Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tennis 2008

The tennis season just ended (well, is almost ending, there's still the Davis Cup final, which I don't care about because it's not like the Philippine team is in the mix of the competition), and here's the year-end rankings for the ATP and WTA Tours.

The biggest news on the men's side is the exchange of positions between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the World #1 and Wimbledon Champion. Fed was ranked #1 for a record 237 straight weeks from Feb 2004 until August 2008, and has owned Wimbledon from 2003 to 2007. This year was a different story for him though, as he lost his dominance over the ATP Tour. Of course, he can take solace on the fact that he won an Olympic gold medal for Men's Doubles (with Stan Wawrinka) and he's just 1 Grand Slam title away from equalling Pete Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam titles when he won his 5th consecutive US Open title last September. And the fact that he's Roger Federer.

On the other hand, this was a banner year for Rafa, who won Wimbledon and became #1 for the first time in his career. He also won the Olympic gold in Men's Singles, as well as his 4th consecutive French Open title, where he has never been beaten. More importantly in this recession-stricken times, Rafa won more than $6 million in tournament prize this year, and he's been featured several times on TMZ (which if I'm guessing correctly is probably what thrilled him the most.)

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray also comfortably stepped up into the big stage this year, and for the first time in years, there are actually 4 players seriously, legitimately, notproductofhypely in the running for next year's Grand Slams and for the #1 ranking.

On the women's side, Justine Henin is still retired, and her retirement has definitely put a gaping hole at the top of women's tennis. Proof: Jelena Jankovic is the World #1, while the two other players who were ranked #1 post-Henin are now ranked 5 (Ivanovic) and 9 (Sharapova). I like Jelena, but there's no way she'd be #1 if Justine was around.

Of course, given all the active players in the WTA Tour, I'm not surprised that it was JJ who ended up being #1. The Williams sisters are both great tennis players, but they just done play enough, and aren't consistent enough to take the #1 ranking. Ana and Maria both took the #1 ranking but both also took a ranking nosedive after being injured and failing to come back strong (or in Maria's case, at all), and all the other Russians in the top 10 have one weakness too many in their games. JJ on the other hand is consistent in getting to the semis and the finals of the many tournaments that she joins. She's never won a Grand Slam title, but based on the numbers she's clocked in, JJ deserves that #1 ranking.

So what am I looking forward to in the WTA Tour next year? Well, more like who: Caroline Wozniacki and Arantxa Rus.

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