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.



 
129
Comments
 
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Posted by Master Ace 10/08/2008 at 02:26 PM

Ted,
I think Jelena is the favorite to win in Melbourne in January.

Posted by Kenneth 10/08/2008 at 02:43 PM

Just caught the encore presentations of the Porsche challenge, and I have to say that while Jankovic played inspired tennis, no way is she the next coming of Hingis. Far more powerful than Martina, Jankovic is almost a power baseliner depending on who her opponent is (meaning, against everyone save Serena and Venus, she has great power from the ground). She utilizes her forehand much better than Hingis ever did, although their backhands are pretty similar. She is more a power counter-puncher at the moment; the harder you hit to her, the easier you make her day.

Sorry, anyone who claims the #1 spot without slam wins (Davenport), is no true #1 to me, no matter how spotty the year's slam winners get. Who cares how many Porsche challenges Jankovic wins if she can't get it together during the big tournys? And that serve still remains a liability, especially against those who can consistently exploit it. When she can win free and easy points from that (like Nadal has had to), only then will she claim a major title.

Posted by ted 10/08/2008 at 03:07 PM

"Who cares how many Porsche challenges Jankovic wins if she can't get it together during the big tournys?"

You do have a point, but it's not like Jankovic loses early in the majors and gets all her points from smaller tournaments. Jelena's biggest points come from her performances at the biggest events-a major final, two semis, and also a final in Miami and a semi at Indian Wells-and except for the Aus Open semi all of those matches were tight. No other woman has come close to achieving those types of performances consistently at the big events (even Davenport and Mauresmo as "No. 1" still had some bad premature slam exits). I do agree though that the serve is key for her-if Jelena hadn't noticeably bulked up her serve and fitness over the last few months, there would be some doubt, but if she continues on her current track, she can start to really establish herself.

Posted by Ally 10/08/2008 at 07:44 PM

Nice article Steve. I think Jelena deserves to be number 1. She gives it her all on every point and puts on an dazzling show displaying her arsenal of weapons (US Open Finals - the best in a while). What's not to like about her? Yes, she can be a drama queen sometimes, but it's fun to watch. She's got guts, charm and personality - sometimes lacking in the women's game. Give her a chance and she'll prove that she belongs in the number one spot.

Posted by arbiter 10/08/2008 at 09:42 PM

If JJ wins Australia, French and Wimbledon, you people will then say that you don't like her because she talks and smiles too much. If she stops smiling, you will say that she is just "too serious all the time". If she beats Serena in Australia, you will say that it was only because Serena had "mono" or some other illness or injury. If she shows passion, you will say that she is too much. If she is calm, you will say that she is boring.

Nobody complained about Rios or Clysters being #1 without a "slam". Jelena and Novak are simply from the wrong country...not acceptable by CNN and other standards that are deeply planted in your brains.

Posted by CuMa 10/09/2008 at 01:28 AM

arbiter (10/08/2008 @ 9:42 PM) said it all.
Unfortunatelly everything is politics.

Posted by marty 10/09/2008 at 04:08 AM

"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. "

For the record, Venus has a losing record againts Hingis :)

Hingis 11 to Venus 10


Posted by Stride 10/09/2008 at 04:10 AM

Jankovic is good, not great.

Posted by JeffS 10/09/2008 at 04:10 AM

Jankovic is a walking publicity stunt

Posted by 10/09/2008 at 04:12 AM

Ivanovic has an annoying "naa-ihh-ahh" on her ground strokes.

Not as bad as Sharapova's violent "uuggaaaahhhhh!!!!" scream.

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

As far as I am concerned, Jankovic deserves to be number 1 in the world since she has been the most consistent player of the year. Numbers do not lie, and she simply has the highest total of points. The importance of the GS is already taken into account by the fact that they give quite a higher amount of ranking points to the winner than any other tournament, but I would much rather see a player who had plenty of excellent results over the season as the number 1 in the world, than a player who has had only a couple of excellent results (including a GS win) or who only dominated for a quarter of the season.


However, I do think that Jankovic is probably at this point the less dominant player to have held the number 1 spot in the history of the sport, which is evidenced by her average record against top players, and her becoming number 1 in the world with only 1 tournament win earlier this year. She seems to be on a hot run to finish the season, and is consolidating her ranking, so she is maybe making a case at this point for her becoming a dominant number 1 player, but only the next few weeks and the next year will tell us more about this.

