Open Post: the Listmaker


If you’re anything like me, there’s a bit of a list-maniac in you. The wall around your desk, all your books, planners and diaries are covered with post-it notes: lists of your ideas, thoughts, inspirations, or just groceries and chores. 

This guy knows what I’m talking about.

 

 

 

While the attraction of listing remains, lists come with limitations – they exclude as much as they define. So it is with some trepidation that I approach these “Players of the Decade”, “Matches of 2009″ lists. 

Players of the Decade, according to the ATP (clickey). What say you? For what it’s worth, my personal 5: (feel free to disagree/trash/rearrange like jigsaw puzzles)

1. Roger Federer: uncontroversial. Except that I join Ivan Lendl in saying that Roger has missed his last chance at the Grand Slam this year. NEXT!

2. Rafael Nadal: Equally uncontroversial. The real question is if Rafa will make it into the top 5 of the next decade. Moving along now!

3. Andre Agassi: 3 slams, US Open final in 2005, retirement in 2006, oldest No 1 in ATP history. Greatest comeback in tennis history. Defying odds on longevity. To top it off, he ended the decade with one of the finest and most controversial tennis biographies ever written.

Regardless of what you might think of Andre Agassi post-methgate, when he blew teary kisses at the crowd after his last match in 2006, we all stood up and applauded.

‘Nuff said. Hewitt doesn’t get to trump Andre on this.

 

 

4. Andy Roddick: I’d take Roddick over Hewitt despite their respective slam count for 3 reasons – a) 8 consecutive years in the Top 10, consistency second only to Federer and Nadal, b) still in contention for slams at the end of the decade, reached more finals than Hewitt, only to have a certain hairy monkey prevent him from actually winning any of them. But it’s not like Hewitt himself had much luck with the same guy.

c) Hewitt benefitted from a career peak while Roger Federer was still busy milking cows with Heidi in the Swiss Alps. Had he taken longer to mature as a player, he’d be in the running for the best player to have never won a slam. 

5. Lleyton Hewitt: having said all that – 2 slams, 2 year-end No 1 trophies. The only player other than Federer to accomplish the feat. This puts him above Marat Safin and Pete Sampras, both also with 2 slams each.

 

 

My WTA personal 5: 

1. Serena: 10 slams, 84 weeks at No 1. A quarter of the decade’s slams in her possession, Serena’s occupation of the top spot for the decade is about as irrefutable as Fed’s. Next! 

2. Justine Henin: 7 slams this decade, the same as Venus, the difference is a whopping 117 weeks at No 1, astounding consistency at the top in the brave new world of Big Babe tennis. 

3. Venus: Proof that the No 1 spot just ain’t what we make it out to be – Venus Williams only spent 11 weeks at the top. That’s less than Dinara Safina with her grand total of zero slams.

Venus to be No 3 on my list for more reasons than her 7 slams. The 2005 Wimbledon final was the greatest women’s match of my life time (so far). It lasted longer than Federer’s deconstruction of Andy Roddick that same year and featured some truly spectacular tennis. I still remember at the end of the match, Venus’s hands were fisted as she jumped up and down, her hair bouncing in the dying daylight… 

Two years later, Wimbledon introduced equal prize money for men and women. Venus Williams, who played a key role in effecting change through her words and her tennis, became the first woman to benefit from our newfound equality.

No 3? You bet. 

4. Maria Sharapova: 3 slams, 17 weeks at No 1.

Does anyone remember watching Maria Sharapova walk on court for her first grand slam final in 2004? I do.

 

 

Even as a teenybopper, I remember remarking immediately that she was the real deal. The 17 year-old looked like she was born on the big stage. Contrast with Ana Ivanovic’s wonky mess during her first slam final in 2007, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Sharapova’s grunts, her fight, her work ethics and mentality have changed very little since then, and they’ve allowed her to accomplish the commendable feat of winning 3 slams by the age of 22.

The challenge, given her age, is to stay healthy in the long run and become the player of the next decade. 

5. Jennifer Capriati: She wasn’t around for most of the decade, but when she came back from the Moor of Lost Souls in the early noughties, she defined ‘comeback’.

7 straight grand slam semifinals, winning 3 out of 5 slams in her glorious stretch of consistency and dominance on all surfaces, despite all that, Capriati only totaled 17 weeks at No 1.

They say the WTA top spot has lost its credibility with the Jankovic/Safina/Serena merry-go-round. I say it didn’t have much credibility to lose in the first place. 

 

 

Did I mention that lists exclude as much as they define? Some other players I considered –

  • Kim Clijsters: 2 slams, 19 weeks at No 1. I crossed her out because she was on track to become the best one slam wonder of the noughties until she changed that by winning the very last slam of this decade out of nowhere. The Hot Mama set high standards, but she was never ‘dominant’ in the true sense of that word. 
  • Lindsay Davenport: an incredible 76 weeks at No 1, but ‘only’ managed to win 1 slam early this decade
  • Amelie Mauresmo: 2 slams, 39 weeks as No 1. Momo’s dominance only really lasted for a year and the nosedive that followed was far too dismal
  • Svetlana Kuznestova: 2 slams, 0 weeks at No 1 – let’s work on that last part.  
  • Special mention for Anna Kournikova, who in some ways, defined the image of women’s tennis this decade. 

