Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Squirrel Hunting
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Squirrel Hunting 09/30/2010 - 1:21 PM

Woz Do squirrels make you paranoid? As I kid, I was walking home from a friend’s house one day when a squirrel turned around and began to run straight at me. Seeing all that raw, gnawing, hungry, spastic energy careening in my direction almost gave me a heart attack, so I hopped over to the other side of the street. After a few minutes I looked back and saw—I swear it’s true—that my new friend had crossed to my side of the street and was following me. I ran the next 10 blocks back to my house and peeked back out the door to make sure he wasn’t coming up my front walk.

Then, a couple of years ago, I was visiting a friend in Philadelphia when I looked out his living room window and saw a squirrel staring at me, gnawing away on something. He had a definite look in his eye; he didn’t like me. Was it the squirrel I had given the slip all those years ago? The next morning, when I sat down in the same spot for breakfast, he suddenly appeared again, this time gnawing on a bone. A pretty big bone. Who knows, maybe it was a human bone. I switched seats so he couldn’t see me. I’ve never been back to that house.

So you see, I can relate to Robby Ginepri’s shock at finding a squirrel in his path while he was biking this week. Ginepri was so surprised that he fell off the bike, broke his arm, and will now miss the rest of the season. I’m not joking when I say I feel bad for the guy. Ginepri at various points has served as living evidence of how tough tennis can be when things start going south. The former U.S. Open semifinalist is one of the rare athletes who has admitted publicly to fighting depression, and I could see some of that when I watched him play Lleyton Hewitt two years ago in the opening round at Wimbledon. Ginepri got out to an early lead in the first set and was controlling the points. Then something happened, a double fault maybe, and he was finished. It was midway through the first set, but his slumped shoulders said that it was over, all over. He barely won another game. Ginepri had reached maximum fragility. He began every match waiting for something to go wrong, waiting to see the evidence that he couldn’t win, and then believing it. Get better fast, Robby, you've played too much good tennis in the past not to believe it can be done again.

***

Triumph and disaster: Those are the famous words of Wimbledon, and there’s some of both every week in pro tennis. While Ginepri is sidelined from one tour, Caroline Wozniacki looks poised to take over the other. She has advanced to the semis in Tokyo; if she wins there and reaches the quarters next week, she’ll pass an idle Serena Williams for the No. 1 spot for the first time in her young career.

I wrote last week that Wozniacki might want to be careful what she wishes for. If she does get to No. 1, her storyline may change drastically, and unfairly, from cute, plucky up-and-comer to undeserving usurper of the top ranking and symbol of all that is dysfunctional in tennis, especially women’s tennis. The questions about whether she’s the “real No. 1” will be sure to follow, questions that drove Dinara Safina around a bend and contributed to her total loss in confidence last year.

Granted, Wozniacki may not make it there next week, but as she says, “there will be other chances.” But let’s nip this line of thinking in the bud anyway: Yes, she would be the real No. 1, and she would deserve it. She would not be the best player in the world; that’s still Serena, who won two majors this year. Being No. 1 is a different achievement. It might not sound glamorous, but it’s an honor nonetheless: Wozniacki would be recognized as the best in the world at her job. In 2010, she’s put her head down, made it through some rough patches, and seems ready to end the season on the same high note that she reached in the spring. It’s not like she can’t play tennis with Serena, either. Last year in Sydney, in their only full match, Wozniacki took her to a third-set tiebreaker.

Even when she was younger, Serena didn't consider trying to be No. 1, or playing to other people’s ideas of a schedule, essential to her job. She and her sister have always been about the Slams, winning when everyone knows it counts, like their hero Pete Sampras—though Pete was big on being No. 1 as well. Now that Serena’s got 13 majors, she’s playing against history rather than the rest of the tour. It’s a drag for fans and tournament directors around the world, but you don’t think Serena would put any stake in how a computer rated her ability, do you?

Wozniacki, pushed along by the appearance fees she can now command, has played a lot of tennis this year. If she hasn’t shown she can win the big events yet, she has shown the resilience of a future champion. The toughness and intelligence below the nice-girl exterior were displayed for most of the two weeks at Flushing. Part of me hopes that she doesn’t become No. 1, for her own sake—it would mess with her natural career trajectory. But a bigger part of me hopes that she does. Unfairly or not, the pressure will be on Wozniacki to live up to that billing, to make something artificial into something real. I would look forward to seeing how she measured up. She might be tougher than she looks.


 
83
Comments
 

Posted by Vie 09/30/2010 at 01:37 PM

Wishes for Ginepri's recovery and getting back on track soon. And good spirits...

Steve, lol, I've heard squirrels can be scary.

Posted by Master Ace 09/30/2010 at 01:51 PM

If (and when) Caroline is ranked numner 1, she would have deserved it as she has been making the later rounds of tournaments consistently. Since Wimbledon, Caroline is 22-2. But, I do agree with Steve that her storyline will change and expectations will increase as some media experts will expect her to win a Slam in 2011. At the moment, the WTA is trying to market her likeness and at the USO, she was part of the American Express ad New Contenders with John,Sam and Melanie. CBS and ESPN2 had story pieces on her also. I believe Denmark would have a day, street, or whatever in her honor. Through all this, I believe Caroline will be mentally strong to handle these new expectations.

