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Between The Lines
June 21, 2014 Article

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Between The Lines By Ray Bowers
 
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Spotlight Wimbledon 2014
by Ray Bowers

Ray Bowers Photo
Ray Bowers

Last year, Wimbledon 2013 saw wide criticism of the unusually slippery grass. The poor traction led to many slips, falls, injuries, and withdrawals by players during matches. It also probably contributed to several surprising early-round losses by top players. Many players spoke out, deeming the conditions dangerous.
 
Some thought that grass cuttings had not been adequately swept away; others blamed the spell of unusually moist air. Authorities of the All-England Club defended the surface, noting that the grass and its care in 2013 had been identical to those in recent years. The soles of grass-court footwear, which have been regulated for many years, came under discussion, while the splendid conduct of tennis at the 2012 Olympics on the Wimbledon green remained in close memory. Everyone agreed only that the grass is always somewhat slippery in the first few days. There has been no report of any change since last year.
 
Judgments by the players in 2014 should be of great interest. Meanwhile during the recent grass-court events preceding Wimbledon, now still in progress, there were no special problems in the traction.
 
A conversation piece for many years was whether the surface at Wimbledon should be changed, perhaps to clay? Players no longer learn and develop their talents on grass. All agree that grass courts are difficult to maintain, wear down badly after a few days of heavy use, and are scarcely used during the rest of the pro tennis year. Thus, if top players at some point decide not to risk injury because of a slippery surface, grass tennis at Wimbledon and elsewhere would soon cease.
 
But things have been moving in the opposite direction -- i.e. toward an expansion of pro tennis on grass. As has been planned for several years, the 2015 pro-tennis calendar will provide an additional week between Garros and Wimbledon -- i.e., a third week for grass-court events, to include several new or expanded tournaments. The longer season should help players adapt themselves to grass-court movement and the bounce of the ball.
 
For myself, I hope that the dangerous traction will be surmounted and that the grass circuit will remain, indeed ultimately expand by yet another intervening week. The magnificent matches at this year's tune-ups at Queen's and Halle, especially among those players highly accomplished on grass, are strong-enough justification. If the bounce is difficult and often irregular, players must learn how to move more boldly to forecourt with success.
 
Grass-Court Trends
 
For many decades, Wimbledon champions tended to be net attackers with very powerful serves. Examples were megastars Sampras, Boris Becker, and one-time winners Krajicek, Ivanisevic, Stich, and Vines. Wimbledon greats Federer and Laver were also superb servers and net players (as well as superior all-court movers). Until well into the Open Era, nearly all top players from the grass-court nations, mainly Australia and U.S., were highly skilled in volleying, and most came to net regularly behind serve on grass. For better traction, players were sometimes allowed to wear spiked shoes.
 
The abandonment of grass at Australian and U.S. Opens soon ended pro grass-court play except at Wimbledon and its tune-ups. Meanwhile the new metal and composite rackets, which provided greater and better-controlled power for serve-returning and ground-stroking, also weakened the influence of net skills across the sport. Even on Wimbledon grass, net-attacking became less frequent, as the skills of all pros were now being developed for slower courts.
 
It is nevertheless clear that the grass surface at Wimbledon still helps the server. Unofficial data from the late rounds of the four Slams starting in 2006 are convincing:
 
Aces per point played
Wimbledon (grass): 10.1%
U.S. Open (hard): 7.4%
Australian Open (hard): 7.3%
Garros (clay): 5.4%
 
Games won by server (excluding tiebreakers), %
Wimbledon (grass): 84.4%
U.S. Open (hard): 78.0%
Australian Open (hard): 77.7%
Garros (clay): 75.1%
 
But can we assume that those players having best serving ability are the ones who are most helped on grass? Or is the serve of weaker servers improved to a more significant extent? ATP match-fact data for selected players make possible the following observations on this question:
 
Numerical relationships are weak linking (1) strong serving ability with (2) better match-win results on grass courts than on hard. Admittedly Ivo Karlovic, who scores as the strongest server on any surface in our 33-player sample, also shows the strongest career grass-court over hard-court W-L results. But the overall correlation is small across the full sample population -- hardly recognizable on an X-Y plot across the two variables (but nevertheless calculable at 0.27 slope of the straight-line equation or 0.20 correlation coefficient).
 
