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Between The Lines By Ray Bowers
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U.S. Open 2011 Review
by Ray Bowers

Ray Bowers Photo
Ray Bowers

The sometimes windy but otherwise excellent weather of the first week turned to two days of rain starting Second Tuesday. Much re-scheduling and also extension of the tournament to a Third Monday became necessary. The crowds seemed patient amid the misery wrought by the storms. The National Tennis Center facilities seemed excellent, except that the Armstrong Stadium, the Center's second-largest in seating, became unusable owing to water seepage from beneath the court surface. Some television watchers were inconvenienced by a block-out of The Tennis Channel, though most prime matches were carried elsewhere.
The courts appeared of about the usual bounce speed. Service aces were slightly more frequent than the average of the previous five years (per points played, measured in the second week), while servers won points and games at slightly less than the usual percentage. Net approaches, though, were counted to be considerably more frequent than the average of the previous five years.
The final-round victory of ninth-seeded Samantha Stosur was both surprising and convincing. In contrast the triumph of Novak Djokovic was not surprising, and it also differed in the narrowness of the verdict. It was Novak's third Slam triumph of 2011, the fourth of his career.
Only three members of the top-seeded eight -- Wozniacki, Zvonareva, and Schiavone -- survived the first three rounds. Dismissed in the first week were the recent champions at Cincinnati (Maria Sharapova), Wimbledon (Petra Kvitova) , and Garros (Li Na). Kim Clijsters had withdrawn prior to the draw, so that Serena Williams was now the general favorite despite her low seeding. Serena in her third match faced fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka. Victoria had been nagged by physical problems in recent years, but she remained a powerful riser, especially on hard courts, her once-stormy temperament now overcome. At age 22, Victoria was more than seven years younger than Serena, nearly 30.
Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka, 61 76.
Serena started off superbly on this windy Saturday afternoon, clicking off the first set rapidly. But matters tightened thereafter, as it was Victoria who became the more powerful stroker and the better at avoiding error, even as Serena remained the stronger server and better mover. Late in the second set, Azarenka began a run of error-free power tennis that Serena failed to answer. As the set-ending tiebreak game then unfolded, the momentum seemed clearly with Victoria, who appeared the fresher and more confident player, the one less disturbed by the pressure.
There had been many thunderous exchanges before the highly energized crowd. The outcome of the tiebreaker was determined by several extremely close line calls requiring resolution by the electronic system. Fate favored Serena, who finally claimed her victory by winning her fifth match-point opportunity on a just-out bid for a winner by Victoria.
Victoria could take satisfaction in her composed, indeed brilliant second-set performance, which suggested that the greatness previously expected of her might now be near. Serena's close win could be taken in either of two ways -- as evidence of (1) readiness for a strong tournament finish or (2) vulnerability to a player only slightly stronger than Azarenka.
Caroline Wozniacki d. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 67 75 61
I had often seen it before. Wozniacki's ability when in trouble to step up her shot-making to a level of totally error-free tennis remains still astonishing.
On this Labor Day evening, a slimmed-down Svetlana Kuznetsova produced what seemed her absolute best tennis -- moving superbly to the ball, driving it to the corners and sides with sizzling deliveries, serving firmly, and attacking Caroline's softish serve often irresistibly. Svetlana won the first set and sped to a 4-1 lead in set two and ahead 40-15, just five points from victory.
But from then on Caroline entered her air-tight tennis mode -- yielding almost no errors, stinging her shots often close to the lines, especially with her backhand two-hander. Many brilliant and extended exchanges ensued, but Caroline simply refused to lose points. Caroline saved the second set, and she collected the third set quickly amid Svetlana's growing tiredness.
The affair displayed Wozniacki's strengths -- the fine backhand, the excellent ability on the defensive, the superior physical stamina, and, especially, the superior mental focus in bearing down for victory. Unmistakable also was the improved weight of shotmaking by Caroline, who is now age 21 at height 5-10. Still evident, however, was her attackable serve and her preference for defensive play.
Serena began the delayed women's quarter-finals early Thursday against Anastasia Pavyuchenkova, a rising Russian player tall and strong at 5-10 and 159 pounds, age 20. It was a ragged performance by both players, who together failed to hold serve in the first six games of the match. But the American gradually asserted her expected dominance, greatly helped by her own defensive play against Anastasia's strong ground game and also by Anastasia's weak and erratic second-serving.
