Monday, August 24, 2009

Dinara or Serena?

First, my picks for the tournament...

Men's Champion: Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Women's Champion: Dinara Safina (Russia)

Let me begin by saying that I know it's completely lame to just pick the 1 seeds. With Fed, it's simply a belief that he is the king until someone knocks him off. Over the past 21 Grand Slam tournaments, Federer has either walked away champion or lost to the player who ultimately did. Yes, that number is 21, as in over five years. The road to greatness goes through him. Period.

With Safina, even with the top ranking, it's definitely a gamble. If you've followed the sport at all over the past several months, you've heard the issue. Safina, despite tremendous talent, has never won a Grand Slam tournament. Meanwhile, Serena Williams has won three of the past four. Is there really a question as to who is the better player? Of course, not. It's Serena Williams all the way. But through the convoluted math of the ranking system, Safina is ranked #1 in the world while S. Williams resides at #2. As a result, there has been a call for reforming the ranking system in such a way that would give more weight to results in the Slams.

I see it as a rather silly argument to tell the truth. The rankings reflect consistent results over the past 52 weeks of tournament play. Safina has done her part, performing well week in, week out while Williams tends to peak at the Slams. Williams's approach is, of course, perfectly sensible. At the end of two weeks at Wimbledon, no one really cares who was seeded #1 at the beginning. Only the champion's name is engraved. If you want the highest seed, play for the rankings. If you want a legacy, play to win Slams. Both players have earned what they have.

Picking Safina, for me, is as much a wish as a prediction. I'd love to see this discussion go away. Just about the worst mantle a player can wear in any sport is The Best Player Who Never Accomplished Whatever. I hope Safina is let off the hook in New York.

No comments:

Post a Comment