But further exploration yields a stark result. We now divide our sample population into three groups of eleven, according to year of birth -- those born prior to 1978, a second group born 1978-1982, and finally those born after 1982. (The earliest-born group consists of Agassi, Sampras, and their contemporaries, the second includes Roddick and Federer, the youngest includes Djokovic and Nadal.)
 
We find clear correlation between serving prowess and heightened grass-court success among the eleven players in the oldest (Agassi-Sampras) group (slope 0.59, correlation coefficient 0.48). Correlation is barely evident in the intermediate (Roddick-Federer) group (slope 0.12) and is negative in the youngest (Djokovic-Nadal) group (slope -0.19). Although the result is scarcely conclusive, our calculations strongly suggest that (1) strong serving ability accompanied, indeed probably led to, heightened W/L success on grass courts among players active in the 1990's, and (2) the correlation no longer existed starting in the early 2000's.
 
Our journey also produced surprising results in another indication. Most players obtain higher first-serve point-winning percentages on grass than on hard courts -- no surprise here. But nearly all servers deliver higher first-serve in-court percentages on grass than on hard courts. Clearly they are reducing the forcefulness of their first serves on grass in order to obtain more regularly the first-serve's grass-court assist. Only two members of our 33-player sample (Agassi and Davydenko) produced lower first-serve in-court percentages on grass than on hard courts. Accurate placement and disguise are seemingly more important than velocity.
 
Data on net approaches from the late-rounds of Slams are less useful, as many approaches are not the result of the player's intention but rather of an opponent's drop shot. Nevertheless the indication is seen (from the Slam late-round data starting in 2006, used earlier) that net play remains more frequent on grass:
 
Net approaches in official statistics as % of points played
Wimbledon (grass): 29.1%
U.S. Open (hard): 26.0%
Australian Open (hard): 26.9%
Garros (clay): 21.4%
 
TOP WIMBLEDON 2014 CANDIDATES -- STILL A BIG FOUR
 
The long-standing Big Four in men's tennis faded slightly in 2013 when Roger Federer dropped outside the top four in the official rankings. Roger climbed back in early 2014 but by then Andy Murray, sidelined for several months after back surgery, had slipped outside. The dominance of the Four again weakened when an outsider, Stan Wawrinka, captured the crown at Australian Open 2014. It was only the second time since 2005 that a slam winner was not one of the Four. Partial restoration came at Garros 2014, where Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic faced off in a dramatic final match-up and where Andy Murray also reached the semis.
 
Currently Federer is fourth in the official rankings and Murray is fifth. But the Big Four will hold the top four seeds at Wimbledon, Wawrinka having been dropped back under a seeding formula begun in 2001 giving extra weight to grass-court results. All other Slams (and Wimbledon too for the women) use the official rankings alone for seeding.
 
The product of the formula this year seems proper. The first two places would be Nadal's and Djokovic's in any case. The formula's relegating Wawrinka is supportable, as Murray is the tournament's defending champion, third at recent Garros, and Federer is a seven-time Wimbledon champion, having won most recently in 2012. Moreover all Big Four members are ahead of Wawrinka in our Basic Indicator, which predicts Wimbledon success by weighting recent results according to how well each event has predicted Wimbledon outcomes in past years. The Four also hold the top four places in our Grass-Court Index (GCX) and overall Composite of Indicators, while three of them are atop our other primary indicator, Quality-Win Quotient (QWQ), where Wawrinka is fourth, displacing Murray.
 
The first week after Garros brought success for only one member of the Four. Roger Federer again won the Gerry Weber, played on grass in Halle, Germany. The field was strong, including Nadal and risers Nishikori and Raonic. Nadal and Raonic departed early, but Nishikori pushed Roger in two close sets in the semis. Roger was then tested by Alejandro Falla, whose forceful play led to two tiebreak sets, both won by the Master. Meanwhile at the historic Queen's Club in London, Andy Murray went out early, victim of veteran Czech artist Radek Stepanek. Djokovic sat out the first week, while all members of the Four missed the second, preparing elsewhere.
 
