Thoughts about the YEC, the rankings and the tour as it stands now
Every year, I ask myself the same question: Isnít the YEC a title which has more value than a Grand Slam ? In practice, the answer is obviously NO because Prize money and ranking points are significantly superior in the GSís than at the YEC. But for me, thereís no doubt that the YEC is way more difficult to win than a GS, for three reasons:
1) though the YEC takes only 5 matches to win (possibly including one defeat like the case is for both finalists this year), Itís 5 matches played in 5 or 6 days while the 7 matches you have to win to be victorious in a GS are spread out on two weeks,
2) itís 5 matches against top level players while early rounds in GSís are often easy ones for the seeds,
3) itís played at the very end of the season, so mental and physical tiredness are at their highest.
Despite those points above, the YEC is not given that much consideration. For instance, Clijsters is known more as the player who reached world #1 without ever winning a GS than as the 2002 YEC winner. We could talk about the audience as well, thereís no kind of comparison between a GS second week attendance and the audience for the YEC (though, this year, the attendance increased impressively compared to 2002 and 2003), thatís rather strange, given that level of play is of course much higher in the YEC than in GS until quarter-finals.
Whatís your own perception of the YEC ?
If Justine Henin didnít have to withdraw because of illness, the two players that are playing the final, this year, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, would be the two lower ranked to enter the competition and the two last qualified for the event.
This shows once again that the WTA rankings do not exactly reflect comparative values of players. Personally, I donít think that the system in itself is to blame but the real problem is that, except GSís, the big tournaments (Tier I) are not attended by all the top players in the same time as regularly as could be Masters-Series events in the ATP, and maybe Tier IIís are granted too many points.
This year 2004 appears to be a very satisfactory season for womenís tennis. The gap of level that there used to be between the top 3-4 and the other Top 10 has been filled. The proof is that none of the 8 competitors in the YEC went undefeated. No player clearly dominates.
And the future is even brighterÖ
A few other active players are banging at the door of top 10, like Venus Williams, Petrova, Molik, Bovina, Sprem.
We hope that Justine Henin Hardenne and Kim Clijsters are going to come back at their best, and there are also two relatively young players that have been top 5 who could come back in as contenders, Iím talking about Jelena Dokic (whoís back with her dad as her coach) and Daniela Hantuchova.
And last but not least, the upcoming generation: Golovin, Karatancheva, Vaidisova and the others that we donít know yet.