Now, she faces Victoria in the semifinal already clinched a place at the Sony Ericsson Championships at Doha.

Posted by Vie 09/30/2010 at 02:02 PM

I am guessing, what you mean by being #1 messing with her natural career trajectory, is that, you don't think she should be #1 yet, meaning she is not good yet for that position and you say this because you care for the player. It seems #1 in women's tennis nowadays is shifty until proven otherwise by the ascension of a dominant one.

Posted by Michele 09/30/2010 at 02:32 PM

Interesting post and it made me immediately think about a scene from the documentary film "Kings of Pastry" that I saw last night at Film Forum.

The judge of the coveted MOF (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France) said it took him three tries to win the competition, which is brutal and only occurs once every four years. Point is, he said it was a good thing it took him so long because if a chef wins it before he's ready he will feel he doesn't deserve it -- and it will negatively affect his entire career.

I don't think Safina ever thought she deserved it, nor will Wozniacki should she get there.

Posted by Fern 09/30/2010 at 02:56 PM

"The squirrel ... gnawing on a bone ... maybe it was a human bone. I switched seats so he couldn't see me" - clearly that squirrel deeply affected you! Great description of a phobia, love your writing, Steve.

Very unlucky for poor Robby, though - always thought of him as an underated player - hope he recovers quickly.

Posted by AB 09/30/2010 at 02:57 PM

I'm with MA. I think Woz is one tough Danish in a weak pastry era.

But seriously, I think she's shown some real mental toughness *and* she's smart enough to cultivate a positive relationship with Serena which can only benefit her ability to handle whatever comes with making the turn, i.e. achieving the #1 ranking.

I have seen some incremental improvements in her game and that bodes well for her career arc.

She rocks the new-look tennis togs. Love the sunshine knickers.

About the only thing I would change about Caro is asking SamE to please use paragraphs in any post longer than 3 sentences.

Posted by wilson75 09/30/2010 at 03:14 PM

"The toughness and intelligence below the nice-girl exterior were displayed for most of the two weeks at Flushing."

Steve: That toughness and intelligence was no-where to be seen in her SF match against Zvonereva. But I guess she's still young and a work in progress. It is inevitable that if she becomes No. 1 she's will be tagged with the slamless No. 1 title. For sure, the WTA will be happy to have her as the No. 1 as they know she will always be available to promote the sport and to do the required duties of the No. 1.

However, it's up to her to show the tennis world that she deserves to be No. 1 by winning the AO next year. With the exception of the USO she has not excelled at the slams and I hope that next year she will work towards performing better at the big events. At this stage, she's the favourite to win Doha.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/30/2010 at 03:21 PM

Steve, let's just call it the "S&V Curse"... and I don't mean "Serve & Volley." No, I'm speaking of the "Serena and Venus" cusrse, that has plagued the women's tour ever since they reached world #1 and 2 simultaneously a few years ago. Save for Justine Henin's stint at the top of the game, it seems that whenever someone reaches that coveted spot, it suddenly becomes a worm-hole into an alternative universe in which that player can no longer execute the simplest of shots--let alone win back-to-back matches. And it's because of the vacuum, or black hole, if you will, left when either Serena or Venus, or both, are unable to compete to defend what's been rightfully theirs for nearly a decade--the number 1 ranking.

And who said I was a Williams sisters hater? Ha!

Posted by Master Ace 09/30/2010 at 03:57 PM

Wilson75,
If Caroline win Doha, that would be huge for her career as she has not won a Premier Mandatory event or above. When Amelie won the Sony Ericsson Championships in 2005, that gave her the necessary confidence to win the 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon after failing in the later stages of Slams before then.

Slice-n-Dice,
Interesting comment you have about the S&V Curse.

Posted by lilscot 09/30/2010 at 04:07 PM

Ooh, tough call. I love Caroline but I don't wish the #1 ranking on her at all. Not that she would or would not deserve it, just that the way everyone reacts to #1's that have no GS. Whether it's fair or not is not for me to say, but poor Dinara comes to mind and I don't want to see that happen to another young lady.

One thing I will say, if this were to happen on the men's side there would be a lot bigger fuss being made about it. Maybe I'm wrong. Has there ever been a #1 man in the open era that didn't have a Slam?

Posted by Kombo (GOAT-curious) 09/30/2010 at 04:10 PM

Go Azarenka!

Posted by Legoboy 09/30/2010 at 04:10 PM

Steve great piece...I love how you can find your inner child re: chasing squirrel

I think what he means about reuining the trajectory, is that on the men's side, you rarely see someone take the number 1 ranking without first having one at least 1 of the majours.
Until Serena regained it, it was 3 consecutive, slamless wonders....none of which then rose to the ranking, and claimed the all elusive slam title. I think Caroline is a bit more mentally strong, but the press will do their best to ruin this moment, and make her feel incompetent, as they always do, so we'll see if she has it in her.