Thus each member of the Big Four, in several cases with feathers currently ruffled somewhat, is seeded atop one of the four sections of the draw, protected against facing one of the others prior to the tournament's semis.
 
THE NEXT TIER
 
The second tier of men's tennis is fairly wide. Its members are capable of playing evenly with Big Four members for segments of matches, and most are capable of defeating one of them if the megastar is unable to produce his best.
 
If the signature aspect of Halle 2014 was its glimpse of Federer's past greatness, Queen's Club in London meanwhile became an arena primarily for the second tier, producing some wonderful grass-court match-ups among tier members.
 
It began with Stepanek's stunning dismissal of Andy Murray, last year's winner at both Queen's and Wimbledon, and a recent semi-finalist at Garros. Stepanek is capable of excellent attacking tennis behind a superb backhand two-hander, strong serving, and aggressive net-attack, all forever in my memory from watching Radek's demolition of Gael Monfils in the 2012 final here in Washington. These talents were again on display against Murray, along with Radek's knack in finding the torn-up areas on Andy's side of the net during rallies.
 
Stepanek next defeated strong-serving Kevin Anderson. His next opponent was Spain's Feliciano Lopez, a three-time quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, who brought strong lefty serving, flexibility and agility in coming forward, and fine volleying skills. It was a duel between two veterans, both over 30, together showing the magnificence of grass-court tennis at its best. Lopez won two close sets from a Stepanek perhaps slightly worn from what had gone before.
 
But yet another treat was just ahead.
 
Feliciano's final-round opponent was a sturdy and athletic riser from eastern Europe -- Grigor Dimitrov, age 23 at height 6-2. Both men had strengths paralleling the other's, including one-handed backhands capable of plenty of backspin bite. An equalizer was the superior power of the Bulgarian, applied relentlessly from both sides with heavy topspin remindful of Nadal's and with excellent accuracy to the sides. The Spanish artist answered with his highly watchable, elegant attacking game. All three sets ended in tiebreakers. Feliciano won the first set, narrowly missed winning the second, but then, having lost some of his energy, surrendered an early service-break edge in the third. Both men showed outstanding weaponry for use at Wimbledon -- Feliciano's tailored for that setting but Grigor's the mightier, capable of taking command on any surface. The winner in an third-set extended tiebreaker was Dimitrov.
 
Lopez returned to action a few days later at Eastbourne, reaching the semis with further grass-court drama in a final-round date with Richard Gasquet possibly ahead.
 
Two other second-tier members met on the grass at Halle, 12 June. Both seemed to prefer long rallies, both controlled the ball well, and both were quick to the ball, keeping their footing nearly all the time. Gael Monfils was cautious in his often highly athletic movement, so that his usual asset in mobility was muted. Kei Nishikori won the affair, where the deciding break of serve in the third set was primarily created by three Monfils double-faults. Kei seemed unaffected by the back or left-hip problem seen in recent appearances. His excellent grass-court abilities shown against Monfils and also in his close loss to Federer verify Nishikori among the leading threats to the Big Four.
 
Unexpected were first-round losses by tier members Milos Raonic and Ernests Gulbis. Both had been rising of late, both having reached late rounds at Garros where both forced Djokovic to his best level. Careerwise, neither shows positive W-L record in limited grass-court play. Wawrinka won three matches at Queen's before losing to Dimitrov in straights, Berdych won twice before losing to Feliciano, Tsonga lost in his second outing.
 
The strong play at Garros of Ernests Gulbis requires his inclusion in this tier, though the stormy Latvian departed in the first round at Queen's. The tier would also include del Potro, but the tall one will miss Wimbledon after further wrist surgery.
 
THE DRAW AND THE PREDICTIONS
 
Top Quarter
 
Probably the most dangerous unseeded player in the tournament is Radek Stepanek, recent winner over Andy Murray amid Radek's recent run to the semis at Queen's. Radek is ranked as #12 in our Grass-Court Index (GCX). It was bad luck for both him and top-seeded Novak Djokovic that the two were drawn to face each other in the second round at Wimbledon. If he is at his best, Novak should come through safely, being well ahead of Radek in all indicators including GCX.
 
