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In the 80's, realistically speaking, there were 2-3 players that had legitimate shots at the slams. In the 90's, the same thing. Today, there are seriously about 4-5 top contenders at the slams. The top of women's tennis has become slightly more competitive, and everyone else just below that have a smaller window of opportunity because of it.

To make the top ten now is much harder, but the possibility of making an improbable run is more, well, improbable.
 

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Hmm, last year Patty Shnyder, Iva Majoli and Maleeva won Tier I titles. And those tournaments had Capriati, a Williams, Davenport, etc., So, it still does happen on the smaller stage.
 

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Even Harkleroad made the semi's of Charleston.

Sabatini doesn't win anymore because she does not play. Martinez, as great as she is, turned 30 and is reaching the end of her career. Pierce has returned from a serious injury and it might take a bit.
 

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Come to think of it, making the top ten is really more special now. Since the space available is reserved (only about 2-3 spots) it is harder for players to get into the top ten, because they must be consistent. One good run to a Tier win, final or slam semi won't put them there. They need to string together solid results. So, I think it's a great achievement! It takes consistent results and hard work to reach the top 10 now.
 

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I think Dokic won two tier 1 titles last year or the year before, but now she is what, top 50? Myskina has just had consistent semifinals, finals, and tournament wins. She may lack the killer punch because she is still quite young, but she has won 2 tournaments this year.
 
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