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Between The Lines
January 11, 2008 Article

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Between The Lines By Ray Bowers
 
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Preview: Australia 08
by Ray Bowers

Ray Bowers Photo
Ray Bowers

The terms Slam and Grand Slam came to tennis in the 1930s from the popular game of bridge. From the start, the Australian championships were one of the four Slam tournaments, even though the slowness of surface travel to Australia hitherto limited player entries from abroad. By World War II only three players from Europe or America had yet captured the Australian men's championships--Borotra in 1928, Perry in 1934, and Budge in his Grand Slam year of 1938. After the war, home-player dominance persisted as Australian stars won the tournament in 20 of the first postwar 23 renditions. That pattern began to change starting in 1969 when pros were first admitted to the tournament, which was thereafter known as Australian Open. No Australian male has won the event since 1976.

In 1988 the Open moved to its current site, now called Melbourne Park, and the playing surface, which had always been grass, was changed to Rebound Ace, an artificial material whose rubberized content gave mild cushioning. A relatively slow bounce was sought with the idea of equalizing matters between players having strong groundstrokes, typically players raised on clay, and those strong-serving, net-playing stars who were at their best on nonclay. But the high traction needed to give the slow bounce, along with the stickiness that came with midsummer heat, led to an inordinate number of ankle and leg injuries. The Rebound Ace topmost-layer mix was therefore altered over the years, reducing the traction, so that the bounce speed at Melbourne Park became only slightly slower than at U.S. Open and most other hard-court events.

Since last year's tournament the courts have been rebuilt using Plexicushion Prestige--an acrylic surface having less rubber and more consistency in playing characteristics. With Plexicushion, as with Rebound Ace, the speed of the bounce is tailored by adjusting the composition of the topmost layer. Public statements by officials indicate that a slightly faster, slightly lower bounce than before has been sought, reducing the foot traction.

Meanwhile a larger trend is becoming evident in men's tennis. The top players from the traditional clay-court regions--Spain, continental Europe, and South America--are becoming stronger on fast surfaces. The extreme-topspin, backcourt style that once characterized players from these regions is now rarely seen in pure form. Stars like Nalbandian, Gonzalez, Ferrer, and Gasquet seem equally comfortable on fast hard courts as on clay. Meanwhile our calculations show the same tendency, where Garros and the other leading clay events have in the last two years more closely predicted the major nonclay tournaments, including Australian Open, than they had previously.

Pre-tournament temperatures at Melbourne soared this week. Many players supported the new rule, where matches at the Open will be temporarily halted at the end of a set when heat becomes excessive. (Previously, matches once started were not interrupted.) Also, play can be moved into the Laver or Vodaphone arenas, both of which have retractable roofs.

As always, the tournament promises high drama. For participating players at all levels, every contest presents a critical test in ones personal career, the world watching. Tennis writers and analysts can expect a feast of riches--countless subplots as the grand theater unfolds. But almost certainly, interest will be widest on the tournament's implications for Roger Federer's journey to all-time greatness.

ROGER AND THE GRAND SLAM

The Grand Slam in tennis is among the rarest achievements in men's sports. The winning of all four Slams in a single calendar year was first attained by Budge in 1938 and then by Laver in 1962. In both these cases, however, a number of high-level superstars--all of them probably stronger than anyone in the remaining opposition--were absent. (Perry and Vines were barred as pros in 1938, as were Rosewall, Hoad, Gimeno, and Gonzales in 1962. Also absent in 1938 was von Cramm, imprisoned by the Nazis.) Thus Rod Laver's 1969 Grand Slam is alone undiminished by such considerations.

Roger Federer came close to winning all four Slams in 2006 and 2007, when in both years he captured the three nonclay Slams and reached the final at Garros. Over the past 48 months, Roger has won eleven of the last twelve nonclay Slams, a monumental run of success bearing comparison with the best four-year period of any player in tennis history. He is now aged 26, only slightly older than the statistical age of peak results in Slams.