But if Novak was hoping to find his grass-court best during easy early-round match-ups at Wimbledon, that has not happened. Stepanek arrives at the peak of his grass-court skills, fresh from Queen's after a week of rest. Meanwhile Djokovic has not competed since the final round at Garros, when the match turned against Novak upon his illness or fatigue.
 
Even the first round will not be easy. Novak's opponent will be Andrey Golubev, 26, who has raised his ranking from #84 in January to #55 amid considerably improved results. Ahead will be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, likely to demand long and hard effort from any opponent.
 
Still, the greatness of Djokovic and the determination he often reveals in extended contests, makes him the likely survivor of the first four rounds. Who will be his opponent in the final match of the quarter?
 
It should be either Tomas Berdych or Ernests Gulbis. Berdych is the favorite, seeded at #6 while Gulbis is #12. But Ernests defeated Tomas convincingly at Garros, and our also indicators point to Ernests, who leads Tomas in Quality-Win Quotient, is first overall in Riser, and is #5 in our Composite vs. Berdych at #8. Gulbis is low in GCX, showing fewer career match-wins than losses both at Wimbledon and overall on grass. But here, we follow the message of Composite. It will be Gulbis who tests Djokovic in the tournament quarter-finals.
 
The indicators and also the outcome of their semi-final meeting at Garros agree. Djokovic over Gulbis.
 
Second Quarter
 
A similar pattern emerges here. The seeded favorite, Andy Murray, should successfully reach the final match of the quarter. Andy's most dangerous opponent should be tall Kevin Anderson.
 
But the indicators disagree with the official seedings in the lower half of the quarter. David Ferrer is the seeded favorite at #8, slightly ahead of Grigor Dimitrov at #11. Ferrer indeed leads in Basic Indicator, but QWQ, GCX, and Riser all point to Dimitrov. Fortifying the verdict here was Grigor's splendid triumph at Queen's 2014, earlier described.
 
But can Dimitrov overcome Andy Murray's endless power and all-around mobility and variety? Perhaps so, if Andy becomes too defensive in his tactics, though Andy knows not to let this happen. Amid thunderous tennis from both sides of the net, Murray over Dimitrov.
 
Third Quarter
 
This is the quarter of Roger Federer, who should be safe here. But there should be several upsets in the upper half of the quarter. Stan Wawrinka could have trouble in his first match against Joao Sousa, just off moderate success on grass at 's-Hertogenbosch. Alejandro Falla will be an early threat to seeded Feliciano Lopez, Alejandro having extended Federer in the final round at Halle. The winner will probably then defeat higher-seeded John Isner to win the upper half.
 
Meanwhile Roger must overcome heavy-striking Jerzy Janowicz, seeded #15, and should do so given Roger's arsenal of weapons and experience. Then in the final match of the quarter, Federer over F. Lopez.
 
Bottom Quarter
 
The upper half here features two relative newcomers to the top echelons -- Kei Nishikori, age 24, seeded #10, and strong-serving Milos Raonic, 23, seeded #8. Nishikori won their recent meeting in Madrid in two tiebreak sets. Raonic has a slight edge in Basic, Nishikori leads slightly in GCX and, more substantially, in QWQ, where he shows eight wins over top-level opponents in 2014 against only one by Milos. The count includes a win by Nishikori over Federer at Miami 2014. Kei's recent injury difficulties raise doubts, but the choice here favors Nishikori, following Composite.
 
Nadal faces several possible dangers enroute to the quarter-finals -- the serving of Ivo Karlovic, the athleticism and flair of Gael Monfils, the underestimated grass-court expertise of Richard Gasquet, or the rising newcomers Vesely and Kyrgios. That Rafa will stumble is absolutely a possibility. But not a probability. In a superb conclusion of the quarter, Nadal over Nishikori.
 
Semis and Final
 
Thus although uncertainties abound in their abilities and readiness, the Big Four seem once again ready to face off at the highest level of the sport.
 
