An outside observer contends that safe passage of the stars into the later rounds is a good thing. Bob Williams, president of Burns Sports, which matches athletes with companies for endorsements, believes the lack of great depth gives women's tennis an edge over men's tennis and, for that matter, golf.
"There [are] five or six players that can win at any time," he said. "I think it's improved dramatically. There's some great rivalries building--Martina and Jennifer Capriati the last two years in the Australian, Venus vs. Jennifer, and Jennifer vs. Serena. There are a lot of permutations that are good for the sport.
"In particular, that's why I think it's much more popular than the men's game right now."
For Williams, a new winner each week is a negative.
"Golf is a great example of that," he said. "They normally have six to 12 first-time winners on the PGA Tour. You're rarely seeing anyone outside of Tiger Woods win more than one tournament a year."
The depth issue cut the other way for the men at the Australian Open. The players in the quarterfinals were completely different from those in the final eight last year. Lleyton Hewitt and Gustavo Kuerten, the top two seeded players, lost in the first round and No. 4 Yevgeny Kafelnikov lost to 234th-ranked Alex Kim in the first round.