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bandabou
May 14th, 2004, 05:29 PM
Back-to-Back(breaking), Part II
Earlier this week, we looked at "back-to-back" results for the men. That is, cases where a man won events, at least one of them strong, for two weeks running.

This time, it's the women's turn. And this is at once simpler and more complicated.

The reason for the complication is the Tier II tournament, which has no equivalent on the men's tour. This is the level that all top women are expected to play regularly, and they do play a lot of them. Tier II events, while generally not as strong as a men's Masters Series, are consistently stronger than the men's optional events. The men have a very sharp break between the Masters Series and the lesser events. The women have almost a continuum. Which also means that the women's Tier I events are a bit weaker on average. Plus the women have first round byes for the top seeds at most events.

All of this serves to lighten the women's loads at their biggest events. On the other hand, because the Tier II events are stronger, they often play higher-ranked players week in and week out, and many top women also play doubles, which adds more to their workload.

So here's what we're going to do. We're going to list all back-to-backs involving Tier II or higher events, but we'll also note STRONG EVENTS in ALL CAPS, but defining STRONG based on both depth and field strength. In other words, we're going to be just a little bit arbitrary in defining the strong events (especially in the early years, when we don't really know just how strong the events were). As with the men, we'll start the list with 1990.

1990:
Graf: AUSTRALIAN OPEN-Pan Pacific
Navratilova: Chicago-Washington
Seles: ROME-BERLIN
Navratilova: Eastbourne-WIMBLEDON

1991:
Sabatini: HILTON HEAD-Amelia Island
Capriati: San Diego*-CANADIAN OPEN
Seles: PHILADELPHIA-WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS

1992:
Sabatini: HILTON HEAD-Amelia Island
Seles: Houston-Barcelona*

1993:
Sanchez-Vicario: Barcelona-Hamburg

1994:
Graf: AUSTRALIAN OPEN-Pan Pacific
Graf: Indian Wells-Delray Beach-MIAMI
Sanchez-Vicario: Barcelona-Hamburg
Novotna: Brighton-Essen

1995:
Graf: Delray Beach-MIAMI
Martinez: HILTON HEAD-Amelia Island
Martinez: Hamburg-ROME
Martinez: San Diego-Los Angeles
Graf: PHILADELPHIA-WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS

1996:
Seles: SYDNEY-AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Graf: Indian Wells-MIAMI

1997:
Hingis: SYDNEY-AUSTRALIAN OPEN-Pan Pacific
Hingis: MIAMI-HILTON HEAD
Hingis: Stanford-SAN DIEGO
Seles: Los Angeles-CANADIAN OPEN

1998:
Hingis: Hamburg-ROME
Novotna: Eastbourne-WIMBLEDON
Davenport: Stanford-SAN DIEGO-Los Angeles
Graf: Leipzig-PHILADELPHIA

1999:
Hingis: AUSTRALIAN OPEN-Pan Pacific
V. Williams: Hamburg-ROME
Davenport: PHILADELPHIA-WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS

2000:
V. Williams: Stanford-SAN DIEGO
V. Williams: New Haven-U. S. OPEN
Hingis: FILDERSTADT-Zurich

2001:
Mauresmo: Paris-Nice
V. Williams: New Haven-U. S. OPEN
Davenport: FILDERSTADT-Zurich-Linz

2002:
V. Williams: Paris-Antwerp
V. Williams: Stanford-SAN DIEGO
S. Williams: Princess Cup-Leipzig

2003:
[Dementieva: Bali-Shanghai]**
Myskina: LEIPZIG-Moscow

2004:
Henin-Hardenne: SYDNEY-AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Clijsters: Antwerp-Paris

* $225,000 event -- formally below the Tier II level but relatively strong

** Dementieva's back-to-back is very marginal; Bali was a bonus Tier III, but not especially strong, and Shanghai was very weak. We aren't going to list it below, but we thought we needed to footnote it.

In our fourteen-year span, we thus have 44 back-to-backs. This compares to 23 for the men. Admittedly the women have more chances, since they have more Tier II-and-higher events. If we require at least one strong event in each pair, though, we still count 34. So the women are more likely to have back-to-backs. But only eight of our back-to-backs involve two strong events -- actually a lower rate than the men, taking opportunity into account. (The men had six.) Even more interesting, the majority of the men's strong back-to-backs involved Indian Wells and Miami, the easiest possible back-to-back. That's been accomplished only once by the women (by Graf) -- and that was before Indian Wells was upgraded to a Tier I.

If we list things by how often someone has had a back-to-back, the figures are as follows:
Graf: 7 (includes one three-straight and one strong back-to-back)
Hingis: 6 (includes one three-straight and two strong back-to-backs)
V. Williams: 6
Seles: 5 (includes three strong back-to-backs)
Davenport: 3 (includes one three-straight and one strong back-to-back)
Martinez: 3
Navratilova: 2
Novotna: 2
Sabatini: 2
Sanchez-Vicario: 2
Capriati: 1
Clijsters: 1
Henin-Hardenne: 1 (strong)
Mauresmo: 1
Myskina: 1
S. Williams: 1

We note with interest that, until the past year, every player with a back-to-back in this time except Mauresmo had at least one Slam in her career, and that Mauresmo and Sabatini are the only ones who haven't been #2 or higher at some time in their careers. Also, even though the women have far more back-to-backs than the men, fewer women had managed the feat (13, compared to 14 men), and they've been ranked higher. But now that's changed, as we've added two more back-to-back winners (Clijsters and Myskina) who have no Slams. Though the men still have more back-to-backers than the women (17 to 16). So is it easier or harder for women to score back-to-backs? Got us....

From Bob Larsonīs tennisnewsletter.

SelesFan70
May 14th, 2004, 06:10 PM
Yet more proof of Steffi's greatness... :worship:

bandabou
May 14th, 2004, 06:13 PM
Serena nearly did the IW-Miami back to backer but Venus still owned her those days.

Knizzle
May 14th, 2004, 06:22 PM
How can Venus' New Haven titles not be STRONG, but Sydney is??