Steve Flink's list of the best years in WTA history

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Moose Malloy, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    From the Tennis Channel website, a nice article that puts Henin's year in perspective. A bit surprised at the ommission of Seles & Serena.

    "Her year must be placed high among the best any woman has enjoyed in the Open Era which began in 1968. The way I see it, Steffi Graf had the best year of any woman in the professional era when she won the four majors plus the Olympic Games in 1988 for a "Golden Slam." Margaret Court won the Grand Slam in 1970 so I rank that as the second best year of any modern female competitor.

    Undoubtedly, Martina Navratilova's 1984 was an outstanding season, and is No. 3 on my list. She lost early that year to Hana Mandlikova, won a record 74 consecutive matches, and then was beaten by Helena Sukova in the semifinals of the Australian Open at the end of the year. In between, she won three straight majors. Martina's 1983 campaign--- my selection for No. 4--- was almost as good; Navratilova had an 86-1 match record that season, losing only at the French Open to Kathleen Horvath. Graf's 1989 was extraordinary as she swept three of the four majors, closing that campaign on a 38 match victory streak. I rate that at No. 5. Chris Evert won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1976 and was victorious in 12 of 17 tournaments and 75 of 80 matches. Put that one at No. 6. And Hingis in 1997 had a banner year with 12 tournament wins and a 75-5 record, plus triumphs at three of the four majors. I place Hingis in 1997 at No. 7.

    I would rank the 2007 Henin campaign at No. 8. Her winning percentage of .940 is the best since Graf hit .977 in 1989. Had she been able to compete in Australia, Henin would probably have finished even higher on the list. I would not be surprised if Henin put very similar results on the board next year. Her capacity to grind out tough matches as well as flow through easier ones is second to none. More than any other woman in the sport, with increasing conviction in the tight corners of tense contests, Henin has established herself as a quietly ferocious player who will not surrender."

    http://www.thetennischannel.com/news/newsdetails.aspx?newsid=3545&SPC=1#POST_COMMENT

    Steve Flink has been reporting on tennis since 1974. He was a columnist and editor for World Tennis Magazine from 1974-91. Since 1992, he has been a senior correspondent for Tennis Week Magazine. During the 1970's and 1980's he served as a statistician for NBC, CBS and ABC on their tennis telecasts. Since 1982 he has been covering Wimbledon and the French Open for CBS radio. As a fan, reporter in training and full time journalist, he has been at Wimbledon 39 of the last 42 years and he has only missed one U.S. (Open) Championship since 1965. He is the author of " The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century", published in 1999. Steve will be writing a weekly column every Tuesday for TennisChannel.com.
     
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  2. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    If Henin had not choked in the Wimbledon semis her year would be even better then Serena's in 2002.

    I wouldnt put Hingis in 1997 on the list at all despite her success. Her competition that year was a total joke, Majoli, Coetzer, and Novotna were her biggest competition. Novotna on grass is somewhat legit competition, but the rest of the way it is a joke. Henin is a much more powerful, more athletic, and mentally tougher version of Hingis herself, and the 97 Hingis translated into the 2007 Henin and put head to head Henin would destroy her I bet.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2007
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  3. Steve132

    Steve132 Professional

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    Your point about Hingis' competition is valid, but it's hard to overlook a player who wins three Slams in a year and reaches the final in the fourth. There is no doubt, however, that Henin's success in an age of power baseliners underlines Hingis' limitations. Henin is smaller, shorter and lighter than Hingis, yet she is never overpowered by players such as Sharapova or the Williams sisters.
     
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  4. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    There's no denying that Henin has become a great player but to be fair the Williams sisters aren't anywhere near what they used to be and Sharapova just isn't quite good enough. I would say that overall Henin probably does handle power better than Hingis, but there have been more than a few times when Henin herself was overpowered by one of the 'Big Babes'.
     
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  5. Wuornos

    Wuornos Professional

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    Nice article Moose.

    Not sure I agree with it though.

    Based purely in domination I think it's about right, but I can't help but feel that the competition has been a bit diluted during the past 12 months.

    Of the players I considered to be the 6 main challengers to Justin, 5 have had problems this year. Maria Sharapova has been well below par for 6 months due to shoulder injury, Serena Williams has had all sorts of problems and seemed intent on playing many times despite the fact that she was clearly unfit to play, Venus Williams was also out of action for a period, Amélie Mauresmo had her season decimated by an appendix op, while Kim Clijsters retired.

    I'm a big fan of Justine but to be honest I would consider her stronger in the couple of years building up to the Australian open in 2004. She may not have dominated to such a great extent, in fact I even doubt she was the best player during this period, but she had to compete against both the Williams Sisters when they were playing tennis of a standard to put them both amongst the very greats of the open Era.