Meanwhile Samantha Stosur defeated higher-seeded Vera Zvonareva in straight sets. It was Sam's eighth-consecutive win in head-to-head meetings with Vera. Sam then lost a set against left-handed Angelique Kerber of Germany, age 23 at 5-8, but Sam was the more aggressive player and also the more opportune, winning 4 of 4 break points compared with Angelique's 3 of 12.
Stosur, ninth-seeded at age 26 and height 5-8, had been at the fringe of the elite realm for some time. Born in Brisbane, she attained early success as a pro in reaching world #1 ranking in doubles. Sidelined with Lyme disease she returned in 2008 and resumed her climb in singles, including reaching the final round at Garros 2010. Arm trouble intervened, and year 2011 had been disappointing, though she reached late rounds in the summer events in Canada and Cincinnati. Then at the Open, besides beating Zvonareva and Kerber, she also won three-setters against Petrova and Kirilenko.
Still there was little hint of what lay just ahead for Samantha, who had been relegated to the outside Grandstand for her semi-final against Kerber owing to the non-availability of Armstrong. Many more watchers, whether seated in Ashe Stadium or before the tv, instead saw the current world #1, Caroline Wozniacki, and the five-time U.S. Open champion, Serena Williams.
Serena Williams d. Caroline Wozniacki, 62 64
It was an intriguing show-down between the most forceful striker in women's tennis and its most consistent. The two had not met since 2009, when Wozniacki was still a teenager.
Caroline proved unable to hurt Serena given Caroline's lesser power and, especially, because of Serena's excellent court speed and agility. Meanwhile Caroline failed to react well to Serena's potent and deceptive serving, yielding the American a total of eleven aces and many returns of serve that were attackable. Serena's unforced errors came often enough to stir hopes for Caroline's supporters, but Caroline's inability to turn back Serena's frequent sorties to net behind hard-hit approach shots assured that the scoreboard stayed under Serena's control. It was an impressive verification of the playing strength of the American.
Samantha Stosur d. Serena Williams 62 63
I had watched Stosur in many engagements prior to the 2011 Open, but I cannot recall ever seeing her without the dark glasses that seemed to separate her from her surroundings. More importantly, I had never witnessed the complete arsenal of tennis skills that Sam unveiled on this final-round Sunday against Serena Williams, to wit:
--a severe spin serve
--a blistering forehand delivered with minimal backswing
--a serviceable and surprisingly firm backhand
--precision in placing her well-disguised forceful shots
--excellent anticipation and court mobility
--athletic body and racket quickness when under duress.
Meanwhile Serena was unable to find her best. Her usual power serving and stroking produced winning points only at substantial risk, and there were many Serena errors that were neither forcing nor forced. There was no run of successful net attacking, as there had been against Wozniacki. Then there came the unfortunate episode where Serena shouted in satisfaction upon executing what she thought was a winning shot but what proved to be within Samantha's reach. The ruling, which awarded the point to Sam, produced a tirade by Serena that seemed to help her play and hurt Sam's for the next few games. But Sam's superiority then returned, and Serena was badly beaten at the finish.
That Stosur could compete equally with Serena was a mild surprise. The completeness of her domination in all aspects was stunning.
Sam's triumph meant that the four Slams of 2011 had been won by four different women. Ahead remained only three more prime events -- the Premium Five in Tokyo, the Premium Mandatory at Beijing, and the Year-End in Istanbul. Thus the year-to-date standings now strongly predicted the likely final ranking for the full year. Shown here are the year-to-date Top Six, annotated with each member's prime achievements of 2011:
1. Caroline Wozniacki, 7,175 points (won Indian Wells and Dubai)
2. Maria Sharapova, 6,145 (won Rome and Cincinnati, 2nd at Wimbledon)
3. Li Na, 5,347 (won Garros, 2nd at Australian Open)
4. Petra Kvitova, 5,292 (won Wimbledon, Madrid)
5. Victoria Azarenka. 5,057 (won Miami)
6. Samantha Stosur, 4,925 (won U.S. Open)
Wozniacki has earned at least 100 ranking points in fifteen different events, four more than the average of the others listed here. Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams, both sidelined for much of the year, are both in the Second Six.
