Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - IW: Looking Out for No. 1
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IW: Looking Out for No. 1 03/16/2009 - 1:16 AM

DsThe crowd is dozing, the second set is dragging, and the woman across the net isn't giving Dinara Safina anything to work with. Peng Shuai shovels one ball down the middle after another—no angles, no pace. It's time for the top seed to take matters into her own hands. This, of course, means that she must let out an unintelligible, or perhaps Russian, scream that turns into a full sentence—maybe a paragraph—of anger. The sleepy Southern California afternoon is punctured. The audience, collectively stunned out of its torpor, gives the players the biggest cheer they receive all afternoon. Safina wins the next two points, the game, the set, and, eventually, not without more struggle and a few more self-lacerations, the match. After yesterday's upsets, the tournament needs its No. 1 seed. Safina, not at her best, has obliged.

"When I was ranked No. 30 or 40, I would say I am better than this." Safina starts to raise her arm to punctuate these last four words, then puts it down again quietly before it gets above her shoulder. On paper it sounds like another moment of rising frustration from Safina, except that she's said these words to me in a high voice that's just above a whisper. They're said not with anger, but with motivation.

Behind any questions of fitness or toughness or skill is the question of motivation. In his 1980s profile of Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, Frank DeFord went back to Knight's days as a player at Ohio State to find the ultimate source for his success as a coach. Knight had been a bench warmer on an NCAA championship team that included All American Jerry Lucas and future Celtics great John Havlicek. Lucas was the better college player, which motivated Havlicek, who became a Hall of Fame pro, which in turn motivated Knight to prove his own worth and superior of knowledge of the game.

Tennis is a hotbed of this kind of one-upmanship. Or, to be more precise, one-up-woman-ship: Serena Williams is, if nothing else, the world's biggest kid sister. She had Venus to look up to, to emulate, and to vanquish. Dinara Safina is also a younger sibling to a famous major-title-winning tennis player, Marat Safin. On the surface, you might think this fact hasn't motivated her as thoroughly as it did Serena. You might be wrong.

"Having an older brother was good and bad," she says in the take-no-breaths vocal overdrive that characterizes so many women tennis players. "it helped you at first, but then I always wanted to be better, so I put more pressure on myself to be better."

That's an inauspicious beginning, but this story has a happy ending, and Safina breaks into a quick and sudden smile as she reaches it. "It made me want to be recognized as my own person, and now I'm there." For Safina, as for Serena, being a good tennis player wasn't just about excelling at a sport. It was about, as she so simply states it, being recognized as her own person. Is there any more powerful motivation than that?

Of course, Safina knows she'll never really be her own person. At her press conference today she was asked whether she ever teased Marat about being more famous than he is.

"No, no. Today one person asked me if I'm the sister of Marat. I'm like, yeah. 'Are you playing tennis [they asked]?' And I look at them, like, Well, OK, yes, I'm also a tennis player. I'm still, I think, known more as his sister."

Next question: Does she celebrate when she goes through a press conference and her brother isn't mentioned. "Yeah," Safina answered with a smile, "but it's never happened. So you see, even today, you ask, so I cannot celebrate."

Today, big brother was out practicing for his match Sunday evening. If he has never fulfilled his potential as a match player, Safin remains among the world's greatest practice players. He's the world's greatest hitter of the ball, as long the mind doesn't need to be engaged. He effortlessly slugged backhands and forehands from a straight-standing position for half an hour, seemingly just for the hell of it. Safin is also one of the few players whose shots have their own sound—it's somewhere between a thunk and a pow (Roger Federer is almost as unique in that his shots produce very little sound at all.). Safin's flick backhand is the closest thing to cannon-fire in tennis. Watching, I wondered, if I lived in a small town and it was announced that Safin was coming, but just to practice, would I pay to see it? I'd have to say yes.

Little sister was also out practicing before her match on Sunday. There were about 150 fewer people watching, but the top seed drew her own crowd. Safina wasn't doing anything effortlessly, and she can't hit standing straight up if she wanted to, because this self-conscious, too-tall girl slumps her shoulders. Instead, she hit serve after serve, methodically, grunting loudly, taking time to work out the many kinks in that complicated and slightly disjointed shot. Nothing comes perfectly for Dinara, the way it does for Marat, who owns one of the leanest and cleanest serves in the game's history. Today her coach, Zeltjko Krajan, schooled her on the same fundamentals we've all been schooled on with our serves: keep your head up and your tossing arm high. She couldn't always do it.

