Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article) - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 2019, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

The Crescent-News, August 21, 1981, Defiance, Ohio

Computer ratings continue to upset lady tennis stars

TORONTO - Chris Evert Lloyd, your basic 17.478 on the Womenís Tennis Association computer and Hana Mandlikova, a bitter 13.473, meet today in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Open Women Tennis Championships because the computer says they ought to.

Not because its fair.

Lloyd and Mandlikova both agreed Thursday that numerical injustice is being done under a computer ranking system that is so sophisticated the players, members of the tennis association and tournament directors fail to understand it.

Mandlikova, whose record the past year includes the Australian and French Open championships and finals at Wimbledon and the U S. Open, has managed to climb no farther than fifth in the world rankings. Even her arch-rivals feel that Mandlikova, and not 16-year-old Andrea Jaeger (14.420) of Chicago, deserves the worldís No. 2 ranking.

Officials at the Canadian Open, using the WTA as a guide, have seeded Mandlikova fifth this week to meet Evert in the quarterfinals.

"The seedings are wrong," said Evert, who trounced Kate Latham of Palo Alto, Calif., 6-3, 6-2 Thursday. "Our quarterfinal match will be more like a final. She should be at least No. 3 or No. 2 in the world."

Mandlikova does not mind playing Evert but she resents meeting her so early in the week.

Sensing that bluntness may be the only way to deal with computers, Mandlikova vowed that if the injustice is not corrected at the U.S. Open next week, "I will make a big mess."

"Everybody knows that I am No. 2 in the world," said the Czechoslovakian star after ousting Barbara Potter 7-5, 6-4.

Tracy Austin, second-seeded and third-ranked (14.068), who beat Regina Marsikova of Czechoslovakia 6-2, 6-2 in a late evening match to set up a quarterfinal against Pam Shriver, said the system is incapable of common sense and its logic is a secret understood by only a few computer experts.

"Nobody understands how it works," she said, "except the guys who work on it. My dad is a nuclear physicist and he sends things to Mars but he canít figure it out either."

John Beddington, the tournament director and Ana Leaird, a WTA public relations director, said Austin's view was essentially justified.

"We make up the seeds based on the WTA rankings," said Beddington. "I donít understand the system. Itís very complicated and I donít think many people can argue that Mandlikova is not the number 2 player in the world.Ē

"It would take a genuis to figure it (ratings system) out," said Leaird. "Basically the system is weighted, based on who you beat and in which round," she said, while admitting that actually it's more complicated than that.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 2019, 11:08 AM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

A nice find.
But the system changings starting some years later didn't make it easier to understand who is ranked where why...
Although Mandlikova never had a chance to be higher with those changings.


Quote:
Originally Posted by angliru View Post
The Crescent-News, August 21, 1981, Defiance, Ohio

Computer ratings continue to upset lady tennis stars

...

"It would take a genuis to figure it (ratings system) out," said Leaird. "Basically the system is weighted, based on who you beat and in which round," she said, while admitting that actually it's more complicated than that.
Mandlikova entered much more tournaments, what downs her points average. It is sooooooooo easy to understand.





my selfmade average-based rankings before Toronto:
Code:
1	Evert 		Chris		14	498
2	Jaeger		Andrea		20	347
3	Austin		Tracy		14	332
4	Navratilova	Martina		23	326
5	Mandlikova	Hana		28	324
					tourn.	points

Last edited by Peter2003; Jan 18th, 2019 at 02:14 PM.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 2019, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter2003 View Post
Mandlikova entered much more tournaments, what downs her points average. It is sooooooooo easy to understand.
I agree. But I can understand why one would think that Mandlikova was better than her No.5 ranking suggested, given the past 52 weeks with 4 grand slam finals including two championships.

On a sidenote, if anyone wonders: Mandlikova lost the Toronto QF against Evert. Hana was seeded 5th again for the US Open, ended in the same quarter as Evert - and lost again in the QF.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 2019, 03:28 PM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

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Originally Posted by angliru View Post
I agree. But I can understand why one would think that Mandlikova was better than her No.5 ranking suggested, given the past 52 weeks with 4 grand slam finals including two championships.

...
when reporters, tournament-officials and the players wondering - it only shows there was no real communication about the rankings, how they worked.

and there was no internet-page, where you could simply look at
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 2019, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

I'm sure you're right because it's so hard to find anything about how the rankings worked. It doesn't seem like WTA did much to explain or clarify things.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 2019, 08:21 PM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

I remember this very very clearly. When Hana won the French over Chris (strong #1), and then beat Martina to make the Wimbledon finals, my 14 year old self figured she’s at least number 2 now. When I saw the rankings (it took a while in those days and I sometimes had to buy the San Francisco paper) I was shocked. When the seedings came out for both the Canadian and then USO I was so pissed. Since Hana had just straight setted Chris on her beloved clay (ending another amazing two year streak) I figured she might beat Chris in either match and all would be righted, rankings wise. I even thought she had a great chance at number one with a good showing at the USO and defending the AO on grass...but it was all downhill from there. Despite two nice results in ‘82 over Tracy, Hana didn’t beat Chris again for THREE years! Even I knew after the US that Hana was #3 or #4 at very best with all her random bad results. But what a GLORIOUS twelve month period for her. I firmly thought she was The New Evonne (and absolutely perfect timing since Evonne just got preggie again after taking W). But Hana had none of Evonne’s amazing slam consistency.

