PDA

View Full Version : To fluke or not to fluke.


bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:26 PM
No Fluke
When Thomas Johansson won his Australian Open title last year, the reaction seems to be that it was a fluke. At the end of 2002, we looked at the question of "what is a fluke?" A year later, with three one-time Slam winners this year on the men's side (Juan Carlos Ferrero, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick), it's probably time to re-examine the matter.

The key question is, what, exactly, is a fluke? We've heard people say that there are no fluke Slam winners. (To which we say, "Chris O'Neil.") We've also heard multi-slam winners dissed as flukes -- Martina Hingis suffers this a lot, and we've even heard Pete Sampras called a fluke!

As far as we're concerned, anyone who can win five or more Slams, and three of the four distinct Slams, can't be a fluke. Even a player with two Slams seems safely "non-flukey" to us. Not Hall of Fame material, maybe (at least, Mary Piece doesn't strike the author as an all-time great) -- but certainly no fluke.

But one Slam? Well, O'Neil aside, there isn't much doubt that Slam winners are good players. But a player can be a good player, and still be a fluke as a Slam winner -- good but not that good.

So we thought we'd look at some of our alleged flukes.

Let's look back at all the one-Slam winners in the past eleven years (adding one year to the ten years we studied last year), and label them as best we can. We can't claim to have asked everyone what they think of all these players, but we've tried to take consensus opinions.

We'll start with the women.

Women Who Won Their Only Career Slam Since 1992

Player: Jana Novotna
Slam Won: Wimbledon 1998
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: Novotna spent ten years as "the best player without a Slam." Her Great Wimbledon Choke is famous. The surprise is that her one win didn't come sooner. Had there been an indoor Slam during her career, or more than one grass Slam, it might have.

Player: Iva Majoli
Slam Won: Roland Garros 1987
Status: Fluke
Comment: At the time, some people regarded this as a non-fluke; Majoli was still young, and reasonably successful to that point. But it seems clear in hindsight that her head wasn't that of a Slam winner.

Player: Conchita Martinez
Slam Won: Wimbledon 1994
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: Wimbledon was hardly the Slam anyone expected Martinez to win, but she had been to the final of two of the other three, plus she has dozens of career titles. Like Novotna and Majoli, her head has stood in her way. But her overall results make her a non-fluke.

Analyzing the women for what constitutes "flukiness" seems almost hopeless. The sample is too small. Amazing as it sounds, since Barbara Jordan won the 1979 Australian Open (a clear fluke win), we've had only four women with only one Slam: The three above, and Gabriela Sabatini (U. S. Open 1990). That's right, for more than ten years, from mid-1979 to late 1990, every player to win a women's singles Slam ended up with more than one. (Of course, the 43 Slams in that period were divided among a mere eight women: Austin, Evert, Goolagong, Graf, Mandlickova, Navratilova, Sanchez-Vicario, Seles. We've seen that many different Slam winners than that just in the past five years -- clearly, the women are deeper than they used to be) In the almost-23-year span since Jordan, we've seen more than twice as many players with four or more Slams (Evert, Navratilova, Mandlickova, Graf, Seles, Hingis, Sanchez-Vicario, Venus Williams, Serena Williams) as we've seen players with one! So we'll just have to let women's flukiness lie and look at the eight male "One Slam Wonders."

Men Who Won Their Only Career Slam Since 1992

Player: Andy Roddick
Slam Won: U. S. Open 2003
Status: Not a Fluke
Comment: Most players are still playing Challengers at Roddick's age; he still has a bit to prove on clay, but he's definitely turning into one of the top performers in the game.

Player: Roger Federer
Slam Won: Wimbledon 2003
Status: Not a Fluke
Comment: Has won big events on all surfaces; has perhaps the most fluid game out there. The only problem is his head.

Player: Juan Carlos Ferrero
Slam Won: Roland Garros 2003
Status: Not a Fluke
Comment: Not the all-around player Federer is, but currently the best clay player active, and solid on hardcourts; he's even made some noise indoors at the Masters Cup.

