Tennisphilia

A tennis blog from a tennis fan.

Hopman Cup 2010 Tournament Results

The Hopman Cup 2010, an international tennis tournament featuring both men and women tennis players is underway – it is being used by players as an important tune-up event for the first grand slam of the year, the 2010 Australian Open. This year’s edition feature two top 10 players in Perth who are warming up for the first major by representing their countries. World #4 Andy Murray is teaming up with Laura Robson for the #3 seed Great Britain, while world #5 Elena Dementieva has by-passed defending her Brisbane crown to pair with Igor Andreev to represent #2 seed Russia. The local favorites – the Australians are seeded #1 and are represented by Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur.

Standings:

Rnk. (Seed) Country: WINS / LOSS (MATCHES WON / MATCHES LOST)

GROUP A
1. (4) Spain: 3/0 (9/0) — Finalist
2. (7) USA: 1/2 (4/5)
3. (1) Australia: 1/2 (3/6)
4. (6) Romania: 1/2 (2/7)

GROUP B
1. (3) Great Britain: 3/0 (6/3) — Finalist
2. (8) Kazakhstan: 2/1 (5/3)
3. (2) Russia: 1/2 (4/5)
4. (5) Germany: 0/2 (2/6)

Championship Results:

Spain 2 d Great Britain 1

# Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez lost to Laura Robson 1-6, 6-7(6/8)
# Tommy Robredo d Andy Murray 1-6, 6-4, 6-3
# Martinez Sanchez/Robredo d Robson/Murray 7-6(8/6), 7-5

Previous Results:

Session 10 – Great Britain 2 d Russia 1

Laura Robson lost to Elena Dementieva 4-6, 0-6
Andy Murray d Igor Andreev 6-1, 6-0
Robson/Murray d Dementieva/Andreev 6-4, 6-7(6/8), 7-6(10/6)

Kazakhstan 2 d Germany 0

Yaroslava Shvedova d Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 7-6(7/3)
Andrey Golubev d Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-1
Lisicki/Kohlschreiber v Shvedova/Golubev – not played

Session 9 – Spain 3 d Australia 0

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez d Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-1
Tommy Robredo d Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-4
Martinez Sanchez/Robredo d Stosur/Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(10/7)

USA 3 d Romania 0

Melanie Oudin d Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3
John Isner d Victor Hanescu 6-0, 6-0 walkover
Oudin/Isner d Cirstea/Hanescu 6-0, 6-0 walkover

Session 8 – Kazakhstan 2 d Russia 1

Yaroslava Shvedova lost to Elena Dementieva 3-6, 1-6
Andrey Golubev d Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-3
Shvedova/Golubev d Dementieva/Andreev 7-6(7/3), 6-4

Session 7 – Great Britain 2 d Germany 1

Laura Robson lost to Sabine Lisicki 6-7(5/7), 3-6
Andy Murray d Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-1
Robson/Murray d Lisicki/Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-2

Session 6 – Spain 3 d Romania 0

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez d Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-3
Tommy Robredo d Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-0 retired
Martinez Sanchez/Robredo d Cirstea/Hanescu 6-0, 6-0 walkover

Session 5 – Australia 2 d USA 1

Samantha Stosur d Melanie Oudin 6-2, 6-4
Lleyton Hewitt d John Isner 6-1, 7-5
Stosur/Hewitt lost to Oudin/Isner 6-2, 1-6, 6-7(5/10)

Session 4 – Great Britain 2 d Kazakhstan 1:

Laura Robson lost to Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 3-6, 0-6
Andy Murray d Andrey Golubev 6-2, 6-2
Robson/Murray d Shvedova/Golubev 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(12/10)

Session 3 – Russia 2 d Germany 1:

Elena Dementieva lost to Sabine Lisicki 4-6, 1-6
Igor Andreev d Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-7, 6-3
Dementieva/Andreev d Lisicki/Kohlschreiber 6-4, 7-6(9/7)

Session 2 – Spain 3 d USA 0:

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez d Melanie Oudin 6-4, 6-4
Tommy Robredo d John Isner 6-7, 6-3, 7-6(7/4)
Martinez Sanchez/Robredo d Oudin/Isner 6-4, 7-5