I agree with Steve, I hope she doesn't earn it quite yet, I'd love to see it early next year, with a great showing at Australia, a whole year ahead to prove herself!

Posted by tommy 09/30/2010 at 04:20 PM


I dont think the pressure of being a slamless #1 stopped Safina, she couldn't play because of back problems.
Ivanovic was #1 after she won a major, and the pressure got to her.
So I dont think whether they won a major or not is why they stumble
If Wozniacki keeps improving, reaching #1 after Beijing next week wont hurt her.

Posted by Paula V. 09/30/2010 at 04:37 PM

The problem with achieving the No. 1 ranking is that a player suddenly switches from being the "predator" to the "prey". It's a whole different mindset. Can Wozniacki get the No. 1 ranking? Absolutely. Can she stay there for an extended period of time? That depends on the competition, her mindset, and her game (adding more weapons). Will Serena/Venus play more in 2011? This could hinder Wozniacki's chances of staying on top.

Posted by Syd 09/30/2010 at 04:38 PM

Oh dear, squirrel's are very intelligent animals, extremely cute IMHO and can live to be 15 if kept out of harms way.
Life for a squirrel in an urban environment—pure hell.

Sorry about Robbie, totally sucks.

Posted by Aube,back to normacy and loving it! 09/30/2010 at 04:41 PM

I believe it's the media who brings in all the controversy about the world number one,if she becomes number one I feel she literally is,so why even be asking about what she achieved or not?,why don't we just leave it to what it is?basically, that she's the most successfull tennis player to that date that year owing to her results,no one can refute that now!I'm so not ready for that again,I now have a strategy when it starts,not to feed in,period!!!

Posted by qtips 09/30/2010 at 05:05 PM

ah,Ginepri-good move.will get you some sympathy.you are a lazy feller,could have done more with your opportunities.everytime i see you play,i know the word 'journeyman' appears next to your name and photo.lazy,lazy..dont bother to pick up your racket anymore.mr i-dont-care-to-win.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 05:23 PM

If Caroline becomes #1 by winning Tokyo and a quarterfinal at Beijing there is a very good chance she will be #1 until at least Indian Wells/ Miami unless Kimmy wins the Australian open. She will probably make the semis at Doha. There is even a real good possiblity that Caro if she stays consistent, never wins a slam while Kim, Serena, Justin, Vika or others split them she can be a long-term slamless #1.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 05:39 PM

I feel that whoever holds the points is the true #1 as that is what the women signed up for when they joined the tour with this points system. Serena led the attack on Safina because she was not willing to play the necessary tournaments to stay ahead of her. The main problem is they give 2000 points to the winner of a womens slam. They only have to win 7 best of three matches in two weeks. Thats at least 3/4 matches for top players against inferior competition. Someone who wins Cincy/Canada, Tokyo/Beijing, Indian Wells/Miami back to back get 1800/1900 pionts and plays 10/12 matches with 8/9 being top players. Cut the slam points to 1500 for women.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 09/30/2010 at 06:07 PM

lilscot, Marcelo Rios : (

Posted by Geellis 09/30/2010 at 06:13 PM

@Roddick fan from Virginia
First, Serena did NOT LEAD the attack on Dinara. The media and various commentators continually stated, given Safina's relatively poor performance at the slams, that she was an undeserved No. 1. I don't have a problem with Woz being the No. 1 player. But when one player has won 2 GS in a season and another 0, it's impossible for the slamless player to be considered the "best" overall player. Not gonna happen and I think, justifiably so.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 06:41 PM

I seem to remember that last year at this time Serena was saying she was the true #1 whenwhen Dinara had the points. Maybe she was attempting to add more pressure through gamesmanship. I do not say that Caro is/would be best overall, that maybe decided between Kim and Serena at Doha if Kim gets healthy in time. Only saying Caro would be a deserving #1 if it plats out that way. I don't think Kim has lost to Caro or Serena since she came back and she has won 2/5 slams since her return.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 06:42 PM

plats>plays

Posted by rugged1 09/30/2010 at 06:42 PM

I agree, if Woz. does become number 1, she will simply be number 1. There is no doubt that Serena is easily the best player in the world. I am sure, like most players, Woz would rather have a grand slam. However, it is an honor and she has worked hard for it.

And thanks Geellis for setting Roddick fan from Virginia straight about who lead the attack on Dinara. Maybe s/he should be helping Roddick win a slam. Something we all know will not happen.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 06:48 PM

As a supporter of all American players first and foremost, I want U.S. players in all the #1 spots, but if Serena skips (when healthy) opportunities or Andy skips clay and can't hold his top ten place it is their fault.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 07:00 PM

rugged1 if I could help Andy win another slam I would. It's all on him. Serena was apart of the people attacking Dinara, along with her media supporters and fans, if maybe she was not leading.