Personally, I do believe that a healthy Sharapova or a more committed Serena would be more dominant at this point in the game than Jankovic, but ifs and maybes certaintly do not count in a ranking that's determined by points. And let's not forget that all of the players who have occupied the number 1 ranking this year have done so in the sudden absence of the most dominating player of them all, Henin.

Posted by jojo 10/09/2008 at 10:59 AM

I, for one, think that the grand slams take up TOO MUCH weight in the tennis rankings. Why should a match win at Wimbledon, on a surface that players use for only 3 weeks a year, be worth three or four times as many points as a win at Indian Wells or Key Biscayne? Certainly the Grand Slams deserve SOME bonus points, but not the amount that they receive......the rankings are very good at doing what they say they are going to do....name the player who has played the best tennis over the preceding 52 weeks based on objective criteria....that the criteria could be tweaked is a valid point, and
one that will never get unanimous agreement, but criteria are fairly logical and reasonable......
As for the history of the Williams sisters over the last 6 years.....blow opponents off the court, then lose to second tier players in early rounds, don't play many tournies......why should THAT be considered top rank?

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/09/2008 at 12:46 PM

In response to Marty,

Venus does indeed have a losing record to both Hingis and even to Davenport, but if you look at their last ten matches, you'll notice Venus did indeed "give them all kinds of fits". Anything else I can clarify?

Posted by Voks 10/09/2008 at 02:29 PM

One way or the other, she is no.1 female tennis player in the world ... don't see whats the point of 'measuring her greatness' compared to other players - grand slam winners.

Is she better than them (Venus, Serena, Sharapova, Henin, Hingis...) or at least their equal? I cant say since she is still developing. She's a late bloomer... (...one might add 'baby' to that, given her naive/open minded appearance).

I think game wise, with some more improvement (serve, economy of the game, confidence) she'd be a real force to be reckoned with. Serena and Venus are not exactly at their peaks, Henin is, well, absent, Maria injury prone and Ana tad babyish to dominate and make a bigger string of results. Besides, in many of her matches she was really close to beating Henin and what lacked mostly was deciding mentality to clinch the deal, which she seems to be gaining grounds at (very good record against Williams sisters, two greatest active players).

Frankly, Im not overly surprised with whats happened since Wimby. Serena, or Venus winning a slam was rarely a garantee that they'll sustain the run, and Ana, well, seems oblivious of whats happened. She's more in the clouds than down here on Earth (how else to explain such firm drop in confidence after a big win, that was RG title?).... All while JJ is playing and loosing (she's won only 4 tournaments, and no slams among them, awkward for a top two, let alone no.1 player).

Regardless, I feel JJ is still to enter her peak play and the fact she might be 'late' (23 year of age), doesn't mean she is the one that late would hinder. She is playing better and better, despite only 4 non-slam titles.

All to the point that her game is not that of a mindless 1d basher with no variety and options to adapt, which is something that can sometimes be concluded is the opinion.

Posted by Nathan 10/09/2008 at 03:09 PM

Tennis Fan,


That was quite a lengthy and well thought out post. I'll respond in kind:

JJ winning Wimbledon in the not too distant future
--I'm not sure what not too distant future means. Next year, the year after? For her sake I hope so. As far as I'm concerned she not only would have to be concerned about Serena and Venus, but also a healthy Sharapova, a confident Kuznetsova, Ivanovic, Safina, and even Mauresmo if she's healthy. Parenthetically she has a losing record to all of those women. Then there are the up and comers...

Do I think Jankovic is a better player than Clijsters and Mauresmo?

No. I think the three will be about equal, but history will probably remember Jankovic better over these two for sheer personality, which is fine. I do not think she will be considered in the same league or higher than either of the Williams sisters in terms of career. The factr that she has a winning record over Venus (not Serena) is irrelevant. Conchita Martinez has a winning record over Navratilova, and Krajicek has a winning record over Sampras. Nevertheless they are hardly considered better than these tennis giants.

Beating the top 5

Thaty may have been everyone elses point, but that wasn't mine. I honestly believe Serena is the top dog, but I don't think Venus is #2. I think she is honestly #8 or possibly lower outside of Wimbledon (she's just my favorite player). Also someone stated that she actually has beaten a player while they were in the top 5, this year. Dementieva was it? When did this occur? If you have to resort to a walkover then something is wrong.

In comparison to the ATP ranking system

" 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."