Safina ended her session with a little violent fun. She took short balls on her forehand side. "Taking," however, is an understatement of epic proportions. Her little steps weren't meant to get her in position; she looked like was revving herself up. She hit each ball viciously, with a full cut from the shoulder.

Later that afternoon, during her match, Safina hit her forehands the same way. If anything, she errs on the side of too much effort—her backhand is a natural and excellent defensive stroke, but her forehand is a willpower shot, rather than a timing shot. Many years of this effort have made Safina a stronger player than she must have thought she would ever become, even when she was in the rankings wilderness and screaming, in her high whisper, I'm better than this.

What has Dinara learned from Marat? We asked her that question today. She answered with perfect logic, and told us all we needed to know about how she's become a success in her own right.

Q: What lessons have you learned from your brother's experiences?

"Just not to do like he's doing," Safina said with a thin wry smile. "Do completely opposite from him."



 
38
Comments
 

Posted by imjimmy 03/16/2009 at 01:27 AM

first! Nicely put Steve. Thanks again!

Posted by AmyLu 03/16/2009 at 01:38 AM

Steve, I'm loving your reports from Indian Wells. They've all been spectacular. Safina is becoming one of my favorite players so I really enjoyed reading this piece.

Just a little quibble on the Ohio State legacy -- Bobby Knight was the sixth man on that team so I don't know that calling him a bench warmer is the most accurate of terms. I tend to think of bench warmers as those who never make it into the game. My parents absolutely love that team -- they were eight when the Buckeyes won that championship, and my mom has a program from that year with every team member's autograph.

Posted by rg.nadal (determined to twitter more) 03/16/2009 at 01:56 AM

Good luck, Dinara

Posted by Pspace 03/16/2009 at 02:53 AM

Steve, thanks for the continued great reports! It's comforting for me to know that Federer's shots don't have any sound, 'cos I'm not able to get any sound either :-). Ever since I saw Nalbandian play, I've been whaling away on the ball to hear the thunderous pow! But, the only time that happens is when the string breaks.

Posted by Navin Israni 03/16/2009 at 03:01 AM

one request..though i love reading ur articles...i hate it wen u mention all the irrelevant US things in it..i mean from where does basketball step into tennis...i know you US ppl love mixing up totally irrelevant things (its pretty evident form most of Tennis.com bloggers)...but ever thought of it..how non-Americans feel when they read ur stuff...to me as an Indian..it seems completely illogical...and i am sure..most on-americans reading ur articles also feel the same...i mean PLEASE stop mentioning all other US Sports into Tennis..PLEASE StOP IT...!!

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/16/2009 at 05:58 AM

Steve Thanks for the post.

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Safina at Medibank Sydney this year.I have been a fan of hers for a while.Maybe its the Marat connection there I really dont know.Everyone is a fan of Marat hey especially of the female variety.

Safina really has made her mark in the WTA last year.When she came of age so to speak.Her new coach has really brought out many good things in her.To actually see her in person is daunting to say the least.She is one tall and lean playing machine these days.

I think that speaks for itself with the results she has had.She is so much quicker aropund the court.Also dosent seem as fiery as before.Still has some matches where I still feel she puts undue pressure on herself.Hey its a family thing!.

Safina is fairly shy and unassuming when you meet her.Though admires and loves her older brother very much.

I feel this year she could be a grand slam winner.Always needs to relax more her tennis will flow.I will be following her with interest.

Posted by suresh 03/16/2009 at 07:15 AM

Navin@3.01 , you have got a few things mixed. There is a clear link that Steve is trying to establish between his para on basketball and the following one. It is the concept and not the sport itself that he is talking about. There is no Americanism in this, I feel, even though I am Indian too. Please refrain from generalisation by saying that most is irreleveant. Just enjoy the sports writing and the passion of the bloggers. You are free to ignore things which you do not like or associate with.

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 03/16/2009 at 08:56 AM

Steve,
Your pieces are fun, just plan fun to read.
Can you do All the master's oops ATP 1000 series please?
As a lover of all things Marat and by extension Dinara (see there is an upside to being "little sister") I am rooting for her to hoist the trophy.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/16/2009 at 08:58 AM

Good luck to Safina, but if she does take over the number 1 spot after IW, I will find it hard to believe that she's a better player than Serena who currently holds two back to back GS and who recently blew Safina off the court at the AO. She maybe number l after IW, but that doesn't mean she's the best as JJ's proved when she was World's #1! I think an argument can be made that Sharapova with 3 GS is truly the best Russian, no matter where she's ranked. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/16/2009 at 09:01 AM

Wanted to add, I have nothing against Safina, have cheered for her many times, but I have a problem with any player receiving world's #1 without a slam and I totally agreed with Roger's statement on the issue about Murray and JJ.