Player: Albert Costa
Slam Won: Roland Garros 2002
Status: Fluke
Comment: Had almost completely disappeared from view by the time he won his Slam, and has re-disappeared since. Results away from clay are almost non-existent.

Player: Thomas Johansson
Slam Won: Australian Open 2002
Status: Fluke
Comment: Won his Slam two months before turning 27, and to that time had only six career titles. He's been injured so much lately that his chances of any sort of comeback seem pretty slight.

Player: Goran Ivanisevic
Slam Won: Wimbledon 2001
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: His Wimbledon title was a surprise when it came, but he did have 21 titles already; people had expected to win there years before, and then gave up as his results declined.

Player: Marat Safin
Slam Won: U. S. Open 2000
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: Everyone "knows" he had the skills. The question is, when will he win another?

Player: Carlos Moya
Slam Won: Roland Garros 1998
Status: Marginal, but probably not a fluke
Comment: A pretty good player when healthy, as he's shown this year and last. It's just that he suffered about three years of injuries.

Player: Petr Korda
Slam Won: Australian Open 1998
Status: Fluke
Comment: This was the last title of a fairly long career

Player: Richard Krajicek
Slam Won: Wimbledon 1996
Status: Probably not a fluke
Comment: Seventeen career titles despite constant injuries; quarterfinals at all four Slams and semifinals at all but the USO. Probably would have stood higher had it not been for injuries.

Player: Thomas Muster
Slam Won: Roland Garros 1995
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: The guy won 44 titles despite what should have been a career-ending injury.

Now we have something to work with: Three flukes (Johansson, Costa, Korda), two perhaps marginals (Krajicek, Moya), three new youngsters who show clear signs of non-flukedom (Federer, Ferrero, Roddick) three definite non-flukes (Ivanisevic, Moya, Safin).

Let's stack up some statistics for these guys and see what we find.

Statistic: Total career titles
44: Muster
22: Ivanisevic
17: Krajicek
14: Moya
12: Costa
11: Roddick
11: Safin
10: Federer
10: Ferrero
10: Korda
7: Johansson

Obviously this doesn't tell us much. Safin has fewer titles than Costa, but is considered less of a fluke. Why? Age.

So let's try a twist: Years between the player's first title and his first Slam.

Statistic: Years Between First Title and First Slam
1: Safin
2: Federer
2: Roddick
3: Moya
4: Ferrero
5: Johansson
5: Krajicek
7: Costa
7: Korda
9: Muster
11: Ivanisevic

That doesn't tell us anything either. How about this?

Statistic: Titles at the time of first Slam
4: Moya
4: Safin
6: Johansson
8: Federer
9: Ferrero
9: Korda
9: Krajicek
10: Roddick
11: Costa
21: Ivanisevic
28: Muster

The problem with this, of course, is that some of these guys won their Slams early, others late. Maybe a better test is to take an arbitrary period early in their careers. Say, the four years from the time each man won his first title. (Unfortunately, this year's Slam winners haven't hit the four year mark yet, but we'll give their totals to date. They're quite interesting in this context, though hardly conclusive)

Statistic: Titles in four years after first title (inclusive)
11: Roddick
11: Safin
10: Federer
9: Ivanisevic
8: Costa
8: Ferrero
7: Krajicek
6: Korda
5: Moya
5: Muster
4: Johansson

This is getting rather frustrating, isn't it? (At least for us, since we're having to look this stuff up. Maybe not for you.) Muster, for instance, is clearly no fluke -- but he comes in next to last on this list.

So let's try a different approach....

Statistic: Number of surfaces on which has won titles
4 (Clay, Grass, Hard, Indoor): Federer, Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Roddick
3 (Clay, Hard, Indoor): Korda, Muster, Safin
3 (Grass, Hard, Indoor): Johansson
2 (Clay, Hard): Ferrero, Moya
1 (Clay): Costa

This isn't a great help, either. Sure, Costa is at the bottom, but Muster stands below Krajicek, and Johansson and Korda above Ferrero.

