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View Full Version : Elder Japanese stateswomen and the development of women's tennis


Joe Pike
10-20-2009, 06:13 AM
The recent retirement of 34-year-old Ai Sugiyama and the return of 39-year-old Kimiko Date shed an interesting light on the current level of WTA tennis, IMO.

Ai has been among the top-40 in the WTA rankings for more than a decade, with no interruption from 1996 (aged 21) until last year (aged 33).
She has played them all - Graf, Sanchez, Seles, Hingis, Davenport, V. Williams, S. Williams, Henin, Sharapova, Safina. She lost mostly against these greats but she battled it out with several generations of lesser gifted players, players in the top 50. In 1996 - and in 2008.
And she beat players outside of the top 50 most of the time. In 1996 - and in 2008.

Kimiko Date was a top-10 player in the mid-90ies, even top-5 for a few months in 1995/96. Never ever made a slam final. She retired at the end of 1996, aged only 26.
Now she is back, aged 39. She beats three current top-30 players. Is back in the top-100 and most probably will rise even further in the next months although she plays only a reduced schedule.

There is some talk and controversy whether today's top players are as good as the greats from the 80ies or 90ies. But almost no one questions the assumption anymore that today there is at least more "depth" in women's tennis, meaning that the lower ranked players (#20 and lower) are far superior to their ancestors.

Ai and Kimiko seem to be mocking that assumption ...

Datacipher
10-21-2009, 12:19 PM
They arent' the only ones, and there are numerous intergenerational examples on the men's side as well...but SSSHHHHHH....we have to pretend this generation is by far the most athletic, the hardest hitting, the fastest, the best in every way.....or the young un fanboys get a whiney!!!