Session 1 – Romania 2 d Australia 1:

Sorana Cirstea d Samantha Stosur 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Victor Hanescu lost to Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(2/7)
Cirstea/Hanescu d Stosur/Hewitt 7-5, 6-1

Groupings and Seeds:

GROUP A

(1) Australia – Samantha Stosur & Lleyton Hewitt
(4) Spain – Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez & Tommy Robredo
(6) Romania – Sorana Cirstea & Victor Hanescu
(7) USA – Melanie Oudin & John Isner

GROUP B

(2) Russia – Elena Dementieva & Igor Andreev
(3) Great Britain – Laura Robson & Andy Murray
(5) Germany – Sabine Lisicki & Philipp Kohlschreiber
(8) Kazakhstan – Yaroslava Shvedova & Andrey Golubev

Henin beats Petrova in Cairo Exhibition

Former world #1 Justine Henin continued her comeback preparations by beating world #20 Nadia Petrova of Russia. Henin posted a straight set 7-6, 6-2 win over the Russian in an exhibition match in Cairo, Egypt on Saturday, December 12. The 27-year-old Henin is using exhibition matches against top WTA players as preparation for a return to the WTA tour next month. She hasn’t played any WTA-sanctioned match after announcing her retirement in May 2008.

Henin has a good history against Petrova having won 11 of their previous 13 meetings. But Petrova hang tough in the first set and came up with a series of powerful groundstrokes to force a tie-break. Henin showed she hasn’t lost any of her fighting skills as she used her experience and clay-court skills to win the tie-break, 7-4.

The second set was less competitive with Petrova making too many unforced errors. Henin’s third victory in her third competitive match after retirement is boding well for her Australian Open preparations. Last week, she beat compatriot Kirsten Flipkens and Flavia Penetta of Italy in another exhibition held in Charleroi, Belgium. She now heads to Brisbane, Australia for her first WTA tournament since her retirement.

Federer, Serena – 2009 ITF Champions

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) named Roger Federer and Serena Williams as the 2009 ITF World Champions. The award is based on performances at grand slams, tour events and Davis and Fed Cups. Serena and sister Venus were named the women’s doubles world champions while American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan took the men’s doubles world champions title.

Roger Federer ended the year ranked #1 in six of the past seven years. He reached all Grand Slam finals this season, and won the French Open and Wimbledon. By winning his first French Open title, he has won a career grand slam. In winning Wimbledon, Federer broke the record number of grand slams won (15) he previously shared with Pete Sampras. It is the fifth time that Federer got the ITF nod.

Serena won 2 grand slam titles – the Australian Open and Wimbledon for her 10th and 11th grand slam championships this year. She also ended the year ranked #1 for the second time in her career. She partnered with sister Venus to win the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles. Serena joins Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis as the only other players to attain singles and doubles world championships in the same year.

The Bryan brothers got the men’s doubles award for a record sixth time. They did this in the past seven years.

The singles and doubles champions will receive their awards at the annual ITF World Champions Dinner on June 1 in Paris, during the French Open.

Decade’s Greatest Women Tennis Players; 2000 – 2009

Yahoo’s tennis blog – Busted Racquet – came out with a list of the top 10 women’s tennis players this decade. The ranking methodology was not released – I can say that it was somehow based on incorrect information (Venus didn’t win just 5 grand slams) and looks to me that it was dictated more by the blogger’s recent memory and subjectivity than taking the accomplishments of the players for the whole decade. True enough, dozens of readers lambasted the list.

So, I decided to make my own list. As a tennis fan, I have my own biases. To be objective, I decided to come out with a 2-step process to determine how I would rank the players. The first step is to use raw data for greatness and be able to categorize the players. After the players have been categorized, I can further rank the players within the category. My goal is to come out with a list of 10 players that would represent the greatest women’s tennis players for the years of 2000 – 2009.

The two measures for greatness I used are: tennis rankings and grand slam performance. These two factors are measurable and objective. Tennis rankings indicate how well a player compares to her peers at any given time, based on a criteria determined by the WTA. (Yes, it’s not perfect, but it is a good gauge of consistency and performance). Grand slam results gauge how well a player performs in the biggest arenas of tennis.