Frankly, we're stumped. It's clear that people's assessment of flukes is based largely on those people's assessments of their games. But we've no way to figure that in! It's pretty obvious that some players are flukes, and others aren't -- but it's going to take a lot more than one statistic to determine which is which. Career titles would probably do it -- but it's awfully early to be counting Safin's, or even Moya's, total career titles, let alone Roddick's!


Excerpt from Bob Larson´s tennisnewsletter.

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:28 PM
The author was quick to point out winning 3 out of 4 slams as non-fluke, otherwise Lindsay would looked as a fluke.

Kart
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:30 PM
If Iva Majoli had won Roland Garros in 1987 it would have been more than a fluke seeing that she would have been less than ten years old.

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:47 PM
If Iva Majoli had won Roland Garros in 1987 it would have been more than a fluke seeing that she would have been less than ten years old.

:lol:! Then she would have been the real teen prodigy!

irma
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:56 PM
I doubt novotna would have won an indoor slam (she didn't win the masters before 97 either), her famous problem was there too and I don't mean the choking;)

propi
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:58 PM
:lol: @ calling Costa's RG a fluke... if his is, Krajicek is as well....
Costa is one of the players with more clay titles if not the player with more of them currently...

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 04:58 PM
I doubt novotna would have won an indoor slam (she didn't win the masters before 97 either), her famous problem was there too and I don't mean the choking;)

Her famous problem?! Coming from you: it has to be mrs. Agassi... hey Irma, shouldn´t it be mr. Graf?! ´Cause to me Steffi´s records and stuff makes Agassi look like an amateur.

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:01 PM
:lol: @ calling Costa's RG a fluke... if his is, Krajicek is as well....
Costa is one of the players with more clay titles if not the player with more of them currently...

Krajiceck wasn´t a fluke. when you beat SAMPRAS on grass on route to winning the title....ain´t fluke. In fact if he wasn´t injured that often, he could easily won a couple of more wimby´s.

irma
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:02 PM
she didn't change her name(maybe in privat though?)

Jen'sFan
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:02 PM
Her famous problem?! Coming from you: it has to be mrs. Agassi... hey Irma, shouldn´t it be mr. Graf?! ´Cause to me Steffi´s records and stuff makes Agassi look like an amateur.
Yeh...ok. Cos u can really compare women to men. Way more competition in mens game...If u win 6 or more then you're a great player. If you win 6 in womens its like nothing special...

propi
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:05 PM
Costa beat Ferrero......on the final

tenn_ace
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:10 PM
Korda was caught using steroids, so it was not a fluke :D

ys
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:16 PM
Korda was caught using steroids, so it was not a fluke :D

He was caught using the same steroids as Ulichrach and Argentinians. I am surprised he didn't sue ATP to death for that disqualification yet.

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:18 PM
Costa beat Ferrero......on the final

Yeah, but I think the author meant that Costa didn´t do anything at any slam besides the French Open..

All the others have qrtr or fourth rounds at almost all the other slams, so they were legit contenders.

ys
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:18 PM
And, I think that reaching another Slams finals is automatic clearance from fluke suspicion. And in that sense Korda is not a fluke. But Krajicek.. perhaps also not, he had too many injuries. As to Costa and Thomas, those were flukes, clearly.

-Ph51-
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:20 PM
Wouldn't say Costa and Korda were flukes!

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:21 PM
And, I think that reaching another Slams finals is automatic clearance from fluke suspicion. And in that sense Korda is not a fluke. But Krajicek.. perhaps also not, he had too many injuries. As to Costa and Thomas, those were flukes, clearly.

Krajiceck reached the semi´s at all the slams save the Open and even then he had plenty of opportunity: He lost a match against Kavelnikov where he served 48 aces!!...so he proved his versatility.

mandy7
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:23 PM
Krajicek was amazing..