Posted by Leon 09/30/2010 at 07:00 PM

Well said, Roddick fan @5.39. Really, women and men slams are obviously different animals. What is more... well, Serena has never been an example of good manners, but she is an athlete after all, with her own ideas on competition. But I wonder HOW immoral should a journalist be just to raise those "hot discussions" on the "real No.1". Please, respect players, women especially!

I am neither Serena hater nor Caroline fan. Yet, I do hope Wozniacki will be much stronger mentally than Safina, should she take that height without violating any rules.

Posted by Master Ace 09/30/2010 at 07:06 PM

Geellis and Rugged1,
Serena did say that she is the best player while Dinara was number 1 during the clay season. If I recall, Serena was not a happy camper about the new Roadmap schedule. The media did start the slamless number 1 issue and Serena threw a match with her best player comment. Will be interested to see how Serena respond if Caroline gets to number 1.

Posted by Master Ace 09/30/2010 at 07:08 PM

Roddick Fan from Va,
Dropping Slams from 2000 to 1500 and you would have a riot on your hands especially from the top players even though you make a solid argument on winning 7 matches in 2 weeks during Slams while during Premier events, you have to win 5 or 6 matches in one week.

Posted by "" 09/30/2010 at 07:24 PM

After the press had gone on about the no. 1 issue then (and look also at the kind of questions some of the journalists are asking)

this presser took place at Rome 2009:

Q. What about the No. 1? Safina now is the No. 1.
SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughing.)

Q. It's a new question, no?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm excited for her.

Q. Who do you think is the real No. 1 today? Is Safina or it's Serena, it's...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we all know who the real No. 1 is.


And that was what Serena said (once) about no. 1 and the press ran with it and rehashed it like she said a gazillion number of times.

Then came this at wimbledon:

Q. How much of a motivation is it for you to try and regain the world No. 1 ranking?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I'm not super motivated. I think if you hold three Grand Slam titles maybe you should be No. 1, but not on the WTA Tour obviously, so...
You know, my motivation is maybe just to win another Grand Slam and stay No. 2, I guess (laughter).

Q. Does that disappoint you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. If it did, I would go crazy just thinking about it. I think anyone really could. That's just shocking. But whatever. It is what it is. I'd rather definitely be No. 2 and hold three Grand Slams in the past year than be No. 1 and not have any.

Q. Do you see yourself as No. 1?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I see myself as No. 2. That's where I am. I think Dinara did a great job to get to No. 1. She won Rome and Madrid (laughter).

Q. How satisfying is it to have played as much as you've played this year, perhaps more than other years, and here you are sitting holding three Grand Slams? It's kind of annoying for the other girls, isn't it really?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel like I've played a lot this year, and I've really been paying the price. For several years now, at least three or four years, I just really wanted to focus on tennis, and I've really been doing that. I feel like, you know, this is where I want to be, and this is my chance to capitalize on everything.
I really enjoy it. I even started playing more doubles because I enjoy being out on the court so much. I think it's pretty much all paying off.


And this came after Dinara in her own way took a shot at Serena. Dinara also admitted that the press harping on the issue and asking and asking is annoying:

Q. We saw Svetlana go out today. Obviously you're No. 1 because of your consistency. Is that something you're proud of, how week in and week out you're really there most of the time?
DINARA SAFINA: Of course. You know, I guess sometimes the people say, yeah, I'm No. 1, but I don't have a Grand Slam. But I'm always there. You know, it's not that you win one tournament and then you lose four first rounds, you know, and one by luck you can win.
I'm consistently there. I'm consistently doing my results. I'm sure if day to day like this, one day I will get the Grand Slam and nobody can talk anymore that I'm No. 1 without Grand Slam.

Q. Does that bother you?
DINARA SAFINA: Annoying. But what can I do? They keep asking this.

Serena has always said and maintained that she is the best even when not remotely close to no. 1 ranking. I don't know if anyone remembers Wilander's comments then when she said something similar in 2007 about being the best (which is what some translate to being no. 1) when she was lowly ranked before the AO, there was no outcry at the time because some felt she was just delusional. It would have been better had she just stopped at I am excited for her or just declined the question on who the real no. 1 is (why should a journalist be asking that type of question in the first place?).

Whoever is no. 1 deserves to be there period. That is why the ranking is not a subjective thing but an objective one based on performance over a 52 week period unlike when you talk "best, greatest, or the likes"

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 07:24 PM

I assume they won't change it Master Ace. People here last year depending on who's side they were on during the Fedal wars for men 3/5 >14 -vs- 2/3 >7. For women it helps Serena to have one day inbetween matches even more than back to back days with all being 2/3. It is another reason she skips other tournaments 1 to 5 matches in one tune up and 2000 pts with minimum effort.

Posted by "" 09/30/2010 at 07:28 PM

By the way the pressers are on asapsports.com

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/30/2010 at 07:40 PM

Should Caro win Tokyo, Beijing, and in Doha over Serena and Kim, I would have a hard time excepting anyone else as the true #1 this year.

