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bandabou
Nov 7th, 2003, 07:19 PM
From Bob Larson´s tennisnewsletter:


Separation Anxiety
Last year, in our preview of the year-end Championships, we had an interesting (to us, anyway) comment: "It's the most wide-open doubles [Championships] in years -- and one with an unusual number of doubles specialists. Only [Daniela] Hantuchova and [Elena] Dementieva are in both singles and doubles, and [Martina] Hingis should have been. Last year, there were three players in both (Coetzer, Tauziat, Testud), and Hingis probably would have been in both also. The year before that, five players were in both (Hingis, Halard-Decugis, Tauziat, Likhovtseva, Kournikova), and [Chanda] Rubin and [Sandrine] Testud should have been. This is starting to look ATP-like in the separation into singles and doubles specialists."

So just how far is this separation going?

The above test isn't really ideal; even if you ignore the change in the rules this year, and even if you set aside injuries, participation in the Championships has complications: Singles players qualify as players, but doubles players qualify as teams (which, incidentally, is not inevitable, and not even necessarily a good idea, as was shown by Jana Novotna and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario's last Championships; it would be equally feasible to qualify doubles players individually and let them pick partners; that would not, for instance, cross off a Lisa Raymond because her main partner Lindsay Davenport was hurt). The test we'll apply instead is simply year-end doubles rankings, looking at how many players are in the Top Ten and Top Twenty in each.

Let's start five years ago, the next-to-last year we really had a player who was on top in both (ironically, Martina Hingis did not end up #1 in either singles or doubles at the end of 1998 -- but she won the Grand Slam in doubles, which should settle that, and she was barely behind Lindsay Davenport in the singles #1 contest and had a better divisor score; if the question is who was the best player of 1998, it was certainly Hingis in doubles and nearly every number except the WTA rankings argues for Hingis in singles -- Hingis, after all, won the Australian Open and the Tour Championships, made the U. S. Open final, and the semifinal of the other two Slams, plus Tier I wins at Indian Wells and Rome, compared to Davenport's U. S. Open, two Slam semifinals, and a quarterfinal, and weaker Tier I titles at the Pan Pacific and Zurich).

The list below shows the Top 20 in both singles and doubles at the end of 1998. Players who are Top Ten in both lists are shown in ALL CAPS.


Rank..Singles Player...Doubles Player
1....DAVENPORT........Zvereva
2....HINGIS...........HINGIS
3....NOVOTNA..........NOVOTNA
4....Sanchez-Vicario..DAVENPORT
5....V. Williams......Stubbs
6....Seles............Raymond
7....Pierce...........TAUZIAT
8....Martinez.........Fusai
9....Graf.............Likhovtseva
10....TAUZIAT..........Kournikova
11....Schnyder.........Neiland
12....van Roost........Sanchez-Vicario
13....Kournikova.......Sugiyama
14....Testud...........Tarabini
15....Spirlea..........Vis
16....Zvereva..........Martinez
17....Coetzer..........de Swardt
18....Sugiyama.........Bollegraf
19....Farina...........Basuki
20....S. Williams......Lucic

That gives us these statistics:

Players who were Top 10 in both singles and doubles: 4 (Davenport, Hingis, Novotna, Tauziat -- the first three all being Top Four in both!)

Additional Players who were Top 10 in singles, Top 20 in doubles: 2 (Martinez, Sanchez-Vicario)

Players who were Top 10 in doubles, Top 20 in singles: 2 (Kournikova, Zvereva)

Additional Players who were Top 20 in both: 1 (Sugiyama)

Players who were Top 20 in singles only: 11 (Coetzer, Farina, Graf, Pierce, Schnyder, Seles, Spirlea, Testud, van Roost, S. Williams, V. Williams)

Players who were Top 20 in doubles only: 11 (Basuki, Bollegraf, de Swardt, Fusai, Likhovtseva, Lucic, Neiland, Raymond, Stubbs, Tarabini, Vis)