Federer is assuredly the favorite to win the forthcoming Australian Open. But his chances at Melbourne Park are probably not as strong as his four-year record suggests. His late tournament preparation was interrupted by a stomach virus, which kept him out of his accustomed tune-up at Kooyong Classic, Melbourne, last week. More significantly, it is unmistakable that 2007 brought a drop-off in Roger's dominance on nonclay surfaces. During the year he lost six matches in nonclay prime events, against a total of only six such losses in the three preceding years. Further, Roger's losses became more frequent late in the year. (Following his triumph at U.S. Open, he lost at both Madrid and Paris indoors, he lost in the round-robin phase at Masters Cup to Gonzalez, and he lost to Pete Sampras in their last exhibition, played in Macau.) While it remains almost axiomatic that Roger at his very best will always defeat any opponent, it has seemed increasingly difficult for Roger consistently to summon his very best. It also appears that the depth and quality of his opposition is improving, especially among the younger group.

A way of quantifying Roger's chances to win Australia 08 is to take his match-winning percentage in major nonclay events--i.e., slightly over 90%, an average of his four-year and one-year records--and raising this value to the seventh power. (To win Australia he must win seven straight matches.) By doing so we reach a probability of 0.50, or even odds, for Roger to triumph at Melbourne Park, a value reasonably consistent with subjective evaluation.

Looking farther ahead, Roger's chances at both Wimbledon and U.S. Open should be about the same as at Australia, i.e. 50%, while at Garros somewhat less so. Overall, then, his chances for winning all four Slams this year are about one in twenty. Meanwhile Roger is very aware that 2008 is an Olympic year. No player has ever achieved the "Golden Slam"--winning all four Slams plus the Olympic crown in a given year. Roger's chances for the Golden Slam are quite long although finite, probably about one in forty. If he succeeds, there could be little argument that it would be the supreme achievement in men's tennis history.

THE CONTENDERS

Listed here are the top contenders for Australia 08, as identified by our calculations, which weight recent results. Our list deviates from the list of official seeds, mainly in moving Nalbandian and Murray into the top eight, displacing Gasquet and Gonzalez, and also in raising Berdych to #9. Shown are our raw scores ("Sc") along with each player's calculated odds for winning the tournament. (See the footnote on the calculations.)

#1. Federer, raw score Sc 6.37, odds even.

#2. Nadal, Sc 4.30, odds 5-1. Rafa's success on nonclay seemed to peak in reaching the final at Wimbledon 07. He then lost to Ferrer at U.S. Open, to Nalbandian at Madrid and Paris indoors, and to Ferrer and Federer at Masters Cup.

#3. Djokovic, Sc 4.02, odds 7-1. The fast and powerful Serb youth, now 20, reached the final at U.S. Open 07 but then sagged late in the year. He won four matches at Hopman Cup last week without loss.

#4. Davydenko, Sc 2.88, odds 24-1. An excellent mover and stroker whose 2007 was clouded by suspicion of purposely losing in a European tournament. He failed to reach the final four at Masters Cup and played only doubles in Russia's final-round meeting with U.S. in Davis Cup. Seems slightly over-ranked here.

#5. Ferrer, Sc 2.83, odds 26-1. His wonderfully balanced game jelled splendidly starting in late summer, carrying him to the final match at Masters Cup 07. Started 2008 at Auckland this week with two wins and a loss.

#6. Roddick, Sc 2.73, odds 31-1. Has reached the semis three times at Melbourne Park, losing last year to Federer by one-sided scores. His superb performance in 2007 Davis Cup action carried into the final-round victory over Russia in September. Andy won the Kooyong Classic tune-up in both 2005 and 2006, and he won his first two matches there this week. Appears under-rated here.

#7. Nalbandian, 2.59, odds 40-1. Rose powerfully in late 2007, capturing Madrid and Paris indoors. Did not play at Masters Cup but won the Copa Argentina at Buenos Aires Tennis Club in mid-December, defeating Horna, Chela, and Monaco without losing a set. After withdrawing from Kooyong Classic this week with severe back pain, he expressed doubt as to his ability to play in the Open.

#8. Murray, 2.07, odds 124-1. Held back with injuries in 2007. Won the tune-up tournament at Doha last week, showing a win over Davydenko. Lost then to Safin but beat Ljubicic at Kooyong. At age 20, a contemporary and near-equal of Djokovic, with comparable mobility and power.