In the first step – the following factors were used: # of Grand Slams wons, the number of Grand Slam finals reached, the ability to reach the #1 ranking, ending the year as #1, and the length of stay in the top spot.

There were 19 ladies who contested the 40 grand slam finals in the decade. To be considered amongst the greatest tennis players, the minimum criterion is to reach at least 1 grand slam final. For ranking purposes, I used 1 point for a Grand Slam Championship and 1/3 point for a runner-up finish. This resulted in some rather interesting results. Kim Clijsters with 2 grand slams and 6 finals appearances earned the same points as Maria Sharapova who had 2 grand slams and 4 finals appearances. Svetlana Kuznetsova had more points with 2 grand slams in 4 finals contested as compared to Lindsay Davenport with 1 grand slam in 5 finals contested. Using this point allocation, the top grand slam performers this decade are:

Rank Player Won Finals GS Points
1 S Williams 10 3 11.00
2 V Williams 7 6 9.00
3 J Henin 7 4 8.33
4 K Clijsters 2 4 3.33
4 M Sharapova 3 1 3.33
5 J Capriati 3 3.00
6 S Kuznetsova 2 2 2.67
7 L Davenport 1 4 2.33
8 A Mauresmo 2 2.00
9 A Ivanovic 1 2 1.67
10 M Pierce 1 2 1.67
11 M Hingis 3 1.00
12 D Safina 3 1.00
12 A Myskina 1 1.00
14 E Dementieva 2 0.67
15 J Jankovic 1 0.33
15 M Bartoli 1 0.33
15 C Wozniacki 1 0.33
15 C Martinez 1 0.33

Next, the data on the weeks a player spent at #1 was analyzed. I counted weeks spent from June 2000 – Dec 2009 only since the rankings before June 2000 were calculated based on a majority of results from 1999. Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis are impacted on this adjustment as they swapped the top spot 4 times before June 2000. For point allocation, I divided the weeks a player spent at number 1 by the number of weeks in a year – 365.25 / 7 to be exact. This means that about 52 weeks spent at number 1 would equate to one point, or 1 Grand Slam. See column in table below called Rnk A.

To add more weight to the ranking, the ability of reaching the #1 spot is given another point. This gave advantage to Safina, Jankovic, and Hingis while penalizing Kuznetsova. See column in table marked as Rnk B.

I further gave an additional 1/3 point for every year a player finished in the top spot. This gave extra points to Jelena Jankovic which I really don’t agree with, plus it allowed Lindsay Davenport to have more points than Serena Williams even with lesser weeks spent at #1. See column in table marked as Rnk C.

Here are the top performers based on the rankings:

Rank Player Weeks @ #1 Rnk A Rnk B Rnk C Total Rnk Points
1 J Henin 117 2.24 1.00 1.00 4.24
2 L Davenport 70 1.34 1.00 1.00 3.34
3 S Williams 84 1.61 1.00 0.67 3.28
4 M Hingis 70 1.34 1.00 0.33 2.67
5 A Mauresmo 39 0.75 1.00 1.75
6 J Jankovic 18 0.34 1.00 0.33 1.68
7 D Safina 26 0.50 1.00 1.50
8 K Clijsters 19 0.36 1.00 1.36
9 M Sharapova 17 0.33 1.00 1.33
9 J Capriati 17 0.33 1.00 1.33
11 A Ivanovic 12 0.23 1.00 1.23
12 V Williams 11 0.21 1.00 1.21

By adding the points together, I was able to see a good picture how players can be categorized.

Player GS Points Rnk Points Total Pts Category
S Williams 11.00 3.28 14.28 A
J Henin 8.33 4.24 12.57 A
V Williams 9.00 1.21 10.21 B
L Davenport 2.33 3.34 5.67 C
K Clijsters 3.33 1.36 4.69 C
M Sharapova 3.33 1.33 4.66 C
J Capriati 3.00 1.33 4.33 C
A Mauresmo 2.00 1.75 3.75 C
M Hingis 1.00 2.67 3.67 D
A Ivanovic 1.67 1.23 2.90 D
S Kuznetsova 2.67 0.00 2.67 D
D Safina 1.00 1.50 2.50 D
J Jankovic 0.33 1.68 2.01 D
M Pierce 1.67 0.00 1.67 D
A Myskina 1.00 0.00 1.00
E Dementieva 0.67 0.00 0.67
M Bartoli 0.33 0.00 0.33
C Wozniacki 0.33 0.00 0.33
C Martinez 0.33 0.00 0.33