Here are the lists for 1999:


Rank..Singles Player...Doubles Player
1....HINGIS...........Kournikova
2....DAVENPORT........HINGIS
3....V. WILLIAMS......Neiland
4....S. WILLIAMS......DAVENPORT
5....Pierce...........Raymond
6....Seles............Morariu
7....Tauziat..........Stubbs
8....Schett...........Likhovtseva
9....Halard-Decugis...Sanchez-Vicario
10....Mauresmo.........V. WILLIAMS (co-#10)
.......................S. WILLIAMS (co-#10)
11....Coetzer..........--
12....Kournikova.......Zvereva
13....Testud...........Fusai
14....van Roost........Tauziat
15....Martinez.........Vis
16....A. Huber.........Sugiyama
17....Sanchez-Vicario..Spirlea
18....Likhovtseva......Tarabini
19....Frazier..........Tatarkova
20....Dragomir.........Pierce

That gives us these statistics for 1999:

Players who were Top 10 in both singles and doubles: (3 or 4) (Davenport, Hingis, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, but the latter two were co-#10/#11 in doubles)

Additional Players who were Top 10 in singles, Top 20 in doubles: 2 (Pierce, Tauziat)

Players who were Top 10 in doubles, Top 20 in singles: 3 (Kournikova, Likhovtseva, Sanchez-Vicario)

Additional Players who were Top 20 in both: none

Players who were Top 20 in singles only: 11 (Coetzer, Dragomir, Frazier, Halard-Decugis, Huber, Martinez, Mauresmo, Schett, Seles, Testud, van Roost)

Players who were Top 20 in doubles only: 11 (Fusai, Morariu, Neiland, Raymond, Spirlea, Stubbs, Sugiyama, Tarabini, Tatarkova , Vis, Zvereva)

These numbers are almost the same as in 1998, apart from the rankings anomaly of the Williams Sisters co-ranked at #10 (and if it be objected that they are better than co-#10 in the world, they probably were then, and probably are now, but this is not a study of ability, it's a study of specialization, and the Williams Sisters are emphatically singles specialists these days, and were to an extent even back them). Indeed, in some ways, the separation was less than in 1999, since in 1998 we had eight players who were Top 20 in both and Top Ten in at least one, whereas in 1999 we had nine such players -- and the #1 singles player was Hingis, who was #2 in doubles only because she made Kournikova #1. This is true even though Jana Novotna -- who, after Hingis, had the best one-two punch of 1998 -- retired.

The big change arguably started in 2000, when Hingis and Davenport and the Williams Sisters all began to cut back. Hingis stayed #3 in doubles, it's true -- being the best there is, you can be #3 as a part-timer. But note Davenport and the Williams Sisters and their (lack of) places in the Top 20 (Davenport ended the year #26, and the Sisters were starting their habit of being unranked in doubles and getting into Slams with wildcards).

Here are the lists for 2000:


Rank..Singles Player...Doubles Player
1....HINGIS...........Halard-Decugis
2....Davenport........Sugiyama
3....V. Williams......HINGIS
4....Seles............KOURNIKOVA
5....Martinez.........Raymond
6....S. Williams......Stubbs
7....PIERCE...........Suarez
8....KOURNIKOVA.......TAUZIAT
9....Sanchez-Vicario..PIERCE
10....TAUZIAT..........Ruano Pascual
11....Coetzer..........Arendt
12....Dementieva.......Schett
13....Rubin............Black
14....Capriati.........Morariu
15....Halard-Decugis...Callens
16....Mauresmo.........Sanchez-Vicario
17....Testud...........Bollegraf
18....Clijsters........Likhovtseva
19....A. Huber.........Fusai
20....Frazier..........Po

That gives us these statistics for 2000:

Players who were Top 10 in both singles and doubles: 4 (Hingis, Kournikova, Pierce, Tauziat)

