Our contributor Omair always enjoys giving us a statistical perspective at the world of tennis. He's written countless articles statistically previewing and reviewing matches and tournaments, predicting future results based on the past at certain events or parts of the season, etc. (you can read all his guest posts at his Stats Corner on Women's Tennis Blog) and now he's decided to compare the very best of the WTA to the very best of the ATP and check whether the numbers back up the story that the WTA is less consistent than the ATP. Since there are many facts to be analysed, this will be a series and below is Omair's introductory article.
"The WTA lacks consistency, just look at the ATP, there is a Big 4 and they have been very dominant", "women's tennis is not worth watching", etc. – these are discussions the tennis world has been having. "The WTA needs a Big 4 like the ATP" – a lot of heated debate went on this topic for quite some time, in fact, it still is going on, with some journalists thrashing the WTA.
I will now look into the stats and see how much of this debate can be explained by numbers. Let's start looking into this issue by reminding ourselves about the results of some of the top players from ATP and WTA.
Last year saw the transformation that everyone wanted to see in the WTA, an emergence of the Big 4. We saw Victoria Azarenka win her maiden Grand Slam and claim the top spot, starting her season with a 26-match winning streak, we saw Agnieszka Radwanska lose only to Azarenka for the first few months, we saw Maria Sharapova claim Roland Garros to complete her Career Slam and who can forget Serena Williams tearing the field in the second half of the year to lay her hands on Wimbledon, Olympic Gold medal, US Open and the year-end Championships.
Serena Williams reclaimed the top spot recently by beating Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open. In doing so, the American became the oldest female player to be ranked world No.1 in the Open Era. The Top 4 female players as of today are:
- Serena Williams
- Victoria Azarenka
- Maria Sharapova
- Agnieszka Radwanska
Last year, we also saw Novak Djokovic successfully defend his Australian Open title in January, Rafael Nadal claim his record-breaking seventh Roland Garros title, Roger Federer win record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title and return to No.1 to break Pete Sampras' record of most weeks spent at the top spot, and finally Andy Murray’s breakthrough at the US Open to claim his first Grand Slam title.
We also saw Serena Williams losing to Virgine Razzano in the first round of the French Open, in what was Wiliams' first and to date only loss in the first round of a Grand Slam, and Rafael Nadal lose to Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon and not play a single match for the rest of the season after that loss.
I was just sitting back and thinking of studying, when all of a sudden the idea of jotting down this article struck me. The original idea was to compare the ATP’s Big 4 against WTA’s newfound Big 4 (though two of them, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, are not new) to gauge which tour has been more consistent over the course of last 12 months. However, as I began to think it over, I realized it would not be possible to do a Big 4 vs. Big 4, since our ATP seven-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal did not play the last two majors and anything in between them. This was aided by the fact that he has dropped to No.5 in the rankings. So I thought to change the subject matter and do a Big 3 thing. The first thing that comes to mind when doing a Big 3 is the ATP’s Big 3: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. However, as stated above, for this comparative study Nadal will not qualify and hence we will have to take in Andy Murray since he is ranked No.3 in the world and he has finally gotten the monkey off his back.
I will be doing a series of articles to see who has been more consistent over the course of last 12 months comparing:
SERENA WILLIAMS vs. NOVAK DJOKOVIC
VICTORIA AZARENKA vs. ROGER FEDERER
MARIA SHARAPOVA vs. ANDY MURRAY
Many will disagree with me in that Williams should go against Federer and Azarenka should go against Djokovic, but we will stick to our current rankings and decide after an overall study who has been more consistent lately, men or women, and whether all this trash-talk about women’s tennis is true or not.
Stay tuned! The series continues over the weekend! (photos: © Neal Trousdale)