Djokovic vs. Murray. The two are closely the same in age, height, and experience. The greatest strengths of both are the same -- in returning serve, in their court movement, in containing and answering an opponent's attack. Both prefer the baseline, though both know how to attack forecourt and can do so well. Both have captured a Wimbledon crown -- Novak in 2011, Andy in 2013. Novak leads in their career head-to-heads, 12-8. Novak won their most recent meeting, in Miami in 2014, while Andy won their straight-setter at Wimbledon last year. Our indicators point strongly to Djokovic, where Andy is ahead only in GCX, narrowly. Djokovic over Murray.
 
Federer vs. Nadal. Yet another chapter looms in their long saga, where Nadal leads in head-to-head victories 23-10, including wins in their last five meetings and also in their most recent Wimbledon match-up, in the 2008 final. Rafa also leads in all our indicators except GCX, where the margin is not huge. Rafa is five years the younger and is physically well suited to maintain high level over several days of long and grueling matches. Nadal over Federer.
 
Final: Djokovic vs. Nadal. It was a close thing at Garros, on clay and amid conditions favoring the great Rafa. The tall Serbian superstar made it close -- winning the first set in convincing manner while showing that his own defenses were more than enough to stop Rafa's relentless pressure. But Novak then faded amid Rafa's raising of his own best game, amid Novak's physical weakening.
 
Rafa has won Wimbledon twice, Novak once. Rafa leads in their career head-to-heads 23-19, Rafa having blossomed at a younger age. But Novak won the last four prior to their meeting at Garros, including three on nonclay all in straight sets. Their most recent grass-court meeting came at Wimbledon 2011, won by Novak in four. Our primary indicators also point to Djokovic, who leads Rafa in Basic, QWQ, and Composite. Nadal's only edge is a narrow one in GCX.
 
It may come down to how effectively Novak attacks Rafa's serve, thereby offsetting Rafa's expected advantage in physicality. No player is better equipped to do so than Djokovic. In accord with the message of the recent head-to-heads and our indicators, Djokovic over Nadal.
 
Rafa's place atop the official rankings should remain, but Novak in winning his seventh career Slam will assuredly become our Il Primo, the current king-of-the hill atop the sport.
 
THE WOMEN'S SINGLES: SERENA WILLIAMS AT 32
 
As defending champion at upset-riddled Wimbledon 2013 last year, Serena reached only the fourth round. There she lost to 23rd-seeded Sabine Lisicki, who would become the runner-up to the unexpected tournament winner, Marion Bartoli. After Wimbledon, Serena went on to win U.S. Open and the year-ending meet in Istanbul, thereby finishing 2013 with the official world ranking of #1. But although she still holds the official top ranking, her results in 2014 to date have been surpassed by the year-to-date rankings of Maria Sharapova, Li Na, and Simona Halep.
 
There is almost no disputing that if Serena is healthy and highly motivated, she should defeat any woman in pro tennis. Her most pronounced strength is in her serving, and she leads all others in serving-games-won percentage in 2014, at 81.2%. She and Karolina Pliskova are far ahead in aces. Serena's ground-stroke ball-striking remains more powerful and consistent than that of her rivals, and her athletic court movement takes away the ability of others to dominate exchanges except at extreme risk. When in her zone of extreme determination, Serena is probably the most dominating player in tennis history. There have been injury-related setbacks in the past, including back trouble in Australia this year and a left-thigh withdrawal at Madrid 2014, which seemed forgotten the next week when she captured Rome. Over the years, there have also been occasional hard-to-understand losses where Serena was unable to summon high levels of energy and will.
 
Serena has not competed since her loss at Garros, so her current readiness remains unclear. She firmly leads all others in our calculations of prime indicators. As five-time Wimbledon champion and with no obvious close rival on the scene, she remains the lone member of the top tier in her candidacy for Wimbledon 2014.
 
WOMEN'S SECOND TIER
 
The second tier includes the next-ranked six in our Basic Indicator. Former Wimbledon champions are Maria Sharapova (2004) and Petra Kvitova (2011). Both are impressive servers -- Maria with her severe velocities and Petra with her left-handed spins and power. Li Na and Victoria Azarenka have both been twice slam-winners though not at Wimbledon. Victoria is returning from several months on the sidelines with foot injury, before which she was generally regarded the player best equipped to topple Serena. Agnieszka Radwanska ranks second to Serena in Basic, and Simona Halep, just 22, has risen rapidly in the last year by her fine all-court mobility and striking skills. Both Radwanska and Halep are shorter than the others listed here, but both are close to the top overall in 2014 W-L percentage when returning serve, Agnieszka at 48.5% and Simona at 47.6%.
 
