Must Year's World no. 1 be Slam Winner?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Mar 29, 2013.

  1. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Is it logically necessary for a World no. 1 player for a given year to have won a slam during that year?

    Can you think of years or instances in which the definite, consensus or computer-ranked World no. 1 player did not win a slam title?

    I was just wondering. It seems unlikely, and certainly the odds are against it, but is it absolutely necessary for the year's best player to win a slam?

    With the present computer-ranking system, what if player X wins 8-9 Masters 1000 tournaments and the ATP World Tour Finals but no slam, and the four slams are won by four individuals who don't win any other big tourneys, wouldn't the numbers add up for player X?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
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  2. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Some say Laver was number one in 1970 and won no slam
     
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  3. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Precisely, so it's not necessary.
     
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  4. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Are we talking about something subjective such as the year's best player? If a player did not win a major, but ended the year as #1 on the computer, you would have many question if that player was actually the "real" #1. This happened with Caroline Wozniacki recently and we saw that many did not consider her to be the best player in the world, despite the computer rankings that had her at #1.

    If we are not talking about something subjective, then it's whoever the computer has as #1 of course. I think the Wozniacki example is illustrative. Even though it's theoretically possible to have this happen, it would be tough for the player to be accepted as #1, especially when many will say that they haven't performed on the biggest stages. When you have a "split decision" with one player winning non-majors but no major, you'll naturally get considerable push back on the idea that the player should be ranked #1. You can have all the formulas and computer rankings you want, but as long as the public does not weigh tournaments equally and also compares players head to head, the computer rankings may not match who most consider to be #1.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
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  5. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    It has happened several times in the computed ranking system used prior to 1990 (that was based on average points and not on the total sum). In 1975, 1977 and 1982.

    It has not happened in the different rankings systems used post 1990, but potentially it could have happened too.

    For example, in 1992 Courier won two GS tournaments and ended nº1, Sampras won 0 GS that year and ended nº3 but close in points to Courier. Had Sampras won one of the M-1000 Autumn indoor tournaments or the WTF that year and he would have ended nº1 without a GS title.

    Another example, in 1998 Marcelo Rios ended nº2 and very close in points to Sampras (that ended nº1 ). In fact, like the previous example, had Rios won any of the M-1000 Autumn indoor tournaments or the WTF and he would have ended nº1 without a GS title.

    Of course it can happen in the current ranking system too. If a player is runner-up in three GS and wins 6 or 7 M-1000 tournaments and the WTF it is almost sure he will end the year as nº1.

    I see it perfectly valid. The player that ends the year as nº1 is the player that obtained more points than any other player during that year under the ranking system used that year.

    I don't see why he would need to win at least 1 GS title to be the year-end nº1.

    As the imaginary example I put before, a player that is runner-up in three GS and wins 7 M-1000 tournaments and the WTF and ends the year as Nº1 (under the current system, or any previous system), would be (in my opinion) the "best" player of the year in terms of good/very good results obtained consistently throughout the year (and THAT is what rankings usually measure, consistency in relation to his rivals).
     
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  6. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Hall of Fame

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    If the only people deserving of the #1 ranking were majors winners you would only have a potential of max 4 contenders. There have been people in recent years who won majors who despite winning one would have in no way deserved to be close to year end #1.

    Stosur and Schiavone leap to mind immediately, and even Li Na in 2011 was outside of like, 3 tournaments 2 of which happened to be majors, was mess. After the French that year she won only 6 matches the rest of the year..and before the French had a like 5 match losing streak. I honestly don't think she would have been year end #1 than wozniacki.

    The reason there is such a problem with this especially on the WTA is the players. They are not consistent at all. In 2011 all the reigning major winners were out of the US Open at Tue end of round 1(first time that has ever happened). In 2010 the French winner and runner up were out in the first round of Wimbledon (also a first I believe).

    You wonder why a major winner cannot get the #1 ranking at the end of the year, they haven't earned it. On the men's tour the major winners are also winning all the big events outside them. On the WTA before last year for several years...not so much. They were all inconsistent erratic messes.. or playing part time schedules (clijsters) or injured (Serena)

    The men don't have those problems...someone like Ferrer who plays his behind off would never get to number 1 now a days..on the WTA though..a female Ferrer would probably.

    The majors consist of 2 months of a roughly 10 month tour calender...and they are the most prestigious...but they are also not the only thing that count..if you cannot do enough outside them to be number 1 despite the massive amount of points you get for winning 1..then well..it is in part your own fault for not playing well or enough the other eight months of the calendar.
     
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  7. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I would not consider it strictly necessary, but it would be extremely odd. It hasn’t happened since the ranking systems exist, as far as I know.