#9 Berdych 2.04, odds 133-1. Tall and strong at age 22, with excellent power and good movement. Won three times at Melbourne last year before losing to Davydenko in four sets. Started the New Year well with two wins at Hopman Cup without loss and two wins and a loss in the Sydney tune-up.

all others, odds 170-1 or longer.

PROSPECTIVE OVERACHIEVERS

An interesting exercise is to pick out players likely to exceed the computer's expectations--the tournament's possible overachievers. At last year's Australian Open the most-overachieving player was tenth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, whose always powerful game suddenly acquired a high level of control and consistency. Gonzalez compiled six consecutive victories including a win over Nadal enroute to a final-round meeting with Federer. Almost as high an overachiever was the American Mardy Fish, who although unseeded won four matches, upsetting Ljubicic and Ferrer, to reach the quarters.

Except for his recent back trouble, the player in best position to duplicate Gonzalez's run of 2007 appeared to be Argentine star David Nalbandian. David, like Gonzalez last year, is officially seeded just outside the first eight (though our calculations place him inside). Other plausible overachievers, all well outside the first eight, are Monaco, Stepanek, and Andreev. A fourth-round meeting between Monaco and Federer looms. Andreev shows little recent success but has reasonable fourth-round prospects against Murray.

The list of unseeded players contains several who seem underrated. A prime prospect is teen-ager Juan del Potro. Also unseeded is Mardy Fish, who played well at Hopman Cup last week, has a relatively favorable place in the draw, and could conceivably repeat his overachievements of last year. Safin is also unseeded, almost incredibly, but served warning by defeating Murray this week at Kooyong. To be watched is Melbourne-born Chris Guccione, age 20 at height 6-7, who in turn defeated Hewitt, Berdych, and Stepanek in reaching the final this week at Sydney.

We next offer predictions for the four quarters of the draw. Players are listed in order of official seed. Shown are raw scores Sc from our calculations.

PREDICTIONS: ROGER'S QUARTER

Federer Sc 6.37, Gonzalez 1.86, Blake 1.82, Berdych 2.04, Ljubicic 1.50, Monaco 1.17, Verdasco 1.21, Almagro 1.18. Unseeded: Santoro 0.82, Guccione 0.38, Isner 0.25. None of the above should seriously threaten the champion, whose itinerary to the final four seems nicely designed to offer progressively more dangerous opponents. Roger will probably meet Berdych in the fourth round and last year's finalist Gonzalez in the quarters. It is not the easiest possible draw for Roger but neither is it the most difficult. Federer should advance.

SECOND QUARTER

Djokovic 4.02, Ferrer 2.83, Nalbandian 2.59, Hewitt 1.79, Ferrero 1.44, Baghdatis 1.54, Stepanek 1.23, Tursunov. Unseeded: del Potro 1.49, Safin 0.89. Novak Djokovic should be safe through the third round, whereupon looms Baghdatis. (Marcos defeated Gonzalez and Davydenko this week at Kooyong but must face Safin in the second round at Melbourne Park.) Djokovic has the firepower to move through either Baghadatis, Safin, or Hewitt, however, then to face either Ferrer or Nalbandian in the quarters. The injury problems that limited Djokovic's serving effectiveness in the Hopman Cup final suggest vulnerabilities here.

Only occasionally have I successfully overturned the verdict of the calculations. In this case, however, if Nalbandian's back were not a question I would confidently choose the Argentine star to triumph in this quarter. David would then be a strong member of the final four, having defeated Federer twice in late 2007. But the current auspices are not good, including evidence from MRI. Thus the verdict of the computer shall stand, calling for Djokovic to claim his place in the semis.

THIRD QUARTER

Davydenko 2.88, Gasquet 1.96, Murray 2.07, Youzhny 1.85, Chela 1.58, Karlovic 1.22, Wawrinka 1.23, Andreev 0.63. Unseeded: Llodra 0.97. This is probably the weakest quarter, and it contains many possibilities for surprises. Karlovic's gigantic serve and Andreev's dominating forehand have occasionally produced astonishing victories in the past. Gasquet's picture backhand and Youzhny's solid determination also surely alert the favorite.

