Quantcast
nodot nodot
Between The Lines
May 1, 2004 Article

Contact Ray Bowers

Latest Between The Lines Article

Between The Lines Archives:
2003 - 2014
August 1998 - 2003
1995 - May 1998

Tennis Server
HOME PAGE

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

Then Sign Up For A Free Subscription to the Tennis Server INTERACTIVE
E-mail Newsletter!

You will join 25,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano that won't be found on the web site.
 
Best of all, it is free!

Player Profiles:
 
Top Pros (Women)
tennis ball Serena Williams
tennis ball Na Li
tennis ball Agnieszka Radwanska
tennis ball Victoria Azarenka
tennis ball Simona Halep
tennis ball Petra Kvitova
tennis ball Angelique Kerber
tennis ball Maria Sharapova
tennis ball Jelena Jankovic
tennis ball Dominika Cibulkova
 ... more profiles
 
Top Pros (Men)
tennis ball Rafael Nadal
tennis ball Novak Djokovic
tennis ball Stanislas Wawrinka
tennis ball Roger Federer
tennis ball Tomas Berdych
tennis ball David Ferrer
tennis ball Juan Martin del Potro
tennis ball Andy Murray
tennis ball John Isner
tennis ball Richard Gasquet
 ... more profiles
 
Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

BETWEEN THE LINES - Ray Bowers takes an analytical and sometimes controversial look at the ATP/WTA professional tour.
 
PRO TENNIS SHOWCASE - Tennis match reports and photography from around the world.
 
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
 
TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
 
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
 
TENNIS SET - Jani Macari Pallis, Ph.D. looks at tennis science, engineering and technology.
 
MORTAL TENNIS - Greg Moran's tennis archive on how regular humans can play better tennis.
 
MENTAL EQUIPMENT - Explore the mental side of the game with Dr. John Murray.
 
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
 
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.
 
TENNIS EQUIPMENT TIPS.

Tennis Community Icon TENNIS COMMUNITY:


Tennis Book, DVD, and Video Index
 
Tennis Server Match Reports
 
Editor's Letter
 
Become a Tennis Server Sponsor

Explore The Tennis Net Icon EXPLORE THE TENNIS NET:

Pro Tennis Calendar & Event Links
 
Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
 
Tennis Links on the Web
 
nodot
Between The Lines By Ray Bowers
 
Green Dot
 
Tennis Warehouse Logo
 
Green Dot

 
nodot
Tennis Nations 2004

Ray Bowers Photo
Ray Bowers

Davis Cup was once the most valued prize in world tennis. Among fandom worldwide, a nation's Cup prospects required year-round attention. Youths everywhere dreamed of representing their country in Cup play.

It to the sport's credit that the annual Cup competition survived the transition to Open tennis. But in the ensuing system of player professionalism, where performances at other events directly determined a player's income, player commitments to Cup play were inevitably weakened. Players now receive direct pay for their Cup appearances, but the amounts scarcely equate to the physical and emotional expenditures made by the top pros. Amid careers where players constantly face problems of injury, breakdown, and fatigue, Davis Cup asks a lot.

In this column we survey recent results in Davis and Fed Cup play and also in other forms of competition between tennis nations. An early look at the coming summer Olympics is offered.

DAVIS CUP 2004

Early April brought the year's second big Davis Cup weekend, including twenty-odd meetings among the zonal-group nations competing for promotion to higher groups. But the weekend's prime attractions were the head-to-head meetings among the still-surviving World Group nations--the eight winners of earlier first-round play:

France 3, Switzerland 2. As expected, Federer captured two singles wins against visiting France, both in three straight sets, but the Swiss team could not muster a third win. In the fifth and deciding match, Escude defeated Kratochvil in consecutive sets, two of them tiebreakers.

USA 4, Sweden 1. Andy Roddick won two singles matches, both in straight sets. The Bryan twins dominated in the doubles, where Bjorkman's partner, Thomas Johansson, seemed overmatched. (Absent because of injury was Joachim Johansson, who had partnered Bjorkman in defeating Arthurs-Woodbridge in Sweden's February victory over Australia.) Bjorkman battled well in singles, defeating Mardy Fish in the opening match and carrying Andy to a first-set tiebreaker on Sunday. At the end, Jonas seemed overtaxed.

