Jankovic Finishes No. 1, But Should She?

The new Sony Ericsson WTA Tour No. 1. Serbian elena Jankovic will finish the season

The tennis season is just about over. Yes, it seems it ended Labor Day weekend with the U.S. Open, but it has actually been going strong since. The end is near, though, and the first up is the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season-ending championships in Doha, Qatar.

Just this past week, Serbian Jelena Jankovic assured her No. 1 ranking for the year with a 12-match streak that saw her win titles in Stuttgart, Beijing, and Moscow. Jankovic has qualified for the championships, but doesn’t have to win any matches to finish No. 1. Her 63 matches won was the most on tour this season and she is one of the few playes who managed to stay healthy and show up at all of her scheduled tournaments.

There are several of the tennis elite who feel her No. 1 ranking is wrong. Jankovic was the workhorse of the tour, but did not win any of he big four. Jelena did make it to the semis of the Australian and French Opens, the fourth round of Wimbledon, and was a finalist at the U.S. Open, so it’s not like she didn’t play well when it counted. The pundits say that you should at least win one of the major tournaments to be No. 1. There is something to be said about that.

If you agree with this thought, then No. 1 should go to either Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, or Olympic gold winner Elena Dementieva. Dinara Safina has finished the summer and fall strong, and is the only player on tour who comes close to Jelena’s tour finish. But she didn’t do well when it counted. Venus took the title in Zurich just last week and is surging, but her performance has been spotty all year and she has missed appearances along he way. Sharapova was done due to injury before the U.S. Open, so it can’t be her.

Dementieva didn’t perform nearly as well at the majors, and still has no serve, so it is hard to consider her as No. 1. You could argue that Serena should be No. 1, and you have a good argument. She did hit the top slot with the U.S. Open victory, but then faded by not playing enough tournaments after to hold on for the remaining part of the year.

Same for Ana Ivanovic. She peaked at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, then fell to mediocre for the summer and fall. Like Jankovic, she has been a workhorse, but not consistent enough. So that leaves her Serbian compatriot, Jankovic.

No big titles, but in the mix every time. She has performed well at all the majors, getting twice to the semifinals and one final. That is the most consistent performance by any top-10 women’s player at the big four this year. She is the only top player to meet her commitment to the tour all year. The inability (or some say desire) of the top players to meet that commitment has been a problem for CEO Larry Scott and the WTA so much that they have changed the rules of the tour for 2009 to try to ensure top player participation.

I am from the old school. Work hard, play hard, be a good sportsman, and you should be rewarded. Be consistent, improve yourself continually, and make the most of what you have. Make a commitment and stick to it. Remember that no one is bigger than the game itself. There is no controversy in my book. Jelena Jankovic is and should be the No. 1 player in 2008 on the WTA Tour.

I confess that I might not be perfectly objective. Three years ago, I sat in the tunnels under Arthur Ashe Stadium interviewing an up-and-coming Serbian player who was all but being ignored as she won match after match. She didn’t have a clothing sponsor and barely had a racquet sponsorship. Only one other reporter paid any attention and wanted to interview her. It’s nice to see that girl now. Bud Collins and I agreed then. Jelena Jankovic was going to be a top player. Today, she is No. 1.

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Browns suspend disgruntled Winslow one game

Tue 21st, October 2008

Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) – The Cleveland Browns handed Kellen Winslow a one-game suspension on Tuesday as a result of the tight end’s negative comments toward the organization and, specifically, team vice president and general manager Phil Savage.

“Kellen has expressed his desire to be a productive member of the Cleveland Browns,” said Savage through a released statement on Tuesday. “His comments and behavior on Sunday evening, however, were unwarranted, inappropriate, and unnecessarily disparaging to our organization. His statements brought unjustified negative attention to our organization, and violated the team- first concept of our football squad.

“Therefore, disciplinary action will be taken in the form of a one-game suspension without pay for conduct detrimental to the club.”

Winslow was hospitalized for three days and was treated at home for another three days because of a staph infection that kept him out of Cleveland’s 35-14 win over the New York Giants on October 13.

The team did not reveal the nature of his illness, however the Pro Bowl tight end was clearly unhappy with how the situation was handled.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Winslow specifically said he feels he’s been treated like a “piece of meat” and is unhappy that Savage didn’t call him while he was hospitalized. It was the second staph infection suffered by Winslow since 2005.

The 25-year-old Winslow played Sunday in Cleveland’s 14-11 loss at Washington. He finished with two receptions for 17 yards.

Winslow has collected 21 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown this season for the 2-4 Browns. Cleveland is scheduled to visit Jacksonville on Sunday.

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