But, back on subject... I HATED the rankings in summer 1981. I felt like the end of year was more correct but Hana should have been at #4. Andrea played less and was much more consistent at tour events, but she lost to Andrea Leand (?) second round of USO? And didn’t she get upset at W as well? She shouldn’t have been ranked higher than Hana for the year. But WHAT A GREAT YEAR! I loved 1981! I thought it was a template for how the rest of the 80s would be played out...the older broads vs Hana, Tracy and Andrea. Boy was I wrong!
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2019, 02:19 AM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

Quote:
I'm sure you're right because it's so hard to find anything about how the rankings worked. It doesn't seem like WTA did much to explain or clarify things.
It was a confusing system that no one could follow.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2019, 02:22 AM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

Quote:
Posted by Mark43 But, back on subject... I HATED the rankings in summer 1981. I felt like the end of year was more correct but Hana should have been at #4. Andrea played less and was much more consistent at tour events, but she lost to Andrea Leand (?) second round of USO? And didn’t she get upset at W as well? She shouldn’t have been ranked higher than Hana for the year. But WHAT A GREAT YEAR! I loved 1981! I thought it was a template for how the rest of the 80s would be played out...the older broads vs Hana, Tracy and Andrea. Boy was I wrong!
As you can guess Mark I agree with you 100%!

Everyone hated the top 5 rankings in the summer of 1981 except for Andrea Jaeger of course.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2019, 02:31 AM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

Quote:
Posted by Peter 2003 Mandlikova entered much more tournaments, what downs her points average. It is sooooooooo easy to understand.
True Peter, but this was 1981. Some context is required.

This was the era of communism. That means if you were Virginia Ruzici or Hana Mandlikova at least half of your money was going to the state. In essence the party could tell them, 'play 20 events'. If the party wanted you to play an amateur only event there was pressure to do it. After all, if the party had a grudge or wanted to put pressure once you returned they didn't have to let you out of the country.

As the 80s wore on and the money got bigger top women started bargaining with the party as they had more leverage. By 1989 Natasha Zvereva threatened to boycott if the Soviet Union didn't give her a bigger percentage of her own money.


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Last edited by Rollo; Jan 19th, 2019 at 03:33 AM.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2019, 03:30 AM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

Wow, Rollo, I never thought of that. Thank you for the insight!
I always wondered why Hana played so damn much, leading to such topsy turvy results (which could have happened anyways - itís Hana, after all!). And no wonder she already seemed a bit world weary by the end of that summer. By that point several top players were scaling down their participation, especially after Evert came back so refreshed in 1978, and then again in 1980. It seemed like Borg barely played after 1979. I wish she were able to have gone that route and avoided all the injuries. Her game, movement and strokes seemed so effortless that I never imagined she would leave the game so early. I think even more so than Steffi Graf, Hana MandlŪkovŠ seemed to have the most perfect gawd given athletic body. Even old crank Ginger Rogers had a crush on her in 1981!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2019, 02:30 PM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
As you can guess Mark I agree with you 100%!

Everyone hated the top 5 rankings in the summer of 1981 except for Andrea Jaeger of course.
Intersting fact: I used once in the past the 1996 system to calculate rankings for the 80's and indeed I had Hana Mandlikova at #1 in June, July and August 1981. She would have taken over from Chris Evert after winning the French Open In September Martina then would have taken over again.

The whole year would have seen 4 different number ones: Tracy Austin in January and February, Chris from March to May, Hana and Martina from September to December. Of course this calculations are not completely objective since putting the tournaments into the different categories is the tough part of it.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2019, 10:02 PM
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Re: Mandlikova ranking controversy (1981 article)

Thatís wonderful! I felt that way when she beat Martina to make the W finals. Even though she had a very spotty record otherwise my 14 year old self felt that a runner up at the USO, a win in a rejuvenated AO, a win over Evert on clay (!) to take the FO, followed by a runner up (win over Martina - rare as well) at Wimbledon gave her at the very least equal footing with Evert for the top spot. I know that Evert held the two most important majors, but she skipped the AO in Ď80, then skipped the entire Slims/Avon in Ď81, which I donít think she had ever done before, even in 1978. Obviously Evert had waaaaaaay less bad losses. In fact, she had none what-so-ever, but Hanaís 12 month slam record was near historic in that no man or woman had made 4 finals in a row since Rev Maggs in 1970. And she won two of them over the best clay courter ever on clay, and the best grass courter on grass.

So, itís really good to hear that Hana would have gotten her due with a different official WTA ranking system. The fact that she never made it past #3 was always so amazing to me, given her obvious talents and physical gifts.
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