Late last April our computer chose seven male and seven female players as the game's foremost current risers. Its selections were made by comparing each players performance in 2011's first trimester against his or her previous best level. A predicted ranking covering the next twelve months was also determined, introducing adjustments for player age and height. Now, five months later, we review our initial watch list to see how its members have fared since April.
Topping our April list as the most-pronounced riser was the tallish German star Andrea Petkovic, 23, whose current 12-month ranking was #15. Our method predicted that her rank over the next twelve months would be #8. After April Andrea then performed only moderately well on clay including at Garros, where she reached the final eight. Better results followed in the summer, when she attained the final eight in Canada and final four in Cincinnati. She then won her first four matches at the Open, successfully defending her seed, but then lost fairly closely to Wozniacki. She ranks at #11 for the period since the April prediction.
Next behind Andrea in our calculation was Peng Shuai, age 25 at height 5-8, who was then ranked #30 officially but predicted by our scheme to achieve a ranking of #11 twelve months later. Shuai subsequently largely fulfilled our expectations, reaching the final eight in Cincinnati and winning three matches at the Open, including over Julia Goerges prior to a heartbreaking loss to Pennetta.
Our third-place riser back in April was Julia Goerges, 22. The strong-serving German star was then ranked #27 and projected for #14 one year later. She subsequently reached the final four in the Premium Mandatory clay-court tournament in Madrid. Later in Canada she defeated Jankovic and took Serena Williams to a second-set tiebreak. At the Open she lost to Peng, noted above, so that her ranking for the period since April is #28 -- disappointing compared with the prediction.
The highest success of a watch-list member has been that of Petra Kvitova, 20 at height 6-0, who was officially ranked #19 in April and was here targeted for #10 one year hence. Behind her superb left-handed serving and an all-around power game, Petra then became champion of Wimbledon 2011, defeating Azarenka in the semis and Sharapova in the final. Her results since then have been less than brilliant, however, and she lost in the first round at U.S. Open. Her Wimbledon triumph lifts her to #3 in results since April.
The other three members of the April watch list -- Canada's Rebecca Marino, Japan's Ayumi Morita, and Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski -- have had trouble scoring main-tour wins, typically losing early-round matches to seeded players. Morita did defeat Ivanovic at Stanford but then was sidelined with an injured ankle. All three are aged 21 or younger.
Our second watch list, compiled in early August, was derived from improved performance in the year's second trimester. Several selectees have shown good success in the short period since. Roberta Vinci defeated Wozniacki at Toronto and won two matches at the Open. Sabine Lisicki won the Texas Open in Dallas and then defeated Venus Williams in winning three matches at the Open. American Sloane Stephens, 18, won two matches at the Open, including against seeded-player Peer, before losing to Ivanovic.
I hope that monitoring our watch lists will help readers in recognizing and then tracking likely future superstars.
The Big Four males reaffirmed their dominance in the first week, though not without some difficult moments. Defending champion Rafael Nadal was pressed by Andrey Golubev as the Russian-born player, now from Kazakhstan, rocketed many forehand and backhand winners but a greater number of unforced errors. Rafa next beat Nalbandian amid high humidity on Sunday, but the effort led to severe cramping in Rafa's legs in the press room afterwards. Meanwhile Roger Federer lost a set amid a stretch of outstanding striking by Marin Cilic, but in scoring his three wins Roger seemed otherwise never in danger.
Andy Murray in his first match was forced to a first-set tiebreaker, beating Devvarman in straight sets. But Andy next faced bigger trouble against 6-3 Robin Haase, 24, whose heavy and accurate forehand carried the Netherlander to a two-set lead. Andy's fine defensive abilities staved off further disaster until Haase's dominance ultimately faded.