Sex sells. Who the hell do you think you are, Don Draper?! 

 

 

So who are your ‘personal 5’? What lists have you been dying to make? Do spill!

xx doots

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11 responses to “Open Post: the Listmaker”

  1. FortuneCookie says :

    Last chance at the Grand Slam?As in Calendar Grand Slam right?I have to agree with that,when Roger got into the USO final I was like ‘god,so typical that he didn’t win the AO’,him winning the Calendar GS this year (which obvs could easily have happened)would have been so epic!
    I can’t disagree with those players of the decade,on either side,but honourable mention on the men’s side would have to be Safin,not just because of the prettiness ;)

    • dootsiez says :

      had he won the USO, he could’ve kept the ‘Roger Slam’ alive and we couldve been debating whether it mattered if he won them in a calendar year!

      Boo Roger!

      • FortuneCookie says :

        I know!Stupid Pooperer…
        Like everyone here I’d LOVE to see him win Calendar GS (or hold them all at same time,which methinks ITF actually still counts as a Calendar GS too!),but I just don’t see it happening,because while I can see him winning AO,Wimbly or USO again I just don’t see him ever winning another RG,I think the way everything unfolded this year,and his comments in the press conference afterwards where he pretty much admitted he doesn’t think he could have beaten Rafa in the final,just highlighted that this was his time and it’s not going to happen again for him…
        Now I’ve said that he’ll probably defend it without dropping a set :P

        • dootsiez says :

          Hmm I don’t think Roger meant that he couldn’t beat Rafa in the final, you know he’d be the last person to admit that. I think what he meant was that he’ll concentrate on making the final – not a given – and when he gets there, he’ll take whoever’s on the other side of net. Be it Rafa, or not Rafa and he’ll either win or go down swinging.

          As for winning the AO, USO or Wimb, my expectations for Fed for the next few years is just to win one slam a year. Anything else is gravy. Hence I say he’s lost his last chance at the Laver Slam this year. Even though he won more slams in 06, he was closer this year to winning all four.

  2. PJ says :

    What are Feddy’s chances for a Calendar Slam next year? :D AO would be a pretty good indicator.

    And when I saw that Hewitt was top 5 for decade’s best, I was like PFFFFFFT and THEN I analyzed his achievements and realised, meh, yeah, he could be there. Because as we know most of the last decade was eaten by Fed and Rafa.

    Your choices for men’s top 5 pretty much matched mine :) and I didn’t watch enough women’s tennis to make a list!

    • FortuneCookie says :

      I’d say that the AO doesn’t mean that much in terms of likelihood of winning a Calendar GS,remember Rafa this year?There was a lot of talk that maybe he could achieve it,the only real question with him for many was whether he could win the US Open or not,and we all know what happened there…
      And I totally forgot about Hewitt as well,he seemed like an odd choice,but then it made sense once i’d read back all his achievements,the one that really stood out for me was that he was no.1 for over 18 months and was year-end no.1 2 years in a year,hadn’t realised that!

    • dootsiez says :

      I actually started making a top 10 list (yeah I’m obsessed), but I realised that Federer and Nadal had sweeped up so much of this decade’s achievements that you’d be including guys like Davydenko with 0 slams and 0 weeks as No 1 in the top players of the decade. Lleyton Hewitt has actually achieved more than a lot of other people I would’ve included on this list. The ATP had him at No 3, THAT however is a bit of a stretch.

  3. FortuneCookie says :

    Kind of off topic,but there was something in an article on a similar theme that really made me think,which is that Rafa only actually spent just over 10 months as no.1,and it took him 7 months to win a title,and some will totes disagree,but I think Rafa actually found being no.1 pretty tough…
    But then as we all know,he spent over 3 years as no.2,I just kind of think that he prefers being the hunter instead of the hunted?Of course none of that diminishes his status as one of the players of the decade at all (he has 6 slams ffs!),but it just caught my attention,any thoughts?:)

    • dootsiez says :

      I’ve heard that theory too. It makes sense statistically, but when Rafa was No 1, I actually thought he handled the pressure quite well. AO was an example of that.

      For 3 years, his problem was that Federer was too good outside the clay season and he wasn’t good enough. Then 2008 came and Federer’s game fell apart a bit while Rafa improved off clay. He spent 7 month without title, before going on a 30 match winning streak that propelled him to No 1.

      The problem for Rafa was that he had expended so much of his energy and intensity getting to No 1 in that intense 12 month period that you could almost sense a break down coming. I didn’t expect it to be during Roland Garros though …

  4. JFK says :

    I love the lists. Hey, at least Safin got an honorable mention. And It was good to see Maria on there too. I hope she can fix her serve and win another grand slam- hopefully the french open!

  5. Jack says :

    Does anyone think Venus has underachieved in her career, given the amount of talent she possesses?

    I only say this because I think, like Serena, her grand slam count could have been in double figures. And I’m not so sure she will win another slam, whereas others on the list, like Serena, Masha and Henin, I think will.

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