I'm not sure how you came to those calculations, but since you claim it's an act of waiving the red flag its efectively a moot point.

I'll refer again to the fact that:
1. JJ does not have the longest match winning streak this season. That would be Sharapova, with Serena having the second longest.

2. JJ has not won the most season prize money. That would be Serena Williams, with Ana Ivanovic in 2nd place.

3. JJ does not have the highest match winning percentage for the season. That would be Sharapova, with Serena in 2nd place

4. JJ does not have the most wins over other top 8 players for the season. That would be Serena WIlliams (8-3=72.7%) with Dinara Safina second (10-5 66.67%)

5. JJ has not won the most number of tournaments this season. That would be a tie between both Serena and Safina both with 4 singles and 2 doubles. ALthough Safina may surpass Serena in Moscow.

6. Of all the top 4 players (I would have made it 5 but Ivanovic did not play) JJ performed the worst at the Olympics. Yes Serena and Venus also lost in the quarterfinals, but they also won the gold in doubles. It's far harder winning a tournament when you're playing both singles and doubles.

7. JJ does have the season record for most matches played/won, with Safina in second.

Mind you these are not Grand Slam results. I purposely left them out to appease the folks who claim that they carry too much weight. But if they were to also be included, then

9. JJ and Serena have the season record for most GS matches played in singles.

10. JJ does not have the season record for most GS finals reached. That would be Serena.

11. JJ did not win a single GS this season, while Serena, Venus, Ivanovic, and Sharapova each won one. If you include doubles, then Venus and Serena stand apart from this herd.

JJ is in the top 2 in one of the 7 non-GS categories, and is 2/11 overall. Serena is in the top 2 of five of the 7 non GS stats, and is 8/11 overall...for this season. Even Safina's results are better than JJ's this year.

If we agree these are pertinent categories to establishing the alpha-female, exactly who is truly the #1 player for the year?

P.S. all this talk about Serena not playing as much as the other players. Keep in mind she's also played doubles this season. If you add up the top 8 players total matches played in and won in both singles and doubles then you have

Safina with 67-17
Jankovic with 61-17
Serena with 59-9
Svetlana Kuznetsova with 48-24
Venus Williams with 48-13
Dementieva with 47-14
Ana Ivanovic with 32-11
Maria Sharapova with 32-4

Serena is hardly a slacker, and her combined match winning percentage for the season is second only to Sharapova's.

Methinks this is a no-brainer

Posted by Nathan 10/09/2008 at 03:09 PM

Tennis Fan,


That was quite a lengthy and well thought out post. I'll respond in kind:

JJ winning Wimbledon in the not too distant future
--I'm not sure what not too distant future means. Next year, the year after? For her sake I hope so. As far as I'm concerned she not only would have to be concerned about Serena and Venus, but also a healthy Sharapova, a confident Kuznetsova, Ivanovic, Safina, and even Mauresmo if she's healthy. Parenthetically she has a losing record to all of those women. Then there are the up and comers...

Do I think Jankovic is a better player than Clijsters and Mauresmo?

No. I think the three will be about equal, but history will probably remember Jankovic better over these two for sheer personality, which is fine. I do not think she will be considered in the same league or higher than either of the Williams sisters in terms of career. The factr that she has a winning record over Venus (not Serena) is irrelevant. Conchita Martinez has a winning record over Navratilova, and Krajicek has a winning record over Sampras. Nevertheless they are hardly considered better than these tennis giants.

Beating the top 5

Thaty may have been everyone elses point, but that wasn't mine. I honestly believe Serena is the top dog, but I don't think Venus is #2. I think she is honestly #8 or possibly lower outside of Wimbledon (she's just my favorite player). Also someone stated that she actually has beaten a player while they were in the top 5, this year. Dementieva was it? When did this occur? If you have to resort to a walkover then something is wrong.

In comparison to the ATP ranking system

" 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."

I'm not sure how you came to those calculations, but since you claim it's an act of waiving the red flag its efectively a moot point.

I'll refer again to the fact that:
1. JJ does not have the longest match winning streak this season. That would be Sharapova, with Serena having the second longest.

