Who was the true no1 in 2003?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by SgtJohn, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

    Dec 5, 2006
    Hi everyone,

    I see the debate raging about 1977, so I had the idea to launch another one about 2003... I might be as much in an "alone vs the world" situation as CyBorg is on the other thread, though :)

    I'll say it: I think Federer was the true number 1 in 2003. To clear things up, I am indeed a Federer fan, but I tried to be as objective as possible.

    I know many people will consider that Roddick is the "obvious" no1 for some reason. I'll sum up my argument this way: Roddick was the ATP no1 because he was far more regular than Federer. But in my opinion the ATP totally overinflates the importance of regularity compared to performance.

    I call the current ATP system the "0.7 system" because you win 1000 pts for a GS victory, 0.7*1000 for a final, close to 0.7^2*1000 for a SF, and so on following a geometrical law.
    I, among many others on this forum think that a "0.5 system" would be fairer: 1000 for a win, 500 for a final, 250 for an SF etc.
    I will prove that Roddick was no1 under the 0.7 formula by piling up semifinals in many tournaments, and that Federer would be no1 in the 0.5 system. If you think the current system is better than the 0.5, I respect this and Roddick is no1 according to your worldview.

    Let's compute the numbers, for the top 3 players of that year:

    Grand Slam: 250+7.8+250+1000
    Masters: 125
    Masters Series: 62.5+15.6+7.8+15.6+15.6+500+500+31.25+125
    Others: 15.6+125+7.8+125+250+250+250+62.5+62.5

    Total: 4055

    Masters: 0
    MS: 15.6+15.6+500+125+0+31.25+15.8+500+31.25
    Others: 125+31.25+62.5+250+31.25+31.25+125

    Total: 3578

    GS: 62.5+7.8+1000+62.5
    Masters: 750
    MS: 15.6+62.5+0+250+31.75+15.6+125+125+62.5
    Others: 31.75+7.8+250+62.5+250+250+250+125+250+15.8

    Total: 4063

    As you can see, Federer and Roddick are almost equal under this system, with Ferrero a distant third.

    Now, let's have a look at some other 'classic' ways of comparing players:

    * Win/Loss record

    Federer: 78-17=.821
    Roddick: 72-19=.791
    Ferrero: 66-21=.759

    *Head-to-head inside the top 3

    Federer leads Roddick 2-1 (with 2 straight sets wins for Federer, while Roddick won a last-set tie-breaker)

    Federer leads Ferrero 2-1 (including a win on clay)

    Roddick leads Ferrero 1-0

    *Win-loss record against the top 10

    Federer: 9-4 (4-4 before the Masters Cup)
    Roddick: 5-5 (3-3 before the MC)
    Ferrero 3-6 (3-3 before the MC)

    *Last but not least: style, talent, the 'je-ne-sais-quoi':

    The whole tennis world was astonished by the fashion Federer won Wimbledon and dominated his rivals in Houston. Many journalists and analysts ranked him the best using subjective arguments.

    Conclusion: Federer has an edge, be it slight or wide, in every single category... To me, Federer was a no1 starting in 2003, and at the very least a co-no1.

    Your thoughts?

  2. my_forehand

    my_forehand Professional

    Jul 17, 2007
    In 5 years, the Federer-Roddick H2H has changed significantly..
  3. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

    Mar 8, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    It all comes down to which system one adopts. Looking at the respective results it's pretty close. Roddick is by far better on outdoor hardcourts - big, big edge. But Federer is better on grass and indoors with an edge on clay. I suppose one could say that Roddick was better on rebound ace if this is treated as a separate surface. It probably should be.

    The interesting thing is that I think there was not much doubt in anyone's mind that by the end of the year Federer was the better player, but before Wimbledon rolled around he had an inconsistent late winter and spring, having won a number of smaller titles but disappointing with the loss to Mantilla in Rome and the first round exit at Roland Garros. From then on, his results trump Roddick despite Andy's wins in Washington, Canada, Cincy and the US Open. So what this means is that there is no such as thing as a "2003 Federer". The Federer of May wasn't even close to the player of Federer of November. Roddick however I feel didn't change much over the course of the year. I don't know what this tells us and how it can be incorporated.

    But all taken together I see this as pretty much a tie. Even SgtJohn's ranking system shows how close it is.

    The good thing about analyzing the pros participating since 1990 is that most of the time we can expect them to play a roughly equal organization of events. With some exceptions (eg. How does one compare Muster and Agassi in 1995?).

    Here, unlike the Vilas/Borg debate things are extremely comprehensible and ripe for a statistical analysis, as everything fits into place. You have your majors, you have your masters series and you have your smaller events. There's as well a very neat organization of surfaces which differs from season to season and both players follow the rules of this, as they have to. So while my highly superficial outlook on their years (as typed up above) is kind of useful as a quick impression based on memory and a few glances at results, the stats should give us all the answers. So, yes - it is either one method or the other. I agree with SgtJohn's, although it doesn't prove that Federer was better in any kind of conclusive way, unless one sees a few extra points as conclusive.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2008
  4. Wuornos

    Wuornos Professional

    Aug 2, 2007
    I agree entirely with SgtJohn that the 0.7 value used in the official rankings seems completely arbitrary. 0.5 seems a far more reasonable and statistically supportable value to use in reflecting progress within a knockout tournament system.


