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WHO IS REALLY NO. 1 IN THE WORLD?
After Serena Williams outclassed the field at the TEB-BNP Paribas WTA Championships Istanbul, Tennis Channel analyst Jimmy Arias rightly noted, “She’s not going to end the year ranked No. 1 in the world, but she’s No. 1 in the world.”
But how can that happen? After all, superstar Serena had just beaten No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, No. 5 Angelique Kerber, and No. 8 Li Na in the round-robin event and then overpowered No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in the semis and No. 2 Maria Sharapova for the coveted, season-ending title—all without losing a set. That culminated a brilliant year in which she also captured Wimbledon, the US Open and an Olympic gold medal. Need more proof? In head-to-head matches, Serena shut out Azarenka 5-0 and Sharapova 3-0 this year. Against players who were ranked in the top 5 when Serena played them, she was also perfect,14-0.
Serena is 5-0 this year against Azarenka, the world No. 1.
Serena deserves part of the blame for this glaring ranking contradiction because she played only 13 tournaments, and the WTA ranking system counts a maximum of 16. Azarenka played 18 tournaments and amassed 10,595 ranking points; Sharapova played 17 tournaments and racked up 10,045 points. Had Serena, who earned 9,400 points, played three more tournaments, she would very likely have surpassed Azarenka’s total and ranked No.1.
A radiant Serena with the Olympic gold medal, but on the WTA circuit, it was worth only 685 ranking points.
But that explains only part of the story, or rather the injustice. Serena collected only an insulting 685 points for grabbing the gold at the London Olympics, compared to 2,000 points for champions at the four Grand Slam events.
“Toronto [Rogers Cup] is worth more points [1,000 for the winner] than the Olympics. That’s what’s bizarre,” justifiably criticized ESPN analyst and former star John McEnroe. “I don’t know why the Olympics aren’t as important now, in terms of ranking points, as a major. If you only play the Olympics once every four years, how in the world is it less important than 14 other tournaments—not just the four majors, but also 10 other tournaments?” Had Serena received 2,000 points, she would have finished No. 1.
Flawed Ranking System
Moreover, the severely flawed WTA ranking system hurt Serena by helping every other top 10 player in another crucial way: it did not count all of their tournament results. The ranking rule states: “The tournaments that count towards a player’s ranking are those that yield the highest ranking points during the rolling 52-week period. They must include points from the Grand Slams, Premier Mandatory tournaments and the WTA Championships. For Top 20 players, their best two results (italics added) at Premier 5 tournaments (Doha, Rome, Cincinnati, Montreal/Toronto and Tokyo) will also count.”
The net result is that the WTA ranking system threw out—did not count!—the results of Azarenka’s two worst lower-level tournaments, Sharapova’s worst tournament, Radwanska’s six worst and Kerber’s five worst.
In the absurd ranking system employed by the WTA, No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska got to drop her six worst tournaments.
All tournaments and all tournament matches must count to ensure accurate and thus fair rankings. That is not the case now on both pro tours. If truth in advertising were applied here, the WTA Tour would be required to put this advisory on television: “The results of this non-mandatory tournament match may not be counted in the official rankings for one or both players.” Imagine the outcry if the NBA or NFL decided that some regular-season games would not count in the standings.
It is quite peculiar, and even ironic, that the media should have to vote for the WTA “Player of the Year” every November. In 2010, Caroline Wozniacki, who reached just one Grand Slam semifinal but benefitted significantly from playing a whopping 22 tournaments, was wrongly ranked No. 1 in the season-ending rankings. Kim Clijsters was rightly voted WTA “Player of the Year.” In 2011, No. 2-ranked Petra Kvitova, winner at Wimbledon and the WTA Championships, deservedly received the WTA “Player of the Year” award, while Wozniacki, playing 22 events, still ranked No. 1 despite failing again to make a major final.
This absurd and embarrassing contradiction has occurred seven times this century, and will almost certainly occur again this month when Serena, the real No. 1, is honored as “Player of the Year.”
That should never happen! If the ranking system is well-conceived, accurate and thus fair, the No.1-ranked player should automatically, and by definition, be the WTA “Player of the Year.”
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Andy Murray's Return of Serve
The return of serve is the second most important shot in the game of tennis, yet it is probably the least practiced. In the modern era, few players hit it more consistently and aggressively as Andy Murray. Like Andre Agassi before him, Murray has the ability to take control of a point with the first strike. Here, Christophe Delavaut examines Murray's forehand and backhand returns to see what separates him from the pack.
Stable Alignment III: Contact in Front
During a tennis match, have you ever lost power or the ability to handle power? Have you ever been injured because of awkward contact between the racquet and the ball? Perhaps you did not meet the ball “in front,” which could have created a loss of stable alignment and thereby created a weak link. Achieving stable alignment involves the relative positioning of parts of your body as you hit the ball so as to create the greatest stability and resilience, which in turn protects the body's weaknesses. — Daryl Fisher
ProStrokes 2.0 — Christina McHale, Forehand
2012 was a breakout year for twenty-year-old Christina McHale who reached a career high-ranking of no. 24 in WTA singles. On the way she had wins over Kuznetsova and Wozniacki as well as Kvitova, Hantuchova, and Bartoli. Certainly not a physically imposing player, standing at only 5’7” and a 130 pounds, McHale however stands toe-to-toe with some of the best players in the world. She plays with a classic two-handed backhand and a full western topspin forehand. She prefers to stay back and augments her topspin game with a slice backhand as a defensive response or a change of pace.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Underspin Backhand - Weapon," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Doug King Members Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
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