Posted by Aube,back to normacy and loving it! 09/30/2010 at 08:26 PM

Roddick fan from Virginia,it seems like you are trying to force entry into already open doors...we all agree that if Caro becomes number one we will all congratulate her and encourage her to stay on top of her game and achieve greater goals,please now can we stop assuming that a bad thing will happen if she indeed gets the number one ranking that clearly is within her reach...for Godness sake,let's think positive for once and decide nothing but goodness will happen when Caro becomes number one,why doesn't positivity sell no more nowadays???
Craving controversy and negativity,huh!!!

Posted by Ruth 09/30/2010 at 09:35 PM

There's no question in my mind that Serena should not have made the comment about who the "real #1" was, and her responses to similar or related questions in subsequent interviews showed that she must have realized that she was wrong. Perhaps her older sister spoke with her about it. :-) Of course, I've heard so many folk here at TW defend inappropriate/unnecessary comments by certain other players because, they insist, the comments are true and the players are "just being honest." heh heh

It's also very amusing how people remember so vividly what Serena said about the #1 issue ONCE (as was pointed out), but they don't remember Venus's very sharp comments to a reporter in support of Dinara's being #1. If someone can find hose comments, I'd love to see them posted. Venus really put the questioner in his/her place when he/she intimated that there was something wrong about Dinara's being #1 with no Slam win and something wrong with women's tennis because that situation existed.

I was very pruod of Venus for saying what she said.

Posted by Ruth 09/30/2010 at 09:42 PM

I love Google;; found the article from the /Guardian withese paragraphs in two minutes flat.

++ Williams sprung to a feisty defence both of her opponent and of the ranking system, and even of women's tennis, which she felt had been under attack from a questioner who suggested that it was embarrassing to see the No1 destroyed in that way. "Why do you put it like that?" Williams said, adding: "Are you trying to be down on women's tennis?"

It was put to her that it was more a matter of being down on the way Safina is the world No1 representing women's tennis, after which Williams said: "I don't do down." She added: "I'm just trying to make sure you're not being down, because I respect Dinara Safina immensely, and I think you should too." ++

Posted by vuvu 09/30/2010 at 09:50 PM

@Aube - I am with you on that! Sunshine and joy go well together. I wish Caro well.... she is doing just fine. Number 1 will just make her smile broader. She will have earned it and only time will tell if she gets a slam or not.

Posted by susan 09/30/2010 at 09:52 PM

great killer squirrel story, steve!

Posted by Aube,back to normacy and loving it! 09/30/2010 at 10:18 PM

@Vuvu,wink at you!

Posted by Corey 09/30/2010 at 10:23 PM

I was in Boulder and came out of a storage area, and what was there in front of me but a (wait for it...) DRAY OF SQUIRRELS!!! Just as I became aware of the menace I faced, I head the door click and lock behind me. I believe the squirrels knew too, and what's more, they smelled fear. I was on a small concrete platform, and the squirrels were on the path a step below me. I couldn't go forward, but I couldn't go backwards either without unlocking the door, and there was no way I was going to turn my back on those, on those, on those squirrels. So we sat there for a moment, eying each other, when they attacked and surged en-masse up and onto my concrete platform. Luckily there were wrought iron railings on either side of the concrete pad, and I've often wondered what I must have looked like climbing the iron as the scurry of squirrels terrorized me. I doubt that I looked overly confident at that point, but I also doubt that I screamed like a little girl. Just like that though, they took off, having had their fun. I climbed down from the iron railings and walked back to my apartment, having lived through another close encounters with squirrels. Maybe next time I'll tell you about the squirrel I chased with a plastic golf club after it took my little girl's plastic golf ball. Long story short -- I didn't come close to the squirrel, which was like gray lightning, but I did put on quite a show for my neighbors who weeks after would say, "Were you the guy chasing the squirrel with the plastic golf club?"

Posted by nehru 09/30/2010 at 10:24 PM

I agree with Ruth

Posted by ata08 09/30/2010 at 10:55 PM

i was wondering where you were going with the squirrel story.

clever, clever build to the ginepri news.

Posted by susan 09/30/2010 at 10:57 PM

Ginepri had to pull out of a two-day exhibition in ho chi minh city (saigon) at the last minute because of the broken arm. Haas and Nalbandian also. FIsh, Robredo and Monaco replaced them. Fish and Robredo said they were surprised that fans were waiting at the airport for them. They signed autographs and posed for photographs with around 50 fans during a press conference at a local newspaper. On Friday, Robredo plays Fish, and Monaco plays Querrey.

Posted by pov 09/30/2010 at 10:58 PM

rotflmao at the squirrel(y) tale. Excellent writing again. Mostly I aim to make friends with squirrels and mostly they run away. I did have a stand-off with one about a week ago. It was fun. It was like he couldn't decide if I was friend, foe or what.

Posted by pov 09/30/2010 at 11:06 PM

The issue around #1 all stems from many in the media not getting, as Tignor points out here, that being #1 is a completely different thing to being the best active player.

