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Mid-week OT: Sam's Club! 04/11/2007 - 3:07 PM

Mornin', Tribe. We've got a lot of tennis and TW related ground to cover in today's Off-Topic post,  so we won't be talking about first kisses or favorite CDs today.

First, I want y'all to be the first to know that Pete Sampras and I recently agreed to write a book together; it will be the official Pete Sampras autobiography, in which he'll  tell the story of his life and times, in the first person. One of the things that made this project attractive to me is that I always admired Pete's purity of purpose. On this subject, I always like to relate an anecdote about  the late Boston Red Sox slugger (and Hall-of-Famer) Ted Williams, who said all he wanted out of life was that, when he walked down the street, people would say:  There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.

Petes That, I think, is very close to how Pete Sampras felt, and this book will explore what that means and how it  directed Pete's life and career. I'm glad to say this will be no kiss-and-tell bio, or explosive Jose Canseco-grade confessional. There will be no Pete Sampras celebrity champion as philosopher king or planet saver. Pete is like the Joe DiMaggio of tennis; dignified, private, above-the-fray, beyond gossip, reticent. This will be a hardcore tennis book, and to hail with the dirty laundry. It will treat the nature and substance of Greatness in athletics and the components of success, some of which will undoubtedly resonate beyond the confines of the tennis court.

On an entirely unrelated subject, Steggy and I have had extensive discussions about the growth and success of TennisWorld, and one of my concerns as the author of TW is that Steggy's role as a moderator and administrative helper has adversely affected her ability to participate in the general discussion in the Comments section. So we decided to go with a different approach to moderating the site. We will have an opaque, anonymous Moderator, who will go by that name (see first Comment, below), and be available via email should any of you have questions or issues relating to our standards, off-topic policies, etc. Steggy will now be free to crawl out of her bombproof, booby-trapped, well-camouflaged bunker hidden deep in the swamps near Houston and re-join you all in the verdant and sunny Tribal meadows. She will continue posting Comments and blog entries as herself.

And now for a red-meat tennis item. Many of you read and commented on regular Comment poster Sam's wonderful recent post, Tier Time! I was so impressed by the work Sam and Andrew did in creating a Player Quality Index that I'd like to make it an official feature of TW, which we can all refer to when the occasion warrants. Who knows, perhaps the ATP or WTA will also adopt Sam's statistically-based, objective standard for measuring the specific rungs various players occupy on the ladder of tennis Greatness (there's that word again!).

Sam has agreed to re-visit his original system and methodology, which I am officially dubbing Sam's  Player Quality Index or SPQI (until such time as someone comes up with a preferable title), contingent on what input he gets from you all.

I'll start things off by  saying that I think that GS wins ought to be weighted more heavily in comparison to YEC titles (although the fact that there is only 1 YEC means that whatever Sam decides, it won't overly skew the SPQI). I think Jenn was the first to suggest that finals and perhaps even semifinal showings at majors ought to be considered. This is an attractive idea, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the SPQI ought to really emphasize this whole "Tier" concept. We already have an ATP ranking system that rewards consistency and steady performance.

Guys (or women) who routinely get to quarters and semis at big events are acknowledged in the rankings. To me, the SPQI (Spicwee?) ought to separate the Big Dogs from the rest of the pack. The exception I would make in that regard would be for Grand Slam finals; there aren't that many Tier II players who reach major finals - or rather, there are a fair number, but they tend not to be the same ones. I would give players less credit for winning the YEC, and give them the equivalent of a Masters Series title for reaching a GS final.

Beyond that, a "quality wins" component would be justifiable; give the players bonus points (under the present system, they would have to be fractions of points, I think) for beating Top 5 players enroute to GS, YEC or Masters Series titles. This would increase Sam (and Andrew's?) work load, but it would be a useful feature.

And finally, I would consider awarding points for performance in sub-Masters Series events based on the quality of the event. I wouldn't rely on the ATPs tournament tier-structure for creating this scale, because the thorny guarantee issue means that some minor tournaments could in fact attract stronger fields than some of the ones that award more points and higher purses. The key would be evaluating each event on strength of field and assigning a value on that basis. That is, if San Jose attracted four of the Top 10, it ought to be worth more quality points than, say, Las Vegas, if The Tennis Channel Open only featured two of the Top 10.

That's my input, as one of you. The final decision will be up to Sam. So share your thoughts here for Sam and everyone else to read. Then Sam can run a model, revised version of the SPQI and once the kinks are ironed out, we'll use it as our official standard.

Last thing: The reports yesterday that the ATP will begin awarding an equal number of ranking points to Masters Series and Grand Slam winners were erroneous (but it is the kind of thing that might make you go, Hmmmmmm. . .). This morning, ATP Vice-President of Communications Graeme Agars notified the International Tennis Writers Association that the ranking points will remain: GS win, 2,000; Masters Series win, 1000.