Second tier also includes two other stars, both young and rising. Garbine Muguruza was the player who defeated Serena at Garros, showing excellent first-serving, surprising skill at returning Serena's serves, and well-placed ground shots, often into baseline center area. That target should be especially rewarding by the middle rounds at Wimbledon when the grass there becomes well-chewed. Garbine eventually reached the quarter-finals at Garros, losing to eventual champion Sharapova in three sets. Equally promising is Eugenie Bouchard, who reached the Garros semis, also losing to Sharapova in three sets. Both Muguruza and Bouchard are tall and powerful women, both with excellent match temperament.
 
Finally we add Ana Ivanovic, recent winner on Birmingham grass, and Sabine Lisicki, a semi-finalist and conqueror of Serena at last year's Wimbledon.
 
Ivanovic was the only second-tier member who competed in the first grass-court week. Several others competed in the second week at Eastbourne and 's-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands). Ousted prior to the semis were Azarenka, Bouchard, and Muguruza. It was only the second match for Azarenka since Australian Open. Halep retired with shoulder trouble while ahead in her second match. Reaching the final round at Eastbourne was Kerber, Kvitova having withdrawn earlier. A new candidate for second-tier membership was American Coco Vandeweghe, who defeated Muguruza convincingly and reached the final round at 's-Hertogenbosch. Coco has always been a powerful striker but has been held back by too many errors in her big hitting.
 
WOMEN'S DRAW AND PREDICTIONS
 
Once again, as at Garros, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are drawn to face one another in the same quarter. Their expected meeting at Garros was prevented when Serena lost early to Garbine Muguruza, who later lost in the quarter-finals to Maria, the eventual tournament champion.
 
Once again, a strong newcomer stands in Serena's path to a quarter-final meeting with Sharapova. Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, seeded #13 and ranked at #8 by our Composite, is Serena's likely fourth-round opponent. In their only meeting to date at Cincinnati last year, Eugenie won the first set in a losing effort against Serena. Serena is well ahead of Eugenie in all our indicators except Riser, and the veteran champion should prevail here.
 
Sharapova is behind Serena in all our indicators, standing second overall to Serena in Composite. Serena leads in career head-to-head wins 16-2, Maria not having won since 2004. Serena has five Wimbledon crowns, Maria one. Maria at 27 is five years the younger. The fragility of Maria's serve will be exposed to the crushing serve-return ability of the American.
 
Here then are the predictions, which follow the indicators in all cases:
 
Quarter-finals
S. Williams over Sharapova
Halep over Ivanovic
A. Radwanska over Azarenka
Li Na over Kvitova
 
Semi-finals
S. Williams over Halep
A. Radwanska over Li Na
 
Final
S. Williams over A. Radwanska
 
Agnieszka Radwanska, 25 at height 5-8, brings good credentials as our predicted runner-up. Her overall W-L mark at Wimbledon is strong at 23-8. She ranks third in our Composite, behind Serena and Sharapova, and fourth in official rank for 2014, behind Li, Halep, and Serena. Picking her to defeat Li Na in the semis is supported by her win in their Wimbledon 2013 meeting, as well as by her excellent mobility and footwork fortifying her grass-court skills. Her serve carries less weight than those of many opponents, but the grass should improve its effectiveness. Radwanska's chances against Azarenka are enhanced by the latter's long injury-related absence. Azarenka returned at Eastbourne in the second week after Garros, losing her first match closely to rising Giorgi.
 
There is no candidate likely to defeat Serena provided that Serena finds her best tennis. It will be Serena's 17th Slam conquest overall, her first in 2014, and large step toward an even higher place in tennis history.
 
-- Ray Bowers, Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.
 