Yeah, many fans don't get that point either but I expect those reporting on the sport to have the distinction clear.

Posted by pov 09/30/2010 at 11:08 PM

@Corey,
lol. Thanks for sharing that.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 09/30/2010 at 11:10 PM

Here you go Ruth:

http://tinyurl.com/2cezqg9

...definitely recall the complimentary comment my all time fave made regarding my pity fave!:)

Posted by Ralan 09/30/2010 at 11:13 PM

What a shame for Ginepri.

I think Woz will make number 1 by the end of the year. The media will then hound her about whether she is truly #1 w/o winning a slam.

Thoughts about Sharapova losing to Date Krumm in Tokyo? Can Maria win another slam?

Posted by Christopher 09/30/2010 at 11:16 PM

Ruth-- I remember the interview when Venus made those comments supporting Safina. It showed great class (especially because it was clearly so heartfelt, not just what she thought she "ought to say"). I wish more players would push back like that. Both Roger and Rafa (and obviously Roddick) have at times as well.

Posted by Ralan 09/30/2010 at 11:21 PM

I agree Christopher-Venus was very classy in that interview. Roddick has also had his moments. The one that comes to mind is his (and Venus') support of Shahar Peer when the UAE denied her entry to play in Dubai last year.

IMO, Roddick "pushes back" a little too much. His sarcastic remarks are sometimes acerbic and mean in interviews.

Posted by D. Bos of Baltimore 09/30/2010 at 11:38 PM

Now you guys know just as everyone who knows anything about The WTA knows that there are 3 girls who could legitamately be #1, and it is not WOZNIACKI.... She wins no big Tournaments.. The only thing she has going is she is pretty, #1, not.. So stop saying #1 with her name...... You guys know that this girl probably will never be a legitamate best in Womens Tennis.. AND THAT'S ALL I HAVE TO SAY.......

Posted by susan 09/30/2010 at 11:38 PM

Winner of the exhibition in Saigon gets a grand total of US$40,000.
Runner-up, $20,000. The other two, $10,000 each.

Posted by susan 09/30/2010 at 11:50 PM

oh, my goodness, i love how some people can spin, spin, spin... and misrepresent.
"unlike XX, I ..." is a phrase that should be looked at with caution.

pov/corey, watch out for the squirrel GLARE. They need protein.

Posted by Tennis Soapbox 10/01/2010 at 12:14 AM

Check out this piece at Ubi Tennis - it discusses this very issue concerning the women's rankings and suggests how the system could be changed so players like Wozniacki find it very hard to get to No. 1 just by playing a lot and being consistent!

http://www.ubitennis.com/english/sport/tennis/2010/09/30/392305-rankings_trialling_system.shtml

Posted by SamK 10/01/2010 at 12:40 AM

I am really sad about reading this. It's so true what you say about Woz. She does not need to be number 1 yet because mentally it will add unneeded pressure on an unfettered young up and comer. My hope for Caroline is to continue through next year with confidence and finally climb the summit and win a slam. We need a star. It is still insane to me that we have not had a consistent new woman since Serena, Venus, Justine, Kim. I mean even Maria only won 3.

That being said I think that this business of continually deriding the state of women's tennis is so incredibly offensive to the players and should be curbed heavily by those who actually care for these girls.

Posted by Arro 10/01/2010 at 03:38 AM

If caro wins the fianal in Tolyo and 830 points (900 for wining -70 points from last year), how come that she has to go to the quarterfinals next week to be number one? Doesn't Serena lose some points by not appearing in Tokyo? I thought she was in the semi final last year thereby losing 395 by not appearing this year, all adding up to 1225 points in favour of Caro who is currently 1085 points behind Serena.

Posted by jackson 10/01/2010 at 06:23 AM

If women played five set matches in slams, I could understand the reasoning of some who want to insist that winning slams makes one player the best regardless of their ranking. Since they only play three sets, the same as any other tournament, the winners of those other tournaments should be given equal credit for the matches they win.

As Roddick Fan noted upthread, the ladies winning the Masters tournaments have won their games against higher ranked players than they meet in the early rounds of a slam, thus making a good argument for being tougher tournaments to win. I'll guarantee that if it was any player(s) besides Serena (and Venus) who were being touted in the American media for being the 'best' despite only playing in six tournaments this year, they'd be laughed out of town.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/01/2010 at 07:57 AM

I wouldn't like Caro to succeed Serena as the world's no 1. I think it only invites comparisons to Serena and that is a debate I don't want as a Caro fan. It invites ridicule of Caro when she is doing so well. I hope Serena retains the no l status.

Posted by Samantha Elin 10/01/2010 at 08:03 AM

Yes, being No 1 is completely different from being the best player in the world, but it sure would be nice if they were the same players and it would add legitimacy to the ranking system.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 10/01/2010 at 08:42 AM

Sorry to here about Venus' knee injury.