Martian Willow
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:23 PM
...what's the difference between Krajicek and Majoli...except Ivas' 'head'...?

propi
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:24 PM
Yeah, but I think the author meant that Costa didn´t do anything at any slam besides the French Open..

All the others have qrtr or fourth rounds at almost all the other slams, so they were legit contenders.
Costa made 1/4 in Aus open the same year that Moyà reached the final :p

mandy7
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:24 PM
Krajicek was amazing.. i just told you!!

irma
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:24 PM
andrez gomez was a fluke :o

-Ph51-
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:30 PM
And Viktor Pecci was one too!

Kart
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:32 PM
andrez gomez was a fluke :o

Thought you were over 1990 ;)

irma
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:35 PM
yeah but he was still a fluke ;)

and I didn't say Sabatini was a fluke :p

ys
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:42 PM
Krajiceck reached the semi´s at all the slams save the Open and even then he had plenty of opportunity: He lost a match against Kafelnikov where he served 48 aces!!...

Amazing match it was. Yevgeny knew that he has no chance to break Richard, so he just prayed for three tiebreaks and got his wish.

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:46 PM
Amazing match it was. Yevgeny knew that he has no chance to break Richard, so he just prayed for three tiebreaks and got his wish.

The curious thing is that he lost all those tie-breaks on love, on two...where did all those aces stay?!

Keith
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:50 PM
I think you should at least give credit to the author when you posted this.

bandabou
Oct 17th, 2003, 05:53 PM
I think you should at least give credit to the author when you posted this.

I did....I said it is from Bob Larson´s tennisnewsletter.

Kart
Oct 17th, 2003, 06:34 PM
yeah but he was still a fluke ;)

and I didn't say Sabatini was a fluke :p

I was talking about his beating Andre in the final ... actually come to think of it though, you must have had two bad weekends in 1990 :eek:.

My sympathies :angel:.

Kart
Oct 17th, 2003, 06:41 PM
But you're over it now anyway :D.

Keith
Oct 17th, 2003, 06:52 PM
oops ok! I didnt see that, sorry!

hingis-seles
Oct 17th, 2003, 06:56 PM
I was talking about his beating Andre in the final ... actually come to think of it though, you must have had two bad weekends in 1990 :eek:.

My sympathies :angel:.

:lol:

Fantastic
Oct 18th, 2003, 02:32 PM
I define "flukes" as coming from out of nowhere to win and then disappearing. Almost all the examples had notable success before achieving their Grand Slam victories, and none has disappeared off the scene. Thomas Johanssen is the exception due to injuries.

moby
Oct 18th, 2003, 02:40 PM
Novotna wasn't a fluke... But how LUCKY of her to have to play against Tauziat in the final... Honestly I think against a player like Hingis, Graf, or even Davenport in the final, she would probably have choked another time.

she probably did choke
she really is of a different calibre from tauziat (who imo fluked in getting to the final)
except that she was so much better that it didnt make a difference
i remember she was up in the second
then suddenly had trouble serving on the side facing the royal box

bandabou
Oct 18th, 2003, 02:43 PM
she probably did choke
she really is of a different calibre from tauziat (who imo fluked in getting to the final)
except that she was so much better that it didnt make a difference
i remember she was up in the second
then suddenly had trouble serving on the side facing the royal box

So it was two flukes against each other...one fluked reaching the final, the other fluked by not choking for a change!

tennnisfannn
Oct 18th, 2003, 02:59 PM
I really don't think you can think of any of the men as flukes. There is alot more depth and the days of Sampras winning 14 slams seem to be a thing of the past. We can expect new slam winners every year on the men's tour.
In the last 3 years on the men's tour, only Lleyton has won more than one slam out of the 12. i.e 10 different men winning slams (I could be wrong)
The women's tour is about domination and in the last 12 only 4 women have won slams. looking forward only Kim looks to be the only one ready for a slam while on the men's tour, there will defintely be more new slam winners. It therefore stands to reason that for a woman to win only one slam, chances are that it could be a fluke.