Among the top three, Murray is strong enough to prevail over higher-seeded but up-and-down performers Gasquet and Davydenko. Andy shows a recent win over Davydenko, at Doha last week, while Gasquet this week stumbled in Sydney. The Russian reached the quarters in each of the last three years, but although the evidence favoring Andy is thin, we here overrule the computations and choose Murray as this quarter's representative in the semis.

THE QUARTER OF NADAL AND RODDICK

Nadal 4.30, Roddick 2.73, Robredo 1.74, Moya 1.50, Clement 0.68, Mathieu 1.25, Nieminen 1.24, Kohlschreiber 0.99. Unseeded: Fish 0.98, Calleri. Can Roddick surmount Nadal despite the evidence of the computations? Roddick seems certain to reach the quarters, while Nadal must surmount ever-difficult Carlos Moya enroute. Nadal endured a long struggle with Moya at Chennai last week and then stumbled against Youzhny. With Andy likely to be the fresher player and also advantaged by the expected faster playing surface at Melbourne Park, we again overrule the computer, here choosing Roddick to be the survivor of their quarter-final meeting.

PREDICTION: FINAL FOUR

Roger's habitual success in the late stages of Slams should count heavily against youthful Djokovic, reconfirming his straight-set verdict in the final of U.S. Open 07. Opposing Roger in the final round will be Andy Roddick, the likely semi-final winner over Murray. But there can be little question that Roger will once again find a way to comfortably defeat the hard-serving American. It will be Federer fourth Australian crown, three of them in succession, and yet another important step to ultimate greatness.

THE WOMEN'S BIG THREE

Three female superstars, all former Australian Open champions, stand out as the prime candidates to capture this year's crown. Last year, the three together collected all four Slam titles as well as the year-ending championship. Two of them exhibited major health problems at the end of 2007, however.

The highest place in women's tennis today belongs to Justine Henin, 25, who remains apparently without health questions. Justine skipped Australia last year but thereafter claimed two Slam crowns, the year-ending championship at Madrid, and the year's overall #1 ranking. Smallish in stature, Justine's athletic ability and footwork allow her to answer the power of larger opponents with nearly equal velocity and with wondrous variety and control. Her stamina, which sometimes weakened following an extended illness several years ago, appeared satisfactory throughout 2007. Her mental strengths are already legend.

It may come as a surprise that Serena Williams, 26, amid seemingly endless injury problems, has captured Australian Open three times in the last five years. Unseeded at Melbourne Park last year after long spells of inactivity in 2005 and 2006, Serena appeared less overweight than before and showed little hint of her long-standing knee/leg troubles. Early-on at Melbourne, there were spells of lackluster play and excessive errors, but there were also runs of fierce attacking tennis as Serena willed her way to six consecutive victories.

Throughout her final-round showdown against Maria Sharapova, Serena was the ruthless warrior of old, relentlessly forcing play in administering a one-sided defeat to the tournament favorite.

In now returning to Melbourne, Serena's talent and fighting spirit unquestionably remain, but the injuries that marred much of 2007 leave questions. Her anguished withdrawal during her first match at Madrid in November revealed that the knee or leg was far from right. But she then played well at Hopman Cup to start the New Year, looking strong and showing no physical problems in winning two singles and three mixed-doubles matches without loss.

If she is at her best, Serena should be at least equal with Justine. The two have evenly divided their twelve previous meetings, where the edge on nonclay surfaces is clearly Serena's. They met four times in 2007, Justine winning three including at U.S. Open.

Our third prime candidate is Venus Williams, 27, who missed Madrid in November while undergoing tests for dizziness. Strong performances last summer--wonderfully capturing Wimbledon and reaching the semis at U.S. Open--lifted her into the year-end top eight for the first time since 2002. Venus has played Justine only once in five years--in their semi-final at Flushing Meadow last summer, when Justine won by score 76 64. Venus's readiness for Melbourne was indicated by her success at the non-WTA tournament in Hong Kong last week. Venus won the event, defeating Maria Sharapova in a straight-set final while showing full power and accuracy.

