar 10/07/2008 at 03:18 PM

Awful,realy awful.If you people are jealous that Serena is down in the rankings keep that for yourself.I stil dont believe that somebody is writing this rubish.Jelena Jankovic is deserved No1 and stop giving pesimistic future to Jelena and Novak all the time.

Posted by mesar 10/07/2008 at 03:18 PM

Awful,realy awful.If you people are jealous that Serena is down in the rankings keep that for yourself.I stil dont believe that somebody is writing this rubish.Jelena Jankovic is deserved No1 and stop giving pesimistic future to Jelena and Novak all the time.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/07/2008 at 05:24 PM

“Yet, she may learn how to consistently beat JJ as she did Hingis, Davenport, and Henin. All of whom she had a losing record to, before giving them all kinds of fits.”

You could say the same thing about JJ.

“She conserves her energy for the tournaments dear to her, meaning she seemingly tailors the entire season to winning Wimbledon.”

I predict JJ will Wimbledon in the not to distant future. She has already beat Venus on grass, two years ago, before the decline. Hopefully, she will play Venus and Serena in the process.

“I suspect that JJ will one day win a major, but I seriously doubt she'll win more than 3, if that. The only other two players to reach #1 in the world before winning a Grand Slam are Mauresmo (who eventually won 2), and Clijsters (who eventually won 1)”

So are you saying that JJ is better than Mauresmo and Clijsters? I think, what this says is, if you get to #1 before winning a slam, the probability that you will win at least one is very high maybe almost certain.

“but SW was not in the top 5 at the time. JJ has not defeated a single player this year while they were ranked in the top 5”

Everyones point is that Venus and Serena are the true top of the game and that the ranking system is whacked. So I guess JJ has beaten the ‘real’ top 5 this year, regardless of the # attached to their name at the time of the win.

Dementieva is #4 now and JJ has beaten her.

JJ has only had one opportunity to beat Sharapova this year and like all other comers in OZ, including take the money and Runin-Hardenne, she went down. She has a win over Sharapova by W/O in Rome, but maybe that is because Sharapova knew she would not be able to beat her on that day. I’m looking forward to a Sharapova/JJ match-up when both are healthy. Note: JJ and Sharapova were at the Bolletteri academy together when young and I think there is a little jealousy/intimidation/pride or whatever you want to call it going on. Bring it on! This is and will be a great rivalry. Speaking of Rivalry….

Ivanovic – when these two play, there is Serbian pride at stake. JJ always raises Ivanovic’s game and the matches are exciting to watch. I think the best medicine for Ivanovic’s game right now would be to play JJ. Bring this one on also!

I preface the following statement by stating that in no way am I comparing JJ to TMF. This is strictly to refute the she is too old to win slam argument.

RF was 1 month short of his 23rd BD when he won his first slam. JJ will be 24 on 2/28/09. So all is not over concerning winning a slam or winning multiple slams. One could make the case that it has taken JJ a little while longer to develop an intelligent, thinking game rather than a brute strength game, and having the confidence to go with it.

As far as the Hewitt comparison, maybe Hewitt is more like Kuznetsova than JJ. And JJ seems to have more fun and like the spotlight more than Hewitt.

"If Maria and Ana played a full season they'd been higher ranked. Does this ranking order look more like an accurate reflection of reality? "

At least in the case of Ivanovic, she has played a full season. Maybe it does not appear that way because of the way she has played post RG, but she has played a full season.

“If you use the ATP ranking system then the top five women would be ranked as so:

Serena Williams 3,700 pts.
Dinara Safina 3,650 pts.
Jelena Jankovic 3,275 pts.
Ana Ivanovic 2,835 pts.
Maria Sharapova 2,595 pts.”

Nathan:This is like waving a red flag in front of Tennis Fan.

This is from the ATP website.

Q. How does the South African Airways ATP Rankings work?

A. The South African Airways ATP Ranking is based on calculating, for each player, his total points from the 13 'mandatory' events - the four Grand Slams and the nine ATP Masters Series tournaments - and his best five results from all eligible International Series tournaments from the past 52 weeks. The Tennis Masters Cup counts as an additional 19th tournament for players who qualify for the circuit finale.