Hat tip to Siva, aka Ptenisnet, for alerting me to this rolling story yesterday afternoon. I'm glad I didn't post on it. . .

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Posted by Moderator 04/11/2007 at 03:08 PM


Posted by Sanja 04/11/2007 at 03:17 PM

Congratulations to The Pete and Pete.

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 03:24 PM

Congratulations on your news about the Sampras bio, Pete. A lot to look forward to there.

As far as the measure is concerned, I think it has to be SPQR (Sam Player Quality Ratio).

Latin types will get the joke.

Posted by Aaress 04/11/2007 at 03:25 PM

Congrats on the book deal Pete - looking forward to reading it in the future!

Posted by CM 04/11/2007 at 03:28 PM

I agree that a GS win is a little more important than a YEC win but only slightly. You can win a GS without necessarily playing too many top players (a gift draw and some upsets) but basically you have to play most of the top players to win the TMC, since only the top 8 qualify (except when nearly everyone flakes out like in 2005).

And I don't know that a TMS title should count as much as making a GS final. Especially since now that TMS finals are Best-of-3 sets.

I guess the bottom line is it would be ideal if we can always add/subtract depending on the quality of player beaten.

Posted by Nitin 04/11/2007 at 03:34 PM

Congrats on the book deal! May one be allowed to ask as to what timeframe will you be looking at to complete the project.. and needless to say, will you also make arrangements for a book-signing session for TW members? :-)

Good show.. look forward to reading it!


Posted by Ryan 04/11/2007 at 03:34 PM

Well done Pete--landing Pistol's autobiography is a literary coup de grass (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 03:35 PM

SPQR indeed.

Pete, excellent news on the collaboration. Good luck to both of you.

I like the idea of weighting the minor events by strength of field.
I also like the idea of bonuses for beating players in the top 5 (or even bringing about upsets?).

Posted by ndk 04/11/2007 at 03:35 PM

Cannot wait for the Sampras/Bodo autobiography! Will it come out at the same time as Andre's?

Regarding the SPQI- think it's a phenomenal contribution. I realize DC cannot go into the actual "base measurements" for several reasons (not everyone plays, team comp., etc.). But can there be a bonus point system for that? I think Luby's contribution in 2005 when Croatia played the U.S., Hewitt's 2003, Safin's 2006, or Pete's 1995 Russia Final are all noteworthy achievements IMO (esp. when one player contributes 3 points in a tie)

Can anyone think of a way to incorporate DC into the SPQI

Posted by D-Wiz 04/11/2007 at 03:36 PM

Pete (Bodo): Awesome AWESOME news that you'll be writing Pete's (Sampras) autobiography with him. Sheesh, I'm going turbo-dorky here, but that is Just. Freakin'. AWESOME!!! I'm so excited. I'm so psyched for you, Pete, that you get to write Sampras' story with him and I'm so psyched for Sampras that he gets YOU to help him write his story. Also very pleased to hear the intended nature of the book. Altogether perfect!

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 03:41 PM

I would also suggest using a moving window for the SPQR to make it more current (and maybe relevant?).

Posted by Jenn 04/11/2007 at 03:44 PM

Hi everyone -

Sam and I had an extensive discussion via email following up on some of my comments on the Tier entry. Here is the proposal that I believe was Sam's favorite among the ones that I came up with for the points allocation. Can't wait to hear what people think:

6 points: Grand Slam Championship
(no 5 point category)
4 points: YEC title
3 points: Masters' Series Title; GS Finalist
2 points: Win over top 5 player in GS
Non-Masters' Series title
1 point: GS Semi-finalist
Win over top-5 player in non-GS event
Finalist in Masters' Series event

Of course, this includes points for GS Semi-Finals appearances and Masters Series final appearances. Understand Pete's point as to why this might not be necessary, but I think without more categories you end up with a bunch of Tier II or III players who are effectively tied. IMO, this helps delineate the significant accomplishments, distinguishing from someone who is consistent but maybe never gets past the quarters in any big tourney, or who has racked up a lot of points in much lesser events.

I also think this point system addresses Pete's concern about not valuing YEC so highly compared to a GS, as it was before.

I gathered all of the information about GS semifinalists, finalists and winners since 2000 and gave that to Sam. I would be happy to help gather the "quality wins" info with some guidance from you gurus.

Posted by Jenn 04/11/2007 at 03:46 PM

And can't wait for the Sampras book! It will be very interesting to get that insight into the machine that was Pistol Pete, since he always seemed reluctant to let people into his world while he was playing.

