There is the usual situation that after two days, there are no more reigning Grand Slam champion in the women’s singles field after French Open champion Na Li lost her opening round match Tuesday. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lost Monday and reigning Australian and U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters pulled out of the tournament with injury.
But when you look at the remaining field in the U.S. Open, it’s hard to make sense. The top 25 remaining seeds have less Grand Slam titles (7 — Maria Sharapova 3, Svetlana Kuznetsova 2, Ana Ivanovic 1, Francesca Schiavone 1) than those outside the top 25 (20, Serena Williams 13, Venus Williams 7). In fact, Sharapova and Schiavone are the only top-10 players remaining who has a Slam title.
Well there is a lot you can read into those numbers. One, there has not been players who have played at a high level of excellence consistently. No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has been consistent, but no Slam titles, so I’m talking about a much higher level than that. Serena and Venus, Sharapova and Clijsters are the only ones who have proven they can play at a championship level consistently in the past, but injuries have kept all of them off the tour for a significant amount of times.
You could say there’s parity on the women’s tour, and there is some truth to that. Is that appealing for the fans? I don’t think so. Everyone likes it when Serena Williams is dominating. She has been the standard bearer in the sport just like Roger Federer has been for so many years on the men’s side. And the sport was at its best when Serena had her rivals (other than Venus) in Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport. Right now, there just doesn’t seem like anyone who could stand up to Serena. And that doesn’t make it too interesting.
Another problem with this situation is that the ranking system has no meaning any more. Everyone’s favorite for this tournament is Serena, and she’s only seeded 28th. On the men’s side, the 28th seed is John Isner. Does anyone think he could go 10-0 against the top-10 seeds? I don’t know how the ranking system works on the WTA, but it’s not working. Sure, Serena hasn’t played much, but this is the same situation earlier in the 2000s when she was ranked behind Martina Hingis.