Posted by sonya 03/16/2009 at 09:03 AM

Once again, a great piece Steve. Thank you!

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/16/2009 at 09:11 AM

Really great post Steve, thanks!

Posted by ava 03/16/2009 at 09:25 AM

All the posts from IW have been exceptional. Lots of insight that many an ordinary fan would miss.

Posted by Master Ace 03/16/2009 at 09:39 AM

If Dinara was to win Indian Wells and/or Key Biscayne, that should give her the confidence to finally win a Slam. Dinara has learned,with Berlin being the starting point in 2008, to win matches when she is not playing at her best.

Posted by Josh 03/16/2009 at 10:15 AM

Great Post Mr. Tignor

Although i wish Ms. Safin the best of luck,i cant help but to root for another. There are many other promising players in the field that i hope will cahnge up the WTA in futrue years, adn i think if Victoria Azeranka stpes her game up she can take out dinara safina on a good day adn for the semi's i am looking for victoria azeranka, vera zvonerava, daniela hantucova adn ar

Posted by AL-AMIN 03/16/2009 at 11:54 AM

sTEVE:

I THINK IT IS A BETTER CRITERIA: IF U WANT TO BE THE NUMBER ONE IN RANKING YOU SHOULD WON A GRAND SLAM AT LEAST FOR ONCE. BY PLAYING TOO MANY TOURNAMENTS IF YOU EARN POINT AND FAIL TO SHOW YOUR ABILITY IN THE BIG ARENA OF GRAND SLAM( WHERE ALL TOP PLAYERS PARTICIPATE) THEN YOU ARE USE LESS NUMBER ONE. IT DOESN'T REFLECT THE TRUE STRENGTH OF THE PLAYER.

THE STRENGTH AND PERIOD OF TIME SEREENA SHOWS HER ABILITY TO BE THE TOP, IT MAKES HER THE LEGEND AND OFF COURSE THE NUMBER ONE OF THE WOMEN TENNIS, JJ OR SAFINA WHAT EVER POINTS YOU EARN, YOU ARE NOT THE REAL NUMBER ONE.

Posted by sokol 03/16/2009 at 11:54 AM

Good luck to Dinara!

Posted by Syd 03/16/2009 at 12:02 PM

Lovely post, Steve. Thanks for this.

Posted by pinto 03/16/2009 at 12:17 PM

Roger fans please join
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=48739343387&ref=ts

Posted by smile 03/16/2009 at 12:39 PM

I am looking for an Ivanovic repeat

Posted by Master Ace 03/16/2009 at 02:06 PM

Smile,
With the bottom half of the draw wide open, Ana chances of repeating are pretty good as long as she stays aggressive. If Ana does not play aggressive with her weapons and good coaching in Craig Kardon, she will lose.

Steve,
Are you going to do a piece on Ana Ivanovic this week? I would like to have your take on her and how will she do with Craig Kardon.

Posted by Ben 03/16/2009 at 02:12 PM

I am a big brother, and my little brother could have been a better tennis player than I am today. Now, I am playing and watching tennis all the time. It was a very good article that would be great in any sports section.

Posted by Dirk 03/16/2009 at 02:25 PM

"The real number one." "...deserving #1!" It's more a matter of earning #1.

As the ranking system is set as it is set up, if you get to be number one, you don't really deserve or not deserve it, regardless of how many Slams you've won or not won; you've EARNED it, either way.

If the ranking system is changed in the future to make the number-one slot "feel" more "deserved," then great for the future. JJ became number one because she earned it. Only some entity much more omniscient than I will ever know if she deserved it.

If Dinara gets to be number one after Indian Wells, she'll have earned the number-one spot.

Yes, all the greats who've won Grand Slams and have been ranked Number One are the greatest, legends like Chris, Martina, Tracy, Steffi, Evonne, Aranxta, Monica, and Justine and the rest.

Those who've won Grand Slams but never been number one, also great--#2-ranked players (Anastasia Myskina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jana Novotna, and Conchita Martinez), #3-ranked players (Mary Pierce, Gabriela Sabatini, and Hana Mandlikova) and even a #4-ranked player (Iva Majoli).