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 03:50 PM

OK. Putting a process hat on for a moment, a few thoughts about the SPQR.

First, put as many ideas in as you want. Some may seem outlandish or odd, but there may be something we can grab on to. At this stage, nothing is carved in stone.

When it comes to selecting ideas, there ought to be some balance between comprehensiveness, transparency, and degree of difficulty to compile/maintain. We'll also need to think through the time period involved - one year, three year, five year, career window? (see ptenisnet's 3:41pm).

Lastly, to start off with we could try several different formulas before settling on one that made most sense to most folks.

Posted by Snoo Foo 04/11/2007 at 03:50 PM

Jenn, how many points for best hair?

Congrats to Pete & Pete!

Steggy, welcome back to the herd!

Posted by Jenn 04/11/2007 at 03:56 PM

I think Chia Pet hair should be worth a point. I would give Rafa 1 point for best guns, but subtract 2 points for his Miami-Vice- meets-Captain-Jack-Sparrow outfit. The matching teal sweatbands and bandana/hat puts him in the sartorial hall of shame along with early 1990s Andre Agassi!

Posted by Tari 04/11/2007 at 03:56 PM

Congratulations on the book deal, Pete!

And Sam...we knew ya when. :) Excellent.

Love Jenn's ideas, too.

And of course, welcome "Moderator" and steggy back to the fold.

Posted by ndk 04/11/2007 at 04:00 PM

Jenn- how many points will be subtracted for Hrbaty's US Open shirt?

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 04:00 PM

6/136. Honestly. I was just joking.

Hi there Tari, Moderator.

Posted by Manolescu 04/11/2007 at 04:00 PM

To Andrew: SPQR indeed--just what I was thinking while reading this post :)

Posted by MrsSanta 04/11/2007 at 04:01 PM

Excuse me while I join D-Wiz in dorking out...... A SAMPRAS HAGIOGRPAHY!!!! Excellent news Pete. Congratulations. I realise you haven't even written it yet but could you give me release date because I will need to take that day off work.

Echoing ndk. Could we include DC in SPQI? Maybe points for winning it or points for having a high winning percentage in DC ties but capture it somehow. If you get rewarded for reaching a GS semi then winning DC should be worth something too.

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 04:03 PM

Hell you should get points just for playing a DC rubber.

Posted by Veruca Salt (waiting for July 21st) 04/11/2007 at 04:05 PM

"If you get rewarded for reaching a GS semi then winning DC should be worth something too."

Yep, then players would be more encouraged to participate...Still, we may get Florian Mayer v. Safinista..but hey, it'll count!!

Posted by Jenn 04/11/2007 at 04:07 PM

I have been thinking about DC. I don't think winning it should count because it is such a group effort. A person could lose most of their matches but be propped up by teammates. How about a winning percentage in live DC matches above 75% for the year gets you a point? or something like that.... I think only the "live" matches should count for any analysis. Wins over top 5 players in DC could also be considered for bonus.

Hrbaty's shirt is a permanent ban from Tier I or II. We must have standards!

Posted by ndk 04/11/2007 at 04:07 PM

"Yep, then players would be more encouraged to participate"
assuming this SQPI becomes an international tool.. But I am sure Sam and Andrew will make it happen :-)

Posted by ndk 04/11/2007 at 04:08 PM

Hrbaty's shirt is a permanent ban from Tier I or II. We must have standards!

Posted by AmyLu 04/11/2007 at 04:10 PM

Congratulations Pete!

Jenn, I like your proposed points system quite a bit, but I must ask that Rafa also be awarded points for his knees? ;-)

And, Sam and Andrew, should you need any help with calculations/spreadsheet work, I would be more than happy to help out!

Posted by Veruca Salt (waiting for July 21st) 04/11/2007 at 04:13 PM

AmyLu-just his knees? *wink* *wink*

Oh yeah, congrats Pete and Pete. Hope it's an interesting read. Maybe we'll get the "Pistol Poll" a la " Da Vince Code", eh?


(okay, no more coffee for me)

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 04:14 PM

ptenisnet: England are trying to bore Bangladesh to defeat. Three straight maidens with 8 to win, I ask you...

skip1515, if ever a team played with style this England cricket team is

Posted by Tari 04/11/2007 at 04:14 PM

Hiya, ptenisnet.

Posted by highpockets 04/11/2007 at 04:14 PM


The world will be blessed with a story about a great tennis player by that great tennis player and by the best tennis writer the world has ever seen!

Posted by Jenn 04/11/2007 at 04:17 PM

Guns + Buns - 2 points! There. Its decided. haha. But I still stand by the loss of points for crimes against fashion.

