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Between The Lines
June 8, 2014 Article

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Between The Lines By Ray Bowers
 
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Garros 2014 Report
by Ray Bowers

Ray Bowers Photo
Ray Bowers

Qualifying-round play began on the Garros clay Tuesday, May 20. Since nearly all contestants held world rankings in the first or second hundred, differences in abilities were not large, making for many close match-ups. For the sixteen male and twelve female survivors of the qualifying rounds -- one out of every eight aspirants -- there were welcome rewards in prize money, ranking points, and a place in the first round of the main draw.
 
The median age of the successful qualifiers was 25.5 among the men, 22.5 among the women. The youngest male and female were Laurent Lokoli (France) and Danka Kovinic (Montenegro), both age 19. Four of the male qualifiers were from Italy, all of them older than the median age.
 
But only a handful of qualifiers managed to win their first match in the main draw. Three of the males and four of the females did so, and in three of these cases the win came against another qualifier. Of the seven that reached the second round, only Kiki Bertens, 23, height 6-0 (Netherlands) would go further, scoring two more wins to attain the tournament's final sixteen and thereby becoming the most successful overachiever among the qualifiers. A strong striker, Kiki had been a member of our Watch List V, selected in July 2012, and had moved upward during her year of watch-list residency. But she had been exasperating in her seemingly dilatory mindset when I watched her here in Washington last summer.
 
ROUNDS ONE AND TWO -- SEEKING THE FINAL 32
 
The destruction of the established order in the first few days of the main draw, commencing on Sunday, May 15, was bewildering. Ousted in the first round was second-seeded Li Na, the recent Australian Open champion, now a world celebrity and near-royalty in her homeland, China. Na and her current opponent, Kristina Mladenovic, age 21 and height 6-0 (France), battled away for two sets, Kristina winning the first set closely and Na recovering her expected dominance in the second. Throughout, Kristina showed excellent velocity and placement in her serving, and held her own well during the heavy exchanges. Unexpectedly, it was Li who faded in the third set. Mladenovic d. Li, 75 36 61.
 
Another young riser, Garbine Muguruza, 20 and also listed at height 6-0 (Spain), in the second round at Garros eclipsed even Kristina's achievement.
 
The tournament favorite, widely seen as unbeatable, had been the American megastar Serena Williams. But against Muguruza at Garros, Serena now became surprisingly ineffective -- error-prone at the start, unable to find her attacking game, more puzzled than angry at her own ineffectiveness, driven about the court by the Garbine rocketry. Midway, Serena tried to find her best by softening her game, cutting down errors. But Garbine's steamroller went on, and when toward the end Serena again stepped up her striking, the misses were small but they came too often.
 
Garbine showed a devastating first serve which she often aimed directly at Serena with good effect, a remarkable ability to return Serena's potent serve with plenty of velocity, and well-paced ground shots, where she often kept the ball toward the center of the baseline area, denying Serena severe angles and minimizing Serena's edge in court speed by keeping the side-to-side target width narrow. Sometimes Serena had trouble adjusting to the sheer speed of Garbine's rockets. Muguruza d. S. Williams, 62 62.
 
The men's elite were likewise battered early. Third-seeded Stan Wawrinka had won Australian Open 2014 and then the clay-court crown at Monte Carlo where he defeated Federer and Ferrer. But now in the first round at Garros, Stan lost to the fine Spanish player Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 30, in four sets. Also eliminated early was ninth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who had scored well in our indicators after an excellent first half of 2014 but had been out of action since withdrawing with back trouble in Madrid. Also dismissed in the first round at Garros was the highly-regarded riser, Grigor Dimitrov, defeated in straight sets by the powerful Croatian player Ivo Karlovic, 34 at height 6-10.
 
The upsets of Wawrinka and Nishikori, both coming on the first day of main-draw action, were stunning. But otherwise during the first week, the seeded male stars were more successful than usual. An overall total of only nine were displaced by unseeded opponents prior to reaching the third round. (For comparison, the median number of seeded males failing to reach that round in the previous thirteen renditions of Garros was eleven.)
 
It was on the women's side that the upsets had been most frequent. A total of fourteen seeded women were knocked out in the first two rounds. Of those taking their places, most were young risers, including Bertens, Mladenovic, and Muguruza, all noted earlier, plus Schmiedlova, Ormaechea, Tomljanovic, Townsend, and Torro-Flor, none of whom had yet reached age 24. Three others, seeded, were also under 24 -- Bouchard, Stephens, and the 23-and-under group's highest riser to date, Simona Halep, 22 (Romania). The youngest survivor was left-handed American Taylor Townsend, 18, whose remarkable power in serving and stroking carried her through the first two rounds, which included a split-set win over seeded French star Cornet. Taylor's movement was surprisingly good, indeed excellent, especially conidering her heavy physique.
 
