Rightly, however, Navratilova blamed the WTA’s system, not Wozniacki.
“She’s No. 1 because that’s how they set up the computer ranking,” she said. “It weighs too much on quantity and not enough on quality.”
One suggestion, echoed by Navratilova, is that the WTA could promote quality over quantity by awarding bonus points for wins against top players, a tweak that could reward lower-ranked players who surpass themselves and penalize top players who don’t do as well as they perhaps should. The WTA awarded “quality” points in the past but says it has no immediate plans to do so again.
“In a step to simplify and make it easier for fans and media, the ranking system was changed in 2006 with full consultation with our player and tournament members,” the WTA e-mailed in response to questions on this issue. “This decision to eliminate quality points was made with the support of the Players’ Council. Our players felt that all players in any given tournament should have an equal opportunity to earn the same amount of ranking points, rather than have the amount of ranking points earned be partially dependent on their opponents’ ranking.”
Wozniacki’s loss in Australia to Clijsters ended her reign at the top, at least for now. She will be replaced in new rankings Monday by Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka, depending on which wins their Australian Open final.
Sharapova, a former No. 1, won Wimbledon in 2004, the 2006 U.S. Open and the Australian Open in 2008. Azarenka is looking for her first major trophy in 25 tournaments. The winner Saturday will also take the top spot.
So, either way, women’s tennis will again have a No. 1 with a major title.
Which is closer to how things should be.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at twitter.com/johnleicester