Match Points #19: Understanding the lack of consistency on the WTA Tour
In Episode 19 of Match Points, Josh Cohen guides Marion Bartoli, Simon Cambers and Ben Rothenberg through a discussion of the WTA’s current generation, and how they would measure up against the glory days of the past.
Depth is a strong point when it comes to the WTA Tour this days, but does depth make the tour better than it was 15 years ago, when true icons like the Williams sisters, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters ruled the sport?
It’s open for discussion.
The never-ending coaching carousel
Former Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli says she isn’t quite sure of the effect of all the coaching changes on tour are having on the quality of players, but she does believe that the current crop of players isn’t as technically sound.
“I don’t know if it’s because the coaches are just way too afraid to get fired when they say something it’s just that technically the girls are less sound than before,” she said.
Whether it’s causing a drop in quality or not, Simon Cambers is aware of the sheer volume of coaching changes that we have seen on the WTA Tour over the last five years.
“[Mouratoglou] is right in the fact that a lot of women do switch coaches,” he said. “It’s become a fun task for us at the end of every year to try and figure out who is going where and who is moving to which player – that’s true. And that obviously would create some sort of instability in consistency.”
Top to bottom the WTA is stronger now
Coaching issues aside, Cambers believes that the tour is in a period of transition and that its depth is a key selling point.
“I think you are looking at a much better strength in depth in the top 20 than we had in the Evert-Navratilova period, in the Graf period, even in Serena-Venus, early on,” he said. “You obviously don’t have that golden generation when Marion was playing with the Williams sisters with Henin and Clijsters, Davenport – all those women who were winning multiple Grand Slams – but that could still happen.”
Bartoli begs to differ. The former Wimbledon champion says that today’s top WTA players are not bullet proof like the greats of the past:
“When I used to play against Justine Henin, or Kim or whoever – I played against all of them – there are no weaknesses. You enter the court and you are like ‘What am I supposed to do to win that match?’ It’s going to be so hard because I have nothing to grip on. So it’s going to be: If I can make all those winners, If I can make all those aces, maybe I have a chance, but otherwise if I play an average match I have zero chance at all – not even one percent.”