Posted by Ralan 10/01/2010 at 08:48 AM

If the slams granted the same ranking points as the other Tier 1 tournaments (i.e. Indian Wells), I still think that Venus and Serena would STILL concentrate their efforts on the slams. At the end of the day, the slams are more prestigious and pay much better. Also this point in their careers, I think they are both more concerned with slam legacy than being number 1.

Posted by M.J. 10/01/2010 at 08:49 AM

Jackson, you aren't making much since. So your saying that Grand Slams are equal to any run of the mill tournament for the women because they are all best of 3? I don't buy that.

And please check your facts before saying something about how many tournament Venus and Serena have played this year, you've just assumed that number (6). They've both played at least double that, which is inline with the rest of the top players. Also, they are well past the stage in their careers where they need to play 20+ tournaments to prove something like some less accomplished players.

Posted by M.J. 10/01/2010 at 08:52 AM

*sense

Posted by Ralan 10/01/2010 at 08:58 AM

At this point, being ranked #1 means that you consistently got to the later rounds of most or all of tournaments (i.e. Wozniacki) you played OR you won a couple of majors in a year (Serena). This same discussion we are having about the legitimacy of Wozniacki's projected ranking has been considered before. The most fervent debate from my recollection happened when Jankovic became #1 after playing something like 25 tournaments in a season. Obviously, her #1 ranking falls into a hybrid system of not only playing fairly consistent, but also playing a little more than 2 tournaments every month for a year!

Posted by M.J. 10/01/2010 at 09:20 AM

There's one thing that I think a lot of people haven't considered in Woz's taking over as #1 this year, which will lead to a lot of criticism. If Wozniacki succeeds in becoming #1 this year, it won't be just because she was really consistent, but she would've been helped by Serena's injury, as Serena was unable to defend any of her points from the US Open semi (which were a lot). In other words, this situation would not have arisen this year, I believe, without Serena's injury. So it doesn't reflect badly on the tour or Woz over doing it.

Roddick fan, as someone else said, it was the media who put the screws to Safina. Yes, Serena did say she was the real #1, but that was after being asked about it a few times in interviews. She didn't just say it out of the blue.

Ralan, I don't see Sharapova winning a slam anytime soon. Their are two many girls that can beat her nowadays if plan A isn't working out for her, not to mention she can't beat Serena. Sharapova's serve is back, but her game is just a little to inconsistent at times, and for no reason. For example, she struggled in her 3rd round at Wimbledon, and the girl had to real weapons to hurt her, she was just steady.

Posted by SamK 10/01/2010 at 10:59 AM

Can you please stop pretending their was a legit reason for Serena not to play? She stepped on broken glass.

Posted by Drupa 10/01/2010 at 11:08 AM

When Caroline left the junior tiers to become professional in senior tournaments, she did this seamlessness. She quite quickly and steadily climbed the ranking latter. Whenever a new high earned her a higher seeding in the tournaments she assumed the expectations with natural poise. The last half year has seen her being seeded #1 in a fair number of WTA including one grand slam tournament. Every time she has been up to it. She may not have won all the events where she has been seeded #1, but she "has been there" unaffected by the focus on her person and delivered She has an exceptionally good head for the important moments of the game. And she as an equally good head for being in the focus of the media. If shortly she will be number one in the world, I have no doubt that not only has she deserved it. She will also be a worthy #1.

Posted by Noa 10/01/2010 at 11:10 AM

hi Steve

this is NOT INTERESTING

as a leading tennis journalist, we, the fans, expect you to dig A LOT deeper on the issue of PEDs in tennis. i'm writing to you as you are the only one who had the balls to write about it a few months ago. but since than - nothing...

the questions today are bigger than ever. especially now that once again a SPANISH cyclist has been exposed as dopper. same one that was linked to the infamous Dr Fuentes.

it is time for you and your colleagues to justify your reputation. it is time for you guys to ask the ATP, ITF and WADA some hard questionts and demand honest answers. your professional integrity is on the line.

Posted by Master Ace 10/01/2010 at 01:40 PM

M.J.,
Jackson is right that Serena actually played 6 tournaments while Venus actually played 9 while Kim is at 10 for 2010. If a player does not play a committed tournament, they receive a 0 that stays on their record until next year. Therefore, if you see more tournaments by their name, they received 0s along the way.

Posted by Ralan 10/01/2010 at 02:45 PM

Is Venus out for the year with the knee injury? If so, I am wondering if this is the beginning of the end...

Posted by !Whatthedeuce? 10/01/2010 at 03:47 PM

What messes with #1 minds is having that ranking and then getting trounced by a seemingly impenetrable Serena, who even though she supposedly doesn't care about being #1. does enjoy dismantling those who hold that prize?!. Can Caroline be different than her predecessors is the question. I think she might be different...her game 95% of the time is unrelenting and reliable. Dinara et al had higher risk games. When Serena is lights out she will beat Caroline but anything less than that and the Great Dane has a real chance. A key is to not be intimidated by Serena which not only leads to defeat but a defeat that is very hard to swallow and overcome. I see something in Caroline that won't wilt under the pressure and scrutiny.

