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Part 1: Top 10 players in 2011 – how they scored against fellow big opponents

We can soon start calling our reader Omair a stats expert. :) After seeing his "Comparative analysis of Top 10 players and their performance at big tournaments in 2011" received so well, Omair eagerly rushed to thrill us with more analysis, this time focusing on the year-end Top 10 players and the ranking of opponents that they beat in 2011 (Part 1) and on the ranking of opponents that beat them (Part 2). Let the tables do the talking!

The table above shows the number of tournaments where a year-end Top 10 player defeated more than one Top 10 player. Petra Kvitova tops here with three tournaments, at two of which she defeated three or more Top 10 players en route to the title (Madrid and WTA Championships). World number one Caroline Wozniacki is the only Top 10 player who did not beat two Top 10 players in a single tournament.

Let's continue with tables showing tournaments won by each Top 10 player and tournaments where the player (though did not end up winning the event) ended up beating two or more Top 10 players.

As mentioned earlier, Kvitova tops the list of most Top 10 players defeated en route to title – at the WTA Championships in Istanbul she ended up beating as much as five Top 10 players, Top 8 players to be exact! Second in this list is Li Na who defeated four Top 10 players on her way to the French Open title this year. Take notice, Wozniacki only once defeated a Top 5 player on her way to title, which was in Brussels where she defeated then-No.5 Schiavone.

Actually, Kvitova was the  only one who ended up beating three Top 10 players in more than one tournament. Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Marion Bartoli did it once during 2011 – Azarenka at the WTA Championships, Sharapova in Rome, Li at the French Open and Bartoli in Eastbourne.

You can see that Li Na defeated four Top 10 players en route to her maiden Grand Slam title, more than Kvitova during her Wimbledon title run and more than Samantha Stosur who had to overcome only one such opponent on her way to the US Open trophy.

Vera Zvonareva won two titles in 2011 and all the victories in her Doha run included Top 30 players, two of which were Top 10. Agnieszka Radwanska was super hot in the later part of the season, winning Carlsbad, Tokyo and Beijing. The Pole scored two Top 10 victories in Toronto, more than in Carlsbad and Beijing actually, but lost in the semifinals of the tournament.

Just like in the "Comparative analysis of Top 10 players and their performance at big tournaments in 2011" the stats leader in the department of victories over fellow Top 10 players is mostly Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

What would you like to add looking at the stats? What are the details you notice and what do they tell you about specific players?

Stay tuned for the second part of the analysis to be posted this week on Women's Tennis Blog. The continuation will focus on the losses of Top 10 players and the rankings of players who defeated them. (Kvitova photo: © Neal Trousdale)

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16 thoughts on “Part 1: Top 10 players in 2011 – how they scored against fellow big opponents

  1. Omair

    Thank you so much Marija for putting up this analysis :) Nice work. Hope the readers like it :) keep up the good work :)

  2. Marija Post author

    Omair, since I'm not really good with numbers, your contributions are more than welcome, they are giving my blog a deeper perspective.

    And one reader on Twitter already retweeted the post gave thumbs up for the table info. ;)

  3. John Bolan

    Omair, I'm really impressed with your stats! Thank you so much!

    For many years, I have thought about the ranking system used by the WTA. Is there anyway to inprove upon their system? Their system doesn't take into account who beats whom, but rather just where the player finishes in a tournament and how many points that tournament is alloted. My thoughts have always centered on the ranking of those a player defeats. Any ideas?

    Is there any correlation between the number of tournaments played and the player's rank? This goes back to the old question of do we reward the players who play most tournaments with enough money and points? I have strong feelings that a player should be forced to play most tournaments in order to be ranked at all. Cherry picking certain events or just showing up for majors should not be allowed because it hurts and weakens the WTA.