APPENDIX 1 -- MORE ON GRASS-COURT-TREND CALCULATIONS
 
The observations given under Grass-Court Trends, above, rest on several measurements:
 
The serving ability of players is calculated from three career-long measurements, all derived from ATP public data: (1) aces per games served, (2) first-serve points won as percentage of in-court first serves, and (3) first-serve points won as percentage of first serves attempted. Emerging as the top-ranked servers were Karlovic, Roddick/Sampras (tied), Isner, Tsonga, and Philippoussis, in that order.
 
Players are ranked in Grass-Court Premium according to each player's career ratio of Grass vs. Hard-Court W/L results, also taken from ATP data similarly available. Emerging as highest-ranked were Karlovic, Ivanisevic, Philippoussis, Rafter, Ferrer, Gasquet, in that order.
 
Here are the 33 players in our sample. Earliest-born group: Agassi, Roddick, Rafter, Karlovic, Kafelnikov, Kuerten, Moya, Ivanisevic, Ferrero, Philippoussis, Mirnyi. Middle group: Robredo, Davydenko, Haas, Melzer, Safin, Ferrero, Blake, Ferrer, Hewitt, Roddick, Federer. Latest-born group: Gasquet, Tsonga, Tipsarevic, Wawrinka, Youzhny, Isner, del Potro, Berdych, Murray, Djokovic, Nadal.
 
APPENDIX 2 -- INDICATOR SCORES
 
THE MEN
 
Basic Indicator. Results of 32 tournaments in 2012-2014 are weighted according to how well each tournament in the past predicted outcomes at the succeeding Wimbledon. The heaviest weighted predictors for Wimbledon 2014, here, were Wimb-13, Wimb-12, Madr-14, Mia-14, IndW-14, USO-13, AusO-14, Mia-13, in that order.
 
-- Djokovic, 23.0
-- Nadal, 21.6
-- Murray, 9.7
-- Federer 8.7
-- Wawrinka, 6.7
 
Quality-Win Quotient (QWQ). Match wins in 2014 over top-level opponents (weighted in three tiers) vs. total of losses to all opponents.
 
-- Djokovic, 25.7
-- Nadal, 18.5
-- Federer, 10.4
-- Wawrinka, 9.6
-- Nishikori, 8.9
 
Grass-Court Index (GCX). Career W-L record on grass with Wimbledon results weighted double.
 
-- Federer, 13.0
-- Murray, 11.1
-- Nadal, 10.6
-- Djokovic, 10.0
-- Hewitt, 9.0
 
Riser Index. Results in 2014 severely weighted for recency, compared with previous-best official ranking.
 
-- Gulbis, 28.5
-- Dimitrov, 15.3
-- M. Delic, 14.5
-- S. Johnson, 11.7
-- Thiem, 7.6
 
Composite of Indicators. The first three indicators are the prime indicators and are given equal weight here. Riser is given half weight.
 
-- Djokovic, 24.3 -- Nadal, 20.6
-- Federer, 12.1
-- Murray, 6.9
-- Gulbis, 6.0
 
THE WOMEN
 
Basic Indicator
-- S. Williams, 23.1
-- A. Radwanska, 14.8
-- Sharapova, 14.7
-- Li, 10.6
-- Halep, 7.1
 
Quality-Win Quotient (QWQ)
-- S. Williams, 24.6
-- Sharapova, 20.2
-- Halep, 8.3
-- Pennetta, 5.9
-- Ivanovic, 5.9
 
Grass-Court Index (GCX) -- S. Williams, 14.6
-- V. Williams, 13.5
-- Kvitova, 10.2
-- Sharapova, 9.8
-- Lisicki, 9.8
 
Riser Index
-- Bouchard, 22.5
-- C. Garcia, 12.3
-- Bencic, 12.0
-- Muguruza, 11.2
-- Halep, 9.2
 
Composite of Indicators
-- S. Williams, 17.8
-- Sharapova, 12.8
-- A. Radwanska, 7.3
-- Halep, 5.7
-- Li, 5.7
 
In each indicator and composite, above, the values given are the raw scores normalized by subtracting the 17th-best raw score from each of the top sixteen, then multiplying the sixteen results as needed to reach a total of 100. Calculations for some of the women's scores are structured slightly differently from the men's to fit available data. The values are through week ending June 15, 2014.
 

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

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.

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