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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
tennis.com's 25 "Greatest" Players of the Open Era (21 -25 )

21 - 25​

21

Amelie Mauresmo


Years played: 1993–2009
Titles: 25
Major titles: 2 (2006 Australian Open; 2006 Wimbledon)​



Amelie Mauresmo’s most lasting achievements didn’t happen until 2006, but she can be seen as one of the last champions of the 20th century. Her one-handed backhand and smooth net-rushing attack made her a throwback, and a favorite of traditionalist fans.

Yet in other ways, Mauresmo was a progressive figure. In the midst of her first significant result, her run to the 1999 Australian Open final at age 19, the Frenchwoman announced that she was gay, and chalked up her success at that event to the fact that she had come to terms with her sexuality. When her opponent in the final, Martina Hingis, called her “half a man,” Mauresmo found herself at the center of an unwelcome media storm. While Mauresmo would lose to Hingis in that final, she would beat her later that year, and in 2006 would win her first major title in Melbourne.

Mauresmo was initially inspired to pick up a racquet after watching—what else?—Yannick Noah win the 1983 French Open, and she kept his attacking style alive in her own game. Mauresmo mixed strength and delicacy, power and touch; she could come over her one-hander with pace, or make it bite with slice when she followed it to net.

Her most notable weakness wasn’t in her strokes; it was in her nerves. At the French Open, she struggled to live up to the home fans’ pressure, and failed to make it past the quarterfinals even once in 15 tries. Her game was better suited to grass, but at Wimbledon she lost close semifinal matches to Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport despite holding leads in both. But just when Mauresmo was on the verge of being dubbed the best player never to win a major, she won two in 2016. The first came when Justine Henin retired in their Australian Open final; the second came in much finer style, with a three-set win over Henin.

Mauresmo herself, like her game, seemed to fade out just as she entered the spotlight. After conquering her nerves, winning two majors, and reaching No. 1 in 2006, she never made it past the fourth round at a major again. But after retiring in 2009, she would show her progressive side once more when she returned to help Andy Murray kick his stalled career back into gear in 2015. Mauresmo’s old-fashioned game and philosophy transcended not just eras, but genders, too.

Defining Moment: In the 2006 Wimbledon final, Mauresmo came back from a set down to beat Henin 6-4 in the third. For the Frenchwoman, it was a triumph over her opponent as well as her own nerves, which had overwhelmed her on Center Court in the past. For fans, the match felt like a requiem for an all-court style that was vanishing even as it was being beautifully performed.



*****


22

Victoria Azarenka


Years played: 2003–
Titles: 20
Major titles: 2 (2012, 2013 Australian Open)



When Victoria Azarenka took over the No. 1 ranking for the first time in early 2012, it looked as if women’s tennis had finally found a successor to Serena Williams.

The 24-year-old Belarusian-turned-Californian looked and acted the part. She was six-feet tall and as powerfully athletic as any player on tour. She was also as fiercely competitive and emotional as anyone this side of Serena. Vika—frowning, striding, clenching her fists, clashing with umpires, berating herself—has always been at her best when she’s about to boil over.

Besides looking and acting the part of a No. 1, Azarenka appeared prepared to play the role as well. Like Novak Djokovic, who rose to prominence around the same time, she was the foremost exemplar of the contemporary game. Her speed and her return, rather than her serve, were her most important weapons. She blended offense and defense until there was little difference between the two. Most important, like Djokovic, she expected to beat everyone she played, including her legendary opponents. While Vika never surpassed Serena, she challenged her in a way that no other woman of her generation has.

Yet six years after winning her first Grand Slam title, Azarenka has won just one more. Ranked No. 1 in 2012, she began 2018 at No. 205. She has been forced to end three of her seasons early for different, equally unfortunate reasons—injury, pregnancy, and, in 2017, a custody battle with the father of her son Leo. At 28, there’s still time for her to reclaim her past glory—no one has come along since who can match her athleticism and competitive fire. As it stands now, though, Vika is the 22nd-best women’s player of the Open era, but so far she’s an even bigger what-if.

Defining Moment
: Azarenka’s career low and career high came within 48 hours of each other at the 2013 Australian Open. In her semifinal win, she called a trainer to the court and was granted a long medical timeout just before her opponent, Sloane Stephens, was about to serve to stay in the match. After breaking the American to win, Azarenka faced jeers from the crowd and harsh questions from the press. Two difficult days later, though, Vika silenced her critics with a three-set win over Li Na for her second major title.



*****

23

Angelique Kerber

Years played: 2003–
Titles: 11
Major titles: 2 (2016 Australian Open, 2016 US Open)



Can a single point turn a career, and tennis history, upside down? Ask Angelique Kerber. In 2016, a few days shy of her 28th birthday, the German arrived at the Australian Open as the seventh seed. It had been 18 months since she had reached the second week at a major—the previous year, she had failed to get out of the third round at any of them. When Kerber fell behind early and faced a match point in her opening round to Misaki Doi, it looked as if that streak of futility would continue. Few were surprised.