Posted by Ruth 10/01/2010 at 05:53 PM

I may be a little late, but I just want to thank nehru, Mrs D., Christopher, and Ralan for their reactions to my comment about Venus and the #1 issue.

Posted by Legoboy 10/01/2010 at 07:42 PM

Roddick Fan...how very american of you. "wanting ALL American players in the #1 spots".
As a Canadian, I just want to see the best achieve it.

And Wozniacki, if she wins the matches, and gets the points, will be number 1, it would just be that much sweeter if she can also get (at least) the year end championships...make a real statement about being there!

I wish her all the best in her efforts...please don't get me wrong. I hope we can appreciate she earned it...and the media won't gobble her up...but so far...it's seemed they LOVE to scoop on the pressure!

Posted by Drupa 10/02/2010 at 03:28 AM

Caroline just won in Tokyo. It is almost a reality that she will be #1 now.

Since it is up to the top-players to decide for themselves how many tournaments they will play (with some constraints given by the WTA administration) the players get the number of points they deserve. When a player is injured and for that reason do not play the tournaments, it is because the injury has made them so weak that they do not think they can win.
There is no doubt therefore that Caroline has deserved to be #1, not only #1 but also considered the best. She should be praised, not blamed.

If you do not think the cumulative collection of point over one year rightfully reflect the average strength of a player as balanced by his or her aspiration to play, blame the WTA administration, not the player.

In chess they have a system called ELO to provide ranking points. This system is much less sensitive to the number of games played and not at all sensitive to the importance of the match (whether it is a first round match in an inferior tournament or a final of a major). It is the difference between your own rating strength and the rating strength of your opponent that that determines how many rating points you win or lose in game. Maybe the WTA could consider this kind system, if they think the current does not work well enough.

But to all of you that think that winning a grand slam is so important, remember that the current system rewards a winner of those tournaments with many more points than any other tournament, in spite of the fact that the opponents are widely the same in the different top tournamens. From this perspective it is much more difficult to collect enough point to be #1 without winning one or two grand slam tournament than it is with.

Posted by MT 10/02/2010 at 05:28 AM

I don't get this discussion!! There is only WTA where you can earn your points in womens tennis-thus the one with the most gained points must be the best. Makes sence in my ears.
Pls. think of all the hard work put in to playing all these tournaments-the will and commitment- those are true athletes. The ones who keep coming back no matter the critics and doubters. It takes heart! Respect that.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 10/02/2010 at 07:18 AM

Congratulations to Caro and fans. Commissirations to Elena and fans.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 10/02/2010 at 07:28 AM

If my math is right, the only way Caro will not become #1 is if she loses her first match at Beijing and Vera wins Beijing and Moscow.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 10/02/2010 at 08:13 AM

Legoboy, I see nothing wrong with rooting for my favs to become the best. I have not been rooting for favs and putting down others favs like many do on this site. If you will give a link to some of times you said you were hopeing the Bryans would beat Nester/Z and were you did not want Venus to lose to Marino at the Open, I'll try to read them. This is a multi-national site and I like that about it. I like reading the comments from Europe, Australia, Jamica. and other places whether I agree or disagree. If you were trying to get a dig in me because I'm American, that won't help me respect anything you write. That will only cause me to respect what you write less.

Posted by tennisfun 10/02/2010 at 10:55 AM

Well, as higher as Caro climbs in the ranking, the downfall will be more painful and inevitable: next year she will have a lot of ranking points to defend and Jancovic's or Safina's fate catches her. The "pusher" will be the next dissapointment in women's tennis.

Posted by Ted 10/02/2010 at 07:41 PM

goosh...
what is you problem steve....?
what doas squirrelfobia have to do with tennis...?
go get fresh aire and write something with more sense, you can do it!

Posted by youogirl!! 10/03/2010 at 08:33 PM

Serena is the bet player in womens tennis today. She won australian open and wimbledon.
She won both slams last year also. This alone puts her well above the other players-
Also why is it that Rafa and Federer are not called for intimadation as Serena? Simply I don't see where any player is intimadated by Serena they just cannot be her when she plays her best- If you play good tennis you cannot be intimadated by anyone. The young womens tennis players of today still have problems with two senior players-Serena and her sister Venus. They are truly America's best and I for one are very proud that they still tops even today. Give credit to these two american womens for keeping us on the map for so long. Keep on winning Serena and Venus until you retire-you are simply the best-better than all the rest.

Posted by KGM 10/04/2010 at 03:38 AM

Serena is the best! she flies like a butterfly and sting like a bee in the tennis court. She is collecting historic GS trophies and not just collecting points.

Posted by Sylvester 10/04/2010 at 05:42 AM

But then AGIAN we have a number 1 player who got it by playing more than the others.
She gets the spot in a way Safina & Jankovic have done it.
Serena is sitting there (almost)all year with only six tourny's played and thats where the class parts these players.
Wozniacki will feel the pain next year if she doesn't defend her titels/points.

But we will see how its works out.

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