Additional Players who were Top 10 in singles, Top 20 in doubles:1 (Sanchez-Vicario)

Players who were Top 10 in doubles, Top 20 in singles: 1 (Halard-Decugis)

Additional Players who were Top 20 in both: none

Players who were Top 20 in singles only: 14 (Capriati, Clijsters, Coetzer, Davenport, Dementieva, Frazier, Huber, Martinez, Mauresmo, Rubin, Seles, Testud, S. Williams, V. Williams)

Players who were Top 20 in doubles only: 14 (Arendt, Black, Bollegraf, Callens, Fusai, Likhovtseva, Morariu, Po, Raymond, Ruano Pascual, Schett, Stubbs, Suarez, Sugiyama)

Interestingly, though we still have four players who are Top 10 in both (though only one player, Hingis, who has managed it in all three years), we have only six players who are Top 20 in both -- a significant decline.

Then came 2001, the year Hingis really stopped playing doubles (only six events). The result is worth noting.


Rank..Singles Player...Doubles Player
1....Davenport........Raymond
2....Capriati.........Stubbs
3....V. Williams......Black
4....Hingis...........Likhovtseva
5....Clijsters........Tauziat
6....S. Williams......Suarez
7....Henin............Po-Messerli
8....Dokic............Ruano Pascual
9....Mauresmo.........Sugiyama
10....Seles............Arendt
11....Testud...........Sanchez-Vicario
12....Shaughnessy......Dokic
13....Tauziat..........Testud
14....Farina Elia......Shaughnessy
15....Dementieva.......Clijsters
16....Maleeva..........Callens
17....Sanchez-Vicario..Coetzer
18....A. Huber.........Schett
19....Coetzer..........Martinez
20....Tulyaganova......Srebotnik

The change is stunning: Not one player who is in the Top Ten in both in 2001 -- Davenport ended the year #25 in doubles; Hingis, who didn't play doubles for much of the year and then was injured, was #30; Capriati, the year-end #2 in singles, is probably the worst doubles player ever to rank in the singles Top Three, and the Williams Sisters ended the year at co-#54 in doubles. So our statistics for 2001 are:

Players who were Top 10 in both singles and doubles: none

Additional Players who were Top 10 in singles, Top 20 in doubles: 2 (Clijsters, Dokic)

Players who were Top 10 in doubles, Top 20 in singles: 1 (Tauziat)

Additional Players who were Top 20 in both: 4 (Coetzer, Sanchez-Vicario, Shaughnessy, Testud)

Players who were Top 20 in singles only: 13 (Capriati, Davenport, Dementieva, Farina Elia, Henin, Hingis, Huber, Maleeva, Mauresmo, Seles, Tulyaganova, S. Williams, V. Williams)

Players who were Top 20 in doubles only: 13 (Arendt, Black, Callens, Likhovtseva, Martinez, Po-Messerli, Raymond, Ruano Pascual, Schett, Srebotnik, Stubbs, Suarez, Sugiyama)

The picture was no better in 2002; although we again had a player who was Top Ten in both, the number of players who were Top 20 in both declined even more:


Rank..Singles Player...Doubles Player
1....S. Williams......Suarez
2....V. Williams......Ruano Pascual
3....Capriati.........Raymond
4....Clijsters........Stubbs
5....Henin............Husarova
6....Mauresmo.........Dementieva
7....Seles............Sanchez-Vicario
8....HANTUCHOVA.......HANTUCHOVA
9....Dokic............Black
10....Hingis...........Likhovtseva
11....Myskina..........Kournikova
12....Davenport........Sugiyama
13....Rubin............Fujiwara
14....Maleeva..........Dokic
15....Schnyder.........Hingis
16....Smashnova........Martinez
17....Farina Elia......Shaughnessy
18....Stevenson........L. Huber
19....Dementieva.......Arendt
20....Dechy............Po-Messerli

That gives us these statistics for 2002:

Players who were Top 10 in both singles and doubles: 1 (Hantuchova)

