Useless facts, maybe not so useless…

It’s more like a “did you know that…” kind of fact.

ONLY five players have been ranked #1 in a calendar year?

1. Roger Federer (05, 06, 07)
2. Jimmy Connors (75, 76, 78)
3. Ivan Lendl (86, 87)
4. Pete Sampras (94, 97)
5. Lleyton Hewitt!!! (02)

Hewitt on that list!? That’s just one more indication on how dominant Federer is, having done this three calendar years in a row. McEnroe isn’t here, Agassi nope, Borg never made it… The big limitation is certainly that computed rankings started in August 1973. Every player before this date doesn’t make the list, but Laver, Tilden +more would clearly be candidates. I think even Nastase who spent 40 weeks at #1 would get the 73 calendar year if they had started counting on Jan 1.

But if you think about it, it’s not weird having only five players with this achievement.  Nastase started out in 73 and was followed by Newcombe a few weeks in 74. Then Connors got his 3 year run with 160 consecutive weeks, which only Federer has matched. The truth is, if Borg hadn’t disrupted Connors incredible run with ONE short week at #1, he would have had 245 weeks from 74 to 79!!!  That’s sick…

From 1979, the Borg, Connors, McEnroe fight left none of them with more than 50+ weeks at the top, but not in one calendar year. In the early 80s, Borg retired and the Americans had to deal with each other before Lendl started his reign at the top. Lendl’s great 157 weeks made him the dominant player from 85 to 88. In that period, McEnroe and Connors grew old.

In 88 Wilander gave Lendl a fight for the spot and claimed it for 20 weeks, only to give it back to Lendl for another 80! That led us into the 90s. Did you think Sampras dominated the entire decade? No way. First it was a Becker/Edberg/Courier battle before they gave their throne to Pete in 93.  A real nice fact for the Americans is that they dominated the sport from October 92 to February 96. Courier, Sampras and Agassi all claimed #1 spot in that period. Muster messed up that run by staying a total of 6 weeks. Then Marcelo Rios did the same thing in 98, after Sampras’ longest run with 102 weeks on top.

Sampras was nowhere near as dominant ranking-wise as Federer, yet he still was close to the #1 spot all the time. But he allowed Muster, Rios, Moya, Kafelnikov, Rafter to clinch the spot for a few weeks each. Agassi included, but he got a 52 week run, taking tennis into the new millenium. Then followed the Safin/Guga battle for a couple of years before including Hewitt in late 2001. He got 75 weeks on top and clearly gets his deserved spot on the list with five players.  And if you remember, he was pretty dominant at times during 01-03. 

After that Agassi got his time at #1, entering the 2003 US Open as first seed. That was taken away right away by Ferrero and then Roddick, who was lucky to say the least with his 13 weeks taking us into 2004. Why lucky? Well… if you don’t know who followed him..

The Roger, the Swiss clock, the Federexpress, the IceFace…. has kept that first spot since Feb 2, 2004! If he loses his ranking in 2008, every little tennis fan would be stunned. It’s probably not gonna happen, which takes him just further from Connors on the list of consecutive weeks. He is ONLY 80+ short of Sampras 286 total. He’ll make it, right?

Conclusion is that even with Federer being this dominant, I think that Connors and Lendl have been in a similar type of position. Dominant many years in a row and simply winning  A LOT. Sampras is also there, but the gap between himself and his opponents was smaller. Still though, Sampras was never in trouble during the 90s even if he was 2nd or 3rd he was still there winning slams and several tournaments.

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One Response to “Useless facts, maybe not so useless…”

  1. Tim Says:

    I was sure Borg was able to hold the number one spot for more than a year, but it seems like the gap between him and Connors was small. I remember the 1980s when Lendl was clearly the best player. What a lame period!

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