The coming rounds promised delicious match-ups pitting young against old, perhaps bringing major changes to the familiar picture atop women's tennis.
 
ROUNDS THREE AND FOUR -- SEEKING THE FINAL EIGHT
 
The strong and swirling winds that plagued the players earlier in the European spring were absent at Garros. Weather remained favorable through the middle weekend, the early chill and dampness intermittently moderated.
 
Middle Sunday, June 1, was laden with drama. In early afternoon Court Lenglen featured continuation of the previous evening's struggle between Andy Murray and Philipp Kohlschreiber. When darkness had intervened, the long affair stood at overtime, 7-games-all in the fifth set. Andy had been the heavier and easier hitter, but a gimpy leg had become increasingly annoying, and it seemed that the stoppage had been to Andy's benefit.
 
I have always enjoyed watching Kohlschreiber, who seems to play evenly with everyone and whose sometime blithe and sometime hangdog facial expressions contrast with the eternally unhappy mood of many players, Murray for example. Sadly for Philipp, however, nearly always whenever I watch, the pleasant German becomes the unlucky loser. This day would be no exception.
 
Both men were equally fresh upon the resumption. Kohlschreiber had break opportunities, but it was Andy whose bigger game -- especially in serve-returning and in his occasional backhand of extreme power -- forced its way to break of serve in the set's 22nd game. Murray d. Kohlschreiber, 36 63 63 46 1210.
 
Simultaneously on nearby Court Chatrier, another member of the long-standing Big Four was also in jeopardy. Roger Federer won the first set in a tiebreaker, lost the next two, then equalized at two sets all. His opponent was Ernests Gulbis, 25, the scowling and sometimes brilliant Latvian. Gulbis's power in serving and striking was, like Murray's, more easily generated and at least as accurate as his opponent's. Ernests has good capabilities for variety and touch shots, but against Federer the Latvian's edge lay in the all-out power game, which he sustained with excellent avoidance of error. Ernests first-serve velocities averaged 127 mph at maximum, Roger's 11 mph less. Gulbis d. Federer, 67 76 62 46 63.
 
Meanwhile the other Big Four members, Djokovic and Nadal, drove through to the quarter-finals fairly comfortably, Djokovic showing championship form, Nadal afterwards talking about a bad back.
 
Ousted the same weekend was the heart of the French contingent -- Gasquet and Tsonga -- largely removing the French males from a chance to finish atop the tally of match wins. With Nadal and Ferrer into the quarters of the singles, the Armada's lead was persuasive although not wholly assured, as Monfils and the French doubles pair Benneteau-Roger Vasselin remained still alive.
 
Meanwhile the eleven female 23-and-unders who reached the final 32, named earlier, continued their collective assault on the established order. Three of them made it into the tournament's final eight. Garbine Muguruza followed her win over Serena by collecting straight-set wins over three unseeded opponents. Eugenie Bouchard surprised eighth-seeded Kerber behind an impressive display of heavy striking. A third cohort member, Simona Halep , upheld her seeded place to join Garbine and Eugenie in the quarter-finals.
 
The other members of the 23-and-under brigade generally performed well. Several were knocked out by fellow members -- Stephens and Torro-Flor were victims of Halep in her climb, while Schmiedlova lost to Muguruza. Of the others, Tomljanovic and Townsend lost fourth-rounders to improving Suarez Navarro, while Mladenovic and Bertens lost three-setters to Petkovic. Only Paula Ormaechea failed to uphold the pattern, blanked in twelve games by Maria Sharapova.
 
Indeed, the older five players also reaching the final eight were hardly ancient. Suarez Navarro was 25, Petkovic 26, Errani and Sharapova 27, and the veteran Kuznetsova not yet 29. It was the first time since 2005 that six players not seeded in the first eight managed to attain that station. Recent form argued that Maria Sharapova was the most likely coming tournament champion, but distinguishing among the others was largely guesswork.
 
With Muguruza and Suarez Navarro both still in the singles and doubles and with Spain currently ahead, Spain's chances for a surprise victory in the women's match-win tally were good. The usual winner, Russia, was close behind, led by Sharapova and Kuznetsova. The Armada was also first in the men's tally to date, seemingly in firm command behind Nadal, Ferrer, and the doubles pair Granollers-Lopez.
 