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 04:17 PM

Congrats Pete! Hope you'll enjoy co-writing Sampras' autobiography.

Please excuse my ignorance, but when does an autobiography become a biography? Does the person whose life is written about not have any direct input into a biography? Is there a minimum to how much the subject must contribute to an autobiography when co-authored? Sorry, genuinely interested.

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 04:18 PM

The required run rate is creeping up to 1 an over now, which may just be beyond England at this stage...."

Andrew, quote from OBO :-). I think the rest of the world is collectively overthinking the BDesh team.

Hi Tari ( thus initiating an infinite loop).

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 04:19 PM

Congrats on the England game regardless of possible lack of style. They may need to aquire some though.

Posted by AmyLu 04/11/2007 at 04:22 PM

Now, Veruca, as one half of the Top Brass of the Rafael Nadal KNEE Appreciation Society, I am deeply offended that you would think I find any of Rafa's assets to be as enjoyable to view as his knees. Really, where on earth would you get such an idea? *winks and shares a knowing smile with the honorable Ms. Salt*

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 04:22 PM

An autobiography, from the Greek auton, 'self', bios, 'life' and graphein, 'write', is a biography written by the subject or composed conjointly with a collaborative writer (styled "as told to" or "with"). The term dates from the late eighteenth century, but the form is much older.

Posted by MrsSanta 04/11/2007 at 04:23 PM

Jenn a winning percentage threshold in live DC matches sounds good but DC deserves more points than a GS semi. Just because the current level of complexity is not enough is there any attempt to do this for the WTA?

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 04:28 PM

"Well there are unconvincing wins, and then there are wins that creep up on you in a fake inspector Clouseau moustache and a big pair of plastic glasses without lenses and still hope to get past you by persuading you they're genuine."

ptenisnet, I saw the "may just be beyond England at this stage..." too. Nice one.

Annabelle: my understanding of an autobiography is that the subject (PS, in this case) has complete editorial control over the content of the book, which is typically written in the first person. "Watching B+W footage of Bill Tilden was a revelation: I decided to dedicate my life to tennis." The person "writing" the book may not be an expressive writer, so many autobiographies are "as told to" or "with the assistance of" (in this case, PB).

Biographers have much greater editorial control - they can be written with the cooperation and assistance of the subject, or with no help from the person profiled. They can also, obviously, be about dead people, who write fewer autobiographies.

Nearly all autobiographies include a person's reflections on themselves and those with whom they came into contact. It's typically assumed that these are genuine representations of the person's state of mind at the time the book was written, not another person's guesses as to the subject's thoughts.

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 04:28 PM

ptenis: thank you kindly. Year 8 english did not go into details. I always get confused with the "co-authored" and "written with", which makes me wonder if the subject really wrote anything at all... Is there anything you don't know?

Posted by Tari 04/11/2007 at 04:30 PM preference would be to keep DC out of the SPQI. Purely an emotional reaction, I would guess, but there it is anyway. :P

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 04:33 PM

Andrew: thank you very much. Most helpful. I really must ask you too, is there anything you don't know?

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 04:38 PM

Annabelle: indeed. I never know if a girl is interested without being hit over the head several times with a cricket or baseball bat. Her preference.

Posted by Ruth 04/11/2007 at 04:38 PM

What wonderful news, Pete! You are going to write THE BOOK on my all-time favorite male tennis player, my choice for GOAT, my Sweet Pete!!! I can't wait. As Mrs. Santa says, I'll need notice to take time off on the publication date in much the same way that I regularly used my "sick days" to go to see him play in the old days of the US Pro Indoors at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 04:40 PM

Full Disclosure: The only thing I do know is Wikipedia - which effectively knows the rest of the world.

Tari: I think you need to award extra points for fighting back from the brink of defeat in the 3rd set of a live rubber, forcing a fifth set just to lose the match anyway.

clousseau quote: Hilarious.

Posted by Tari 04/11/2007 at 04:44 PM

Good call, ptenisnet. Richie points.

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 04:46 PM

Andrew: that's beautiful. Not literally I hope (I guess it was a baseball bat?). Lovely. Lucky girl. And I feel better now. :-)

ptenisnet: I shall ignore that.

Posted by ndk 04/11/2007 at 04:48 PM

Mrs. S- I think it would be tough to implement with the WTA right? With all the injuries (we would have to implement a scale substantial scale of injuries), the number of pull-outs even in GS and Tier I events, some women playing abbreviated schedules, to name a few reasons.

Maybe we should do a QPFI for the WTA(quality player fashion index) that incorporates the outfits, the number and quality of endorsements, how many Oscar parties attended?, how many weddings are being planned during grand slam events)? :-)

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 04:49 PM

What's wrong with wikipedia?