The one who's been number one but never won a Grand Slam, you know what, she's a great player also; go JJ.

I can't wait to add Dinara to one of the lists. But, you know what, if she never makes it to any of the lists, she's still a great player, two-time Grand Slam finalist, Olympic Silver Medalist, Berlin Winner, Tokyo Winner, #2-ranked player, etc. If she stopped playing right now, she'd stop as a Round-of-16 Indian Wells player. Just right there, you have to admit she's pretty good.

Think about it, you make the Top 16 of any professional tennis tournament, you're pretty good. You do it several times, you're really good. Throw in a Grand Slam semi, a final....

You "deserve" whatever highest ranking you get BECAUSE YOU EARNED IT.

Where does the moaning end? If this silly Doesn't-deseve-#1 moaning continues, next we'll say Andrea Jaeger didn't deserve to be #2 because she never blah blah blah... Pam Shriver didn't deserve to be #3 because she never even blahed... Mary Joe Fernandez and Kimiko Date, what did they do to deserve the #4-ranking?

Plenty! They earned it. Jelena Jankovic earned the number-one ranking. Dinara Safina is earning it right now, even if she never makes it to number one. While you're moaning about "deserving," she's out practicing her second serves and stab volleys and overheads and concentrating on being in shape and getting good nutrients, etc.

If two Mondays from now, she's still the number-two-ranked player in the world, she will have earned the ranking. If, two Mondays from now, she's the number-one-ranked tennis player in the world, she will have EARNED that, too.

Who cares if you or I or Roger or El-Amin or Steve or Serena or anyone else thinks she "deserves" it...

Posted by Dirk 03/16/2009 at 02:33 PM

Thanks, Steve. Great article.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/16/2009 at 02:53 PM

Dirk, I respectfully disagree and feel that the number l position should be reserved for who is truly the world's best. When JJ was number 1, she said "yes, I'm the best player in the world." Not many people including Roger Federer agree with this nonsense. She may have earned her number l title but it didn't make her the best against the multi slam winners like the Williamses and Sharapova.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/16/2009 at 03:01 PM

Furthermore, Safina may "earn" her number l status, but she will be compared to the woman who is the real number l, who holds two back to back slams and who just wiped Safina off the court in two easy straight sets at the AO. A match Martina N called "pathetic" on Safina's part. You can talk about earned all you one, but at some point reality comes into play. The reality is Serena is a far better player than Safina or Jankovic who have no slams. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by luxsword 03/16/2009 at 05:11 PM

Good read. So many entries these days, keep them coming !

Posted by sherri 03/16/2009 at 05:29 PM

tell the williams sisters to get off their asses and play more tournaments. If they do that, then they will get enough points to be/hold the #1 spot. Because they pick and choose their matches/events, they don't acquire as many points. The other girls on the WTA play more. Simple as that. So, if they play more, and win more, they deserve whatever ranking they earn. Grand Slam or not. If Dinara reaches #1, she absolutely deserves it, as she's played her tail off. Serena, while she may be the best 'player' in the world, does not deserve the ranking, as she didn't show up to get the points.

Posted by Dirk 03/16/2009 at 06:23 PM

There're 2 things that you can definitely say about me: I love tennis. I'm a realist.

FACT: Serena Williams in the number one player in the world, right now.

FACT: If Dinara Safina gets to the Indian Wells final, she will take over and be the new number one player in the world.


FACT: And, I reiterate,...

...the ranking system, for better or worse, is the ranking system. If you are ranked number one, you ARE the number one player in the world.

There's no gray. This is real.

Now, the further issue seems to be whether being ranked number one means you're the best player in the world. Who's to say?

Let's say Dinara Safina finishes out 2009 with wins at both the French Open and the U.S. Open and finishes the year ranked number one. She will then be a multi-Grand-Slam winner as well as being ranked Number One for the whole year. Many fans will certainly, at that point, say, "Dinara's the best player in the world." However, let's go on to say that in the process of accomplishing this superb feat, Dinara loses to Serena Williams at some point at Wimbledon and during 2 of the Road-to-the-U.S.-Open Series tourneys and that those're the only further times they play in 2009. What then? Dinara would still then be a multi-Grand-Slam-winning, number-one-ranked player! Would she still not be "the best player in the world"?

Who's to say? Is it gray?

The ranking system seems to be a only a quaint, fanciful seeding sytem when your player is not number one and a super accurate fact-maker when your player is number one.