QUARTER-FINALS
 
Seldom have two women produced such sustained and extreme power. Garbine Muguruza began with a bombardment that for a while overwhelmed Maria Sharapova. It was remindful of Garbine's quick beating of Serena Williams the week before. But early in the second set Maria found and then stepped up her own weaponry, stemming the flow and -- although Garbine fought back to reach score 55 -- enabling Maria to finish off the second set strongly. Things stayed close early in set three, when Garbine had four break points against Maria's serving to equalize the scoreboard at two games all. But Maria saved them all, and upon that disappointment Garbine slipped into discouragement even as Maria's intensity became total. It was a fine effort by Garbine, but little doubt remained that the skills and determination of Maria shown this day, if they could be sustained, were ample for capturing this Slam crown. Sharapova d. Muguruza 16 75 61.
 
Almost simultaneously on this humid Tuesday, another 23-and-under heavy server and striker came from behind to win a close third set over a determined opponent. Canadian Eugenie Bouchard prevailed behind a game of power and attack, defeating the less powerful but excellent mover and striker Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.
 
In a rain-delayed start on Wednesday, the superior serving, forehand, and especially backhand power of Andrea Petkovic translated into an easy victory over Sara Errani. Sara's softer strokes were unable to penetrate the damp conditions and strong cross-wind on Chartrier. Simultaneously on Lenglen, the conditions seemed less difficult for Simona Halep and her opponent, Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both moved well, both generating good power to an equal degree. Simona was the less prone to error from the start, and an upper-thigh problem gradually weakened the veteran Russian star. In impressive manner, Halep became the second of the 23-and-under group to attain the tournament semis.
 
The bigger guns of Ernests Gulbis lifted that resurgent star past Tomas Berdych in three sets. It was a result that would have seemed impossible six months ago but had now become likely given recent form. Meanwhile Djokovic, now the tournament favorite, held off the extreme serving and stroking power of Milos Raonic, whose extreme power in serving and stroking kept matters close. Raonic scored 21 aces compared with Djokovic's 4. Raonic's non-ace winners were only slightly fewer than Djokovic's, but his unforced errors were almost double Novak's. Djokovic's swift and controlled court movement was as always sterling. There was no indication of pain in the Djokovic right arm and wrist. Djokovic d. Raonic, 75 76 64.
 
One Thursday quarter-final pitted Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. David played well, winning the first set and staying close in the second. But as Rafa gradually found full command of his relentless overspin power, matters turned toward the customary outcome between the two. Rafa thus reversed a recent loss to David in Monte Carlo.
 
Meanwhile a bizarre finish unfolded on Chatrier. At first Andy Murray was in full command of his easy power, employed aggressively, capturing the first two sets. But Gael Monfils then stepped up his own play, playing more aggressively, and gradually reversed the momentum. Late in the fourth set Gael, now playing defensively and brilliantly, was answering every thrust of Andy. Andy seemed a beaten player, now hampered by his heavily wrapped left thigh. The imminence of darkness seemed Andy's only hope of survival. Andy struggled to lengthen the all-but-lost fourth set but to little avail. When the set ended, despite Andy's forceful displeasure it was ruled that the fifth set should begin.
 
It seemed certain that Gael, buoyed by the highly engaged gallery, would surely capture a quick lead before stoppage of play. Andy's task was somehow to stay even. The set began hesitantly for Andy, serving, but the scoreboard turned his way. Andy narrowly won the first game, then the second. As his momentum disappeared Gael became unraveled. From then on, only a few points thereafter were decided by Andy's winners or errors. Most were results of errors by Gael, who grew ever more bewildered, ever less patient in unleashing his own formidable but now-erratic artillery. Andy soon captured games three and four, and after that a distraught Gael's main concern was to get the affair finished. The final set ended in near-darkness after an elapsed time of only 24 minutes. Murray d. Monfils, 64 61 46 16 60.
 
The women from Spain and Germany were now tied in the tournament's tally of match wins. Both nations could hope for two more wins -- by Petkovic for Germany in the singles, by Suarez Navarro-Muguruza for Spain in the doubles. Meanwhile Russia was two wins behind, with Sharapova left in the singles. Spain's males were meanwhile assured of finishing in first place.
 