For each 'mandatory' event a player is not accepted he may count one extra International Series event towards his South African Airways ATP Ranking.

“Each player is ranked according to his total points from the four Grand Slams, the nine ATP Masters Series Tournaments and the Tennis Masters Cup of the calendar year, and his best five results from all International Series Tournaments played in the calendar year. For every Grand Slam and ATP Masters Series Tournament for which a player is not in the Main Draw, and was not (and, in the case of a Grand Slam, would not have been, had he and all other players entered) a Main Draw Direct Acceptance on the original Acceptance List, and never became a Main Draw Direct Acceptance, the number of his results from all International Series Tournaments played in the calendar year, that count for his ranking, is increased by one. Once a player has been accepted in the Main Draw of one of these thirteen Tournaments, as a Direct Acceptance, a Qualifier, a Special Exempt or a Lucky Loser, or having accepted a Wild Card, his result in this tournament shall count for his ranking, whether or not he participates. A player's second (2nd) withdrawal from an International Series Event (ISG/IS), whether on time of after the 12 noon deadline, shall result in a zero (0) point included as one of his best of five (5) results. Further non-consecutive withdrawals shall result in a zero (0) point allocation replacing the next best positive
result for each additional withdrawal. Players with multiple consecutive withdrawals who are out of competition for 30 days or longer due to injury will not be subject to a ranking penalty as long as verified and approved medical forms are provided; or, a player shall not have the ranking penalty imposed if he completes the Promotional Activities requirement as specified under "Repeal of Fines" or if the on-site withdrawal procedures apply.”

First, I would like to preface this comparison will the following conditions. A direct comparison of the ATP/WTA system is impossible as the WTA does not have “Master Series” or “International Series” Events but has what are designated as Teir I, II, III and IV Events. The best approximation in doing this comparison is a Teir I event being roughly equivalent to “Master Series” and all other teirs roughly equivalent to “International Series” Further, except for the Miami Tier I event, the WTA does not have Mandatory events and the players are not penalized with zero ranking points for not appearing and can count a lower tiered event in lieu of a teir I event. (This will change slightly next year for all those who have not read my prior post on the WTA 2009 Road Map total revamp of the WTA.)

Additionally, the cash reward and points are lower for Tier I events, except Miami. Also, there are differences in the field total.

Therefore, the players schedules were made knowing they would not be penalized for playing top events. If they were penalized, I’m sure schedules would be different as they mostly like will be next year.

Teir I events for WTA in the 52 week period as of this date. 10 Events – Since the ATP master series events only have 9 events I will drop Zurich results from last year as this even is no longer a Tier I this year and will go away next year. However, I did count Zurich as one of the 5 best extras if this applied to a particular player.

Moscow – Oct 07 (08 version being played now)
Zurich – Oct 07 (this year it has been downgraded to a Tier II event – sponsored by Tennis.com!)
Doha – Feb 08
IW – Mar 08
Miami – Mar 08
Charleston – Apr 08
Berlin – Apr 08
Rome – May 08
Montreal – Aug 08
Tokyo – Sep 08

Nathans rankings

“Serena Williams 3,700 pts.
Dinara Safina 3,650 pts.
Jelena Jankovic 3,275 pts.
Ana Ivanovic 2,835 pts.
Maria Sharapova 2,595 pts.”

I don’t know where you come up with these numbers.

According to may calculations. This is the Top 10 of WTA if calculated ranking like ATP did.

(1) WTA points (2) Adjusted Teir I and YEC to Master Series points and ATP YEC points.

Jankovic (1) 4,320 (2) 4,370
Serena (1) 4,017 (2) 4,132
Safina (1) 3,782 (2) 4042
Dementieva (1) 3,404 (2) 3,573
Ivanovic (1) 3,288 (2) 3,251
Sharapova (1) 3,041 (2) 3,130
Kuzzy (1) 2,921 (2) 2,816
Venus (1) 2,311 (2) 2,247
Radwanska (1) 2,146 (2) 2,250
Zvonareva (1) 2,023 (2) 2,147

If the WTA calculated rankings like ATP (1) Jankovic would be father ahead (2) Radwanka and Zvonareva would switch places at 9 & 10.