You can have it both ways. Of course, you can. It's called being a fan.

I like Serena a lot too. Some stuff she's done and does inspires me; some stuff not. However (from what I can tell, she's a pretty sharp person), she knows how the ranking system works. For reasons her own and more power to her, she chooses not to play in Indian Wells and only in limited tourneys throughout the year. Who's to say she'd be anywhere near number one if she played more tourneys? It's gray for some, a "fact" for others, whether she's the best player in the world. Maybe if she played more tourneys, she'd be so far ahead that new records would be set.

Let's say Serena plays 24 tourneys this year instead of around 14-17 or so. Let's say beginning around the French, she tires herself out and only gets to the semis or quarters or, horrors, rounds of 32 of tourneys she may have won if she'd only played 14-17. What then? Wouldn't you gray-area super-fans then say, "Well, she's the best player when she plays fewer tournaments; and, look, she's still ranked #3 when she does play more. That, together with how many times she's been number one and with how many Slams she's won, she's the best player ever, EVER!" Of course, the gray-area fans would have every right to say that BECAUSE THEY'RE FANS!

I state again,... The ranking system is the ranking system. There's no emotional, fannish, gray way to read the numbers. It's still a solid, undeniable fact that if you're ranked number one with the current and past ranking systems used by the WTA, you ARE number one. There is no further, secret, "real" number one away from that. Well, there is. It's called being a super-fan's favorite player.

This week, Serena, by the numbers, is number one. A few weeks from now, she likely still will be. If she is, she'll have earned the number one spot. If Dinara takes over the ranking, Dinara REALly will be number one then and not Serena. Yes, Serena will be holding two Slam trophies a few weeks from now and Dinara only 2 runner-up trophies; but, if Dinara's number one, Serena will NOT be holding the number-one ranking, Dinara will BE number one and be, as some would say, "the best player in the world." That's not gray, is it?

I never said Dinara was better than Serena any way or that she ever will be or someday may be. I simply said that if she's ranked number one two Mondays from now, she'll be ranked number one. She will have earned the ranking, too, week-in,week-out for the last 52 weeks.

Serena will be hard-pressed to get the ranking back quickly too as she's defending so many points in Miami, and then the clay season follows, where Dinara's less Serena-like style gets a bit of a boost.


May the best player win every tournament she's in, no matter how many she plays in a year and no matter how Grand-Slammy the tourney is and no matter her seeding and/or ranking.

I hope the best player does win, whether she's a little sister, big sister, mom, daughter, and/or aunt, or whether she's Dinara, Serena, Jelena, Ai, Amelie, Shahar, Venus, Caroline and the list goes on. And, I hope every match is hard fought and exciting for both the players and the fans.

May we all find inspiration in a player reaching Number One in the World and find inspiration in the same OR A DIFFERENT player winning a Grand Slam Tournament.

I mean, freakin' awesome, getting to be ranked Number One in the World. Only eighteen, EIGHTEEN, women have ever been ranked Number One. What an amazing, obstacle-defying, magnificent feat of athletic power, stamina, courage, nerves, obsession, and desire. How freakin' inspirational.

(And, then, after it happens, some negative person says something silly about "the real number one" and/or that "only Grand Slam winners should be ranked number one." If it's a famous, tennis-playing person saying it, I'm saying they're negative and, well, wrong, by the numbers, no matter who they are.)

Think of it this way, fifteen of the 18 women who've been ranked number one first won a Grand Slam tournament before they reached number one. That does seem to be the regular way of doing things. Of the three who did not do it in that order, two have gone on the win a Grand Slam tournament or two (Kim and Amelie). Only one woman in the whole history of the world (JJ) has been ranked number one and never won a Grand Slam tournament. DO YOU KNOW HOW DIFFICULT THAT IS? It's never been done, except by one person! How awesome and inspiring! That's doing it the hard way! That's doing it New School. Earned. Deserved! "Best player in the world" at that ranking moment at the end-of-the-last-52-weeks ranking period. Better than Serena, better than Venus, better than Dinara, and better than Ana too, for when JJ was number one. (Look, I am not a fan of Jelena's, but she has my respect for having been the number-one-ranked-player-in-the-World. She did it without winning a Slam in that year; WOW! Now, I wish she hadn't been number one. As I said, I'm not a fan. I don't love her style of play or her manner away from the court. But, she did it, made it to #1. I can't deny it. The numbers are there. Not Roger, not Martina, no one can ever deny she was ranked number one.)