  5. lambielspins

    lambielspins Banned

    Aug 21, 2006
    If you asked at the end of 2003 who the best player in the world was how many people really would have still said Andy Roddick? I think that gives you your answer.
  6. madmanfool

    madmanfool Semi-Pro

    Dec 31, 2006
    That's a different question. By the end of 2003, the way Federer played at the masters cup, there was no doubt that he was the best player at the end of 2003. But that's different from, was he the best player in entire 2003?.
    Same could be said of Nalbandian last year, winning Madrid and Paris. It doesn't make him the best player of 2007 though.
  7. akv89

    akv89 Hall of Fame

    Jun 23, 2007
    Well put. I agree completely.
  8. lambielspins

    lambielspins Banned

    Aug 21, 2006
    No sane person would have said Nalbandian was the best player in the world when 2007 was over though, even though he played the best tennis of anyone in the world for 2 weeks. That is very different from Federer in 2003, when pretty much any person with knowledge considered him the best player in the world period once the year was finished, even though Roddick held the "computer #1".
  9. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

    Apr 25, 2007
    But the argument by madmanfool is correct. The thing to be determined is who had the best record over the entire year, not who was playing the best tennis at the end of the year. The comparison with the Nalbandian case is apt in that it illustrates the point. I don't have an opinion here as to who had the best record, but what's clear is that there is no reason why the end-of-year results should have more bearing than the results at any other portion of the year. You are considering the entire year, that's all.
  10. pj80

    pj80 Semi-Pro

    Jan 27, 2007
    wheres agassi on that list? he won a major too
  11. A.Davidson

    A.Davidson Semi-Pro

    Mar 6, 2007
    Exactly right. Well said.
  12. lambielspins

    lambielspins Banned

    Aug 21, 2006
    I am not saying Federer was just considered to be playing the best tennis at the end of the year though. I am saying by the time the year was done Federer was considered to be the best tennis player in the world, period, to almost anyone with knowledge on the game, not Roddick despite being ranked #1 on the computer. Nalbandian was just considered to be the one playing the best tennis for a couple weeks near the end of the year, he was never considered to actually be the best player in the world at any point.
  13. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Agree with OP; probably Roger should be ranked number one if not for his "dismal" showing at the US Open. I think most pros on the tour would recognise that as well, esp the way he won the Masters Cup. Unfortunately the computer rankings say that Andy had the number one spot (though just I think) so I think we should respect that and give Andy his dues.
  14. Nickognito

    Nickognito Rookie

    Nov 17, 2007
    Florence, Italy
    it's a race for 4 players.

    Roddick was #1 player for atp ranking (Federer #2), the atp player of the year and the itf player of the year.

    Tennis Magazine has Roddick-Ferrero-Agassi-Federer, in that order.

    Imo, Roddick close #1 over the 3 others.

    Federer is not even a clear #2. We can say that is #2, or #1, only beacuse we know that the Masters was the beginning of his domination.

    But just knowing 2003 results, hos Masters is only ne single great tournament, and Federer is the worst of the 4 in grand slam tournaments.

    But we can say everything about 2003...

  15. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

    Dec 5, 2006
    I didn't give a simple opinion, I gave arguments. If you don't agree with tem, tell why and give yours.
    is your ranking method based solely on GS tournaments?
  16. hoosierbr

    hoosierbr Hall of Fame

    Jul 12, 2005
    Agassi was #1 for some of the year after winning in Australia. Wasn't he the #1 seed at the USO?
  17. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

    Nov 20, 2006
    I agree with your point about the 0.7 system. I would actually go further than the 0.5 system. Even the 0.5 system underates victories versus finals in my opinion.

    If player A reaches 2 grand slam finals in a season while player B wins a grand slam while and is knocked out in the 1st round of another grand slam, which player has the greater achivement? I think the vast majority of people would say the grand slam victory was worth considerably more than the two finals combined. This should be reflected in the ranking system.

    After all Lendl's 11 grand slams finals are not worth the equivalent of over 5 grand slams? which a 0.5 system would suggest. I think not, in reality tournament victories count for a lot more than finals or sem-finals to the majority of tennis fans.

    Connor's 3 grand slam finals in 1977 give him the official number 1 ranking, but he is barely considered in a debate on who the actual number 1 should be.

    I also believe that Masters Series are overrated compared to grand slams. Nalbandian won 2 Masters Series late last season, worth the equvilent points to Djokovicic winning the Australian Open this year. However, Djokovicic's achivement is regarded more highly by the vast majority and the ranking points should reflect this.
  18. Mikael

    Mikael Professional

    Feb 23, 2004
    I agree with those who say we are biased because we know that the second half of 2003, particularly Wimbledon and the Masters Cup, were the beginning of Roger's dominance. With hindsight we also know Roddick's performance in 2003 was something like a flash in the pan.