I separated the top 2 players, Serena Williams and Justine Henin away from the rest as they were within 2 points of each other, but more than 2 points from the next player. Note that in the point allocation, 1 Grand Slam is 1 point. Venus Williams with 10.21 points had her own category. There were 5 other players in the next category and this included Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati, and Amelie Mauresmo. The next category was composed of Martina Hingis, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina,  Jelena Jankovic and Mary Pierce.

I made a distinction between Hingis and Mauresmo since Mauresmo won 2 grand slams and Hingis didn’t win anything. To me, that was enough to categorize differently. Hingis is an unusual case because she spent a relatively long time in the number 1 position despite not having won a grand slam for the full 10 years. I am only going for the top 10 greatest of the decade so at this point, I will eliminate Myskina, Dementieva and the rest who had less than or equal to 1 point.

Based on the four categories, I identified common points to validate my initial classification of the players. Now comes the second step and fun part – within a category, I will have to rank the players to come out with my top 10 greatest list.

Category A:
– At least 80 weeks as #1
– At least 7 Grand Slams won on 3 different surfaces
– At least 2 year-end #1 rankings
– Players: Serena Williams, Justine Henin

The two rivals are way ahead of the other great players for the decade. Henin has the edge over Serena in terms of weeks spent at #1. Serena however, won all 4 grand slams and is in very rare company by winning the “Serena Slam” – she was the only one to do this within this period. Add that to the fact that Serena won 3 more grand slams than her rival. Serena’s grand slam performance lead over Henin is far more significant than the latter’s advantage in the rankings. Justine Henin is my #2 greatest player for the decade. Serena Williams is #1.

Category 2:
– Reached #1
– At least 5 Grand Slams won and at least 1 appearance in all 4 different grand slam finals
– At least 3 year-end top 5 ranking and 7 year-end top 10 ranking
– Player: Venus Williams

The older Williams did match Henin in terms of grand slams won but lagged behind the two top players in terms of staying at the top spot. Her 4 majors lead over the next highest achiever puts her in a class of her own. Venus Wiliams takes the #3 spot.

Category 3 :
– Reached #1
– At least 2 Grand Slams won OR 1 Grand Slam won and appearance in at least 3 different grand slam finals
– At least 2 year-end top 5 ranking and 4 year-end top 10 ranking
– Players: L Davenport, K Clijsters, M Sharapova, J Capriati, A Mauresmo

This bunch is so close to each other. There is also a significant gap within the group between best Grand Slam performers – 3 wins against 1 win; and longest stay at #1. To compare this group, I had to be able to compare them on one level. With regards to grand slam performance, Sharapova won 3 / 4 finals. Capriati won 3 / 3. Clijsters won 2 / 6. Mauresmo won 2 / 2. Davenport won just 1 / 4.

To be able to compare, I had to find a way to convert finals reached to majors. I equated 3 finals reached to 1 major. I believe this is a conservative estimate. When it comes to actual ranking points, just 2 finals would be greater than 1 major win. (And that’s why Safina was #1 for most of 2009). If we convert the finals reached to majors using the above conversion –

3 majors won or equivalent: Sharapova, Capriati, Clijsters, Davenport
2 majors won: Mauresmo

With regards to weeks stay at #1, Davenport leads the group with 70 weeks at the top. Mauresmo had 39 weeks. Clijsters had 19. Capriati and Sharapova had 17 weeks each. If we equate 39 weeks of stay at #1 to 1 major, Mauresmo would have 1 more major; Davenport 2 more majors; Sharapova, Clijsters and Capriati have 0.5 majors each.

At this point, here are the standings within the group:

5.0 majors won or equivalent: Davenport
3.5 majors won or equivalent: Capriati, Clijsters, Sharapova
3.0 majors won or equivalent: Mauresmo

I will now include a new factor within the group to help me decide on my rankings. This factor is the number of years with a year-end rank within the top 2; and within the top 5.