Celebrate the awesome accomplishment of a Number-One Ranking week-to-week, week-in and week-out, AND at year's end.

And, celebrate the Grand Slam champions every few months throughout the year.

Be a fan; root for your favorite player(s) to win. Feel free to believe your favorite player is the best to have ever played the game, if you like. (Personally, I like Dinara, Amelie, Ai, Venus, Sveta, and Serena now; but can any hold a candle to the way I felt as a young fan watching Tracy give Chris and Martina what for during her short reign or watching Chris holding out another year and taking it to Martina just one more time when everyone thought "Martina's the best in the world"...) Yeah, always root for your favorite, but, if some other player ends up number one and/or ends up with the trophy, if nothing else, celebrate that human being's accomplishment. You know, if Dinara makes it to the Indian Wells semi and then gets beaten by Vera or some other player, I will be sorely disappointed, and will find it difficult to "celebrate that human being's accomplishment." But, you know what, I'll get around to it.

It's all an ongoing fluid process that's worthy of celebration and can be, IF YOU LET IT, a POSITIVE source of inspiration.

Enjoy tennis!

Posted by Dirk 03/16/2009 at 06:46 PM

Sherri: Well said. You said in a few lines way better than what it took me pages to say. Thanks.

Dinara rocks. Marat, too.

Posted by M-life 03/16/2009 at 07:16 PM

I don't know whether I am on Samantha's or Dirk's side with this one. But you can be ranked number 1 in the world and not be the best player in the world. Jelena Jankovic has never in her career been able to truthfully say that she was the best player in the world. But she became number 1 with a good 3 tournament run and a solid overall body of work. If she doesn't win a major, her #1 ranking will be hollow.

Likewise, Marcello Rios and Leyton Hewit were never an unquestioned best player in the world either.

So If Dinara wins and becomes number 1, well, in my mind she still got to beat one if not both the Williams sisters to really legitimize that ranking. She hasn't been able to do- it like ever- most recently- the last couple of times against Serena.

That being said, She has far exceeded my expectations I had back just a couple years ago. Never thought she would crack the top eight at best.

So you go Dinara! And maybe someday you will get through a press conference or interview with that brother of yours ever being mentioned once.

Posted by Bala Yugandar 03/16/2009 at 08:43 PM

Steve-Wonderful post. You have an uncanny ability to string seemingly disparate things into a lively/intersting whole. Marat remains everyone's favorite without actually playing it. I woke up in ungodly hrs in the US to watch his matches against Roger at Wimby'08 and Aus'09 and yes Marat strokes produce unique boom booms.....i know writers constantly refer to his strokes to thwack, tonk, simply boom! I remember clearly in Aus 05(that he won) he thrashed a very good player(don remember his name)in straights and thumped one ACE that entire audience heard....such was the spontaneous elation! Frustratingly, for all his talent, he's won 2 biggies when 10 should have been the minimum. I will bet Marat at his best will trump Roger at his damn best.
And your basketball reference was plain relevant. Keep it comin

Posted by steve 03/16/2009 at 10:34 PM

thanks everyone. you are probably correct on bobby knight not quite being a bench warmer. deford also says he was the best high school player in the history of his hometown in ohio.

and yes, i brought up basketball to illustrate a point about sports in general. and what a blog be like without irrelevant material?

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/17/2009 at 06:36 AM

Thank you M-life and how are you? I miss you and was looking for your posts. "Jelena Jankovic has never in her career been able to truthfully say she was the best player in the world." I can't stop laughing at this because when you go through all the debates, this is a statement that few people can argue with and this was my point. You want the truly best player to be world's #1. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/17/2009 at 06:37 AM

I think she also needs to beat Sharapova who I feel is also a better player.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/17/2009 at 06:46 AM

Dirk, I understand what you're saying, but to be the best, you have to beat the best. Rafa is number l not only in ranking but in the eyes of all tennis, because he beat Roger in back to back slams. If he had zero slams and a poor H2H against Roger, do you think anyone would really see him has number 1, no matter what his ranking was? Not many and that is the problem with Safina and Jankovic.

Posted by miss asia pacific 03/17/2009 at 02:44 PM

i think Venus is soon going to make it to no. 1
safina looks out of chances as she has way too many points to defend on clay.

Posted by Henry 07/08/2009 at 08:29 AM

A nice take on Dinara

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/211126-dinara-safina-how-to-lose-matches-and-influence-people

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