What's the value of a WorldTour Finals title compared to a Grand Slam title - for the history books (/the records) ?
...Or, in other words: How many WTF titles does player B need to make up for one Slam title of player A ?
Please refer to the "average" Slam (or the average of the Slams). Otherwise it would become too complicated.
I collected data about the WTF (and the Slams), among others from earlier threads, as well as facets of opinions from other people and myself.
Feel free to argue and discuss everything!
The WorldTour Finals
The WTF is the climax of the Indoor season (the "Indoor season final") and also the final (individual) tournament of the entire Tennis season.
Although the court was slowed down in recent years, Indoors Hardcourt conditions in itself are not "neutral" or equal for all players and playing styles.
The WTF is definitely not the "Tennis World Championship" that decides the best player of the season,
the more since the rankings system is an actual circular one (it doesn't start by zero at the beginning of the following season).
The Best-8 and RoundRobin "showcase" format distinguishes the WTF from the Slams (and other tournaments) though and makes it special
(partly also because of the qualifying processes the weeks prior to it).
In this design and entity the WTF is a great event that the vast majority of tennis fans and tennis players appreciates and anticipates.
However, it's of a much smaller format than the Slams and definitely doesn't reach the prestige and importance of them.
How close it comes to the Slams in this regards shall be discussed!
The Grand Slams were established much earlier than the WTF, however all the time between the mid 1930s and 1969 they were for amateurs while the Pro "Slams" (that usually didn't feature a 128 draw) where (much) stronger tournaments.
The WTF was established in 1970, shortly after the advent of the Open Era.
Before the 90s the WTF was more prestigeous than the Australian Open (which didn't even hold an 128 player draw before 1988, btw).
Maybe these facts are not this important today, but if so tradition in itself is apparently not so important today, which is perfectly possible.
Every great player of the Open Era has won the WTF at least once, except for Wilander (and Nadal, who still has the chance).
It arguably has the most impressive roll-call of champions of any tournament in the Open Era.
From it's winners list only Davydenko never reached a Slam final (a second WTF final though) and Corretja and Nalbandian never won a Slam.
Anyway, in recent years there were several withdrawals at the WTF and players in relatively bad shape.
Whether it was because of the "long, grueling" season or rather fault of the players theirselves (priority settings f.i.) is secondary!
Many Federer fans tend to ignore it, but it's a fact that these circumstances affected the WTF, left it's marks. But to what extent?
When you look at the winners as well as finalists and also semifinalists of the WTF since 1998, you will see that there were often surprises. That was much different before.
The WTF used to be played on (indoor) carpet and fast indoor hardcourts (the difference between both isn't this huge).
(There was an exception in 1974 when it was played on grass. But at the USO there were more surface changes back then!)
However, from 2003 to 2006 the surface changes at the WTF became bigger and more frequent.
In 2003 and 2004 it was even played on Outdoor hardcourts, an episode I rate particularly inglorious (inconsistent).
Moreover, since the late 90s the courts were slower in most of the years (but, again, not in every year!), a trend appreciated by the majority of the players, and widely considered a logical evolution.
We can say that since 2006 there were no more bigger changes to the surface/conditions. (And I hope there won't be any again in the future.)
Although not being it's only purpose the RoundRobin format makes the WTF somewhat like an exhibition for the Top 8 players of the Tennis sport. That's a good thing this far,
on the other hand it often makes the qualifying process to the semifinals quite obscure and not totally fair for the players. F.i. the player who plays the very last match of a group often has an advantage in information, knows exactly how many sets and games he has to win in order to advance and/or their direct opponent is already out or qualified, and so on.
(Moreover, in case one player of a group wins all 3 of his matches a scenario can occur when another player can advance to the semifinals by winning just 1 of his 3 matches.)
Best-of-5 or -3 ?
More and more voices are being raised for the return of the best-of-5 format for the WTF final (and maybe for the semis too, since it's playoffs as well).
The final used to be best-of-5 most of the time and I hope it will become best-of-5 again soon.
However, it must be said that the format was changed several times forth and back in the past.
constant Venue changes:
The WTF venue often changed. If the venue of a Slam (with it's many players) constantly changed it would be strange, but wouldn't it be strange either (and also boring maybe) had the venue of the WTF (with it's few players) remained the same all the time? IMO the venue change helps globalizing the sport and is a good thing, a good tradition.
(There are more changes with the Olympics, btw. Is that such a different issue?)
The interim name "ATP Tour World Championships" wasn't a great choice, but whether they call it "Masters GrandPrix" or "Masters Cup" or "WorldTour Finals", it's not a big problem as long as the format remains the same (IMO).
Ranking points (and Prize money) don't necessarily reflect exactly the value of the Slams and WTF for the history books and the public opinion.
(2 Masters1000 titles = 2000pts are historically certainly not of the same value as 1 Slam title = the same 2000 pts!)
The ranking system primarily has to serve other requirements than the historical correctness. It has to secure fairness of the sport.
(For example, it's often harder to make a SF at a Masters1000 =360pts than to make a QF at a Slam =360pts since the same players compete in both events.)
So please distance yourself a bit from the awarded ranking points.
Due to the differences of them several MTF posters are of the opinion that WTF and Slams "can't be compared". Some argued f.i. by the analogy according to that 10 Olympic Silver medals would still be less valuable than one Gold medal.
I think this analogy doesn't apply here since the same players compete for the Slams and the WTF, and it's not about runner-ups compared to winners, as with the Gold and Silver medals.
If you are of the opinion that even 4 WTF titles are not worth a single Slam title, then how about 10 ?
Maybe even 10 Masters1000 titels do not make up for 1 Slam title, but what about 100 ?
Hm, the following problem seems to be much more severe:
I'd say player with 3 WTFs and 0 slams is as great as a player with 1 slam and 0 WTFs. But once you have slam titles, then a slam is equivalent to two WTFs.
Yes, being a Slam winner or not is definitely a difference in status, that I didn't take into account with the poll.
It doesn't change the matter entirely but it's apparently not possible to compare WTF and Slams without any premises.
Still, if player A won only one Slam and player B won only 10 WTFs, who is the better player for the records?
If the answer is: "That can't be compared.", then I ask:
If player A won only one Slam and player B won only one WTF, who is the better player for the records?
What's the answer now?
Or, at least, do you understand my disbelief in the impossibility of comparison in general?