SEMIS
 
The dampness slowing play in recent days was gone, though the unfamiliar Sun on Thursday made for minor problems in serving. The two tall ones -- the veteran Maria Sharapova, the riser Eugenie Bourchard -- slugged away at full effort. The two played similarly, both trying to drive hard to the sides, seeking opportunity to apply a crusher. Maria moved her tall frame well to the ball, frequently answering Eugenie's heavy blows with yet greater ferocity. Often, however, the exchanges pulled Maria too far to the sides so that her own screaming replies left Maria with too little time to answer Eugenie's forthcoming firm cross-courts. Eugenie's artillery generally carried significant degree of topspin for safety, thereby supporting good point construction by Eugenie toward a final point-ending reward. To Maria's frequent backhand cross-court thrusts, Eugenie showed a distinct knack for accurate down-the-line backhand blocks. Throughout, Maria was uninterested in coming to net, while Eugenie often moved forward to apply a swinging-volley winner from half-way up.
 
The first set sizzled in its high level of play, dazzling the watchers. Eugenie attacked well and closed out the set after withstanding Maria's occasional surges. The second set was less brilliant, both players missing fairly frequently, including discomfort in serving by Maria. But despite her troubles Maria outplayed Eugenie often enough to equalize the set score.
 
So far, the scoreboard closely mirrored the script seen in Maria's previous matches. Would Maria now claim a comfortable third set, thereby continuing the recent pattern?
 
The final score seemed to show just that. But in reality, Eugenie pressed Maria heavily throughout the last set, only narrowly failing to equalize Maria's early service-break edge. Many games turned on the narrowest of margins, amid the heavy artillery seen in the first set but amid even higher tension. Although Bouchard was the loser, it could hardly be doubted that the tall and strong Canadian now belonged on the biggest stages. Sharapova d. Bouchard, 46 75 62.
 
Simona Halep and Andrea Petkovic came next onto Chatrier, the shadows starting to lengthen. Simona seized the early edge, applying her firm stroking to the sides to open up the court, moving superbly and keeping the larger and heavier-hitting Andrea badly off form. But in the second set Andrea found her bigger game, dominating most points largely without error, while it was Simona who more-often missed, sometimes in softening her own shots in failed attempts to break up Andrea's rhythms. Amid the tension it was Andrea who seemed the more uncomfortable, and in the set-ending tiebreaker it was Andrea's mistakes that turned the outcome to the again free-swinging but well-controlled Romanian player. Halep d. Petkovic 62 76.
 
The cool and dampness fully ended on men's-semis Friday. The dryness and temperatures in the lower 80's added penetration to the attacking forehand of Rafael Nadal, producing extra velocities both before and after the bounce. Rafa was also fresher than his opponent, Andy Murray, having lost only one set during the tournament, while Andy had fought through two difficult five-setters. The Rafa forehand was at its devastating best, producing an early service-break edge in all three sets and denying Andy's fading bids to equalize in all three. It was not close.
 
In the earlier semi, the dry air added extra pace to the serves and strokes of Ernests Gulbis, and the athletic Latvian delivered many spectacular blows within the many ferocious exchanges. Novak Djokovic seemed nervous at the beginning, but gradually unveiled his matchless ability to contain and then answer heavy attack. Far ahead in measured serving velocities and also in making the greater number of winners but also in a still-greater number of unforced errors, Ernests fell two sets down. Now showing some discomfort in the lower back, Ernests, it seemed, was finished. But he then found his big game and, improving in winners and in reducing errors, Ernests captured set three from a slightly fading Djokovic, who later confessed to some fatigue. Things remained interesting in the final set until matters turned strongly to Novak at the finish. Djokovic d. Gulbis, 63 63 36 63.
 
FINAL: SHARAPOVA v. HALEP
 
At times it seemed predestined -- that Maria Sharapova's severe power should overwhelm the defenses and countering ability of Simona Halep, who was eight inches shorter in height, many years behind in experience. Maria's double-faults and many close errors, however, helped equalize matters. But even more important to the unfolding plot was Simona's excellent mobility and stroking. Maria could end points with one or two rockets, but Simona was often able to answer with excellent counters, well paced and well placed, leading to sequences that often created uncomfortable hitting positions or wide stretches for Maria, producing errors. When forced wide Maria remained dangerous, capable of hitting winners, but the sides correctly remained an objective for Simona. Both players showed excellent on-court temperament and resolve.
 
