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!