Thus the most impressive Big Four member in the first week was top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who showed no evidence of his recent shoulder trouble. Three other stand-outs, each with the skills and weaponry to threaten the Big Four, also remained among the final sixteen. Always dangerous was David Ferrer, who was bracketed to meet Nadal in the quarter-finals. So too was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, equipped with magnificent power, athleticism, and a variety of shot-making skills. A relative newcomer to the upper echelon was American Mardy Fish, a recent riser at age 29, who had lately shed twenty pounds and improved in agility and skill. Tsonga and Fish met in the fourth round on Monday, Labor Day, amid high winds that made precision play difficult.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Mardy Fish, 64 67 36 46 62
Tsonga took the first set when Mardy twice double-faulted late in the set. The second set reached tiebreak, Mardy narrowly prevailing amid a consistent run of serve-returns and plenty of skill and courage in attacking net. Mardy was at his best in the third set, returning serve with relentless consistency and good placement, ripping his backhand two-hander with accuracy and deception, and showing his best forecourt game. Early in the fourth set Jo-Wilfried seemed vulnerable, sailing too many shots outside the lines. But he found his biggest and best game midway in the set, breaking at four-games-all.
The change in momentum had come quickly, and in the fifth set, Jo-Wilfried continued his recent heavy bombardment, striking relentlessly and with extreme avoidance of error. Mardy received a trainer visit for leg trouble, and a limp seen earlier returned. After that, Jo-Wilfried refused to relinquish the momentum seen on the scoreboard, sustaining -- indeed intensifying -- his serving and stroking power. It had been a superb fourth-rounder, played at high level despite the difficult wind,
After two days of rain, a spell of sunshine on Thursday allowed simultaneous resumption of the four remaining men's fourth-round matches. For one set, the strong serving and aggressive net attacking of tall and strong Gilles Muller severely pressed Rafael Nadal. But late in the first set, Rafa unveiled his best tennis, delivering a host of gallery-delighting counter-blows that forced matters to tiebreaker. Rafa then swept through the tiebreak game quickly and sped to an early lead in the next set, effectively ending matters. Meanwhile Andy Murray comfortably dominated American Donald Young.
American underdogs won the last two fourth-rounders. Andy Roddick reversed a recent loss to Spanish star David Ferrer in Davis Cup play. Andy served and stroked well, while David seemed unable to summon the relentless pressure shown in their Cup meeting. Meanwhile John Isner defeated surging French star Gilles Simon in four sets, John winning three of them in tiebreakers. Almost as dazzling as John's ever-potent serving was the extreme power and accuracy of John's forehand, which with little forewarning often ended points or captured the initiative.
The quarter-finals began a few minutes later. Janko Tipsarevic at 5-11 was hardly a big man among today's stars, but he played like one for more than two hours in nonstop toe-to-toe action against top-ranking Novak Djokovic. Janko's serving and all-court attacking kept things even as the two Belgrade-born players divided the tiebreakers ending the first two sets, energizing the gallery amid the furious action. Janko had shown good results during the summer, including a final-four finish in Montreal, and had defeated Berdych earlier in the week. But determination had its limits, and Novak's superiority in almost every measure finally told. After reaching one-set-all, a now-worn Janko would not win another game before resigning.
Later Roger Federer underlined his impressive performances to date with a straight-set triumph over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who had twice beaten Roger earlier this year. Roger again showed little interest in passive hitting, and he served and stroked with power and severe spin from the outset. Meanwhile Rafael Nadal dismissed Andy Roddick without difficulty.
Andy Murray d. John Isner, 75 64 36 76
It was the game's best server against probably its best serve-returner. John Isner as usual served spectacularly well, while Andy Murray returned John's serves often enough and well enough to deny John much of his customary advantage when serving. Historically over the last five years, servers in the second week of the Open have won 63.9% of their serving points. On this afternoon against Murray, Isner's percentage was 65.9%, suggesting that John had slightly the better in their serving vs. serve-returning confrontation. (In the reverse comparison, Murray's serving far surpassed Isner's returning, as Andy won 73.9% of his serving points.)
In the first set John forced his way to net regularly, sometimes in the face of what seemed an unfavorable situation. Meanwhile Murray, whose shot-making arsenal is large, consistently failed to produce the needed passing-shot winner. But late in the set Andy finally scored a critical pass, setting up matters for the set's only break of serve, won by Murray. Several more successful passes by Andy seemed to deter John from further net attacking in the second set, and Andy's error-free play now made it two sets to Murray.
The tall American raised his net-attacking slightly, but never to the extent seen in the first set. John won the third set, often delivering the heavier and more-forceful shots in their severe rallying. Crowd engagement grew in support of the American, increasing the problems for Andy in turning back John's surge especially when the fourth set reached tiebreaker game, where Isner is nearly invincible. (Isner had won all eight of his tiebreak games in this tournament.) But Andy too had a good tiebreak record. A host of points in the tiebreaker were decided by extremely narrow margins. But fortune favored Murray, who won the breaker by margin of two minibreaks.
