What constitutes a 'weak' draw?
Obviously, that depends on the level of the tournament. For discussion purposes, let's stick to Tier I's and GS tournaments. This thread is (obviously) prompted by the IW draw. IW has 15 of the top 20 players, but only 2 of the top 5. That's kind of unusual. Whether that's 'weak' or 'strong' depends, I think, for most folks on this board, on whether or not their fave is playing. If she's playing, it's strong, if she's not, it's weak.
However, let's pretend we're all objective, and say it's a matter of how you think about the tour.
Some people think the tour goes 20+ deep in players who are a threat to any given match. In rank order, more or less; Sharapova, Henin, Mauresmo, Kuznetsova, Clijsters, Hingis, Petrova, Jankovic, Dementieva, Vaidisova, Chakvetadze, Safina, Schnyder, Ivanovic, Serena, Peer, Li Na, Hantuchova, Golovin, Safarova, Groenefeld, Msykina, Venus. And they focus on the percentage of those players who are present.
The other school of thought is, the tour has maybe less than half a dozen who are threats to win any big tournament. Sharapova, Henin, Mauresmo, Clijsters and Serena. (I leave out Venus, even though I personally believe she's one of that half dozen, because one Tier III title with only one win over a top twenty player just not enough to say 'I'm back, and better than ever'.)
If you subscribe to that theory, then whether or not a Tier I or GS tournament is 'weak' is a matter of how many of the elite players are present. By that model, IW is quite weak, having only one of the five current 'big-timers'.
You could also use percentage of GS singles titlelists. On the surface, this favors IW, since the top three seeds have all won GS singles titles. However, how many active GS singles titelists are on the tour right now? Nine. (This does not count Davenport, Capriati or Seles.) Three of nine GS singles winners isn't so hot. But, to be realistic, let's say GS singles winners, in the top ten, who won a GS title in the last four or five years. Okay, four or five is pretty generous, but it's still a short list.
Sharapova, Henin, Mauresmo, Kuznetsova and Clijsters.
NOTE: Mary Pierce actually won her last GS singles title more recently than Hingis. Wierd, huh?
So, can I measure the strength of a tournament solely on the presence or absence of those five players?
Well, the whole discussion is moot, but in the abstract, it's an interesting question. In the early 80's, was a tournament automatically 'strong' if Evert and Navratilova both showed up?
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