Additional Players who were Top 10 in singles, Top 20 in doubles: 2 (Dokic, Hingis)

Players who were Top 10 in doubles, Top 20 in singles: 1 (Dementieva)

Additional Players who were Top 20 in both: none

Players who were Top 20 in singles only: 16 (Capriati, Clijsters, Davenport, Dechy, Farina Elia, Henin, Mauresmo, Maleeva, Myskina, Rubin, Schnyder, Seles, Smashnova, Stevenson, S. Williams, V. Williams)

Players who were Top 20 in doubles only: 16 (Arendt, Black, Fujiwara, Huber, Husarova, Kournikova, Likhovtseva, Martinez, Shaughnessy, Po-Messerli, Raymond, Ruano Pascual, Sanchez-Vicario, Stubbs, Suarez, Sugiyama)

And this year? Well, the rankings aren't final -- Elena Dementieva, for instance, is currently Top 20 in doubles, but will drop out at year-end. However, with all doubles players at the WTA Championships being in the doubles Top Ten, and Ai Sugiyama being the only player in singles who is not Top Ten in singles, the numbers from the week after Philadelphia are almost final (the only change that would affect our statistics is that Sugiyama could end up Top Ten in both), and the results are indicative:


Rank..Singles Player...Doubles Player
1....CLIJSTERS........Sugiyama
2....Henin-Hardennne..CLIJSTERS
3....S. Williams......Suarez
4....DAVENPORT........Ruano Pascual
5....Capriati.........Raymond
6....Mauresmo.........Navratilova
7....V. Williams......Kuznetsova
8....Myskina..........DAVENPORT
9....Dementieva.......Black
10....Rubin............Likhovtseva
11....Sugiyama.........Stubbs
12....Petrova..........L. Huber
13....Zvonareva........Husarova
14....Dokic............Petrova
15....Suarez...........Dementieva
16....Smashnova-Pisto..Maleeva
17....Shaughnessy......Loit
18....Martinez.........Mandula
19....Hantuchova.......Vento-Kabchi
20....Schiavone........Widjaja

That gives us these statistics for 2003:

Players who were Top 10 in both singles and doubles: 2 (Clijsters, Davenport)

Additional Players who were Top 10 in singles, Top 20 in doubles: 1 (Dementieva)

Players who were Top 10 in doubles, Top 20 in singles: 2 (Suarez, Sugiyama)

Additional Players who were Top 20 in both: 1 (Petrova)

Players who were Top 20 in singles only: 14 (Capriati, Dokic, Hantuchova, Henin-Hardenne, Martinez, Mauresmo, Myskina, Rubin, Schiavone, Shaughnessy, Smashnova-Pistolesi, S. Williams, V. Williams, Zvonareva)

Players who were Top 20 in doubles only: 14 (Black, Huber, Husarova, Kuznetsova, Likhovtseva, Loit, Maleeva, Mandula, Navratilova, Raymond, Ruano Pascual, Stubbs, Vento-Kabchi, Widjaja)

The singles and doubles lists still have more in common than the ATP's Top 20 lists, particularly since so many of the players have appeared in both lists at one time or another (e.g. Dementieva, Top 10 in singles but not doubles this year, was Top 10 in doubles but not singles last year). But it's also notable how many players are specialists: Top 20 singles players Henin-Hardenne, Serena Williams, Capriati, Venus Williams, Mauresmo, and Smashnova-Pistolesi hardly play doubles at all (all have been or will be unranked at some time this year), and Navratilova, Stubbs, and Liezel Huber are not involved in singles. Kim Clijsters has announced that she is going to cut back her doubles next year, and Lindsay Davenport and Lisa Raymond have split, hinting that our only two players who are Top Ten in both are through with doubles. In some ways, women's singles and doubles are more separate than men's -- most male players play doubles at least occasionally, as a lark -- and, unlike the women, most of them at least know enough to serve and volley when playing doubles.