Novak Djokovic d. Roger Federer, 67 46 63 62 75
Federer had beaten Djokovic at Garros 2011, ending Novak's undefeated 2011 run. But Novak had won their other three meetings this year, and had beaten Roger at U.S. Open 2010 after Roger held two match points.
Now it was the Saturday semi-finals in Ashe Stadium. At first Roger was the more forceful player even as both men erred surprisingly often, so that most points ended quickly. In the set-ending tiebreaker Roger failed to convert four set points, but the veteran champion finally won the fifth behind a sequence of rocket forehands. Then in the second set Roger persisted in his strong attacking, continuing to seek early decisions, even as Novak seemed out of sorts, hardly his usual demonstrative self. Two sets to Roger.
Roger lost his first serving game of set three after five deuces. Perhaps following an earlier contingency plan, Roger now entered an energy-saving mode, holding back on his aggressiveness, his forehand now flatter, lacking the extreme bite of his overspinning deliveries seen previously, his backhand often a less-demanding slice. Set four was the same, Roger losing serve early and then playing in a manner designed to conserve his best. Two sets all.
It became a hard-to-believe finish. Roger began the fifth set again unleashing his full variety of pace, spin, and deception, though not coming to net as regularly as in the first two sets. Following a long stretch of electrifying play by both, in game eight it was Novak who faltered, losing his serving game at love. Novak mimicked the crowd's thunderous reaction.
Now ahead 5-3 in games, Roger reached two match points, serving. In the first, Novak ripped away at a Federer first serve -- it was all or nothing. Novak's rocket found the cross-court sideline. The second break point ended even more memorably. A strong inside-out forehand by Roger clipped the net cord not far from centerline and then bounced only slightly beyond, out of reach for Novak. But because of the sidewise direction of Roger's shot, the trajectory changed additionally to the side, so that the ball landed in the side alley. Surely Roger will see that net-cord in memory for a long time.
With Roger perhaps emotionally and physically spent, and with Novak now fully energized, the match ended nineteen points later. Novak, playing flawlessly and with extreme power, won fifteen of them. Roger, whose fifth-set effort had been magnificent prior to that moment of misfortune, won only four.
Rafael Nadal d. Andy Murray, 64 62 36 62
The second semi-final seemed anti-climactic after the draining affair just finished. For Andy Murray, it was difficult to win points on any consistent basis, as Andy's potent serve and screaming ground-stroked were comfortably handled by Rafa. Andy came to net much more often than customarily, doing so with some success, and he also did quite well in the occasional cat-and-mouse exchanges following drop shots. But Rafa was a shade stronger in essentially all these areas, as well as in defensive play from behind baseline. Both men stepped up their forcefulness, and there were many dazzling rallies where both men nailed the sides and corners repeatedly. Once ahead by two sets, Rafa appeared satisfied to play from very deep, essentially allowing Andy to attack and giving hope to Andy's supporters in the gallery. But Rafa stepped up matters in the fourth set, reasserting his superiority with forceful play.
Novak Djokovic v. Rafael Nadal, 62 64 67 61
The ferocity and the quality of the long exchanges almost defied belief. Again and again, rallies went twenty strokes or more, sometimes thirty, neither man refusing to pull back his forcefulness for the sake of safety, refusing to ease up for the sake of saving energy. Both men had good serves, but neither served strongly enough to score frequent quick points against his top-level serve-returner opponent. (For the full match, the player serving won only 53.3% of the points.) Thus it was nonstop forehand and backhand rocketry, conducted with breathtaking angles, absolutely superior defensive and counter play, both men utterly concentrating, neither concerned about anything except the current point. Crowd reaction regularly bordered on the frenzied.
The two had already met five times in 2011, where each time Novak Djokovic had been the winner. Rafael Nadal, however, who at 25 was one year older, held the lifetime edge. Now, it was Novak who after losing the first two games began to collect the many bitterly contested games that followed, Novak showing the flatter shots carrying the slightly higher velocity and greater depth and -- it was hard to believe -- at least equal court mobility in covering the baseline. The second set also was Novak's, who again yielded the first two games before taking dominion on the scoreboard. In the third set Novak broke Rafa's serve three times, but Rafa promptly broke back each time, and in the set-ending tiebreaker it was Rafa who sustained his heavy stroking almost entirely without error.