Just as few were surprised when Kerber saved that match point and came back to win. It was what came afterward—over the next two weeks in Melbourne and the next nine months everywhere else—that was a shock. Playing with nothing to lose after her great escape, Kerber went on to beat Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams for her first Grand Slam title. She followed that up by reaching the Wimbledon final, winning a silver medal for Germany at the Rio Olympics, winning the US Open, and finishing the year No. 1.

Kerber’s sudden ascent was a surprise, and so was the way she made it happen. In recent years, the majors on the women’s side have been the property of the tour’s power hitters; it helps to be able to blast past your nerves. But Kerber can’t do that; she’s a defensive-minded retriever who grinds her opponents down and wins with scrappy, scrambling athleticism and a kitchen-sink approach to shotmaking. But she began 2016 determined to inject some offense into her game, and it paid off. Her lefty serve was more effective, and her point-changing down-the-line forehand was the shot of the year.

Unfortunately for Kerber, her 2017 was just as shocking as her 2016. She fell from No. 1 to 21 and failed to reach the quarterfinals at any major. Can she scramble and grind her way back up the mountain again at 30? As Kerber knows better than anyone, a turnaround only takes one point.

Defining Moment
: In September 2016, Kerber needed one more win to reach No. 1 for the first time. But she was trying to get it in a tough place, the US Open final, against a tough opponent, Karolina Pliskova. The two were locked in a tight third set when Kerber ended a thrilling rally with her favorite shot, a down-the-line forehand that hooked in for a winner, and sent her soaring to the title and the top of the rankings.




*****


24

Caroline Wozniacki


Years played: 2007–
Titles: 29
Major titles: 1 (2018 Australian Open)



“Adding a Grand Slam to my CV is what caps it off,” a grinning Wozniacki said after she won the 2018 Australian Open. “And really, I think, shows my career as a whole.”

Wozniacki isn’t last on our list, but she was a last-minute entry. While her accomplishments before this season had been impressive—none more so than the 67 weeks she spent at No. 1 in 2010 and 2011, and her 587 wins—the fact that she hadn’t won a major title was enough to keep her out of the running. But as Wozniacki herself says, now that she has torn the Grand Slam monkey off her back in Melbourne, it’s easier to appreciate just how good she has been since joining the tour as a 16-year-old in 2007. It’s also possible to imagine, now that she’s No. 1 in the world again, how good this sneaky-young 27-year-old could still become.

At first glance, Wozniacki doesn’t appear to do much more than hit the ball over the net and hope that her opponents get nervous and miss—and she has won her share of matches that way. But she’s more than just a wallboard. She’s fast, agile and athletic; few players track more balls down. She’s an underrated tactician; she spreads the court and moves the ball around, while rarely taking any unnecessary risks or beating herself. Most important, she’s a natural competitor who never throws in the towel mentally; if you’re going to beat her, you’re going to have to keep doing it until the final point is over. It’s fitting that on her way to winning her maiden major, Wozniacki would come back from 1-5 down in the third set, and save two points, in the second round.

Wozniacki contemplated retirement in 2016. Now she’s shown what can happen when you never say die.

Defining Moment: Wozniacki trailed Simona Halep 3-4 in the third set of the Australian Open final, and she looked tired. But with her best chance at a Slam in danger of slipping away, she found the corners with her ground strokes, and stole it away with the last three games.



*****

25

Li Na


Years played: 2000–2012
Titles: 9
Major titles: 2 (2011 French Open, 2014 Australian Open)


When it comes to sheer numbers, Li may have been the most popular player in tennis history. Each time China’s first top-level tennis star competed in a big Grand Slam match, she was watched by more than a hundred million people across her home country. By the time her career was over, 15 million of them were hitting the courts regularly. There are players that have helped “grow the game,” and then there’s Li—she took the game to another world entirely.

While her nationality made her a pioneer, as a player Li was very much of her generation. An Andre Agassi fan growing up, she was a power-baseliner with a two-handed backhand, and a late bloomer. The talent was always there, in her natural service motion, her heavy topspin forehand and especially her roundhouse two-handed backhand. Yet over the course of her first 10 years on tour, she reached just one Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The turnaround began in 2008, when she broke away from the Chinese National Team and began to work with her own coaches. The following year, she made the quarterfinals at the US Open; in 2010, she did the same at Wimbledon. Then, in 2011, at the French Open, she became the first Asian to win a Grand Slam singles title, at age 29. In 2014, she added an Australian Open title and reached a career-high No. 2. That same year, she appeared on the cover of Time, which named her one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Li pulled her final surprise in 2014 when she retired at the peak of her powers and popularity. For Chinese tennis, her absence may one day be filled by a player, or hundreds of players, that she inspired. For the pro tours, her absence can still be felt. She was as well-liked by her fellow players as she was by fans, and as skilled with a quote as she was with a racquet. “Age like paper,” she said with a laugh when she was asked about playing into her 30s.

The message of Li’s career was that it didn’t matter how old you were, or where you came from—you could still conquer a world.


 

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Discussion Starter #2
Re: tennis.com's 25 "Greatest" Playesr of the Open Era

I'll add more as they get published.
 

