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WTA and ATP Rankings: is it only a difference of age?

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by Lorenzo Ciotti

Tennis - The women's ranking presents a lower average age than the men’s..

Analyzing the WTA and ATP rankings we can see how the top-10 and top-100 of women’s tennis presents lower average age than the top-10 and top-100 of men’s. A fact that, at first glance, could lead immediately to think that women's tennis has a faster generation change over time, compared to men's tennis.

We would like to start from the top-10. In the men’s top 10, the average age is 28.4 years. The youngest tennis player is Dominic Thiem, with twenty-three, while the most mature are Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, with thirty-one years. In the top-10 of women’s ranking, the average age is 26.6 years, with Serena Williams as the oldest tennis player, with thirty-five springs behind, and Madison Keys as the youngest, with twenty-one years.

In addition to nearly two years of difference in overall average age, in women's rankings, we can see that five girls were born in the ‘80s: Angelique Kerber (1989), Serena Williams (1981), Agnieszka Radwanska (1989), Dominika Cibulkova (1989) and Svetlana Kunzentoza (1985), and five were born in the ‘90s: Simona Halep (1991), Garbine Muguruza (1993), Madison Keys (1995), Johanna Konta (1991) and Karolina Pliskova (1992).

Among boys of the top-10 men, only Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic were born in the ‘90s, respectively in 1993 and 1990, while Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were born in 1987, Kei Nishikori in 1989, Marin Cilic in 1988, Wawrinka and Berdych in 1985, Rafael Nadal and Gael Monfils in 1986.

Expanding our discussion to the top-100, things get much more interesting. In the men's ranking tennis players under 25 are only twenty, of which only eight in the first fifties: Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios, Lucas Pouille, Jack Sock, Alexander Zverev, Bernard Tomic, Kyle Edmund and Borna Coric. And even more incredible, in the top-100 there are only two under-20: Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz, both nineteen.

In the women's rankings, things are very different. Indeed, tennis players under 25 in the top-100 are forty-one, of which only eighteen are there among the top fifty: Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza, Madison Keys, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Garcia, Daria Gavrilova, Daria Kasatkina, Timea Babos, Monica Puig, Yulia Putintseva, Sloane Stephens, Kristina Mladenovic, Belinada Bencic, Julia Ostapenko, Christina McHale, Eugenie Bouchard, Ana Konjuh and Naomi Osaka. The under-20 are five: Daria Kasatkina, Belinda Bencic, Naomi Osaka, Jelena Ostapenko and Catherine Bellis, all of them with nineteen years, Bellis with seventeen.

After all this analysis, these data and these statistics, one could say that in fact the women's tennis has a generational change faster and more fluid than men, which still occurred in other tennis eras. Currently, men's tennis sees the protagonists reaching the most important goals of a more mature age than in the past. Andy Murray has reached the first position of the rankings at twenty-nine, Stan Wawrinka won his first Grand Slam always at twenty-nine, and the last one at thirty one, last September in New York.

The causes can be the comparison of pressure, which the younger generation feel more strongly than those of the past years, a different approach to training, and the evolution of technology and the diet, which allows to the players to be more competitive for longer. Will 2017 give us different answers?

Also Read: Federer and Sharapova’s 2017: a year of favorable circumstances?

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