Weighing the top performers, Slam-style
The men's season-ending championship ended, fittingly, with No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal facing No. 2 Roger Federer. It was a rare treat; the last time it happened in the year's final match was 24 years ago, when No. 1 Ivan Lendl defeated No. 2 Boris Becker.
In his 22nd meeting with Nadal, Federer was the better, more aggressive player. But taking the season as a whole, Nadal's three major titles made him the best player on the planet. Where, in the scheme of things, should Federer be ranked in the tennis matrix? How does his year-end victory and Australian Open title compare to, say, Serena Williams' Australian Open and Wimbledon titles ... and very little else?
Understanding that statistics can be every bit as subjective as opinions, we bring you the 2010 Grand Slam winning percentage chart. It's a simple (yet effective) measure of a player's performance in the four majors. It's not definitive evidence that one player is better than another, but it's a bottom-line number worth considering.
Serena may have won two Slams, but she lost in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and was a no-show at the U.S. Open. Federer, despite a season far below his magnificent standards, reached the quarters at the French Open and Wimbledon and the semifinals at the U.S. Open. Feels like a push, right?
Maybe not. Serena's 18-1 singles record in the Slams (.947) wasn't far behind Rafa's ridiculous .962. Federer's 20-3 mark, while impressive, is clearly a notch below.
Here is this year's top 10, a measure of how the best players stacked up against their peers in the crucible of the world's four most important tournaments, based solely on winning percentage in the Grand Slam events:
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1. Rafael Nadal, 25-1 (.962): A lights-out, crazy year -- every bit as good as Federer's three-major seasons of 2004, 2006 and 2007. Maybe better. Federer never won three in a row in the same season.
2. Serena Williams, 18-1 (.947): She ran the table in two of the three Slams in which she appeared. One loss. Even though she passed on the U.S. Open (and will miss next year's Australian Open) because of a foot injury, that's pretty impressive.
3. Roger Federer, 20-3 (.870): Even with the end of his all-time record of 23 consecutive semifinals appearances in majors, Federer managed to win 20 Grand Slam matches -- the equivalent of reaching all four semifinals. Only Rafa won more.
4. Kim Clijsters, 13-2 (.867): She missed the French Open because of an injury but finished the second half strong, reaching the quarters at Wimbledon and taking her third U.S. Open in three tries.
5. Novak Djokovic, 19-4 (.826): No Slam titles, but this number is a tribute to Djokovic's consistency. He made at least the quarters of every major and won 19 matches -- more than Serena.
6. Francesca Schiavone, 14-3 (.824): Half of these wins came in Paris -- her all-time best result. She played at Wimbledon but was essentially a no-show, losing in the first round.
7. Andy Murray, 16-4 (.800): Made the final in Australia and the semifinals at Wimbledon. He had a total of only five wins at the French and U.S. Opens.
8. Venus Williams, 16-4 (.800): Equaled Murray's 16 wins, showing best at the U.S., where she made the semifinals -- which underlines how her game has dropped off.
9. Vera Zvonareva, 16-4 (.800): In a dead heat with Murray and Venus. Zvonareva closed brilliantly, making the last two finals, at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.