2. JJ has not won the most season prize money. That would be Serena Williams, with Ana Ivanovic in 2nd place.

3. JJ does not have the highest match winning percentage for the season. That would be Sharapova, with Serena in 2nd place

4. JJ does not have the most wins over other top 8 players for the season. That would be Serena WIlliams (8-3=72.7%) with Dinara Safina second (10-5 66.67%)

5. JJ has not won the most number of tournaments this season. That would be a tie between both Serena and Safina both with 4 singles and 2 doubles. ALthough Safina may surpass Serena in Moscow.

6. Of all the top 4 players (I would have made it 5 but Ivanovic did not play) JJ performed the worst at the Olympics. Yes Serena and Venus also lost in the quarterfinals, but they also won the gold in doubles. It's far harder winning a tournament when you're playing both singles and doubles.

7. JJ does have the season record for most matches played/won, with Safina in second.

Mind you these are not Grand Slam results. I purposely left them out to appease the folks who claim that they carry too much weight. But if they were to also be included, then

9. JJ and Serena have the season record for most GS matches played in singles.

10. JJ does not have the season record for most GS finals reached. That would be Serena.

11. JJ did not win a single GS this season, while Serena, Venus, Ivanovic, and Sharapova each won one. If you include doubles, then Venus and Serena stand apart from this herd.

JJ is in the top 2 in one of the 7 non-GS categories, and is 2/11 overall. Serena is in the top 2 of five of the 7 non GS stats, and is 8/11 overall...for this season. Even Safina's results are better than JJ's this year.

If we agree these are pertinent categories to establishing the alpha-female, exactly who is truly the #1 player for the year?

P.S. all this talk about Serena not playing as much as the other players. Keep in mind she's also played doubles this season. If you add up the top 8 players total matches played in and won in both singles and doubles then you have

Safina with 67-17
Jankovic with 61-17
Serena with 59-9
Svetlana Kuznetsova with 48-24
Venus Williams with 48-13
Dementieva with 47-14
Ana Ivanovic with 32-11
Maria Sharapova with 32-4

Serena is hardly a slacker, and her combined match winning percentage for the season is second only to Sharapova's.

Methinks this is a no-brainer

Posted by Nathan 10/09/2008 at 03:10 PM

Sorry for the double post, the computer seems to do that if I'm not super careful

--Nathan

Posted by Master Ace 10/09/2008 at 05:34 PM

"9. JJ and Serena have the season record for most GS matches played in singles"

Nathan,
Jelena played one more match than Serena in Slams

Jelena : AO SF, FO SF, W 4th, USO F = 23 matches
Serena : AO QF, FO 3rd, W F, USO F = 22 matches

Your post was informative.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/09/2008 at 08:48 PM

Marty,

The post of 10/09/2008 @12:46 PM was not me. I have had a problem in the past with an imposter and it looks like they’re back.

Nathan:

I have posted this same quote before. I don’t know who said it, but it has been assigned to Benjamin Disraeli. I think it is apropos again.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.”

That being, said let me respond to your response of my response.

“I'm not sure what not too distant future means. Next year, the year after?”

Let me go out on a limb and say, barring injury, JJ will win Wimbledon 2009. Whoever she plays, whether it be Serena, Venus, a healthy Sharapova, a confident Kuznetsova, Ivanovic, Safina, and even Mauresmo if she's healthy, or an up and comer(s) or Jie Zheng, will lose in 2 or 3 sets regardless of her past record with that particular player.

“Do I think Jankovic is a better player than Clijsters and Mauresmo? No.”

I didn’t think so. However, if you predict that JJ will win three slams and Clijsters won one and Mauresmo two and your sole criteria for judging a player is: if and then how many GS they win, then you are saying that JJ is, or will be when she actually does it, a better player than these two.

" 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."

"I'm not sure how you came to those calculations, but since you claim it's an act of waiving the red flag its effectively a moot point."

It is only ‘moot’ if it’s a white flag. When I said red, I meant red in front of a charging bull. You gave no information on how you calculated your numbers. I take you answer as, you cannot defend your position.

I have been keeping spreadsheets on each player tracking their ranking points and what if senarios so I just modified them to calculate based on the ATP system. Check my calculations if you want.

Like I said, you can’t really compare the ATP/WTA system but if you do:

GS points are all counted – the points are the same in the ATP and WTA

All Tier I’s are counted (if you did not show, you got a zero)

Best five of other tournaments (If you withdraw from two in a row you get a zero)

Therefore, in the ATP system a total of 18 tournament results are counted:

four GS,
9 master series (9 Tier I’s for WTA)
best of 5 of the rest

In addition, if you make the YEC, you get to add this to your total, for a total of 19 tournament scores (in the WTA it only counts if it is one of your best 17 - it is not added as an extra bonus like in the ATP system).

