Will Serena Williams End the Year As Women's Top Ranked Tennis Player?

Jay GalanContributor IJuly 11, 2010

The Belgians, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, made some noise when they renew their rivalry at Brisbane International, a warm-up event leading to the Australian Open, whereas Serena Williams suffered her first loss of the year at Medibank International Sydney final to Elena Dementieva. With Clijsters and Dementieva, claiming their first title of the year, they both carry high hope going in the year's first Grand Slam.

The interesting stories Down Under continues since the start of the year, when former champion Maria Sharapova was stunned in the first round. It is followed by Clijsters who was downed by Nadia Petrova in round three. In the quarterfinals, Victoria Azarenka almost won her match against Serena but ended up losing in a 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2 tight contest and Li Na upset Venus Williams 2-6 7-6(4) 7-5 to spoil the all-Williams semifinals.

In the final, rivalry seemed to be renewed when Serena, who defeated Venus' conqueror Li in the tight tiebreaker semifinals, and Henin, who dispatched Jie Zheng in the one-sided semifinal match, met for the first in the Grand Slam final. It was really an interesting match.

Does Serena face an upset? Almost as the match went on to three sets.

Credit to Henin's effort, as Serena is much tougher than her at the grandest stage. The conclusion: Serena clinched her 12th Grand Slam title, tying Billie Jean King's record.

After Australian Open, we witnessed that premier tournaments have been won by different women on the tour. With Venus claiming the title at Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Jelena Jankovic at BNP Paribas Open, Clijsters at Sony Ericsson Open, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez at Internazionali BNL d'Italia upsetting Jankovic, and Aravane Rezai at Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open defeating Venus.

One of the top prize was captured by Francesca Schiavone when she won the French Open in her stunning performance over Samantha Stosur. The win gave the Italian a chance to be the member of the elite, her career high ranking at No. 6.

After the grueling matches on clay, everyone needs to find their rhythm on grass. The transition has never been easy but it boost their confidence going to Wimbledon. In the end, Serena clinched her second major of the year, her fourth Wimbledon title, defeating Vera Zvonareva in the process.

With such dominating performance, most especially her killer serve, Serena now have 13th Grand Slam title to her name, overtaking King with 12. With such results, she is predicted that she can catch Martina Navratilova's and Chris Evert's record of 18 Grand Slam titles. As for Serena, it is only a matter of time.

Since Serena has defended her title, she also defended the 2,000 ranking points. But after Wimbledon, how much points Serena still needs to defend?

In the figure above, it shows that Serena is leading Jankovic by more than 2,500 points. That is equal to one Grand Slam and Premier event points. Caroline Wozniacki is holding a very slim lead over Venus with just 24 points.

The movement in the ranking is relatively caused by their performances at the major events. One is Schiavone who vaulted to No.6 after winning her maiden title at Roland Garros but slides with a poor showing at All-England Club, then Zvonareva who also skyrocketed to No. 9 from No. 21 after finishing second at the recently concluded Wimbledon.

Jankovic moved one spot from No. 3 to No. 2 as well as Wozniacki from No. 4 to No. 3. This movement pulled down Venus to No.4 from No.2. Stosur scored her career high ranking to No. 5 even she haven't displayed the kind of performance she showed at Roland Garros to All-England Club. Li is now back at the top 10 after her a good run at Wimbledon.

Two former top 10 players have been fallen out the elite, Agnieszka Radwanska currently at No.11 from No .9 and No. 2 Italian Flavia Pennetta currently at No. 12 from No. 10. A good showing in the upcoming Premier tournaments will see themselves back to the top 10.

Two former No.1s are not yet entered the top 10, Henin currently at No. 13 and Sharapova currently at No. 15. But the most noticeable move were Azarenka at No. 18 and Kuznetsova at No. 20, who continuously to slide and in the brink of falling out of the top 20.

Another major shake-up will most probably happens before the year-ends. Of course, they will try to catch up points as much as they can in order to qualify at the season-ending championships in Doha. This leads by Serena with more than 3,000 points to defend, followed closely by No. 3-ranked Wozniacki with 61 points less than 3,000.

No. 9-ranked Zvonareva has the lowest points to defend with 1,002 points. A Wimbledon-like performance in the upcoming hard court season can match her career high ranking of No. 5. Can she do it? High likely.

Serena and Venus have been ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, going into Wimbledon. After that event, they separated ways again as Venus moved down to spots. But looking at the Total Points Earned in the first half of the season, the Williams sisters are still ahead of the rest of the top 10.

Serena already gathered 5,355 points, while her sister Venus gathered 4,084 points. Following them is the French Open finalist Stosur who already accumulated 3,505 points, followed closely by No. 2 Jankovic with 3,475 points.

It has been distinguishable that Henin come at fifth place who already piled up 3,415 points. And with zero point to defend she will probably end the year as the member of the top 10. But will she going to miss the second half of the season? Most probably yes. If she wasn't able to recover from her elbow injury, then the top 10 ranking might be put on hold.

The only top 10 player who is currently in the 11th place in the Total Points Earned is Clijsters. It might be forgiven as she unable to play at Roland Garros due to injury.

The upcoming hard court season will be critical for both US Open finalist Wozniacki and No.6-ranked Dementieva, they are currently compiled 2,691 points and 2,599 points, respectively. They both have huge points to defend. If they not work hard, they may fall out the top 10 by the year ends. Dementieva is still doubtful of her comeback.

Who's up for the challenge?

Only four women is currently posted a winning percentage 0.800 or more. Of course, it is led by the Williams sisters where Serena has 0.862, followed closely by her sister Venus with 0.846. The other two is owned by the Belgians—Clijsters with 0.815 and Henin with 0.800 winning rate.

So what do these rates implied?

Though, Stosur lead the top 10 with 35-10 win-loss record after Wimbledon. The Williams sisters, as well as the Belgians have been showing good results and with a combine of 112-23 win-loss record, it implies that they are currently dominating the women's tour.

Currently, the Williams sisters are significantly ahead of the rest and there's a high possibility that this will continue till the year ends. They have been truly dominant since the WTA season starts and it seems like they are not going to stop.

Venus has given enough time to catch up, but Serena has enough lead to finished the year ranked No. 1 for the third time. Since 2002, the Williams sisters are top ranked women's tennis players.

Can somebody spoil it? It is third time lucky for Serena?

Well, let's wait and see, if someone will dominate like Serena does.


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