All three sets were close, where Maria generally stayed ahead, winning the first and third only narrowly with strong late-set play. Maria led 42 in the third set behind some excellent defensive play of her own and two low attacking shots that eluded Simona in deep court by their short second-bounces. Simona managed to equalize at four games all, fighting brilliantly. But the last two games went quickly, Maria summoning her best. It was a memorable final, where Simona announced her entry into superstardom while Maria fortified her resume for the ages. Sharapova d. Halep 64 67 64.
 
FINAL: DJOKOVIC v. NADAL
 
Nadal led in previous head-to-head wins, 22-19. But Novak Djokovic had won the last four meetings including a best-of-three-setter in Rome recently. Both megastars were at prime tennis age, Novak one year younger at 27. The warm conditions on final-round Sunday seemed likely to benefit most the Nadal forehand.
 
For the first hour or so, it was clear that the recent superiority of Djokovic still persisted. Novak's defenses against Rafa's best blows were absolutely impenetrable, Novak moving easily to the sides and corners, untroubled by Rafa's heavy overspin deliveries even as Novak stayed up close on the baseline. Meanwhile Novak's own blows carried plenty of weight, pushing Rafa deep, denying Rafa's ability to unlimber his own attacking forehand except at very high risk. It was Novak's excellent blend of defense and offense that finally broke Rafa's serve in game eight.
 
Novak's dominance continued for much of the second set. In the sixth game a few lapses by Novak, including allowing Rafa some attackable balls, enabled Rafa to break serve, but Rafa promptly yielded back that advantage in a sloppy next serving game. But it was becoming evident that Djokovic was taking more time between points, that his serving and stroking deliveries were lacking their earlier bite. Was Novak experiencing the same weakness seen in the late going against Gulbis?
 
It certainly looked that way when Rafa finished off set two, holding serve almost without resistance in game eleven, then easily dominating with two forehand winners and a Novak double-fault to seize the deciding break. Novak's decline continued in set three, Rafa yielding no mercy in his aggressive movement and strikes. When Novak vomited after the third set ended, his sickness was confirmed.
 
It was hardly a glorious fourth set. Nadal too was having difficulties from his recently problematic back, while Novak, despite a still-rebellious stomach, managed to carry matters to four-games-all, fourth set. But though both men were not at full health, it was Rafa that remained the dominant striker, and it was Novak who surrendered the deciding tenth game, having led 30-love. The match ended with a Novak double-fault, trying to deny Rafa an attacking opportunity.
 
Both warriors had given their all. Aside from Novak's disability, the difference was the Rafa forehand, which was again and again devastating when Rafa had time and position to unload. But those occasions were few until Novak's forcing game lost its full energy. Nadal d. Djokovic, 36 75 62 64.
 
OTHER LAURELS
 
The Triple
 
Once again no player came close to achieving the rare triple -- winning the crowns in singles, doubles, and mixed. Coming closest to capturing the eighteen necessary match-wins among the men was Barcelona native Marcel Granollers, 28. Marcel won three matches in the men's singles and five in the men's doubles for a total of eight. (He did not play in the mixed doubles.) Among the women the leader was Sara Errani, with a total of nine wins -- four in singles and five as member of the runner-up pair in doubles. Carla Suarez Navarro and Garbine Muguruza were just behind, each with eight wins -- both were partners in reaching the doubles semis, and both reached the fourth round in singles.
 
Overachievement
 
The stunning play of Ernests Gulbis in singles throughout the tournament followed Ernest's high performance in recent months. The powerful Latvian defeated both Federer and Berdych before losing to Djokovic in the tournament semis, delivering a wondrous all-around game, well executed. By reaching the final four while seeded #18, Ernests exceeded his seeded place by three orders of overachievement. Several other males overachieved by two orders.
 
Five women scored equally as the top female overachiever in singles. All attained three orders of overachievement, as follows:
 
-- Kiki Bertens, won through in qualifiers, then reached rounds of 32 and 16.
-- Garbine Muguruza, unseeded, reached rounds of 32, 16, and 8.
-- Eugenie Bouchard, seeded #18, reached rounds of 16, 8, and 4.
-- Andrea Petkovic, seeded #28, reached rounds of 16, 8, and 4.
-- Maria Sharapova, seeded #7, reached rounds of 4, 2, and 1.
 
Doubles
 
The champion pair in men's doubles was Benneteau-Roger-Vasselin, who defeated Granollers-M. Lopez in the final match. In the women's final the Hsieh-Peng pair defeated Errani-Vinci. Meanwhile Gronefeld-Rojer won the mixed, defeating Goerges-Zimonjic. Julia Goerges was a rarity, having appeared in the main draw of all three events. Besides her four wins in mixed, she won a first-round singles but lost in the first round of doubles.
 