    1989 is an interesting case of slam bias, in that Lendl ended the year ranked number one by a good margin, but because he had won 1 slam to Beckers’s 2, many felt it belonged to Becker, who was given the Player of the Year award. A few years ago I dedicated some time to studying their results in this thread http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=203275 and came to the conclusion that even under today’s system (which weighs majors more heavily) Lendl would have ended up clearly ahead. Their difference in slam performance (2 titles for Becker vs 1 title + 1 final for Lendl) would be 800 points in today's system, easily makeable by performing better outside of majors, which is what Lendl did. He also had a significantly better winning % than Becker. At the very least, that year is a prime candidate for Solomonic wisdom. Split the baby or give joint custody.
     
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  8. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    In the current tour environment, I would say yes. The slams are set and established. They are the biggest events on tour. Everyone plays them. Back in the 70s, the tour was a mess, so you could have a year like 1970 where the best player and the world number one didn't actually win a slam. Nowadays a slamless number one is considered a bit of a joke.
     
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  9. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    Actually, if someone wins say 7 out of 9 masters and the tour finals, and compiles a 20-0 win-loss record against fellow top 5, but was knocked out before the qfs of every slam by some random player who caught fire for that one match, i would still consider that someone world no.1 and the best player of that year.
     
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  10. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    jimmy connors in 75 ?
     
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  11. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    As mattennis said above, it has happened in 1975, 1977 and 1982
     
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  12. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    If ssomebody considered Laver also number one in 1971, he would be the only slam less guy that , for two consecutive years, is proclaimed number one..
     
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    ...and in 1976 as well (Borg ending world´s number one while being the undisputed best record )
     
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  14. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    What are you on about ? did you even read the thread title ? both borg and connors won a major in 76 ....
     
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  15. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Yes, of course, you are right. Thank you. I am so used to seeing those years given to Ashe (75), Borg/Vilas (77) and Connors (82) that I had forgotten the official ATP #1 were Connors (75, 77) and McEnroe (82) who actually did not win any majors those years. I've seen some arguments here in favor of Connors for 75 and 77. The 1982 official ranking seems to make the least sense of all, the result of a schism among governing bodies.
     
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Borg: WCT and Wimbledon ( plus USO final) and Connors: USO

    Believe me. life is more simplistic...
     
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  17. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    1989 and 1995 are similar cases, at least superficially. Lendl led Becker 10-5 in overall titles but trailed 1-2 in Slam titles. Muster led Sampras 12-5 in overall titles but trailed 1-2 in Slam titles.

    Yet no one would give '95 to Muster over Sampras, and I think with good reason.

    Against the Top Ten players in '95:

    Sampras was 17-7
    Agassi 13-7
    Muster 8-4

    Muster faced Top Tenners only half as many times as Sampras did, despite playing more matches in the season as a whole (104 vs 88 ).

    So Muster's 12 titles with 1 Slam just aren't worth as much as Sampras' 5 titles with 2 Slams.

    The '89 case was far closer. Against the Top Ten, Becker was 14-5, Lendl 12-6.

    Becker had huge victories in '89 in Davis Cup, which was not included in the rankings though I think it has to be considered in any evaluation of who was the best singles player of the year. He had two victories in Davis Cup over top tenners (Agassi and Edberg); they are included in his 14-5 count.
     
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  18. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    It's not strictly necessary to be a Slam Winner, but personally I would always prefer to give a year's top position to a player who's won at least one of the Big Four.
     
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  19. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    "Slam Bias"?

    If that is true, then the logical thing to do is throw away the computer-ranking-points system. If you are not going to follow it, then why have it?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
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  20. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Well, I think the cases are not really very similar, because the difference in performance in majors between Sampras and Muster in 95 was much, much larger than between Becker and Lendl in 89.

    In today’s system, the difference in performance between Sampras and Musters at majors in 1995 would be 2,940 points. That's not an easy difference to overcome.

    But (also in today's system) the difference between Becker and Lendl at majors in 1989 would be only 800 points. That is a fairly easy difference to overcome.

    And of course the ATP ranking system in 95 reflected the overall difference very well, as Muster ended the year ranked 3rd behind Sampras and Agassi.

    But my point is that the 89 system also reflected the overall difference well in ranking Lendl ahead because he was not that far behind Becker in major’s performance, but was far ahead elswhere. And in every kind of transposition I attempted, he comes up ahead.

    The following is from Moose Malloy on the thread I mentioned: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=2421425&postcount=2

     
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  21. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    We probably all have a little 'Slam Bias' in us! :)
     
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  22. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I think the system today is fair and should be followed. It has been followed most of the time in the sense that the agreed number one for the year is almost always the computer ranked number one. Notable exceptions to this are 1975, 1977, 1982 and 1989.

    1977 has been discussed to death, with arguments in favor of the main three contenders. Maybe it should go three ways. But if only one player must absolutely be chosen, then I’d give it to Vilas.

    1982 seems to be wrong, with WCT tournaments not getting ranking points. McEnroe should probably be ranked 3 but ended up as 1.

    1975 is generally given to Ashe, mainly on account of his Wimbledon win. But if you look at the record closely, it may not be so clear at all, and slam bias may be responsible. I think Connors had a hell of a year but lost some crucial finals. His win percentage is much better than Ashe’s. Slam bias may be at work. It may be that the year belongs to both Connors and Ashe but there seems to be an aversion to give a year to more than one player.

    1989 is to me the most clear case of slam bias when it is given exclusively to Becker. I see Becker, at best, as co-number one that year. But if it has to go to only one player, then I’d give it to Lendl.

    Slam bias is pretty pervasive. A few weeks ago there was a mention of a new book on the history of tennis, apparently a very good book. The author mentioned something to the effect that he feels that even in the current system, slams are insufficiently weighted. My disagreement with this line of though is strong. Slams have today the heaviest weight ever in the ranking system. In another thread in the General section someone was proposing that they should be weighted at 8 times a Masters to reflect reality. But what reality? I don’t know where people get these ideas. I already feel that winning two Masters tournaments today is harder than winning one major, and the main reason is that you have to go through the top players twice to win two Masters, because they are all there now. But okay, I guess the prestige thing adds some pressure at the majors, so I suppose the 2:1 ratio is okay. But there is always a reluctance to follow it when it comes to assessing the year. I predict that if it ever came to happen again that a player with only one major ends the year ahead of someone with two, there would be an uproar in the General section asking for the computer rankings to be thrown out as laughable, or change their weighting to conform with "reality".
     
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  23. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Easy solution

    Slams have to be raised in value. Should be 3 x a masters 1000 not 2 x. Slam runner up should be 1.8 x a masters 1000 not 1.2 x. WTF should be 2.25 x masters 1000 not 1.5 x

    If those changes are made there will be much less chance of an unintuitive year end number 1
     
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  24. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Where does the intuition come from to declare it unintuitive?
     
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  25. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    More on the topic. To win one major you need to win 21 sets. To win three Masters you need to win 30 sets. The Masters are played on consecutive days. The majors, you get a day in between matches.

    In addition, to win one major you will need to beat, on average, 3 top-10 players. To win 3 Masters you need to beat, on average, 9 top-10 players.

    On what basis do you justify the notion that 3 Masters should be equivalent to one major? Prestige? Be careful with the word prestige. If you overrate it too much, or if you repeat the word ten times, it begins to sound like a brand of cologne. It’s no replacement for real effort.
     
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  26. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Hall of Fame

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    Do that and the other 75% of the tour that isn't majors would be pretty much destroyed. The 500 and 250 events would become totally barren of even top 30 players and the value of the masters would drop as well.

    It would be the tour cutting off its nose to spite its face.
     
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  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yes I have to agree, this is one of those cases where the similarities between two years are superficial. Sampras has a solid lead over Muster. Lendl/Becker is much closer.
     
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  28. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The problem in the early Open Era is that you didn't always play 4 Slams a year. Many Slam events were depleted as you know. A player might come away Slam-less in a year, but how much does that really mean if he only played two Slams?

    In 1970 there were really only two Slam events (Wimb and USO) that had reasonably full fields. Laver played in both places and he failed in both, but he didn't play at all 4 Slams.

    If you play in only two Slams, and the year is 1970 when there are all sorts of questions about the structure of tennis and the importance of the Slams relative to other events, I think you can definitely be #1 without a Slam title.

    But it's a bigger problem in later years, with full fields, if you attend all 4 Slams and fail at all of them, but still end up #1 on the computer.

    BTW the 1970 Dunlop event is sometimes regarded as the true AO of that year, and Laver won it. So 1970 is not necessarily a case of a #1 who didn't win a major.
     
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  29. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    1989 and 1982

    Giod question. It is subjective. However, if you did a poll most would say that becker was the number 1 for 1989. However he wasn't according to the atp rankings.

    In 1982, if they had included all the wct points, lendl would have been the number 1, despite not having won a salm that year. He was clearly way out in front of connors and mcenroe in 'points' (if the various wct events had been rated appropriately.) hence the way around this is to rate the slams more appropriately.
     
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  30. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I think the current weight of 2:1 is probably fine. You need to win 20 sets to have 2 Masters, vs 21 sets to have 1 major. But you need to go through about 6 top tenners to have 2 Masters, vs only 3 for the one major. So the additional pressure of the prestige factor in the majors is already generously compensated by the additional effort required for 2 Masters. Remember that this additional effort is very tangible, whereas the prestige thing is more nebulous. You don’t want to get too carried away with prestige by giving it such enormous weight as 3:1, because then you are increasing the luck element.

    Counting slams and doing nothing else is already a very popular passtime. And the ideology expressed by a poster in a thread you started recently is already too prevalent. The guy says: “Grand Slam tournaments are infinitely more valuable than any other tournament on earth. Ultimately, a person with more slam is greater in terms of achievement.” http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=457984

    If they are infinitely more valuable than anything else, then let's just declare everything else exhibition tennis and stop paying any attention to it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
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  31. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I have always preferred more the tour as a whole, than the majors alone. Nr. 1 is decided by the whole years work, a major championship can be decided in a few days. In one major you can have a bad day, and you are out. Over one year, good and bad days, luck and bad luck, are in balance, and so its the fairest measure of ability. You can compare it to a sprint and a marathon run. In my view the year end Nr. 1 is way more important than the rolling Nr. 1. A real Nr. 1 in tennis has to put his number on the line in all enviroments and over all time periods.
    In other sports we have those year long competitions as the World Cup in Skiing and the short term championships like the World Champs in Skiing. Over the years, the long termed competitions have gained more recognition. In soccer, we have the cup (elimination) competitions, especially the Champions League, which is in reality a cup competition. And the National Leagues, which are more important and the fairest measure of quality for most experts, because the luck principle is virtually shut out over one year.
     
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  32. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I am in complete agreement. The tour as a whole (at least majors + masters) is the closest thing to the national leagues in soccer and the fairest measure of quality.
     
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  33. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    For Rocket standarts, not making a single sad semi at a major, even if he played only two of them is a fail.

    That said from a die hard Laver fan.But because of that, I´am probably much more demanding on him.
     
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  34. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Thus he does not deserve a CLEAR No.1 place in 1970. The story might be different if he at least reached a big SF.
     
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  35. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Ahhh. Good point.

    Wasn't it the AO in 1970 that Laver was prevented from entering because of contract conflicts?
     
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  36. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    The NTL contracted pros, of which Laver was one, didn't play at the 1970 Australian Open (held in Sydney that year), due to political disputes over prize money. There was another big event in Sydney soon after, containing the NTL players, and that was the Dunlop event, where Laver beat Rosewall in a 5-set final.

    I don't see the 1970 Dunlop Sydney Open as the real 1970 Australian Open, but rather what should have been the 1970 Australian Open, but wasn't due to the tennis politics of that era.
     
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  37. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    People say Safina should not have been ranked #1 during the year in 2009, but with 2 finals and 2 semifinals in the 4 consecutive majors, she would have been #1 by an even larger margin if you gave the 4 majors more weight. Unless you only give a ton of additional points to the winner and not to the finalists and semifinalists, you will always have some decent chance to have a #1 who hasn't won a major.

    You could give 1,000,000 points to the winner of a slam and that would guarantee one of the slam winners would be the #1.
     
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  38. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Hall of Fame

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    Because she was winning a lot of events outside the majors and going deep at them. Serena despite having 3 majors at the same time failed to win a single title outside of then from the 2008 US Open till the 2009 US Open. If she had won even 1 or 2 she would have been number1 easily.
     
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  39. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Its funny, in the thread you mention I list of the open era rankings where I rank open era players on their achievements in masters 1000 equivalents, season end finals and slam finals and slam wins, using the current Atp weightings eg 2000 points for slams - and most of the complaints I get is that weight the slams too lightly ie the opposite direction to where the arguments are going in this thread . I counter thiere objections by saying that we have to make a choice with weightings and to get away from arguments I just use the aTp weightings.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=457984

    I agree with you - the whole tour counts. I am okay with it being 2:1 - it is just that i noted that a lot of people would prefer to see slams higher. But it is what it is.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
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  40. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    I totally agree with you. A championship is more precise than a cup to identify the best sportsman in a given year, because it can neutralize the randomness better. That is true for tennis as well.

    How either, I'm not sure that it is the same for identifying the best player in a century. I think identifying the best player in a year or in a century is a different debate. In the first case, consistency throughout the whole season, in every tournaments, on every surfaces matter the most. Not only the titles, but also the deep run. In the second case, the majors title matter more. Probably because we need to simplify the datas in order to compare players from different decades.

    note: Rios was recently the number one in the last 12 month, without winning a slam (In march 1998, the slam holders were Korda, Rafter, Sampras, Kuerten). I guess his number one ranking is very frail. Here is a comparison of his results in slam and master 1000 with Sampras (n°2:)

    Tournaments: Sampras: Rios:
    Miami: R32 W
    Indian Wells: R16 W
    AO: QF F
    WTF: W -
    Paris: W R32
    Stuttgart: R16 QF
    USOpen: R16 QF
    Cincinnatti: W R16
    Canada: - -
    Wimbledon: W R16
    RG: R32 R16
    Hambourg: - R16
    Rome: R64 F
    Monte-Carlo: R32 W
     
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