In Part 1 of our feature on slamless number ones we closely analyzed the years in which players reached No.1 ranking without winning a Grand Slam title and the five such players are the likes of Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki (the first two won Grand Slam titles later in their careers). This Part 2 will focus on Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport – players who had years in their careers that they finished on top of the rankings without claiming a single Grand Slam title during that season – so they could theoretically be called slamless No.1s, even though they had won Grand Slams in the previous years, because in some years they were ranked No.1 they had no majors won. If these two analyses don’t stop all the fuss about the recent “shameful” slamless No.1s I don’t know what will! 🙂 Omair, bring on the numbers!
We have talked a lot about the spot being held by Caroline Wozniacki, Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic and discussed about whether their reign at the top was (is, in case of Wozinacki) fair or not. How did they end up being at the top of rankings without winning a major first? We did not appreciate their consistency throughout the year, tournament in, tournament out, what we did was only criticize them about being the slamless No.1s. I guess that’s enough of it, let’s move on to something I wanted to share with you guys. The other day I was going through the Tennis.com forums and there I saw that during the past 11 years, i.e. from the beginning of the 20th century, seven times a player has ended the year as No.1 and she did not win a single Grand Slam during the year. Here is the list of year-end No.1 players from 2000 onwards.
Martina Hingis, though she had won Grand Slams before 2000, did not end up winning a single major in 2000 and despite that she ended the year as world No.1. Lindsay Davenport had also won Grand Slams before 2001 but she did not win a single major in 2001, 2004 and 2005 and despite that she ended the years as No.1.
These two players did clinch the top spot without winning a major during that year, yet they have never been criticized for this achievement like Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki. Some people argue that they did not win a major during that year but they had won it before that year, which to me is not a very strong logic. I think that these two players were not criticized because by winning a Grand Slam these two players had demonstrated their ability to win majors and hence put the critics to the silent mode.
In our Part 1 we had focused on the years of Clijsters, Mauresmo, Jankovic, Safina and Wozniacki, let’s now have a look at how well Hingis and Davenport performed in the years they earned the top spot without winning a major. We won’t include the stats of slamless year-end No.1s Jankovic and Wozniacki because we had already included them in our Part 1. Hope you people enjoy it 🙂
Hingis never lost before the quarterfinal stage of all the 20 tournaments she played and on top of that, she was only beaten once by a player ranked outside the Top 10. Davenport did not play French Open in 2001, despite that she ended up as world No.1, with a margin of just 10 points from Jennifer Capriati who had won the Australian Open and French Open that year!
* The average rank of conqueror is low due to the fact that both Henin and Clijsters had not played much during 2004 and had low rankings, Clijsters was ranked 133 when she defeated Davenport at Indian Wells and Henin was ranked 43 when she defeated Davenport in Charleston.
PERFORMANCE AT GRAND SLAMS
As you can see, in 2001 and 2004 Davenport reached two Grand Slam semifinals, just like Wozniacki in 2011.
LOSSES AND TITLES OF HINGIS AND DAVENPORT IN THE YEARS THEY ENDED NO.1 WITHOUT WINNING A GRAND SLAM
All these tables, numbers, stats and comparisons show us a few things:
- You don’t have to win a Grand Slam to be world No. 1;
- You can’t end up playing half year and finish the year at top;
- You have to play consistently throughout the year to be able to grab the top spot;
- Grand Slams alone are not the true measure of being the top player in the world.
Now that you have gone through all the details, what do you think of these top players? Do you agree that we should stop calling Jankovic, Safina and Wozniacki slamless No.1s and simply start referring to them as (real) No.1s? I definitely think so.
For first-time readers of Women’s Tennis Blog and Omair’s stats, do check out the revealing previous analyses:
- Part 1: Comparison of the five slamless WTA No.1s and the origin of the phenomenon
- Comparative analysis of Top 10 players and their performance at big tournaments in 2011
- Part 1: Top 10 players in 2011 – how they scored against fellow big opponents
- Part 2: Top 10 players in 2011 – what do their losses suggest?