Davenport Clijsters Sharapova Capriati Mauresmo
Year end Top2 4 2 1 1 1
Year end Top5 5 5 4 2 4

Much as I’m hesitant to give the top spot for this group to Davenport, especially since she won just 1 actual major, the indicators point to her deserving it. Of the 4 years she ended a year as amongst the top 2 players; she was #1 3 times. I put a very high value to this since amongst the top players, it was matched only by Justine Henin. It was a rare accomplishment. Compare this to winning 3 grand slams that was done by 5 top players. I confidently give my #4 greatest player of the decade nod to Lindsay Davenport.

Who will round out the top 5? The next two players based on the above indicators are Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova. Clijsters has a slight lead in terms of consistency and impact – finishing a year twice as #2 (2003 and 2005); compared to just one for Sharapova (2006). Sharapova however lifted titles at 3 different majors – Australian, Wimbledon and US Open. I put more value to this than Clijster’s 2 majors – both won at the US Open. Maria Sharapova is my #5 greatest, and Kim Clijsters get to be #6.

Mauresmo and Capriati are next. Capriati has an edge in winning 2 Australian Open majors and 1 French Open. Mauresmo won 1 Australian Open and 1 Wimbledon. Mauresmo had more impact though – finishing in the top 5 from 2003 to 2006. Capriati finished in the top 5 on 2 years – 2001 and 2002. Mauresmo also finished in the top 10 for 6 years during the decade as compared to 4 years for Capriati. Amelie Mauresmo gets in my list as #7 greatest. Jennifer Capriati is #8.

Now, I have 2 more slots to fill. The next category has 6 players, but since I needed only 2, I raised the bar a bit.

Category 4:
– Reached #1 or at least 1 Grand Slam won
– At least 3 Grand Slam Finals reached
– At least 2 year end top 5 rankings
– Players: M Hingis, A Ivanovic, S Kuznetsova, D Safina

At this point, Jelena Jankovic and Mary Pierce are dropped from being considered in my Top 10 greatest list. Jankovic may have reached the #1 spot but she only has 1 major final to her name. Mary Pierce, despite 1 major and 2 other finals was in the top 5 for only 1 year in the whole decade and never reached the top spot. As we are talking best of the best in the decade, a player must really meet a particular criterion to be included.

From those remaining, Ivanovic reached 3 major finals, won at least one, and held the top spot as well. She’s definitely a deserving candidate to be in the top 10. Hingis was year-end #1 for 2000 but hasn’t won any major title in the past decade. Her 2006 comeback and 2nd retirement doesn’t impact my selection process. Kuznetsova reached 4 finals and won 2. But her biggest accomplishment that puts her above the others in this group is finishing in the top 5 for 4 years (2004, 2006, 2007, and 2009). She didn’t however reach the top spot but finished a year at #2. Safina is the weakest in the group with 3 major finals, a controversial #1 ranking and no grand slam title to her name. She did finish the past 2 years within the top 3 in the world. At least, she was considered. For my #9 greatest player, I pick Svetlana Kuznetsova. My #10 pick is Ana Ivanovic. (If I would ever make a top 10 list for 1990-1999, Hingis is a shoo-in.)

I’m now very tired and sleepy and I didn’t expect this selection process to take so much energy out of me. Before I log off for the night, here’s a recap my top 10 list:

#1. Serena Williams
#2. Justine Henin
#3. Venus Williams
#4. Lindsay Davenport
#5. Maria Sharapova
#6. Kim Clijsters
#7. Amelie Mauresmo
#8. Jennifer Capriati
#9. Svetlana Kuznetsova
#10. Ana Ivanovic

Some comments on my final list:
– Serena, Justine and Venus won 24 of 40 grand slam titles between them.
– Separating Davenport, Sharapova, and Clijsters was the hardest.
– Two members of the top 3 come from one family.
– 2 continents and 3 countries were represented in the top 5.
– Americans outnumber Russians in the top 10; 4 to 2.
– Only 1 player in the top 10 has retired, and it’s not Jennifer Capriati.

Now, I’ll wait for another day before ranking the men. Who will I select behind Federer and Nadal? Where will Marat Safin rank? How about American legends Agassi and Sampras?