Now it was two sets to one, Novak still ahead. Probably it was inevitable that one or both men would show signs of physical break-down. At first it was Novak who seemed to be slowing, his shots and especially his serves now declining in velocity and weight. Novak received a medical timeout for treatment of back and side spasms, and as as Novak's measured serving velocities continued to decline early in the fourth set, it seemed as if Rafa's road to the finish was now clear. But instead it was Rafa who became unable to maintain his strenuous court movement. It appeared that the leg-cramping problem seen earlier in the tournament was beginning to return. Matters ended soon afterwards, Rafa no longer able to try for shots out of easy reach.
Djokovic's newest triumph placed him almost beyond reach in the standings for 2011 (unofficially compiled here).
1. Novak Djokovic, 13,070 points (won Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, five of seven Masters-1,000's)
2. Rafael Nadal, 9,025 (won Garros and Monte Carlo, 2nd at Wimbledon and U.S. Open)
3. Andy Murray, 5,450 (won Cincinnati, 2nd at Australian Open)
4. Roger Federer, 5,170 (2nd at Garros)
No player outside the Big Four reached a Slam final or won a Masters 1,000 in 2011.
By far the leader of our April watch list had been Milos Raonic, the Canadian rocketeer, age 20 at height 6-5. Milos, however, underwent hip surgery in early summer and began an extended recovery. Indeed, only one of our seven April selectees has equaled or exceeded our expectations in his subsequent results -- Australian Bernard Tomic, who reached the final eight at Wimbledon, the first teenager to do so since Boris Becker.
Several other list members showed some worthwhile success. Ivan Dodig defeated Rafael Nadal at Montreal. Alex Dolgopolov won three matches at U.S. Open before carrying Djokovic to a first-set tiebreaker. Meanwhile Kevin Anderson scored a win over Andy Murray in Canada, then won twice at the Open, defeating seeded Llodra.
Winning the triple crown at the U.S. National Championships was fairly common prior to 1968, when the Nationals became the U.S. Open. Among those who won the singles, doubles, and mixed in a given year were Tilden, Budge, and Rosewall among the men, Moody, Marble, and King among the women. But since 1968 no male has captured the U.S. Open triple, and only Margaret Smith Court in 1970 and Martina Navratilova in 1987 have done so among the women (listed in Bud Collins's encyclopaedic History of Tennis).
Nowadays only a few female players and even fewer males appear in the main draws of all three events at the Open, so that the triple-crown honor seems archaic. At the 2011 Open winning the triple required winning seven matches in singles, six in doubles, and five in mixed -- a total of 18 match wins. Here, we recognize the players closest to that achievement by combining the number of match-wins in the three events.
Philippe Petzschner, 9 (1 singles, 6 doubles, 2 mixed).
Gisela Dulko, 7 (1 singles, 2 doubles, 4 mixed).
Vania King, 7 (2 singles, 5 doubles).
Lisa Raymond, 7 (6 doubles, 1 mixed).
Liezel Huber, 7 (6 doubles,1 mixed).
Sam Stosur, 7 (7 singles).
The tally of matches won by nation was decided in the very last match, when Nadal failed to win the men's singles. The American males finished just ahead of last year's winning nation, Spain, having overcome the early elimination of the Bryans in doubles with runs of success by singles artists Isner and Roddick and also by teenaged Jack Sock, who was a member of the winning mixed-doubles pair.
U.S.A., 25.0 matches won
Spain, 24.5
Argentina, 14.5
Among the women, the Russians and the Americans remained close in the tally throughout the tournament. The U.S., however, forged ahead at the finish thanks primarily to the triumphs of Huber-Raymond in women's doubles and Oudin in mixed doubles.
U.S.A., 34.5 matches won
Russia, 32.0
Germany, 17.0
The high drama of U.S. Open 2011, climaxing in the evening of Third Monday, has seldom been exceeded. The Davis Cup semis, coming next weekend, leave little time for fan or player recovery.
--Ray Bowers
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.

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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.

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