Posted by Tari 04/11/2007 at 04:56 PM

Aww...thanks,, Moderator. :)

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 04:57 PM

Annabelle: in fact, it was croissants from the Maison Rouge near Notting Hill, in London. Rosangel probably knows the place.

Posted by Pete 04/11/2007 at 04:58 PM

Sorry, folks, my last two comments went via the wrong URL, through the Moderator's pipeline, to which I have constant access. In any event, here are the Comments.

Tari, the DC issue actually has a non-emotional reaction component (your instincts always have a solid basis in reality, which is one of the things I like about you!)and it makes me fence-sit on the issue. It is this: not everyone gets to play DC for various reasons, or go far for various reasons, all for reasons beyond their control. That is, as the Spadea discussion at STeggy' recent post implies, DC is an Invitational event. That's the same reasoning used to keep DC results out of ranking points and I think it's a pretty sound argument. By contrast, entry into tournaments is strictly merit-based, except for wild cards.

Annabelle - Ptenist net did his usual masterful job in explaining but for you and others interested in this process: major figures who don't feel comfortable writing often recruit collaborators (in Pete's case, it's me), whose job it is to plan and execute a book, as they're supposed to know about things like narrative flow, chapter structure, etc. etc. Generally, the subject decides what kind of book he wants to write (tell all? Critique of his life? Valentine to self?), and then works very closely with the writer to make sure the story is told in the right voice with the right emphasis etc. etc. But that happens in collaboration, not by caveat.

The writer is the carpenter making a house out of the lumber and nails and plans provided by the subject. And, as you might imagine, the subject always has ultimate editorial control.The important thing is for the subject and writer to have a shared vision of the book. Pete and I were there from the start.

Ryan - Pun of the Week!!!! I'll be in touch on another matter within a few days. . .

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 04:59 PM

Pete/ Moderator: Thanks so much for that. I really appreciate it.

Posted by Moderator 04/11/2007 at 05:00 PM

You're welcome, Tari. . . this is Moderator, crying out, I am a human being, too!

Posted by MrsSanta 04/11/2007 at 05:01 PM

*Sticks tongue out at Tari's emotions*

Reeshie points!

Pete so what you are saying is that you are the moderator?

In all seriousness though none of the players in the SPQI are Vince Spadea types. They all get invited to play DC for their country. Unless the list will be expanded to include everybody top players get more than adequate chances to play DC. So how they perform should be a factor.

Oddly enough I don't even like DC.

JJ just served up a double breadstick. That should factor into the QFPI.

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 05:02 PM

ptenis: oh, nothing. I just like to think that you're a fountain of info.

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 05:05 PM

Oh - thanks 'belle. Very nice of you to say so.
And thank you pete.

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 05:06 PM

Andrew: lovely. Do continue.

Posted by Slice-n-dice 04/11/2007 at 05:07 PM

First and foremost, congratulations to our fearless Peter Bodo for landing the official Pete Sampras autobiography detail. In actuality, though, we should be congratulating Pistol Pete for the good fortune of obtaining Mr. Bodo's services. A finer writer on tennis, and perhaps sports in general, there isn't, IMO.

Second, I'm glad to hear that Pete has decided to make Sam and Co.'s Player Quality Index tiering system a regular fixture on TennisWorld. It will surely lead to many great discussions, but mostly it will keep us all on the same page when discussing the relative merits of individual performers. Kudos to Sam and Co.

I had an e-mail discusion with Sam just after the AO in which I, too, suggested he weight finalist and semifinalist performances, but Pete makes a good argument for keeping that just to the Slams. After all, an Index that simply mirrors the ATP computer ranking wouldn't be very useful. So, I'm in Pete's corner on that score; although, I might consider giving some weighting to the finalist of the YEC, as it's a round robin event featuring the top-8 in the world. You can't get much more competitive than that, so I believe it warrants some special merit.

And lastly, I'm hpy to hear that Steggy will get to be Steggy again, even though I must confess to not being familiar with her pre-moderator insights and personality, as I only became a regular here during the AO. It will be good to get to know the real Steggy, and to let the moderator have some real anonymity.

The only bad thing about all these developments is that now it will be even more difficult for me to break free of TennisWorld to tend to my own blog. But to hail with it: this is just too much fun and I learn something every time I check in.

Posted by Pete 04/11/2007 at 05:07 PM

Hanx, Annabelle. Mrs Santa, no, I'm not the official Moderator, although I will go on the site to deal with an issue (as I always have) when needed (I've nuked a fair number of trolls in my day!). The glitch occurred because we were testing the Moderator function and I simply didn't reset the software before posting as Pete. I was just kind of kidding with the last "Moderator" comment.

