The absurdities of life (and tennis)
A few hours ago, the women’s US Open final in tennis was played:
Kim Clijsters destroyed Vera Zvonareva with 6–2, 6–1.
This will have an effect on their respective ranking:
Zvonareva rises from place 8 to place 4, while Clijsters … falls from place 3 to place 5—one place behind Zvonareva. (Assuming that I read the preliminary numbers provided by Wikipediaw correctly.)
The explanation for this seeming (arguably, actual) absurdity is simple:
Clijsters was the defending champion. Her victory merely maintained her point score.
Zvonareva lost early in last years edition—and saw a significant increase in points. (Semi-finalist Venus Williams passes Clijsters for the same reason.)
Obviously, the scoring system is not based on one tournament, but on the performances over the last year, on several surfaces, in different weather conditions, and with varying other circumstances. Zvonareva’s overall performance in this year has simple gathered her a higher score—even though she stood no chance today. (Nor, looking at historical performances, has a comparable single’s record. I rarely follow women’s tennis, but I do have the impression that Clijsters is one of the best there ever was—when she is not injured, retired, or otherwise off her game.)
The lessons: Be careful by what signs success are measured, be wary of both one-dimensional indicators and impressions from single instances, be prepared for life to be absurd or even unfair, and keep in mind that unfairness is often a matter of perspective.