Score number (2) is point adjustement as the WTA Tier I points earned, except for Miami, are far lower than the Master series points. So I adjusted the WTA points as if they were master series points.

Therefore JJ would add and additional tournament result because the YEC would be a bonus. This moves her even farther ahead.

I also adjusted the YEC points, in the point adjusted total, as how they are earned is different in the ATP system. You only earn points if you win matches, unlike the WTA which gives 105 points even if you lose all your matches. In the point adjustment scenario, JJ lost points for the YEC – however she still was ahead of Serena.

I could show you may spreadsheets but it is hard to do in this format.

Longest match winning streak

Sharapova had 18, including two Fed Cup matches in Israel.If you take out Fed cup it is 16 and Serena is the winner.

However, this was done by winning 7 in 2 weeks at the AO, the two Fed up a week later. Then a month off. Then five in Doha. Then a month off and 4 at IW. Where she said she re-injured her shoulder.

Serena

4 in Bangalore. A month off. 6 in Miami. Two weeks off. 5 in Charleston. A month off. 2 in Berlin.

JJ
Currently at 9 and could go to 12

After winning one in Toyko, but then losing a second and then immediately flying to Beijing - 5 in Beijing the following week. Flies thousands of miles and a couple of time zones and no time off. Wins 4 in Stuttgart – injuring her foot in the process.
No time off. Travels again and into another time zone has one win for a total of 9. Has a real possibility of extending this to 12.
I think JJ ‘s achievment rates right up there with these Sharapova and Serena.

Season Prize Money

Serena - $3,394,119 (and will not earn any more unless she plays YEC)
AI - $2,594,645
JJ - $2,546,687

Can we concede that JJ and AI are in a dead heat? And AI won a slam and JJ did not.

If not, currently the gap between JJ and AI is 47,958. With current earnings from Moscow this gap closes to 33,846 (AI was helped by Serena pulling out adding an extra 8,000 to her haul for the generous gift of a first round bye from Serena.) If JJ gets to the finals she will go ahead of AI by 40,000 and added another 90,000 if she wins. And will be ahead of Ivanovic.

JJ is about 800k less than Serena and will be about 700k less if she wins Moscow. With 1M at stake at YEC there is a real possibility that JJ could be the top earner.

Match %
Sharapova – 95%, played half a season (32 wins)
Serena – 86%, played ¾ of a season (43 wins)
JJ – 79% - played a full season (60 wins)

I just read a story that Federer has averaged about 80 matches a year. JJ is the only one who comes close to this.

“JJ does not have the season record for most GS finals reached. That would be Serena.”

Serena has a Win, a final, a quarterfinal loss (to JJ), and a 3rd round loss

AI has a Win, a final, a 3rd round loss, and a 2nd round loss.

Sharapova has a win, a fourth round loss, a 2nd round loss and a no show.

Venus has a win, two QFs, and a 3rd round loss.

JJ has a final, two semis and a 4th round loss (after suffering a knee injury and probably should not have been playing)

Safina has a final, a semifinal, a 3rd round loss and a first round loss.

However, if finals are the only thing that matter:

Serena and AI are tied. (Serena wins the tie break for a QF showing)

Safina and JJ are tied. (JJ wins the tie break for 2 semis)

Venus and Sharapova are tied. (Venus wins the tie break for two quarters and showing up.)

Venus, Serena and AI have crashed and burned after their wins. Sharapova went into decline and is out injured. Meanwhile, JJ and Safina keep on rolling along.

What does this statistic really mean? Are Serena, AI, Venus and Sharapova better at this moment in time? Are they better overall?

I don’t think so. (At this momment in time only - not careerwise)

H2H (top 5 then 8) – yes JJ has the worst record. However, (1) I see this changing in the future as she tweaks her game and with her confidence growing (2) she most often beats those that she should beat, putting her in positions to win – it’s only a matter of time before this chances, see (1), (3) – two loses to Safina came after she was injured at Wimbledon and was clearly not 100% (4) two losses to Serena and two losses to Ivanovic could have gone either way – I see this changing in the future, see (1).

Also, you keep changing the rules

In your first post it was the top 5, in your second post it is the top 8.

Also, I don’t think doubles play is relevant to singles discussion. However, JJ is a GS (Wimbledon) winner in doubles.

How about some other criteria:
Fastest serve – Venus
Best forehand – Ivanovic
Best backhand – JJ
Best use of Hawkeye - JJ
Loudest scream – Serena and Sharapova
Tallest – Safina, I think
Bluest eyes – Zvonareva
Best Makeup – JJ?
Most splits in a season – JJ by far
Best parental – JJ or Ivanovic?
Worst parental – Sharapova?
Largest amount of endorsements – Sharapova – the true alpha female!
Best website – Ivanovic
Best AO outfit – nobody
Best RG oufit – Sharapova
Best Wimbledon outfit – Sharapova
Best USO outfit – JJ (Sharapova wasn’t there)
Most foul language in a match – Sharapova – however, if I knew Russian maybe it would be Safina
Most obnoxious coach – JJ
Best use of a towel – Zvonareva (and JJ after beating Arvidsson at USO)
Best racket smasher – Serena
Nicest to ball boys and girls – Ivanovic
Meanest to ball boys and girls – JJ
Best acceptance speech at a GS – Sharapova – AO
Best runner up acceptance speech at a GS – Safina FO (They wouldn’t give JJ the mike at the USO)

You can use and misuse statistics to prove or disprove anything of you try hard enough and ignore what you don’t like while overemphasis what you do. Statistics can give you insight and that is all.

Your original point was that the ATP system was better but it really did not change anything. Any system is arbitrary. Under the current system JJ is #1, whether you agree or disagree with that, that is the true ‘moot point’.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/09/2008 at 11:08 PM

Forgot # of trophies.

Serena - 4
Safina - 4 and holding
JJ - 3 - soon to be 4

Tied! However, Serena does win the tie for a GS win.

Posted by jenal 10/11/2008 at 03:26 AM

so very glad i am not by myself on my opinion of jelena.
GO DINARA LUV YOU!!

Posted by CABA 10/11/2008 at 05:18 PM

Slams? ahahaha...you guys are infested by biased ESPN columnists. Have they (genious tennis experts!) mentioned that women play THREE setter in slams ONLY??? So, the difference between WTA majors and Tier I tourney is One match!! IS that what you call "slams"???

Oh, yeah (almost forgott): there is 570 points more for "slam" winner too. Those points that you guys (together with some tennis experts) found to be too few?! 570 points just for One match?? And even that's not enough for you?? oh, oh, oh....You probably want 2000 WTA ranking points for winning 3 setter tournament??? What the experts!!

Well, JJ is at the top withought winning a major, than can you imagine how well she played, then??

Lol...sorry WS fans, there is one spot at the top only! (Unless ESPN columnists prove otherwise)! I hear your whining, though. Keep it up. I am all ears.

Go JJ! You're the best.

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/11/2008 at 07:14 PM

For those who think I'm all wet about JJ and my take on the WTA, click the link below.

It's starts with Dementieva acknowledging JJ. Scroll past Safina to "my poor ankle is just killing me". That ankle looks real bad.

Keep scrolling - not only the hardest working woman in tennis and show business, but the one who truely deserves #1 - despite what reporters say.

http://tinyurl.com/4b3q6j

Posted by Tennis Fan 10/11/2008 at 07:18 PM

For those who think I'm all wet about JJ and my take on the WTA, click the link below.

It's starts with Dementieva acknowledging JJ. Scroll past Safina to "my poor ankle is just killing me". That ankle looks real bad.

Keep scrolling - not only the hardest working woman in tennis and show business, but the one who truely deserves #1 - despite what reporters say.

http://tinyurl.com/4b3q6j

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

Tennis Fan:

Brrr...I'm trying to be fair and cordial here. Here goes

***JJ winning a slam***

So Wimbledon in 2009? We will see. I suspect it will be another Williams title.

***JJ being better than Clijsters and/or Mauresmo***:

I said I don't expect her to win any *more* than three or four grand slams. She could have less when all is said and done. I believe Clijsters and Mauresmo could have won more slams than they did if they applied themselves. I'm not sure what this has to do with whether or not JJ is the genuine #1 player for this year, or whether she'll be regarded as a greater legend than either of the Williams sisters. Please let me know, and we can continue this discussion. In case you have not noticed my criteria for the number 1 player involves at least ten pertinent issues, not just grand slam results.