No longer competing are two other former champions at Melbourne Park, both of them prominent at last year's event. Kim Clijsters, who won in 2004 and was a semifinalist last year, has now retired from competition at age 27. Meanwhile three-time champion Martina Hingis has also retired in conjunction with being banned from the sport for two years for cocaine use. The manner of her departure came as a dismal end to a career that began with three Slam crowns as a 16-year-old. It was barely a year ago when I chose Hingis runner-up to Federer as Player of the Year for 2006, recognizing Martina's splendid return from early retirement.

Two other former champions will be on the scene, however. Lindsay Davenport, 31, returns after giving childbirth in 2007, having shown good success in tournaments at the end of 2007 and early 2008. Meanwhile athletic Amelie Mauresmo, 28, who won the tournament two years ago, has been unable to attain her former level since returning from early-2007 surgery for appendicitis. Both Davenport and Mauresmo are unseeded owing to limited play in 2007.

THE CHALLENGERS

Strong-hitting Maria Sharapova, still just 20, will be favored over any opponent outside the big three. Unreliable serving troubled her often in 2007. The problem improved at year's end indoors at Madrid, where she won four matches against members of the world's top eight before losing to Henin in a close split-set final. Given the year-end break which provided time to heal the injuries that nearly kept Maria away from Madrid, Sharapova's power game seems ready to reach maturity. She won twice at Hong Kong last week including over Chakvetadze before losing to Venus. Her W-L record against the big three during 2007 was 1-4.

There is a substantial group of near-superstars, where each player at her best is extremely close to the primes and Sharapova. Foremost are two from Serbia and two from Russia--all of them top-eight finishers in 2007 and all age 22 or younger.

Currently the strongest of the group seems to be Ana Ivanovic, now 20, who showed a well-controlled power game and fine mobility in winning two round-robin matches in Madrid. Almost co-equal is Anna Chakvetadze, 20, who climbed upward throughout 2007 behind a delightful Hingis-like game based on movement and stroking that seemed to gain in power as the year unfolded. Meanwhile Jelena Jankovic, 22, finished the year higher ranked than either Anna or Ana but was disappointing in late-year play, which included a loss to Davenport and three losses in round-robin matches in Madrid. An injury in the hip area limited her singles play at Hopman Cup last week.

Also aged 22 is Svetlana Kuznetsova, already a veteran as a top-five finisher in three of the last four years but a three-match loser in the round-robin phase at Madrid 07. She began the New Year with two fine wins at the Sydney tune-up this week.

Two leading teen-agers are only slightly outside the above group. Nicole Vaidisova, at 6-0 and age 18, is a strong-minded hard-hitter, a semi-finalist at Melbourne last year and two years now in the world's second ten. Nicole defeated Jankovic in a close three-setter this week at Sydney. Tatiana Golovin, born in Moscow but of French tennis nationality, at 5-9 and age 19, is a stylist in her overall play with excellent movement. At about the same level at age 20 is Jerusalem-born Shahar Peer, who won a set from eventual-champion Serena in the quarter-finals last year.

Offered here are estimated odds for winning the Open.

Henin, odds 5-2
S. Williams and V. Williams, each 4-1
Sharapova, 15-1
Ivanovich and Kuznetsova, each 25-1
Jankovic, Chakvetadze, and Davenport, each 40-1
Vaidisova and Dementieva, each 60-1
Mauresmo and Hantuchova, each 80-1
Golovin, Peer, and all others, 100-1 or longer.

PICKING THE OVERACHIEVERS

Aside from Serena, who was unseeded in winning the tournament last year, the foremost unseeded overachiever was Lucie Safarova, then 19, who reached the final eight after defeating seeded players Schiavone and Mauresmo. Who are the entrants most likely to overachieve this year?