The Nations
 
Spain, lifted by Nadal in singles and Granollers-M. Lopez in doubles, finished in first place in the tally of match wins among the men. The French contingent was second, USA's third. It was the ninth triumph by the Armada in the last ten years, France having led in 2012.
 
An unusual outcome happened in the women's tally -- a three-way tie for first place, all with 19.0 match-wins. (In doubles and mixed, each winning partner earns one-half credit for his or her nation's tally.) The three co-winners were Russia (led by singles champion Sharapova), Germany (lifted by singles semi-finalist Petkovic and mixed-doubles champ Gronefeld), and Spain (with good results in singles and women's doubles). The Russkayas have been regularly at or close to the top at Garros, but Spain has only occasionally been in the first three, Germany never since our tally began in 2001. Among those behind the leaders this year were the contingents from U.S.A., France, Italy, Australia, and Czech Republic, all of whom had been among the top three at least once in the last several years.
 
The Indicators and Predictions
 
Our Indicators and Predictions, declared on the date of the draw, won scant glory, spoiled by the surprises of the first week especially among the women. The correct prediction that Djokovic and Nadal would become the tournament finalists merits no kudos, as that result was widely expected. In choosing between Djokovic and Nadal, our indicator Quality-Win Quotient (QWQ) pointed to Djokovic, while Basic Indicator and Clay-Court Index (CCX) preferred Nadal. Our prediction, which also rested on past Head-to-Head Results and subjective judgment, also correctly picked Nadal.
 
Our prime Indicators had uniformly pointed to Serena among the women, and our prediction followed. The actual champion, Sharapova, scored second highest in QWQ, third in CCX, second in Composite of Indicators. Runner-up Halep had been fifth in Composite.
 
Watch-List Watching
 
Some redemption for our computer came in the high success by several young women who are members of our currently running Watch Lists of Risers. All three --Muguruza, Bouchard, and Halep -- were members of the 23-and-under brigade at Garros, discussed earlier. Other worthy performances at Garros were by Bertens, Mladenovic, and Stephens, whose Watch-List tenures ended during the last 12 months.
 
Of those males on current Watch Lists, the only one whose Garros performance exceeded his predicted target level was Serbian Dusan Lajovic, 23. Dusan won three main-draw matches before bowing to Nadal. Also achieving results better than their rank when watch-listed were Dominic Thiem (Austria), Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic), and Milos Raonic (Canada). Overall, the performance of our current male listees was unimpressive.
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
The next two weeks will bring several grass-court tournaments in Europe, giving players competitive preparation for Wimbledon. The historic bee at Queen's Club, London is starting immediately, featuring Murray, Gulbis, Wawrinka, and Berdych. Meanwhile the high seeds at Halle, Germany, are Nadal, Federer, Nishikori, and Raonic. Few male superstars will compete in the second week, choosing to rest and prepare elsewhere. In the first week the women will offer a Premier-level grass tournament in Birmingham, with 56-player main draw. Next year, the tennis calendar provides for a third week separating Garros and Wimbledon.
 
Novak Djokovic, in failing to win the final match also failed to complete his coveted Career Grand Slam. In winning his ninth Garros, Rafael Nadal also successfully defended the official world #1 ranking. Both, by their splendid performances at Garros 2014, further enhanced their historic credentials. That Gulbis, Raonic, and Nishikori are moving upward became clear.
 
Serena remains officially at #1 among the women. The early-round departures at Garros of several other superstars, the fine performance of Simona Halep, and the rise of Eugenie Bouchard and Garbine Muguruza all suggest coming shakeup at the top of the sport. Bencic, Svitolina, and Keys are within a year or two of those just mentioned.
 
Let's lift our hats and wish well to all the gladiators. Is there a limit to how well the game can be played?
 
-- Ray Bowers, Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.
 

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


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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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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.
 
June 21, 2014 Between The Lines: Spotlight Wimbledon 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
Tennis Warrior: Tennis University by Tom Veneziano.
 
June 2014 Tennis Anyone: High-Low vs. Low-High by John Mills.
 
June 2014 Turbo Tennis: 'Sensible' Tennis by Ron Waite.
 
May 2014 Wild Cards: Michael Chang Wins Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Challenge in Arizona by Vince Barr.
 
April 2014 Wild Cards: Revenge of the Yankees! Great Britain Dominates The U.S. In San Diego 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

 
 
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