Posted by Rolo Tomassi 04/11/2007 at 05:07 PM

Very exciting news, Pete! I was hoping that's what your (not so) cryptic response to Mrs. Santa meant last week.

Posted by Pete 04/11/2007 at 05:08 PM

Oh, I forgot: GREAT work Jenn, Andrew, Sam . . . I will leave the matter of the SPQR or SPQI name to Sam and his advisers. . .

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 05:09 PM

Ptenis: you are very welcome. But I was just being honest. And appreciate your efforts.

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:15 PM

Regarding DC, Moderator's 4:50 postsummed up my feelings for not including it in the SQPI/SQPR.

Jenn: Thanks for all your input (and data gathering) - you've come up with some really good ideas. Your breakdown in your 3:44 post is what we ended up with last night. I like the relative weighting in this system for a Slam win versus a YEC win. The Slams are the primary barometer for greatness, and as such should be weighted heavily.

I agree with Pete about a "quality wins" component (which is where Jenn's idea of "Win over top 5 player"), as well as "awarding points for performance in sub-Masters Series events based on the quality of the event".

AmyLu: Thanks for the offer!

Once the weighting system has been determined, actually implementing it in the spreadsheet isn't hard. Gathering all the data is the time consuming part!

Posted by Slice-n-dice 04/11/2007 at 05:19 PM

Sam, my hat's off to you for taking the time and making the effort to bring this to fruition. I guess I wasn't too far off when I called you the King of Stats. Does that make Jenn the official Queen? :-D

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:20 PM

" I'm in Pete's corner on that score; although, I might consider giving some weighting to the finalist of the YEC"

Same here, Slice-n-dice. And giving some weight to a YEC final appearance sounds good to me.

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 05:23 PM

Thanks Sam, Andrew & Jenn!

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:23 PM

I like Andrew's approach in his 3:50 post.

"Hrbaty's shirt is a permanent ban from Tier I or II. We must have standards!"

LOL. That's right, Jenn!

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:24 PM

Oh, for all the ancillary stuff, we can have a separate spreadsheet to rate the various, er, parameters. :-)

Posted by Pete 04/11/2007 at 05:27 PM

Sam - at the risk of sounding down on the YEC, and keeping in mind that it's a one-off annual thing,my problem with the YEC is also that you can lose matches and still be alive and go on to win. That's not the worst thing, but I think a knockout sudden-death format like you have in big tournaments represents a higher level of achievment despite the fact that you're undoubtedly beating weaker guys. Just something to ponder as you make the tough decision. . .

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:30 PM

"I guess I wasn't too far off when I called you the King of Stats."

Thanks, Slice-n-dice. But Andrew should be mentioned there too - he was a great help in putting things together for the article, and his spreadsheet prowess puts me to shame!

Posted by Ariel 04/11/2007 at 05:31 PM

"I think it has to be SPQR (Sam Player Quality Ratio). Latin types will get the joke."

I love it. Perhaps SPQR = Sam's Player Quality Review?

I'm glad to see the topic back and was disappointed when the previous one closed. I can't wait for tables! (I'm a secret techo). Quetion: How often do changes occur in player quality? Will this be a quarterly review? semi-annual? will one be needed every week? Interesting. . .

Posted by Annabelle 04/11/2007 at 05:31 PM

Go Tommy! Go Sam! C'mon Larsy!

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 05:31 PM

How much would ignoring the YEC actually skew results?

You can really only bolster the result of the top 8 by including the YEC?

Posted by Pete 04/11/2007 at 05:33 PM

Hey. Did I ever tell you that I LOVE you guys (and chicas)?

Posted by anon 04/11/2007 at 05:37 PM

Just popping in to advocate for some nod to the amount of time it takes for players to accumulate points in the SQPI. Dividing by the number of tournaments played or years on tour for instance. Without this feature it will take years of quality results to break into the top tiers. In effect it becomes a measurement of the quality of a career and not the player (ie it is only useful for comparing people who are done accumulating points).

The most satisfying from a mathy point of view would be to divide each player's total points by the total number of points they could have won, but this becomes almost impossible to determine with all the points awarded for wins over various players etc.

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:40 PM

"You can really only bolster the result of the top 8 by including the YEC? "

But isn't that the point, to separate the best players from the rest?

Pete: Hmm, good point about the YEC and the dreaded RR format. More food for thought.

Great news about the Sampras book! Looking forward to it.

Posted by ptenisnet 04/11/2007 at 05:41 PM

My thoughts were along those lines too.
We could really use these for 2 purposes
1) Bragging rights to see who's done more through their career.
2) To see who's kicking butt at any given time.

We could apply the indexes to different periods of a players career to come up with scores for each of those.