What happened was not all these ladies played in the Tier I tournaments, Jankovic only missed Moscow last year. However she is playing this year, so any points earned would be gravy and padding points under the ATP system. In the current WTA system, Jankovic can only add points by winning her first match. She would gain 5 points under the ATP system for losing her first match.

If Serena, Venus and Sharapova would have played a full season the rankings may or may not look different depending on how they did. If they played more and against top players, would they have done as well? Would have done as at GS? Or would they have done better? It’s all speculation at this point.

Again, the current WTA ranking system is not that bad given all the criticism. The difference in the system is the mandatoryness. However, the WTA is changing the ranking system to be more like the ATP. In reality, the only change would be to force top players who don’t play all the much or lower tournaments in lieu of the bigger ones to play the bigger ones and gainst the top players.

Let’s see what will happen next year.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 05:36 PM

"In the current WTA system, Jankovic can only add points by winning her first match"

Tennis Fan,
Are we talking about Race only? As far as rankings are concerned, would JJ have to make it to SF this week to gain points?

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/07/2008 at 06:11 PM

"As far as rankings are concerned, would JJ have to make it to SF this week to gain points?"

Master Ace: JJ's lowest countable tournament is 105 points. She gets 110 for winning her first match. A 5 point gain.

So under the ATP system she would get this if she loses.

Under the current WTA system she can add 5 points by winning her first match or no change for losing. She starts earning big points by going farther. With Venus out, it looks like SF, F even a win is very possible. Wouldn't that just take the cake?

Posted by Veka 10/07/2008 at 07:41 PM

Would you say that winning a Grand Slam when in comes to women can be easier than winning two tournaments in two weeks? In GS they have every other day off, while on tour they would have to play every day and basically they can reach last eight quite easily while in Tier 1 there are no easy opponents since world number 239 with a WC will not make it in the draw and even some of the top 30 will have to play qualies so the competition is much tougher.It`s different with men since they have best of 5 matches.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 08:16 PM

Speaking of winning tournaments in consecutive weeks, If Jelena wins Moscow, I believe that she will be the first woman to win 3 tournaments in 3 weeks since Nicole Vaidisova did it in 2005 playing the Asian portion(Seoul, Tokyo-Japan Open, and Bangkok) of the WTA tour. Jankovic accomplishment would be greater than that one since she is playing against the best competition.

Posted by sonya 10/07/2008 at 08:57 PM

Tennis fan at 5:24PM, YOU ARE A GOD. PERIOD.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 09:50 PM

Sonya,
Tennis Fan do post some good information on the WTA. At this time last year, we did not have detailed info as Justine was cruising to number 1 winning 2 Slams along the way, over 90% of her matches, and 10 titles, first person to win that many since Martina Hingis.

Posted by Master Ace 10/07/2008 at 09:55 PM

Matt,
Your post @ 10:54 PM on 10/6/08 may have been the point of the year in the WTA when JJ played excellent defense on some good shots on Paszek and then end the rally with a CC BH winner. Also, that match started Tamira on a downward slide as she was coming into the season with confidence after having 4th round results at Wimby and USO in 2007.

Posted by JillfromNY 10/07/2008 at 09:56 PM

Steve: You left out the most important part of the match. Janko's coach and the stopwatch. What was that about??? It was tacky and offensive to a great champ like Venus. But, I wasn't the least bit surprised it was coming from someone in the Janko entourage. Everything about Janko is over-the-top and tacky.

Posted by sonya (miss you Rafa) 10/07/2008 at 10:53 PM

Master Ace, do you think the success of last year overwhelmed justine? i think justine had a lot of ambition but i don't think she imagined she could be that dominant, especially with the williams around. Maybe she realised that this performance happened once in a lifetime and the perspective of getting back on earth was too unappealing after after having experienced such domination.