***ATP ranking/WTA ranking***

I see the difference now. I only counted the events for this calendar year, and not the past 52 weeks. It explains why you had a higher numbers for everyone across the board, which made me scratch my head. Otherwise I used the identical formula you did.

***Longest match winning streak***
you stated what I said. The gaps in between are irrelevant. Whether it's a person coming back from an injury or a person going week-to-week-to-week are both impressive in different ways. Unless you can objectively quanitfy a quality it is an irrelevancy.


***Season prize money***
We can indeed concede that JJ and AI are in a dead heat. They are still both behind Serena for this season. **If** JJ wins Moscow and the YEC, then she will have surpassed SW in two more categories going up 4/10 and Serena going down 6/10.

***GS finals reached***
I previously mentioned that in ties (as in the case with AI and SW) use doubles as a tie breaker. It makes sense as historians also look to combined slams, and doubles contributes to tennis. I only count GS finals reached and GS matches won for obvious reasons. The other breakdowns are nice for meta-analysis and could be used as a tie-breaking formula in ties, but that's it. For instance if both of the top performers in this category won 24 matches, then I would go to who was more consistent. Otherwise we'd double or even triple reward for "most GS matches won" the way the current ranking system double/triple rewards for "most matches played".

***JJ's HTH***
I wouldn't be surprised if her HTH record improves in the future either. But the fact is it's dismal in the present, although she finally has beaten another top 5 player this year (Dementievea in Moscow. Dementieva was #6, not #5 at the USO). When this happens I will be happy for her, but it's silly to reward her in advance. Agree?

***Top 5 versus top 8***
I didn't change the rules. It still should be about a plyer's HTH against other top 5ers, but making it about the top 8 makes JJ's record less bad, although she's still not in the league or Safina or Serena in even that range.


***The pertinence of doubles play***

I think winning/playing both singles and doubles at the same tournament is much harder to do than winning/playing just singles. It's why hardly any of the current players can pull it off. I only used it as a tie-breaker when two players are tied in singles, and also to illustrate that the attacks about the Williamses' lack of matches is not completely accurate. The only exception is with the Olympics: A gold medal is a gold medal, so I count them as all equal. I was more impressed with Federer's gold medal than I was with Nadal's, and I'm a huge Nadal fan! If you want me to drop the gold medal issue, then *if* JJ wins in Moscow *and* takes the YEC, she will go up to 4/10 and Serena will be 5/10; SW would still be ahead of her.

The other list of criteria you posted are largely components that contribute to wins. Some of them are (I presume) your attempt at ridicule. Factoring these in would only give added weight to certain categories (that double/triple rewarding I was talking about), and others would make rankings partially up to voting. That's hardly objective.

***Statistics***

I like your quote about statistics, but it's only true to those who are untrained about how to use them, which is why it's important to learn about statistics, especially if you're a citizen planning on voting. Statistics can be used to mislead, but so can words.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't speak. Statistics is the mathematical science of data. Without it, computer science, biostatistics, and other things would be interpretive arts instead of sciences. Like any tool it can be abused, but I haven't abused it here, and I suspect you internally agree with me. When used properly it can be very revealing about pretty much anything. It's why I've chosen it as a major. To quote Marilyn vos Savant, "Be able to analyze statistics which can be used to support or undercut almost any argument."


Regards,

Nathan

Posted by josephine harris 10/13/2008 at 12:51 PM

JJ as you all call her, is sneaky, nasty, fake and pretentious. And she uses her antics on court to rest between points. She always call on trainers to break the opponets momentum. She's catty and actually laughs and snickers at other players. Her mother and coach are desperate for her to win, at all cost. Their antics are just as bad or worse as her tricks on court, yet all the time playing to the crowd seeming nice.
she's on a winning streak now as some others were, but just keep watching.

Posted by Sway 10/15/2008 at 12:25 PM

I perfectly agree with You Josephine - You've really figured it out too.

Posted by aaron lecciones 10/16/2008 at 10:32 AM

I once watched her game and I told my mom, although it doesn't look like Hingis game because Hingis always seems so at ease and easy when she constructed and won points, unlike Jelena who looks like she is always at full stretch, the manner of which the balls goes here, there and then does this for the win reminded me of Hingis, and my mom said no...

Nice to see that you see always what I saw. Now Jelena needs that invisible cocky aura that Hingis had, and then she will win majors.

Posted by gates 10/21/2008 at 12:06 PM

you people have no lives STFU

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