My suggestion will be to watch two prospective surprisers from China. That nation's effort to develop talent has produced early success in doubles along with an increasing presence in the late rounds of singles tournaments. Prominent is Li Na, age 25, who reached the final sixteen at Melbourne last year and who last week captured the tournament at Gold Coast. Peng Shuai, age 21 at height 5-8, played in the Hong Kong tune-up last week, losing to Venus and beating Ivanovic. Meanwhile, the list of young and rising players from Europe continues to grow, now featuring Tamira Paszek of Austria, 17, unseeded at Melbourne Park but a serious first-round problem for Jelena Jankovic. Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus, 18, reached the final at Gold Coast, losing to Li in split sets. Seeded, she represents the third-round opponent for Serena.

PREDICTIONS: JUSTINE'S QUARTER

This quarter is extremely potent, containing both Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova. Maria's second-round opponent should be Lindsay Davenport, who is probably the most dangerous unseeded player in the field and whose physical style will prevent Maria from dominating with her own power. Maria should advance but not far ahead will be a fourth-round meeting with Elena Dementieva--another power ground-stroker whose performance in recent months has been on the upswing. Maria's journey would become little easier if Elena stumbles enroute, conceivably to Shahar Peer, an under-21 player singled out earlier.

The upper half of the quarter of course belongs to Justine, whose fourth-round opponent should be Tatiana Golovin, another under-21 star. Justine should prevail to reach the predestined quarter-final showdown with Sharapova, who stretched Justine closely in the final at Madrid in November. It should be a memorable, indeed historic struggle, where Henin will prevail if she is at her best.

SERENA'S QUARTER

For a change Serena has received a reasonably happy draw, for once promising a path to the final four unbarred by Henin or sister Venus. Her quarter is littered with strong and interesting possible opponents--the likes of Nicole Vaidisova, Jelena Jankovic, and Amelie Mauresmo--but the reigning champion should be comfortably favored over all these. Jankovic is seeded higher than Serena but Jelena's recent results have not backed up this honor. Indeed, Jelena could have serious trouble against first-round opponent Paszek.

VENUS'S QUARTER

Note that two of our three primes and also Sharapova are all in the top half of the draw. The beneficiary of this imbalance is Venus Williams, whose big game should be too much for Sania Mirza of India in the third round and either Li Na or Marion Bartoli in the fourth. At the opposite end of the quarter is Ana Ivanovic, who is correctly ranked much higher than her foremost obstacle Dinara Safina. Venus defeated Ivanovic by comfortable scores at U.S. Open 07 and should do so again in their attractive quarter-final match-up here.

THE RUSSIAN QUARTER

The two favorites here, at opposite ends of the quarter, are Russian stars Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze. Kuznetsova, whose results have strengthened in recent weeks, should comfortably overcome fellow Russian player Nadia Petrova to reach the quarter-finals. Meanwhile Chakvetadze, whose results have slipped slightly, has the assignment of overcoming Daniela Hantuchova of Slovak Republic, who recently withdrew from the Hong Kong event with abdominal pain. In their expected quarter-final, Kuznetsova's relentless power should overcome Chakvetadze. The sense is strong that a career revival may be at hand for Svetlana.

FINAL FOUR

That slender Justine can continue to dominate women's tennis in 2007 against the potent and highly talented array in today's game almost defies logic. But again and again Justine seems always to find a way to defeat larger and stronger opponents. Can she summon the skill, the physical and athletic strengths, and above all the mental weaponry needed to defeat first Serena in the semis and then either Venus or Kuznetsova in the final?

We can expect to see soaring drama, tennis of the highest order, sporting combat of historic quality amid the majesty of the impending match-ups. It would not be surprising if all three matches among the final four are split-setters. The margins of difference in the semis and final seem faint. In my not-so-fearless opinion, in the semi-finals Venus will defeat Kuznetsova and Henin will defeat Serena.

Looking to a final-round meeting between Justine and Venus, instinct compels selecting the taller, stronger athlete--i.e., Venus. But until Justine's run of success that began in summer 2007 is broken, she will remain my favorite to prevail. It will be Justine's eighth Slam triumph.