Posted by Sway 10/07/2008 at 11:18 PM

Hey Tennis-Fans...

Let's just get realistic! JJ can never be a LONG-TIME #1. That is just impossible. I personally wouldn't see that win against Venus a great one. Why? Because Venus made a whole sum of errors, which was just abnormal for Venus. Venus dominated the whole game before making those errors.
Venus is definitely going to figure that out. I don't even think JJ has a chance in Moscow or winning a GS. That's a long way, considering all those better players on the tour (Serena, Dinara, Ivanovic, Maria)

It's good and great to be the No.1 but in the "Right Way and Style" and also achieving what a REAL NO.1 already possesses!

JJ is just a lucky No.1 and no doubt she's going to lose this position within a short time!

Posted by Julian 10/08/2008 at 12:18 AM

Jason,

"And she is 0-5 against the top 5 for the year. Yup that's right 0-5. The no.1 player has not beaten anyone in the top 5."

Jankovic defeated 4th ranked Dementieva in the semifinal of US Open to reach the final. How could everybody forget that?

Posted by athanguy 10/08/2008 at 12:32 AM

Hey sorry guys, just forgot to fill in the Name column. I was this one: I am an inactive poster - but regular reader - from philippines:
Posted by 10/07/2008 @ 9:17 AM

I am a huge Hingis fan and I also like jankovic's game. But I think she lacks the wizardry in Hingis' game , say, the drop shot cum lob? I hear a lot of names being compared to Hingis - mostly the ones with no explosive power shots - Chakvetadze, Radwanska, hantuchova. But I believe none of them approaches the skills and the intent in Hingis's game. But for me the one that really can compare to hingis is Chakvetadze.


Posted by Jeff 10/08/2008 at 01:38 AM

Personally, it is hard to stomach Jankovich as a number 1, but I guess that's what you get with the vacuum of talent on the WTA tour these days.

If she doesn't win a Grand Slam sometime soon, it is hard to see her staying in this spot for long. I don't see the particular players yet, but there must be a new generation of talent coming up that can restore the WTA tour to its former glory.

Posted by Maja 10/08/2008 at 04:29 AM

Jelena is the best.........she can win GS in 2009........

Posted by Master Ace 10/08/2008 at 07:37 AM

Sonya,
You may have a point on Justine success last year. That was one of the factors Justine made her decision to retire along with her knees. IMO, she felt like if she could not continue to perform at a high level then it may not be worth it to her. Reading tennis.com ticker, it seem like Justine is enjoying herself away from tennis doing various activites.

Posted by Master Ace 10/08/2008 at 07:41 AM

"Jankovic defeated 4th ranked Dementieva in the semifinal of US Open to reach the final. How could everybody forget that?"

Julian,
At the semi b/w JJ and Elena, Elena was ranked 6th behind Ana, Jelena, Svetlana, Serena, and Maria.

Posted by sonya 10/08/2008 at 10:32 AM

thanks, Master Ace. it's a lesson to everybody i think: those professionals should have something besides tennis, that allows them to breathe. in fact oracene price has said that she always encouraged her daughters to do that, because she didn't want the pressure of winning to become an obsession.

Posted by Syd 10/08/2008 at 10:40 AM

Please, does anyone have a link for Vienna?

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

The person who should be ranked No. 1 is the person who plays the best the most consistently or has the highest average performance at the big events (and year-round events). Jankovic has by far the most consistent record at the '08 Slams-only two other women (Dementieva and Radwanska) were able to reach the second week at all four. Serena has had spurts of brilliance but hasn't shown them consistently enough to be No. 1 in my opinion, especially with her mediocre clay-court season. Ivanovic and Sharapova played well at the beginning of the year, while Safina and Dementieva picked it up mid-season, but comparing their year-round results Jankovic has had a better overall season than all of them. While ideally Jankovic should have a won a slam to merit her ranking, the lack of consistent domination by anyone else means that she deserves the nod nonetheless. If Jankovic improves on her current form, she will be the favorite to finally win at least one slam next year, particularly in Melbourne and Paris.

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