Spain 4, Netherlands 1. Playing outdoors on Mallorcan clay, both Moya and Ferrero won first-day's singles matches for the favored Armada. But the visitors won the doubles, Verkerk and van Lottum recovering from two sets down, and then Verkerk took the lead over Ferrero, two sets to one. But the reigning Garros champion then closed out matters over the perhaps overworked Netherlander.

Belarus 5, Argentina 0. Lacking Top Tenners Coria and Nalbandian because of injuries, Argentina was defeated on carpet by host Belarus. Having seen Agustin Calleri brilliantly defeat Agassi at Key Biscayne just ten days before, I was surprised when Vladimir Voltchkov, 31, who has fallen out of the world's top hundred, lost only nine games in defeating Calleri in the opening match.

Looking ahead to the September semis, Roddick and cast should be successful against visiting Belarus on any surface. Likewise host nation Spain should be favored over France. The probable Cup final between Spain and U.S., then, will be played on Spanish clay, where the Armada has been almost invincible.

THE MAJOR TOURNAMENTS

The wandering pros are virtual citizens of the world, and many of them spend little time in their countries of origin. Some of them leave home prior to adolescence for extended tennis training in other lands. But both ATP and WTA continue to identify players by their tennis nationalities, presumably following each player's preference. Thus during tournaments, it is only a short step for us to count up match wins by country. The running count of each nation's singles and doubles victories serves to enliven matters as the tournament proceeds.

Last year, the U.S. was clearly the winner at this game. American players scored the most match victories at three of the four 2003 Slams and also at five of the ten Masters tournaments. Some of the exceptions were on clay--Spain won at Garros, Monte Carlo, and Rome, and Argentina won at the German Open, where four Argentine players filled the singles semis. Late in the year, the French contingent won the most matches at the Paris Indoor Masters, and the Spanish contingent won at the Madrid Indoors. The U.S. prevailed at the year-end event, Masters Cup, with Agassi, Roddick, and the Bryans contributing strongly.

Strength in numbers helped the American cause in the above successes, but that was not the whole story, as several other nations had comparable depth. (At year's end Spain had 13 players ranked in the world's top hundred, followed by France and U.S., each with 11. Czech Republic had the most players (8) in the doubles top fifty.)

American success continued into the new year, when at Australian Open 2004 the Yanks recorded 27.5 match victories. France was second with 20 wins followed closely by Argentina and Spain. The Bryan brothers reached the doubles final thereby contributing five wins to the American cause, while Agassi reached the semis and Roddick the quarters in singles. It was the third straight year that the U.S. contingent won the most matches at Australian Open. (Back in 2001 the Australians scored the most wins behind broad success in early-round doubles.)

The Americans again prevailed in the 2004 Masters events at Indian Wells and Key Biscayne. At the latter, Andy Roddick contributed six wins in capturing the singles, and the Bryans added three more in doubles. Argentina had the second-best count. Vince Spadea's quarter-final victory over Argentine player Calleri was an important step toward the U.S. margin.

The European clay season promised strong competition among the contingents of Spain, Argentina, and France. Monte Carlo Open began with some spirited qualifying-round play, resulting in a total of 11 Spanish, 11 Argentine, and 13.5 French entries into the main draws of singles and doubles. Our tally of wins, which began with the main draws on Monday, remained close until Wednesday afternoon, when Argentina clearly began to pull ahead. On Thursday evening the Argentine lead over second-place Spain was now nearly conclusive--14-10 in match wins. Coria and Nalbandian had reached the quarters in singles and Etlis-Rodriguez the semis in doubles. Then Coria and Etlis-Rodriguez both won on Friday, sealing the verdict. Coria went on to win the tournament.

Argentina and Spain were accordingly the clear favorites to succeed at the forthcoming Italian, German, and French Opens, all on clay.

