Boyfriend Jon's weekly mailbag is up, and this is particularly interesting:
Since there has been a lot of chatter about who's really No. 1 in women's tennis, I took everyone who finished the year in the top 10 and divided their total number of points by the number of tournaments they played. Here are the results:
1. Serena Williams 297.38
2. Venus Williams 233.71
3. Maria Sharapova 228.63
4. Jelena Jankovic 214.09
5. Elena Dementieva 192.79
6. Ana Ivanovic 192.05
7. Dinara Safina 181.76
8. Svetlana Kuznetsova 143.47
9. Vera Zvonareva 118.08
10. Agnieszka Radwanska 95.25
you were to ask tennis fans to rank the top 10 players of the year, I
would bet that their lists would adhere more closely to this list than
the official rankings. I'm not being pro Serena or anti Jelena, but
these rankings seem to be a little more representative of quality
rather than quantity. What are your thoughts?
-- Frederick, West Hollywood
• First, thanks for taking the time to do the math. I agree that the rankings pretty much conform with "popular opinion." The dilemma is this: for tennis to attract sponsors and promoters and television partners, it needs to keep up the pretense that it wields some control over the players and their schedules. One way to assert this is through the ranking system.
To use a non-word, you "incentivize" the stars to play a lot; and you punish them when they play a little. It's really the lesser of two evils. Simply divide tournaments played by points and you lost the carrot that encourages a player such as Jankovic to play 85 matches. Reward (over)playing, and you have a ranking system that doesn't always reflect merit.
The most sobering truth revealed by that list? Dinara had a ridiculous second half and a shitty first half. I mean, to be #7 based on per tournament performance? That's surprisingly low. That anomaly aside, I would generally tend to agree with this "screw the marketing aspect of playing tourneys" ranking system. I think you have to take Masha out of the running given her lack of play, but otherwise, it's about right.
Though, I would argue that a Slam final and a Slam win is still better than an Olympic gold. Just sayin.