Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2006 11:31AM; Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2006 5:25PM
Amelie Mauresmo won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon but will finish the year ranked No. 3.
When was the last time somebody won two majors in a year and still finished No. 3? I don't think it's been done before. Shows how close the gap amongst the top women players are. -- Someone Who's Name I inadvertently Deleted
Oddly enough, just three years ago, a player won two majors and finished third in the rankings. Serena Williams was her name. Your point, though, is well-taken. Amelie Mauresmo played a full schedule, won two majors, reached the semis of the U.S. Open, the finals of the WTA Championships and still finished third. As you note, it's a real testament to the parity at the top. In the case of Serena, she finished third despite missing a big chunk of the year, including the '03 U.S. Open. On a related note...
It's amazing that Justine Henin-Hardenne finished the year as No. 1 despite only playing 13 tournaments this year. Props also go to Martina Hingis. Who would have thought she would qualify for the championships when she announced her comeback at the beginning of the year? It should be exciting next year if the Williamses are healthy, Maria Sharapova continues her stellar play, Mauresmo driving out her demons and the Belgians remain injury-free. -- Andrew Jen, Toronto
Amen on both counts. As for JH-H, her ranking is testament to what happens when you reach the finals of four majors and win the year-end championship. Love her or hate her, you have to tip your chapeau. Same for Hingis. Sure, she lost some steam as the season progressed and she is still susceptible to being out-hit. But for someone who was ranked 999th to start the year, she did herself awfully proud. Also, I think you have to commend her on playing a full schedule. It takes guts to come back, but it takes real guts to come back full-time and not just for a swig of glory.
Let's make this an annual feature of the 'Bag: Which Masters Cup qualifiers will not qualify in '07, and who will take their place? I'll start. Out: Ljubicic, Blake and Robredo. In: Berdych, Baghdatis and Safin. Others knocking on the door but falling just short: Murray, Gasquet and Ancic. -- Johnny Ballgame, Atlanta
I'm game. Obviously injuries are the great X factor, but I think the cast will be fairly similar. I think Federer is a lock for '07. Nadal (troubling as his post-Wimbledon results have been) will make it on his clay-court wins alone. David Nalbandian and Ljubicic are so well-rounded it's hard to see either slipping much. Roddick will always be able to serve his way into the top eight. Blake has been a top-five player since Wimbledon.
Who does that leave? The ever-dissed Davydenko. I know he plays too much -- ergo, he's due for an injury -- but is there an obvious candidate to knock him out? My one prediction: I have a hard time envisioning, say Robredo, finishing '07 with a higher ranking than Berdych.
Guga Kuerten said in a interview last Saturday that the top 10 isn't filled with great players like when he was on the top. I agree with him, because this year the Masters Cup is a little weak. What do you think? -- Carlos A. Nogueira, Bauru, Brazil
I blame this on Federer. When Guga finished No. 1 in the world in 2000, four players won majors that year. Naturally the field is going to look deep by comparison. Conversely when a guy wins three of the four majors and reaches the final of the fourth, it obviously leaves the Nos. 3-8 players in a different light. Cumulatively, I think the field is just as strong. It's just that the current group doesn't seem all that accomplished because one guy is hogging the trough.
Now that Lance Armstrong has run the New York City Marathon (He did understand it was 26 miles long, didn't he?), do you think Andre Agassi will feel a need to top him and say, swim the English Channel or climb Mt. Everest or something? -- Cheri Lambert Great Falls, Mont.
Never mind the sciatica issues. Agassi has a 5-year-son and a 3-year-old daughter. I'm thinking that's physical challenge enough.
More evidence of Fed's dominance? Mark Wojciechowski of Fremont, Calif., notes he will set the record for consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 if he remains at the top through the end of February next year. If he decided to take a long vacation and not play at all from now until he sets the record, Nadal will still need to get around 425 points to catch him. Winning the Masters Cup and the Australian Open would still leave him around 75 points short.
Nice line from Roddick re: his losing streak against Federer: "Nobody beats me 12 times in a row." This, of course, was a nod to Vitas Gerulaitis' line about his futility against Jimmy Connors: "No one beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row."