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By my anticipation, this list will have the 21 players who won at least two slams and were number one.

The debate to choose the four others has already gone to Li Na, a 2 slams winner who never was number one. So I'm guessing that by Tennis.com's criteria, the number of slams counts more than the number one spot.

So there should be a four slams winner who never was number one, to my own pleasure (she's my all time favorite). And a 3 slams winner who never was number one either (from Great Britain, anyone?). That makes 24.

The 25th should be picked between 2 times slam champs who never were number one (they're three of them beside Li Na during the open era), unless they pick a one slam champ who was number one for 67 weeks. ;)
 

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Serena should be 1 but it will unfortunately be Fed. They are still both my faves though.
Men and women will be separated. It's the 50 greatest on the site, and Li Na is the 25th, so...

Tennis has been transformed over the last five decades by TV, money, technology, equipment, fashion and politics. But through all of that, the players have remained at the heart of the game. As part of our golden anniversary celebration of the Open era, Tennis.com presents its list of 50 best players—the Top 25 men and the Top 25 women—of the last 50 years. You'll be able to view the entire list in the March/April issue of TENNIS Magazine.
 

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By my anticipation, this list will have the 21 players who won at least two slams and were number one.

The debate to choose the four others has already gone to Li Na, a 2 slams winner who never was number one. So I'm guessing that by Tennis.com's criteria, the number of slams counts more than the number one spot.

So there should be a four slams winner who never was number one, to my own pleasure (she's my all time favorite). And a 3 slams winner who never was number one either (from Great Britain, anyone?). That makes 24.

The 25th should be picked between 2 times slam champs who never were number one (they're three of them beside Li Na during the open era), unless they pick a one slam champ who was number one for 67 weeks. ;)
do you have a list of these 21 players?

NVM: found it
 

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I think Kuznetsova and Kvitova would both definitely make the list ahead of Muguruza. Although, it's possible they would stick in Woz.
 

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I hope Kuznetsova and (especially) Pierce don't miss out... not only are they accomplished but their longevity is impressive compared to other 2-time slam winners.
 

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Interesting to see how they'll rank Venus/Justine and Martina/Maria. Those two will obviously send the forum into a tizzy, especially because they're only considering singles.

they'll probably rank venus, justine, martina, maria in that descending order. i wouldn't be surprised if venus is ranked above seles, and hingis above justin.
 

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I'm going to say that of all the two-slam champions, Kvitova is the obvious choice out. I assume that Li Na made it in because she's actually contested four slam finals. Same as Sveta and Mary, both of whom have many more titles than Li.
 

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they'll probably rank venus, justine, martina, maria in that descending order. i wouldn't be surprised if venus is ranked above seles, and hingis above justin.
Why would Hingis be ranked above Justine? She has two more slams and an Olympic title. I can't see a reasonable argument where Martina's singles credentials overtake Justine's.
 

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Why would Hingis be ranked above Justine? She has two more slams and an Olympic title. I can't see a reasonable argument where Martina's singles credentials overtake Justine's.
my hunch is that they'll throw in her doubles credential along with her second doubles career surge, to be above henin. the same goes with venus to be above seles even though seles has 2 more grand slams than venus, but because of venus doubles accomplishment and longevity, then they'll both rank venus above seles, and hingis above henin. that is just my hunch.
 

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my hunch is that they'll throw in her doubles credential along with her second doubles career surge, to be above henin. the same goes with venus to be above seles even though seles has 2 more grand slams than venus, but because of venus doubles accomplishment and longevity, then they'll both rank venus above seles, and hingis above henin. that is just my hunch.
According to tennis.com, they're only considering singles.

tennis said:
(Note: Only singles results were considered; any player who won a major title during the Open era had his or her entire career evaluated; all statistics are through the 2018 Australian Open.)
 

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nice to see Li in there. I wonder what would have happened if she didn't take a break in the early half of her career? Yet maybe this was important for her to alleviate pressure and play well later. If any active player can play as well as she can past 30 (asides Venus/Serena) that would be incredible.
 

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I never understood this fascination with doubles. Why would an "evaluation' of individual players include doubles results, with a PARTNER. Yes doubles matters, yes it's HOF worthy but it's not in the same league as singles nor should it be counted when judging individual players achievements.
because it is a part of your career. it is not like doubles is so easy. it doubles your workload. just thinbk how hard it is to win both at a tournament like a heavily bandaged serena did at the 2009 aussie open. that adds to their greatness.
 

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because it is a part of your career. it is not like doubles is so easy. it doubles your workload. just thinbk how hard it is to win both at a tournament like a heavily bandaged serena did at the 2009 aussie open. that adds to their greatness.
2010 ao you mean? to prove your point. had serena didn't play doubles with venus at 2016 wimbledon, which she injured her arm during wimbledon, she might have a much better chance of defending her olympics single and double title and wining the us open and retaining her #1 ranking to break graf's record at cosecutive weeks at #1. she was lucky to tie it when kerber lost at cincinnati. that injury really screwed up her entire schedule for the rest of the year.
 
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