bandabou
Oct 18th, 2003, 03:02 PM
I really don't think you can think of any of the men as flukes. There is alot more depth and the days of Sampras winning 14 slams seem to be a thing of the past. We can expect new slam winners every year on the men's tour.
In the last 3 years on the men's tour, only Lleyton has won more than one slam out of the 12. i.e 10 different men winning slams (I could be wrong)
The women's tour is about domination and in the last 12 only 4 women have won slams. looking forward only Kim looks to be the only one ready for a slam while on the men's tour, there will defintely be more new slam winners. It therefore stands to reason that for a woman to win only one slam, chances are that it could be a fluke.

Yep, but with the Williams out there....they could make Kim look like a fluke too.

gmak
Oct 18th, 2003, 03:14 PM
Novotna wasn't a fluke... But how LUCKY of her to have to play against Tauziat in the final... Honestly I think against a player like Hingis, Graf, or even Davenport in the final, she would probably have choked another time.


yeah but she beat irina ( who was still playing well ) venus and martina in straight sets so i think she deserved it :) :D ;)
i think natasha was the one to choke after beating steffi and monica
she won the first set 6-1 against nathalie :eek: but got really nervous after that

tennnisfannn
Oct 18th, 2003, 03:17 PM
Yep, but with the Williams out there....they could make Kim look like a fluke too.
I doubt kim would ever look like a fluke even if she ever won just one. She has been at no.1, got herself a some titles and when she plays other top players, it is not a mismatch. She is always one of the favourites anyway.
Watch her next year, Kim and Venus will do some real damage on the tour. I do indeed prophesy :D

bandabou
Oct 18th, 2003, 03:20 PM
I doubt kim would ever look like a fluke even if she ever won just one. She has been at no.1, got herself a some titles and when she plays other top players, it is not a mismatch. She is always one of the favourites anyway.
Watch her next year, Kim and Venus will do some real damage on the tour. I do indeed prophesy :D

That´s true....she will be like a Conchita or Novotna. She was good, but the dominating players were better.

Ballbuster
Oct 18th, 2003, 03:48 PM
That´s true....she will be like a Conchita or Novotna. She was good, but the ting players were better.

precisely. It looks like kim is at her apex. Unless she finds a better formula to beat the WS' she will always be a level beneath them. But we already know that.

bandabou
Oct 18th, 2003, 04:46 PM
precisely. It looks like kim is at her apex. Unless she finds a better formula to beat the WS' she will always be a level beneath them. But we already know that.

Yeah, everybody knows this...but not everybody is accepting that it IS so.

Jen'sFan
Oct 18th, 2003, 04:51 PM
Yeah, everybody knows this...but not everybody is accepting that it IS so.
Everyone knows that Venus is a level behind Serena. Doesnt mean she wont win another slam. Kim is a quality player. For a change, would you give her some credit. Or are you too insecure to do this?

UDiTY
Oct 18th, 2003, 04:54 PM
Everyone knows that Venus is a level behind Serena. Doesnt mean she wont win another slam. Kim is a quality player. For a change, would you give her some credit. Or are you too insecure to do this?

Everyone knows Jenn is a level behind the top 10...and Kim gets too much credit as it is :rolleyes:

Jen'sFan
Oct 18th, 2003, 05:01 PM
Everyone knows Jenn is a level behind the top 10...and Kim gets too much credit as it is :rolleyes:
Yeh Jen is really a level behind Dementieva. Kim may get alot of credit but not from any Williams fans.

bandabou
Oct 18th, 2003, 05:08 PM
Everyone knows that Venus is a level behind Serena. Doesnt mean she wont win another slam. Kim is a quality player. For a change, would you give her some credit. Or are you too insecure to do this?

Kim´s a quality player...I already said that...but do you see her winning as many slams as Serena or Venus?!

It´s like with Sabatini et al....good but the dominating players were much much better.