    In 2003 I had been following ATP tennis for 10 years, and at the end of the year if you had asked me who the "true no1" was I probably would've said Roddick. To be honest I had no clue that Federer would go on to beat Roddick so often without losing once.

    To me, at the end of 2003, Federer was still a genius with a fragile mind. It wasn't obvious at all that his mental game had finally become solid. Roddick on the other hand had shown remarkable consistency throughout the season, and seemed a lot more determined than Federer to keep winning tournaments.
  19. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

    Apr 25, 2007
    That may well be the case, though I doubt the consensus was as solid as you suggest.

    Be that as it may, the crucial point is that you are altering the nature of what is being measured. What we are trying to measure is not who was the best player by a particular point in time, but rather who had the best results over a given period.

    Had Federer not continued to play as he did after 2003 was over, this issue would not even have come up. That shows you are being led by what you retrospectively know about Federer after 2003 to gauge his performance over the whole 2003. You are infusing elements of the future into the past, a common error by historians, forgetting that the future did not contaminate the past, not yet then, not before the past came to pass.
  20. Leublu tennis

    Leublu tennis Legend

    Sep 30, 2007
    Interesting thread. I like the analysis and reasoning of the various posts too. Thank you.
  21. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

    Mar 4, 2006
    Ometepe, Pink Granite, Queyras, Kerguelen (...)
    and the worst thing is that it could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe ! :shock:

  22. jeffreyneave

    jeffreyneave Rookie

    Feb 27, 2008
    points system

    I'm not particularly in favour of the 50% points rule dispite its fairly accurate match with the prize money distribution. I prefer the old WCT points system. for a 32 man event the points would be:

    WCT 50%
    L16 1 1
    qf 2 2
    sf 4 4
    finalist 7 8
    winner 10 16

    When you reach the semi-final you've won 3 matches. For one additional win you should not get the same amount of points even if the opponent is a better player. For the final it becomes even more absurd; one extra win against a superior player is worth the same as the 4 previous win to get to the final; I don't think so. There is no guarranttee than the final opponent is signifcantly better than the other players faced earlier on. Very rarely do the n01 and no2 seeds face each other in the final. If you want to reward beating a top 3 or top 10 player, give explicit bonus points for the accomplisment, but don't assume the final win is a great win.

  23. Nickognito

    Nickognito Rookie

    Nov 17, 2007
    Florence, Italy
    I agree with Sgt. John too, but I cannot give the #1 spot to a player who reached only once the quarterfinals in a slam.

    I prefer performance over continuity, too. But , according to me, the #1 is Roddick.

    If possible, i would like to have 4 players tied as #1 ;-)

    But maybe it's just a stupid question.

    Federer is the number #1 from summer 2003 to summer 2004. From spring 2003 to spring 2004.

    And from January to December 2003? Who cares :D

  24. joeri888

    joeri888 G.O.A.T.

    Jan 23, 2008
    Martin Verkerk was the best.
  25. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

    Sep 13, 2007
    Weak era
    I have to go with Roddick on this one,winning back-to-back Montreal,Cincinnati and USO was special.He also got to semis at AO and Wimbledon.Although there was little doubt that Federer will be the new number one in 2004 after his amazing display of tennis in Masters Cup(especially against Agassi).
  26. ohlori

    ohlori Rookie

    Dec 13, 2006
    the best....at pulling strange faces




  27. NikeWilson

    NikeWilson Semi-Pro

    Mar 27, 2008
    Juan Carlos won the French Open, and he got to the finals of the US Open.
    he probably should be #1.
  28. daddy

    daddy Legend

    Aug 13, 2007
    Moon Balls
    I will limit my contribution to few facts without getting to much involved into who was the nr1 ..

    Roddick's serve during 2003 :

    Led ATP circuit in four (of six) service categories – aces (989), 1st serve points won (81 percent), service games won (91percent) and break points saved (69 percent)… Finished tied No. 2 in 2nd serve points won (59 percent)… Also played and won most tie-breaks, compiling a 36-21 mark…

    Roddick's results :

    Became youngest American (21 years, 2 months) and second overall (behind Lleyton Hewitt, 20 years, 8 months in 2001) to finish No. 1 in history of ATP Rankings (since 1973)… Made biggest jump in history to No. 1 from previous year, improving from No. 10

    Won six titles on three different surfaces in eight finals, 72 match wins and an ATP-best 19-match winning streak .. Only player during year to reach SF or better at three of four Grand Slam tournaments and captured first Slam title at US Open.

    I am pretty sure if it wasnt for his early exit at Roland Garros ( 1st round ) he would have clinched the spot with a lot more points in hand and this argument would not surface, but people can think differently of course.
  29. tacou

    tacou Legend

    Jun 30, 2007
    Roddick was #1 no question.

    Also, it's not absurd to get a big increase in points for winning a final. You're not simply winning another match, you've won the entire tournament so you get rewarded much more than all the players who did NOT win. That's the point of winning tournaments

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