  4. Omair

    John, Thank you so very much for the appreciation :)

    I don't think Jhon that thee ranking system needs to be changed. Yes, it can be improved by assigning a weightage to the tournaments based on how important they are and how mandatory they are for the players to play and then to award ranking points to the tournaments accordingly. But to give ranking points based on who beats whom will not be just. At the moment the ranking points are the same no matter who wins the grand slam be it Clijsters, williams, Li Na or Schiavone and again the ranking points are the same for the semi-final showing be it Wozniaki or Kerber or Kvitova or Sharapova.
    If you change this the equality of points for the same stage showing for two players will be questioned.
    Furthermore, making players play all the tournaments won't do good but will result in players being fatigued and injured. What WTA can do is giving more breaks in between the tournaments to keep the players fresh and injury free. Plus, if they make the top players play at each tournament how are the lower ranked players going to climb up the rankings????? They wont have enough matches under their belts and hence not enough confidence or practice to beat the tp players because the top players will be playing at each and every tournament. But yes, a certain weight-age can be assigned to to give an added bonus to the low ranked players for beating any of the top 10 players in for example the first round, so that he has more ranking points as comapred to the top ranked player for the 2nd round showing, but making such a system will definitely require alot of home work, since there will be alot of criticism on it and to defend this system will require alot of home work.

  5. Omair

    Regarding the co-relation between the number of tournaments played and the players rank, we will have to dig it out to see if there is any co-relation. There can be a co-relation and there can not be a co-relation. If there is any co-relation it will be only because of the fact that the player who plays more has more chance of winning, and since the results of your best 16 tournaments count towards the ranking, so the players who play more will definitely have more chances, as compared to the player who lets say plays only 16 tournaments (eg Player A ends up playing 25 tournaments and losses in the first round at 2 tournaments but also wins two tournaments, whereas player B plays 16 tournaments and also ends up loosing in the first round of 2 tournaments, for player B these 2 tournaments have to count towards his ranking but for Player A, the two where she won will be counted towards her ranking and the 2 where she lost early will be dropped out, so you can say that there is a co-relation but to work out a specific formula or a factor wont be possible because it really depends on how well the player was playing but obviously as I pointed out earlier the player playing more will have a chance at being better ranked)
    And yes I agree that cherry picking Grand Slams or some other majors should not be allowed as it really hurts WTA, such players should be awarded with point penalties (I mean negative points, if they skip mandatory tournaments without any reason, to ensure that they play a full schedule and also to ensure that by performing well at only the majors they don't end up being the top ranked players) Top ranked players should be true representatives in that they should be playing full schedule and of-course consistently enough to reach the later stages of the tournaments they are playing.

  6. Marija Post author

    I'd like to add that at Eastbourne Bartoli defeated two Top 10 players in one day! Stosur and Kvitova.

  7. Omair

    wow! thats a feat I must say and a very rare one no doubt… both Stousr and Kvitova are power players… Hats off to Bartoli :)

  8. James

    Another great analysis! The most interesting thing to see is that Wozniacki is the only player in the top 10 not to have a tournament with more than one top 10 win. Looking at her table, even her highest ranking win in Indian Wells against Azarenka was through a retirement.

    Wozniacki is extremely consistent in beating the lower ranked players, but if she is to win a Grand Slam she has to have more big wins against the top 10. I was trying to think of Wozniacki's best wins of the year and there are no real stand outs for me… Perhaps against Sharapova at Indian Wells although even on that one, Maria did not play well at all!

  9. Omair

    Thanks James for the appreciation :)
    YUp the table for Wozniaki does not look good but she did enough to retain her crown for the 2nd straight year :)

  10. Marine

    As a Wozniacki fan I just have to disagree :-P
    Lower rank does not mean an easy competition. Many top players get often beaten by lower-ranked opponents.
    This is the reason why despite scoring wins against top 10 some they weren't able to really challenge the no.1 spot. Although Kvitova was almost there!

  11. Omair

    @ Marine

    Yup you are right. No-one said here that lower rank means an easy competition :)
    and yup true Wozniaki is the no.1 and despite winning a major, and most top 10 wins at one tournament, Kvitova could not overtake Wozniaki.

    This is just an analysis of how things look….

  12. Marine

    Fair enough. However, this is what this analysis can imply. Maybe it would be also interesting to look at losses to lower ranked players.
    This season there were MANY upsets (especially at slams) so I think we might get some interesting numbers :-)

  13. Omair

    @ Marine

    Yup, thats what the part 2 of the analyis is all about :)
    and yup Caro does beat Kvitova there, though she doesnt top there but she does beat Kvitova with a huge margin there…

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