Decade’s Greatest Men Tennis Players; 2000 – 2009

I had a lot of fun deciding my greatest list for the women in terms of the past decade’s performance. For the men, I knew that Roger Federer would come in first; and that Rafael Nadal would come in second. I didn’t know who would be ranked behind them. And, I was curious to find out where recently retired Marat Safin would place. As with the women, I used a two step process to classify the players. In the first step, performance at Grand Slams were taken into consideration along with ability to reach #1, staying power at the top spot, and a bonus was added for players who ended the year as #1.

After the first step, I would group players together and go into the details to decide their final rank. For grand slam performance, I used 1 point for a grand slam won, and 1/3 point for 1 major final reached. After putting the data in a table – I gawked at what Federer accomplished. His major wins for the decade equals the total major wins of the next 5 players in the list! With the point allocation, Roddick with 1 major and 4 other finals got more points than Kuerten who won 2 majors but didn’t reach any other final.

Here are the top performers of the decade based on grand slam performance:

Rank Player Slams Finals GS Points
1 R Federer 15 6 17.00
2 R Nadal 6 2 6.67
3 A Agassi 3 2 3.67
4 L Hewitt 2 2 2.67
4 P Sampras 2 2 2.67
4 M Safin 2 2 2.67
7 A Roddick 1 4 2.33
8 G Kuerten 2 2.00
9 J Ferrero 1 2 1.67
10 N Djokovic 1 1 1.33
11 A Costa 1 1.00
11 G Gaudio 1 1.00
11 G Ivanisevic 1 1.00
11 J DelPotro 1 1.00
11 T Johansson 1 1.00
16 P Rafter 2 0.67

There were only 9 players who reached the top spot during the decade. As with the women, I removed the weeks spent at #1 before June 2000 since those ranking weeks include majority of results from 1999. The player most impacted by this adjustment is Agassi since he was the sole #1 at that point. the following calculation was used to allocate points:

RNK1 is calculated by dividing the weeks at #1, to the number of weeks in a year, or 365.25 / 7 to be exact. RNK 2 is 1 point added to all who reached the top ranking. RNK 3 are bonus points given for a player occupying the year end #1. 1 year as number one is given 1/3 of a point. Based on these, Hewitt outperformed Nadal. Kuerten who finished a year as #1 also ranked high. Again, Federer’s lead is incredible. Of the 500 weeks included in the calculation, Federer was in the top spot for 259 weeks or 52%. The other weeks were distributed between 8 players.

The following are the top players of the decade in terms of staying at #1.

Rank Player Wks #1 Rnk1 Rnk2 Rnk3 RnkPts
1 R Federer 259 4.96 1.00 1.67 7.63
2 L Hewitt 80 1.53 1.00 0.67 3.20
3 R Nadal 46 0.88 1.00 0.33 2.21
4 G Kuerten 43 0.82 1.00 0.33 2.15
5 A Agassi 32 0.61 1.00 1.61
6 A Roddick 13 0.25 1.00 0.33 1.58
7 P Sampras 10 0.19 1.00 1.19
8 M Safin 9 0.17 1.00 1.17
9 J Ferrero 8 0.15 1.00 1.15

By adding both the Grand Slam points and the ranking points, I was able to categorize the players into 6 groups. Based on memory alone, I could have easily assigned the #10 ranking to Djokovic but like the French, I wanted to make things more complicated. (Kidding!) I did want to give the other one-time Slam winners a chance since they may have made more impact earlier in the decade. I had to discard Patrick Rafter off my list since he didn’t win a major and didn’t reach the top spot as well.

Player GS Points RnkPts Total Points Category
R Federer 17.00 7.63 24.63 A
R Nadal 6.67 2.21 8.88 B
L Hewitt 2.67 3.20 5.87 C
A Agassi 3.67 1.61 5.28 C
G Kuerten 2.00 2.15 4.15 D
A Roddick 2.33 1.58 3.91 D
P Sampras 2.67 1.19 3.86 D
M Safin 2.67 1.17 3.84 D
J Ferrero 1.67 1.15 2.82 D
N Djokovic 1.33 0.00 1.33 E
A Costa 1.00 0.00 1.00 E
G Gaudio 1.00 0.00 1.00 E
G Ivanisevic 1.00 0.00 1.00 E
J DelPotro 1.00 0.00 1.00 E
T Johansson 1.00 0.00 1.00 E
P Rafter 0.67 0.00 0.67

Category A – my #1 pick – Roger Federer. The numbers don’t lie. Only player to have reached all 4 major finals at least 4 times each. Only player to have won all majors at least once. Established record of 237 consecutive weeks at #1 during the decade. Won 15 major titles and reached 6 other major finals. Enough said.