THE TENNIS NATIONS

The run of the Russian women in scoring the most match wins at major tournaments will probably continue. Last year the Russkayas, boosted by Sharapova's six wins in reaching the singles final and the success of four others in reaching the round of 16 (Chakvetadze, Zvonareva, Kuznetsova, and Dementieva), scored more than twice as many match-wins as the second-place Americans (led by singles-champion Serena). The presence this year of veteran Americans Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport, both of whom missed last year, should make the running tally closer and more interesting. Serbia's strong twosome Ivanovic and Jankovic should score well but not well enough to threaten the leaders.

Last year the American males led in the final tally behind six wins by the Bryans in men's doubles along with good results in singles. (Roddick had five singles wins, Fish four, Blake three.) A moderate drop-off in these totals is conceivable this year, though there is also potential for improvement from Mike Bryan in mixed doubles, Sam Querrey in singles. The men's contingent from U.S.A. should again prevail.

Second-place France and third-place Spain could obtain greater contributions from several members of their deep arrays, but last year's margin in favor of the Americans appears too large (more than ten match-wins) to be overturned. Last year, Australia and Czech Republic were fourth and fifth in the men's tally, respectively, both showing excellent depth in doubles. Argentina and Russia have apparent singles depth sufficient to rise into this group.

Here's wishing a great tournament to all watchers worldwide.

FOOTNOTE:

In here predicting the men's singles at Australian Open 08, recent predictor events are weighted according to how closely their results over the past eight years correlated with results at succeeding Australian Opens. Listed here are the weights thus reached and now used here in the current prediction.

Australian Open 07, 9.8%
Indian Wells 07, 4.2%
Miami 07, 6.5%
Monte Carlo 07, 3.6%
Italy 07, 4.1%
Germany 07, 2.7%
Garros 07, 3.9%
Wimbledon 07, 8.0%
Canada 07, 6.4%
Cincinnati 07, 6.6%
U.S. Open 07, 11.8%
Madrid indoors 07, 9.1%
Paris indoors 07, 5.0%
Masters Cup 07, 15.7%
Australian tune-ups 08, 2.7%

In calculating the odds shown in the text, the raw scores Sc are calibrated to Federer's even odds and further adjusted to reach an overall probability of 1.0.

--Ray Bowers
Arlington, Virginia

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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.


 

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US Open Tickets 8/25-9/8
 
Davis Cup USA vs Slovakia Tickets Chicago 9/12-9/14
 
Swiss Indoors Tickets Basel 10/18-10/26
 
Australian Open Tickets Melbourne 1/19-2/1
 
BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells CA 3/11-3/22
 
Sony Open Tennis Tickets Miami 3/23-4/5
 

 

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:
 
August 21, 2014 Between The Lines: Preview U.S. Open 2014 -- Focus Youth Brigade by Ray Bowers.
 
August 2014 Wild Cards: The Tennis Round Table: Interviews With Jim Courier, Todd Martin & Mark Philippoussis in Arizona by Vince Barr.
 
Tennis Warrior: The Little Tennis Girl Who Could by Tom Veneziano.
 
August 2014 Tennis Anyone: Try To See The Big Picture by John Mills.
 
August 2014 Turbo Tennis: My Most Useful 'Quick Fix' Tips!!! by Ron Waite.
 
July 6, 2014 Between The Lines: Glory At Wimbledon 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
Tennis Warrior: The Great Tennis Divide by Tom Veneziano.
 
July 2014 Tennis Anyone: Prevention by John Mills.
 
July 2014 Turbo Tennis: Perfect Volleys by Ron Waite.
 
May 2014 Wild Cards: Michael Chang Wins Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Challenge in Arizona 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:
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 13 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 14 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 15 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 16 Finals W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 11 Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 10 Men's Second Round Women's Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 9 Men's Second Round Women's Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 8 Second Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis Session 13 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 3rd Round Women's Singles 4th Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 14 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 3rd Round Women's Singles 4th Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 15 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 4th Round Women's Singles Quarterfinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 16 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 4th Round Women's Singles Quarterfinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis Session 21 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Semifinals Women's Doubles Semifinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 22 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Semifinals Women's Doubles Semifinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 23 Tickets Miami Woman's Singles Final Men's Doubles Final Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 24 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Final Women's Doubles Final Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Great American Beer Festival Tickets Denver CO Colorado Convention Center

 
 
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