    The top 4 DOT Ratings at this time show

    1. Serena Williams 2797
    2. Justine Henin 2749
    3. Venus Williams 2704
    4. Kim Clijsters 2689

    These seem a far cry from the current DOT levels at the top of the Womens' Game of

    1. Justine Henin 2735
    2. Maria Sharapova 2661
    3. Serena Williams 2655
    4. Venus Williams 2644

    Only Justine is playing at a standard that is higher than the number 4 of just over 3 years ago.

    Hopefully we will see Maria Sharapova and possibly Ana Ivanović improve next year and Justine will get enough competition to truly establish herself as one of the greats.

    Regards

    Tim

    PS Justine is currently 12th on the list of best female players of the open era as calculated using DOT. While Maria Sharapova is 19th and Ana Ivanović 61st. All of course calculated at their peaks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2007
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  6. thalivest

    thalivest Banned

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    The Williams sisters didnt really ever face Henin at her best in their primes either, except Serena a bit in 2003. In 2001-early 2003 Henin was nothing like the player she was later on and still had the better of the Williams on clay already. In spring of 2003 when she started to come into her own she played Serena at her peak 3 times, twice on clay which is the surfaces that favors Henin most obviously and she won both, then at Wimbledon where she got slammed by Serena. However I think grass is Justine's worst surface by far, much worse then hard courts, just look at her losses to Bartoli and Danilidou there, her barely beating a very injured Serena this year, her loss to Mauresmo after easily winning the first set; plus Henin had a wrist injury as well and definitely wasnt at her best either. I think if they played on hard courts had Serena stayed healthy it would have been an interesting match. As for Venus, Venus has never played Justine in her prime except this years U.S Open, and obviously the Williams are past their prime like you said. So their primes never crossed except for Serena and Justine a bit in 2003, and all that we know against Justine is she is clearly worse on grass, but that is no surprise, everyone knows she is suspect on grass anyway.

    You say Sharapova isnt good enough, but she still is a multi-slam Champion at only 20. I dont see how she can be dismissed that easily.

    Davenport is a huge power player and Justine was owning her from 2003-2006 when Lindsay was contending for slam titles seriously, in fact Lindsay didnt even beat her once those years.

    Capriati was another imposing power player from 2001-2003 especialy. Justine was splitting their matches even in 2001-2002 when she was definitely not the Justine of today, then in 2003 when she began to enter her prime she won all their matches, even that heartbreaking U.S Open for Jennifer where she played the match of her life and still couldnt beat an injured/cramping Henin. Do you consider Hingis far from her prime in 2001-early 2002 when she was still contending for the #1 ranking and spent most of that time ranked #1? Well Jennifer won all 4 matches with Hingis then, and denied her 3 slam titles, so you can already see a difference there between Hingis and Henin.

    Also even if the Williams are not at their best think what they might still be doing without Justine stopping them. Serena won the Australian with Justine absent, then ended up losing in the quarters of the next 3 to Justine, without Justine she might have won another 1 or 2 of the remaining slams. Venus lost the defacto final to Justine at the U.S Open, she could well have been Wimbledon and U.S Open Champion in the same year like 2000 and 2001 without Justine. Had it not been for Justine the Williams could easily have swept the slams this year.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2007
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  7. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Some other years worth mentioning:

    King '72
    Court '73
    Graf '93,'95,'96

    what does your system come up with as far as best years go?
     
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  8. Wuornos

    Wuornos Professional

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    Hi Moose

    I never like doing this as I always feel a single year is to small a sample to be reliable. However if we ignore previous reults and just calculate an average performance over a single year, which does tend to produce some big swings year on year we would get the follllowing list:

    The following are the best single year female performances on the DOT ratings, unfortunately the way I have set the system up means it is difficult to apply an artifical season or end of year so these are based on a rolling 12 month horizon.

    1. Margaret Smith Court 3026 (Year to end of Australian 1971)
    2. Martina Navratilova 2974 (Season of 1984)
    3. Steffi Graf 2973 (Year to end of Australian 1989)
    4. Monica Seles 2938 (Year to end of Australian 1993)
    5. Serena Williams 2921 (Year to end of Australian 2003)
    6. Chris Evert 2917 (Year to end of Wimbledon 1985)
    7. Billie Jean King 2879 (Season of 1972)
    8. Martina Hingis 2877 (Year to end of Australian 1998 )
    9. Evonne Goolagong 2874 (Year to end of Wimbledon 1971)
    10. Justine Henin 2868 (Year to end of Australian 2004)

    These aren't the most dominant years they are the single years of greatest achievement as calculated by DOT taking into account the calculated status of events won/played and the quality of opposition. They are significantly higher than an actual DOT rating as DOT Ratings use sample of results greater than a single year and are therefore better indiators of the actual standard of play. I have only included each player once for the best single year as to include mltiple entries for the same player would result in significant work in reconfiguring the database.

    Regard

    Tim
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2007
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