THE WOMEN'S TOUR

The usual dominance of the American women had been broken at U.S. Open 2003, where in the absence of the Williams sisters the Russian women outscored the Americans in match wins, 35-31. Although Belgian superstars Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters both reached the singles final, Belgium's match total was only fourth best, just behind third-place France.

With the new year, 2004, came several close tallys. With Serena still sidelined at Australian Open 2004, the Russian women narrowly won the most matches, score 31.5 to 30.5 over the Americans. The verdict swung on the final match of the mixed doubles, where Russia's Bovina (with Zimonjic) defeated the U.S.'s Navratilova (with Paes), thus averting a 31-all final tally. The year's first Tier One followed, in Tokyo, where Lindsay Davenport won the singles and led in producing a strong American margin. But the margin was again narrow at Indian Wells, where the Russians--lifted by good first-round strength in singles--scored 24 wins against 23 by the Americans. Then at Key Biscayne, both nations won exactly 26.5 matches. Serena Williams's victory over Dementieva in the singles final equalized the outcome. The American players then prevailed comfortably at Charleston behind Venus, who won the singles, and Navratilova-Raymond, runner-ups in doubles.

FED CUP FIRST ROUND

Last year, Fed Cup ended disappointingly when none of the current Belgian or American singles superstars participated in the semis and final in Moscow. The French team, with Mauresmo and Pierce, defeated Russia in their semi-final engagement and then defeated the U.S. team in the final.

Opening round of Fed Cup 2004 was played the third weekend of April. Eight nations survived including the four prime favorites--U.S., Russia, Belgium, and France. Winning two meaningful singles matches in the prime-nation victories were Venus Williams of U.S., Amelie Mauresmo of France, and Kim Clijsters of Belgium. The other four winning nations, each led by a player recording two singles wins were Spain (led by Martinez), Austria (Schett), Argentina (Suarez), and Italy (Schiavone). The only player during the weekend to win three meaningful matches--two singles and one doubles--was Conchita Martinez, who won Wimbledon in 1994 and has now at 32 seemingly rekindled her career. In the U.S.-Slovenia meeting the concluding doubles was meaningless to the team outcome, but the win by Navratilova-Raymond extended Martina's undefeated career record in Fed Cup singles and doubles.

The second round will take place just after Wimbledon. The four prime nations will again be favored to advance, though all four will be playing away from homeland.

THE 2004 OLYMPICS

This year's calendar includes an extra event having strong national-team flavor. The Olympics tennis will be played in Athens, August 15-22. There will be a 64-player draw in both men's and women's singles and a 32-pair draw in men's and women's doubles. A nation can be represented by a maximum of four players in each singles draw and two pairs in each doubles. Nations will select their own teams, and the existing pro rankings will be used in determining placement in the draws except that players from a given nation will be placed in separate quarters. Losing semi-finalists will play for third-place bronze medals. There will be no mixed-doubles event. The traditional gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded.

At the Olympics in Australia four years ago, the nation winning the most men's matches was Spain, lifted by Corretja-Costa's bronze medal in doubles and Ferrero's three wins in singles. Among the women, the U.S. won the most matches by far, led by singles champion Venus Williams and doubles winners Venus and Serena.

Tennis in the Olympics seems to grow in prestige, so that most of the world's top players will probably compete this summer. To my regret the player pool for the Legg Mason here in Washington, held the same week, will be diminished.

JUST AHEAD

The coming month of May will bring the German and Italian Opens, both on clay, where the Spanish and Argentine men and the Russian and American women can be expected to vie for match-win honors. World Team Cup follows--a one-week men's team event on clay among eight leading nations. Garros starts late in the month.

It will be interesting in December to look back on the year's major tournament, Cup, and Olympic results in search of a champion nation for the year. We will also choose our Pro Tennis Nation of the Year, where we reserve the option of picking the nation whose successes and contributions during the year seem largest in proportion to population.

--Ray Bowers

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Between The Lines Archives:
1995 - May 1998 | August 1998 - 2003 | 2004 - 2014


If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here. You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis Server and news of new columns posted on our site.

This column is copyrighted by Ray Bowers, all rights reserved.