Posted by patrick 04/11/2007 at 05:41 PM

Speaking of Jenn's(& Sam's) great idea on the point system for the ATP, I saw where the original score of TMF was 95. Do you think that this new point system will put Fed at approx. 125 pts which will only widen the gap b/w Fed & Nadal? Waiting on the results of the new point system.

Posted by codepoke 04/11/2007 at 05:42 PM

Sampras has got to be the luckiest/smartest autobiographer I know. Brilliant! I'm sorry, but this bio makes July 21 look like chicken scratch.

Posted by Suresh 04/11/2007 at 05:43 PM

Can't wait for the Pete-n'-Pete book to hit the stands. Good luck Mr. Bodo.

Way to go Sam !!

Posted by L. Rubin 04/11/2007 at 05:44 PM

Hi Mr. Bodo,

I'm not a fan of tennis books, but this Sampras bio is one I will definitely buy. If your name is on it, I'm going to read it.


Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:46 PM

anon: Andrew sent me a spreadsheet a few days ago that incorporated the number of tournaments played (taking the weighted score and dividing by the number of tournaments played) for the Open Era greats. Interesting results.

patrick: Not sure, but any way you slice it, Fed will be far and away in the lead.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 04/11/2007 at 05:48 PM

How exciting - I can't think of a better voice to give voice to Pete's pure sense of the game. I'm very much looking forward to this.

I'll miss Stegs' snarky moderator voice too, though her input on tennis topics makes it an easy call.

Let's hope HAL treats everyone fair and square, personally I was more freaked out as a kid by that lusty house computer that went after Julie Christy in Demon Seed.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 04/11/2007 at 05:48 PM

And to think I missed it the fist go around.

As one of the original objectors to Pete's first comment, I'd like to object again, sort of, and also "tie" in (ha! I crack myself up sometimes) last weekend's DC action.

It seems that the question of this age of tennis, boiled down to a sentence, is "how can the players ranked in the top 16-6, or if you are hardcore enough, the top 32-6, get the respect they deserve?" The reality is that at the moment, as a group, players below the top 5 might as well be below the top 500. Tournament directors could care less about them. Because of the knock out format, few of them will ever make a Slam win or Slam final, or for that matter a MS win. Finally, the most informed group of tennis fans gathered anywhere (TW), will not hesitate to rank all but three players (forget about five!) in the second tier.

Because the television executives know a thing or two about "tiers" don't hold your breath for a massive increase in televising matches involving second tier players. Because the vast majority of matches involve such players, that means don't hold your breath, period.

However, facts are facts. But also, notice the huge interest in DC. Intersting no, that most of the exciting matches last weekend (all but exactly one, Roddick's first match) involved Tier II players? See how any of the top 30, when given the appropriate platform (a one-time, non-elimination, big match) become "interesting?"

If the challenge is to supplement the actual rankings with our own rating system I'd like to see something that went further down. The current ATP rankings obviously only are relevant for the last year.

I think the Tier I concept as determined is so limited that its almost not informative. To go on a tear equal to Federer and Nadal's last couple years is something that is impossible to not notice.

Roddick getting some love for his sustained efforts is more interesting. Picking which of Djokovic, Murray, or Baghdatis will be in the top 5 for couple of years in a row, based upon past performance, now that would be something.

But ultimately, I'd vote for something which defined "Tier I" as something other than just the obviously dominant players of the moment. It should be broad enough to encompass, for example, Djokovic, who would not have even made Tier II under the original cut, yet, now is being mentioned as the next exciting new guy.

Posted by Pete 04/11/2007 at 05:51 PM

Dunlop - I admire your passion for the players in Tier II and below and I share your respect for them in many ways, but people were excited because it was Davis Cup, not PH Mathieu, as fine a player as that lad is.

Posted by Beth 04/11/2007 at 05:52 PM

Hye- go out for a while and the whole gang moves and we "lose" and refind Steggy . I amso confused. I am trying to understand the intricacies of the SPQR system - took a lot of work by you all and some real thought went into this thing. I am impressed. I will have to try and reread it -so I am current.
But my one thought is that since not everyone gets to play Davis Cup - limited to 4 /team - does not seem right to award points there. It is not a level playing field.But - that is just an initial gut reaction.
Hrbaty's shirt is a crime against nature and should be banned -for sure!
Amylu and others - saw a pic from the exo in Mallorca - so glad the 'dorag is gone. Could it be we have some influence here with our comments -
And congrats about the bio - Pete is a great guy and our Pete a great writer- so it should be interesting.

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 05:55 PM

Leave it to the barrister to be the voice of dissent. :-)

Posted by ndk 04/11/2007 at 05:58 PM

As Mrs. S pointed out, any top 10 player can play DC if they choose to

Posted by Suresh 04/11/2007 at 06:01 PM

About the points system - should we start at a higher arbitrary number for all levels?

As an example - 50 points for winning a major and 10 points for being a GS semifinalist?

The idea being it might make assigning numbers to different accomplishments/levels easier as it opens up a bigger window in between different levels - as and when new ideas crop up.

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 06:06 PM

DM: interesting comments. However, I'd like to defend the Tier I concept as being more than just the top two guys.

Haven't done the math yet, but my guess would be that you could have made the case at the start of 2005 for 4-5 Tier I guys: Federer, Hewitt, Agassi, Roddick and Safin. All bar Roddick would have been 2+ Slam winners: Agassi's best days were likely behind him, but he was still a legitimate GS challenger.

The little project Sam and I kicked around has taken on more legs, and finding a means of providing insight without reinventing the wheel or inventing cold fusion is going to be an interesting challenge.

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 06:09 PM

Suresh: Good idea. I had considered that, as it allows for more granularity if needed without having to say something like "stat X is worth 3.25 points". As long as the ratios for the various levels relative to one another remains the same, I think this will be helpful.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 04/11/2007 at 06:11 PM

Maybe it's that lawyer contrarian streak, but DM makes some good points to me.

I've not focused on Sam's weighting system too much, so I'll have to keep my powder dry till I see it in the next go-round.

Posted by Beth 04/11/2007 at 06:12 PM

ndk - yes they can play if they choose - but only as long as their country is in the competition. Then - it becomes difficult to award points based on DC participation.
That is why I would leave it out of this discussion.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 04/11/2007 at 06:12 PM

As long as I am the voice of dissent today, Pete, I dissent!

Blake's match, to take another example, was critical because in fact it was Blake. It might take a bit of research to show, as you did, that Blake did not exactly have the type of past record that Roddick has, in DC or in regular tournaments, for that matter. But that research was not akin to finding the Lost Ark.

Here is a guy who has plenty of talent, but one who takes full advantage of the fact that ranking points come from the best tournaments of the year, and you can have quite a few losses and still be ranked in the top ten.

But that's my point, put Blake on court in Davis Cup and its not his ranking that matters, its what happens on that day! He's the U.S. number two, and whether he wins ONE OF TWO MATCHES might carry the day, for his country, for the year.

All of a sudden James Blake is much more interesting.

Or, to put it another way, when McEnroe and Connors played DC they could not be elevated any higher, but their opponents could be. Then, in 1984 its Hendrick Sundstrom's day to not be a "Second Tier" player.

You say toMAYto, I say toMAto.

Is it that the Davis Cup format is so brilliant that it highlights "second tier" palyers,


is it that the regular knock-out tournament format artificially tends to denigrate the accomplishments of otherwise very great players?

Just asking.

Posted by Jenn 04/11/2007 at 06:13 PM

I think what we will ultimately see as the real value of the SPQI is not in distinguishing Tier I from Tier II, but to distinguish the numbers 3-15 guys from each other. We don't need a complicated spreadsheet analysis to tell us that Fed and Nadal are pretty far above the pack (particularly Fed). Where it gets interesting and where I think it will get WAY more interesting this summer is below #3. Who will emerge from the pack of either young guns, or moderately distinguished veterans to distinguish themselves in a meaningful way.

And once the numbers play themselves out, it may be more clear what the numerical cut-off point should be between Tiers I, II, and even III. I look forward to the results!

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 04/11/2007 at 06:15 PM

by the way, I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to be dissenting from, its a great project and very good work by the crew. :)

Posted by Sam 04/11/2007 at 06:18 PM

DM: The dissent line was too good for me to pass up. :-)

Posted by Andrew 04/11/2007 at 06:38 PM

Jenn: what you're describing is kind of like the holy grail of technical analysis in investing - you look at a stock's past performance to figure out where it's going.

I'd be interested if we can look at a match between, say Djokovic and Ferrer at IW, and have any quantitative basis for the qualitative sense I had that Djokovic was the outstanding favorite for the match. Their ATP ranking points were very close, but I was convinced that Ferrer was toast (he ended up in a comfortable straight sets loss).

Posted by Rosangel 04/11/2007 at 06:43 PM

I will listen to the recent EdV interview again as soon as I can find the DVD upon which I have it recorded. But EdV definitely said words to the effect that that the ATP was hoping that the Slams would agree to double their points to 2000 from 2009. I listened to the interview twice, and it left me with the impression that it wasn't under the ATP's control. Now it turns out EdV didn't know what he was talking about.

Oh well. What's new?

Awesome news about that book. I can't decide which of the two Petes is the luckier:-)

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