Category B – my #2 pick – Rafael Nadal. Could have won 2 more Wimbledon titles if not for Federer. Second best behind arguably the best player in history is a position all players save one would die for.

The only thing going against Federer is his head-to-head record against Nadal. Again, this is not his fault. I will take CNNSI’s Jon Wertheim’s take on this – had Nadal been good enough to reach the finals in other surfaces as Federer did, the head-to-head wouldn’t be that skewed in Nadal’s favor. Federer is number #1 on all surfaces other than clay. On clay, he’s #2 behind Nadal – not a bad place to be since experts are tagging Nadal as the best clay-court ever.

Category C – players who were both in the top 5 based on grand slam performance and #1 ranking. Hewitt was #2 in ranking points and #4 in grand slam points. Agassi was #5 in ranking points and #3 in grand slam points.

Hewitt vs Agassi: Agassi has the lead in grand slam performance winning 3 majors and 2 other finals. (3 Australian Open wins; 2 US Open finals). Hewitt had more variety though – 1 title each at Wimbledon and the US Open, and 2 other finals at the Australian and US Open. Hewitt also finished 2 consecutive years at #1 which was second only to Federer. Agassi is one of my favorite players but I would have to list Lleyton Hewitt as my #3 player for the decade. Andre Agassi takes the #4 spot.

Category D – reached the #1 ranking, reached at least 3 major finals and won at least 1 major title. Players in this group are Kuerten, Roddick, Sampras, Safin, and Ferrero. From the two factors used in initial classification, Ferrero ranked last within the group on both ranking points and grand slam points. I will go ahead and put Juan Carlos Ferrero as my #9 greatest player.

The other 4 players are tough to place using just the above indicators. While Sampras and Safin have a slight advantage with regards to Grand Slam performance, Kuerten had a big lead in ranking points plus a year end #1 (2000); while Roddick also had a year where he placed on the top spot (2003). At this point, all four are equal. I went ahead and looked at the year end rankings of the 4 players during the decade along with the number of titles and finals they’ve reached.

Roddick Safin Kuerten Sampras
Top 10 8 3 2 2
Top 5 3 3 2 1
Top 2 2 1 2 0
All Titles 27 14 15 3
All Finals 17 11 5 7

Based on the above table, I will have to pick Andy Roddick as my #5 greatest player. He may have won just 1 major title, but he did reach 4 other finals. He made far greater impact than the 3 other players during the decade with 8 top 10 finishes and 27 titles – these 2 stats really puts him above the others.

I’ll pick Marat Safin as my #6 greatest player. He had more impact during the decade than Kuerten and Sampras; finishing 3 years in the top 5 – 1 more year than Kuerten. His 4 grand slam finals appearances were from 2000 – 2005. Gustavo Kuerten, the top player in the first 2 years of the decade gets my #7 ranking; while tennis legend Pete Sampras will be placed at #8 in my list.

Category E – Players who won at least 1 Grand Slam title. I went ahead and did my homework but my initial gut feel was correct. Novak Djokovic deserved the #10 slot. Of those who won 1 grand slam, he was the only 1 who finished 3 years in the top 5. If not for Federer and Nadal, I would have had placed Novak Djokovic as high as #7.

Here’s my final list of the 10 greatest players for the 2000 – 2009 decade:

#10. Novak Djokovic
#9. Juan Carlos Ferrero
#8. Pete Sampras
#7. Gustavo Kuerten
#6. Marat Safin
#5. Andy Roddick
#4. Andre Agassi
#3. Lleyton Hewitt
#2. Rafael Nadal
#1. Roger Federer

Do you agree with my list? Feel free to leave a comment.