Following interesting military and civilian careers, Ray became a regular competitor in the senior divisions, reaching official rank of #1 in the 75 singles in the Mid-Atlantic Section for 2002. He was boys' tennis coach for four years at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Virginia, where the team three times reached the state Final Four. He was named Washington Post All-Metropolitan Coach of the Year in 2003. He is now researching a history of the early pro tennis wars, working mainly at U.S. Library of Congress. A tentative chapter, which appeared on Tennis Server, won a second-place award from U.S. Tennis Writers Association.

Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to Ray by using this form.


 

nodot
nodot
Google
Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
 
Wimbledon Tickets 6/22-7/6
 
Rogers Cup Tickets Toronto 8/4-8/10
 
Western & Southern Open Tickets Cincinnati 8/9-8/17
 
US Open Tickets 8/25-9/8
 

 

Tennis MindGame

 
Popular Tennis books:
 
Smart Tennis by John Murray
 
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis-Lessons from a Master by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
 
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald
 
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
 
Most Recent Articles:
 
Tennis Warrior: Who's in Charge on the Tennis Court? You or Your Emotions? by Tom Veneziano.
 
April 2014 Tennis Anyone: Set, Lay, Press and Brush by John Mills.
 
April 2014 Turbo Tennis: The Concept Of Control In Tennis by Ron Waite.
 
April 2014 Wild Cards: Revenge of the Yankees! Great Britain Dominates The U.S. In San Diego by Vince Barr.
 
April 7, 2014 Between The Lines: Becoming A Superstar -- Risers Of First Trimester 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
March 2014 Turbo Tennis: Seven Universal Strategies, Tactics and Tennis Principles by Ron Waite.
 
March 2014 Tennis Anyone: Position of Receiver's Partner by John Mills.
 
Tennis Warrior: Coping with adversity in tennis by Tom Veneziano.
 
March 2, 2014 Between The Lines: The Power Nations In Pro Tennis by Ray Bowers.
 
December 2013 Wild Cards: Tennis Channel's Top 100 Players Of All Time List Constitutes A Double Fault! by Vince Barr.
 

 

 

 

 
 
Featured events in the Tennis Server Ticket Exchanges:
 
  Featured Tickets:
BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells CA Tennis Garden
Sony Open Tennis Tickets Miami Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
 

  Featured Tickets:
AT&T National Golf Tickets Bethesda MD Washington DC Congressional Country Club
US Senior Open Golf Tickets Omaha NE Omaha Country Club
Bridgestone Invitational Golf Tickets Akron OH Firestone Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
Dick's Sporting Goods Open & Tim McGraw Tickets Endicott NY Enjoie Golf Course
Solheim Cup Tickets Parker Denver CO Colorado Golf Club
2013 Presidents Cup Tickets Dublin Columbus OH Muirfield Village Golf Course
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Augusta GA National Golf Club
2014 US Open Golf Tickets Pinehurst NC Resort
2014 Ryder Cup Tickets Auchterarder Scotland UK Gleneagles Golf Course

  Featured Tickets:
PGA Championship Golf 7 Day Pass Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Monday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Tuesday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Wednesday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Thursday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Friday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Saturday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Sunday Final Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club

  Featured Tickets:
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Sunday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Saturday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Friday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Thursday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets 4 Four Day Badge Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Wednesday Practice Round Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Tuesday Practice Round Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Monday Practice Round Augusta GA National Golf Club

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Golf Tickets Final Round Sunday Fourth 4th Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Third 3rd Round Saturday Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Second 2nd Round Friday Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets First 1st Round Thursday Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Wednesday Practice Round Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Tuesday Practice Round Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Monday Practice Round Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Weekly Pass Tickets Pinehurst NC Resort 2014

 
 
"Tennis Server" is a registered trademark and "Tennis Server INTERACTIVE" is a trademark of Tennis Server. All original material and graphics on the Tennis Server are copyrighted 1994 - by Tennis Server and its sponsors and contributors. Please do not reproduce without permission.

 

Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
Editor-in-chief
2323 Clear Lake City Boulevard
Suite 180-139
Houston, Texas 77062-8120
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Fax: (281) 480-7715
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy