Confusion reigns in No 1 race


A degree of confusion appears to be afflicting the ATP Tour. The rankings computer is regurgitating world No 1s at an astonishing rate and even the most attentive competitors appear to have become prone to lapses of memory.

The other week Pete Sampras was taken aback when asked about his prospects of collecting a third consecutive title in Indian Wells, California. "I don't think I've won the tournament two years in a row, have I?" was his response.

While Sampras is hardly likely to experience amnesia when quizzed about the possibility of a fourth successive Wimbledon singles championship in July, every title counts. His successful defence in Indian Wells 12 months ago, for example, was the first of five victories which enabled him to end the year as world No 1 for the third time in a row.

Andre Agassi needs no prompting to recall that his win against Sampras in the final of the Lipton Championships here on the tip of Florida last year completed his elevation to No 1 for the first time.

A change at the head of the game was then still a rare occurrence. Since the start of the year, however, there has been a shuttle service. Sampras was replaced by Agassi, who was supplanted by Thomas Muster, only the 13th player to become No 1 since rankings began in 1973.

The Austrian king of clay courts lasted a week before making way for Sampras, who then failed to repeat his form in Indian Wells, losing to the Dutchman Paul Haarhuis in the quarter-finals.

This allowed Muster to rise again, and here he is yet to win a tour match while reigning as the No 1. Having exhausted their jibes about Muster's feet of clay when he was promoted the first time, Sampras and Agassi must now accept that their own shortcomings have helped to lift him back to the summit.

"It's not like I have some sort of vendetta against Thomas," Sampras said. "He is the best player in the world on clay. As far as him being the best player on anything but clay, I don't quite swallow that quite as well. He had a phenomenal year, winning the French Open and 10 other clay-court tournaments. I didn't do well in Australia, and it just so happens that he snuck up and became No 1.

"It really just comes down to the end of the year. That is when you add and subtract all of your points. The final ranking is the true indication of who the best player in the world is.''

That thought will be running through several minds. Currently, Muster leads Sampras by just 19 points and is only 608 points ahead of the fourth- placed Michael Chang, who is closing in on Agassi after defeating him in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells, and has Boris Becker at his heels.

All of which delights the ATP Tour's chief executive, Mark Miles. "I'm not apologising for Thomas Muster being No 1 for a second. Just look at his record over the previous 52 weeks," Miles said. "I'm absolutely thrilled - how could you not be? - that we could actually have a real race of four or five persons split between the United States and Europe. They are all great champions, and they are different, with different styles of play and different personalities.''

The women's tour would welcome similar activity, and trusts that Iva Majoli and Anke Huber will continue to make progress and generate a serious challenge to Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. Seles's absence from the Lipton, because of a shoulder injury, is the only disappointment for the organisers of the tournament, which offers total prize-money of $4.1m (pounds 2.7m).

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities