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Between The Lines
July 6, 2014 Article

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Glory At Wimbledon 2014
by Ray Bowers

Ray Bowers Photo
Ray Bowers

Strongly flavoring Wimbledon 2014 was its wave of newcomers -- a new tennis generation whose members were moderately successful in challenging the dominance of the men's Big Four and the top tier of women. The Big Four was diminished by the failure of Nadal and Murray to reach the tournament's final four, but the group nevertheless produced both finalists, Djokovic and Federer, where the courageous triumph of Novak Djokovic cemented his place atop the current game. One of the women's finalists, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, was a leader of the new wave at age 20, though the tournament champion was no newcomer -- Petra Kvitova, 24, an earlier Wimbledon champion when she too was a riser three years ago.
 
The playing conditions were generally moderate -- coolish at first, broken by a spell of rain mid-way in the tournament, and finally blue skies and a breezy spell before the finish. The convertible roof over Centre Court helped in keeping things going during the wet period and assuring that the big matches stayed on schedule toward the end.
 
As usual, the edge of the server on Wimbledon grass was greater than at the other Slams. Indeed, the count of aces in the last four rounds of the men's singles showed a higher percentage of aces per points played than at any Slam, Wimbledon or otherwise, since at least 2006. Servers won 69.5% of all points and 88.7% of non-tiebreak games -- higher percentages than any at Wimbledon since 2006. The same trend was seen at Australian Open 2014 but not at the most recent U.S. Open or Garros. That the bounce was unusually fast at this year's Wimbledon thus appears likely, though the observation was not echoed in player comments.
 
The slippery and dangerous foot traction of 2013 was less troublesome. Whereas last year there had been nine cases of player retirement or withdrawal in the men's singles main draw, many from lower-extremity injuries, this year there was only one. There was much slipping and falling on the grass, however, mainly when players pushed their athleticism to the limit of the traction. A fall by Djokovic early in the men's final produced a leg injury that became increasingly troubling toward the finish. Also seen late in the tournament was poor traction behind the baseline where the grass had been worn away. The residual dirt was allowed to become extremely dry, producing slippery conditions like those of a poorly watered clay court.
 
FIRST WEEK -- REACHING THE FINAL 32
 
The qualifying tournament had been played the previous week. The sixteen male and twelve female winning qualifiers, now tested and toughened survivors, proved more successful than might have been expected in their first main-draw matches against higher-ranked opponents, starting Monday, 23 June. Winning their main-draw openers were nearly half the qualifiers -- six males and seven females. But of those, only one male and two females then reached the tournament's final 32, and just one reached the final sixteen. That was Tereza Smitkova, 19, of Czech Republic, who then lost in straight sets to Radwanska. Tereza thus became the unofficial champion among the hundreds of male and female original entrants in the qualifying tournament.
 
Probably the most interesting early match-up in the main draw came on Wednesday, when top-seeded Novak Djokovic faced the brilliant Czech veteran, Radek Stepanek. Two weeks earlier, Radek had defeated Andy Murray -- the reigning Wimbledon champion -- in reaching the final four on grass at Queen's Club, London, in a superb display of grass-court skills.
 
Now facing the Wimbledon favorite, Stepanek again unleashed his remarkable arsenal. Djokovic won the first two sets, closely, each by a single break of serve. Both sets three and four ended in close tiebreakers, both following dramatic late-set action. The tension descended on Novak, whose earlier lead now seemed insecure. Stepanek still came to net behind first serves, but as matters reached climax in both sets, critical extended baseline rallies were now being won by Stepanek upon errors by Novak. The third set slipped away for Djokovic, and then the fourth seemed in jeopardy, as Djokovic had trouble holding serve in game eleven.
 
Then came an unfortunate linesperson mistake, where a strong return by Stepanek clipped the baseline but was called out. Stepanek challenged, and the video showed that the ball caught the line. It appeared that the point was to be replayed, but Djokovic ended the discussion by conceding that the point belonged to his opponent. It was old-fashioned but it was, indeed, an action of high integrity by Novak.
 
The episode seemed quickly forgotten as the high drama resumed. Once again, as in set three, Stepanek came from behind to equalize the fourth-set tiebreaker at five points all, largely by winning second-serve points from the baseline. The match ended in yet another high moment -- a hard-to-believe cross-court pass by Djokovic that caught the line and withstood a prayerful challenge by Stepanek. Djokovic d. Stepanek 64 63 67 76.
 
Thursday began with two thrillers. Playing aggressively and well, Lukas Rosol won the first set against Rafael Nadal and reached set point in their second-set tiebreaker. Rafa managed to turn around the tiebreaker behind his powerful and now-error-free forehand. Lukas's strong play continued in the last two sets, but Rafa, his forehand complemented by heavy-backspin backhands and side-spinning lefty serves, captured the last two sets by single breaks of serve. Meanwhile Richard Gasquet and teen-aged Nick Kyrgios dueled into an extended fifth set, where Richard achieved nine match points but lost all of them. The young Aussie finally prevailed in the 18-game final set.
 
Rain set back completion of the second round to Friday. The 32 male survivors consisted of 19 seeded players and 13 unseeded intruders -- the median balance of recent years. Meanwhile the women's final 32 included 14 penetrators. But the top eight male and female stars were largely unscathed to date -- only Ferrer, seeded #8, among the males and Jankovic and Azarenka, seeded #7 and #8 among the women, had departed.
 
But the most remarkable performer of the early going was Venus Williams, age 34 and fighting off a chronic disease, a five-time past champion at Wimbledon, whose two wins in the current tournament re-created the long-ago power and movement of the veteran American.
 
MIDDLE WEEKEND -- TOWARD THE FINAL SIXTEEN
 
Friday brought the departure of second-seeded Li Na, victim in two tiebreak sets of unseeded Czech star Barbora Zahlavova Strykova, 28. Now favored in Li's quarter were Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova. The two met next in Friday action.
 
Venus's Friday match-up with Kvitova quickly became a thunderous struggle, both women delivering extreme serving and stroking power, both determined to play aggressively. Venus seemed the stronger most of the time and was the only one to break serve until very late. But Kvitova's lefty serve seemed never more effective, especially to Venus's backhand in the ad court. As the third set moved into extended games, several rocket serve-returns by Petra abruptly closed out matters. Kvitova d. V. Williams 57 76 75.
 
On a rainy Saturday came the shocking departure of Serena Williams, who failed to summon the quickness and footwork shown by her sister the day before. Serena easily captured the first set when her opponent, Alize Cornet, age 24 at a lithe 5-8 in height, proved helpless even against weak offerings by Serena. But in set two the French player began equalizing the points, serving and driving close to the lines, moving beautifully about the court, keeping pressure on Serena. Serena made a run after losing the set's first five games, but Alize managed to close out the second set. Serena's discomfort resumed in the third set, Alize continuing to push Serena outside her zone of comfort, consistently driving deep and to the corners, mixing in drop shots. Meanwhile Serena lacked confidence in her own rocketry or in coming forward. Again falling behind by two service breaks, Serena finally discovered her overpowering game, driving Alize into the corners and taking charge at last. But Alize staved off the rush with a strong final game, serving, against a Serena helplessly distraught as the finish loomed.
 
Against Alize's superiority in movement and striking, Serena's once-magnificent serve seemed her best chance of reversing the disaster. But on this day Serena produced only three aces -- the same as Alize -- to go with seven double-faults. Her second serve averaged only 83 mph for the match, only one mph faster than Alize's. Instead of being dominated by Serena's serve, Alize often equalized or herself took dominance with her serve-returns. Cornet d. S. Williams, 16 63 64.
 
Serena would later withdraw from the doubles amid an episode of extreme disorientation on court. Novak Djokovic hurt his left shoulder in a nasty fall on Friday, though after treatment and medication, Novak completed his straight-set win over Gilles Simon.
 
Here was the tally of matches won by the national contingents as of off-day Sunday -- singles, doubles, and mixed. (Each win in doubles and mixed earned half-credit for the nation of each winning partner.)
 
Women
Czech Republic, 20.0 matches won
U.S.A., 18.0
Russia, 13.5
 
Men
Spain, 16.0 matches won
France, 15.0
Czech Republic, 10.5
 
The Czech women moved into first place when their four singles survivors -- Kvitova, Safarova, Zahlavova Strykova, and Smitkova -- all won their third-round matches. The Americans slipped to second when none of their five third-rounders reached round four (though Keys had yet to finish). Highlighting the reversal in the standings had been Kvitova's close win over Venus Williams. Meanwhile Spain's chances to stay ahead in the men's tally looked good, as Nadal in singles and Granollers-M. Lopez in doubles seemed likely to contribute further success.
 
RISERS OF THE FIRST WEEK
 
The women's 18-and-unders -- Belinda Bencic and Ana Konjuh
 
Making strong bids for glory at Wimbledon 2014 were several members of the 18-and-under female brigade (not yet age 19 as of tournament date). By reaching the third round of the main draw, two of them seemed especially destined for stardom. The new Swiss Miss, Belinda Bencic, and Croatia's Ana Konjuh, just 16, each defeated a top-100 player enroute to a third round loss to a seeded star. Konjuh also won three qualifying-round matches in earning her place in the main draw.
 
Other members of the cohort achieving one main-draw win were Donna Vekic and Vickie Duval. Soon afterwards Vickie, who had won through in the qualifiers, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. American Taylor Townsend lost in the first round of the main draw.
 
Here are the rankings for the group in results during Second Trimester 2014. The trimester will end later in July.
 
Players now 18-and-under, results in trimester 2/14 through Wimb 2014
1. Donna Vekic, age 18 -- prior score 7.8 + at Wimb 1.1 = current score 8.9
2. Belinda Bencic, 17 -- score 3.7 + 2.5 = 6.2
3. Taylor Townsend, 18 -- score 5.5 + 0 = 5.5
4. Vickie Duval, 18 -- score 2.6 + 2.0 = 4.6
5. Ana Konjuh, 16 -- score 0.7 + 3.4 = 4.1
 
Rankings within young cohorts are surprisingly stable measured even in short time spans, as here. Bencic had led in the previous trimester 1/14, with Vekic second, Duval third, and Konjuh seventh.
 
The men's 20-and-unders --The case of Nick Kyrgios
 
Rains on Saturday interrupted and held over the third-round match-up between two strapping stars of the male 20-and-under cohort. The four-set victory of Australian Nick Kyrgios, 19 at height 6-4, over the young Czech star Jiri Vesely, 20 at 6-6, established the former as the dominant performer of the group. It also earned Kyrgios a fourth-round date with Rafael Nadal.
 
Born in Canberra in April 1995 of Greek-Australian and Malaysian parentage, Kyrgios decided to forego a basketball career to concentrate on tennis. In a strong career as a junior, Nick won the 2013 Australian Open Juniors, defeating fellow Aussie riser Kokkinakis. A year later Nick scored a main-draw win at Melbourne Park and held a two-set lead in the second round before fatiguing. Prior to Wimbledon 2014 Nick had become the world's best teen-ager, showing triumphs in Challengers on clay in U.S. and another on grass at Nottingham in early June.
 
Nick's progress can be measured against his contemporaries -- other players now 20-and-under, a cohort until recently dominated by two players slightly older than Nick -- Jiri Vesely of Czech Republic and Dominic Thiem of Austria. In his match preceding his Wimbledon loss to Kyrgios, Vesely defeated Gael Monfils. Meanwhile Dominic Thiem lost a four-setter in the first round.
 
Here is our computer's ranking of players now 20-and-under, from performance in Second Trimester 2014 both before Wimbledon and after Kyrgios's win over Vesely there.
 
Players now 20-&-under, results in trimester 2/14
1. Jiri Vesely, age 20 -- prior score 9.5 + at Wimb 2.9 = resulting score 12.4
2. Nick Kyrgios, 19 -- score 5.0 + 4.8 = 9.8
3. Dominic Thiem, 20 -- score 6.7 + 0 = 6.7
4. Thanasi Kokkinakis, 18 -- score 1.4 + 0 = 1.4
 
In the preceding period, trimester 1/14, the same foursome had finished as the top four. Thiem, Vesely, and Kokkinakis were the top three, in that order, followed by Kyrgios, fourth.
 
But the greater story of Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon was yet ahead.
 
SECOND WEEK
 
A rain-drenched Monday was followed by all-day sunshine on Tuesday, but for two of the tournament favorites Tuesday was hardly glorious.
 
Rafael Nadal had lost the first set in all three of his earlier victories, so it was only slightly surprising when the powerful and athletic teen-ager Nick Kyrgios captured the first set in their Tuesday fourth-rounder. But as Rafa bid to step up his full force in the second set, it soon became clear that the margin between the two would remain narrow. The second set was as furious as the first, Nick's heavy artillery persisting in its effect. Rafa won that set, however, and he nearly won the third set as well, achieving a set point in game twelve, Nick serving. But three points later it was Kyrgios pocketing the game, Rafa having failed to return serve in all three points. The ensuing tiebreaker was well contested, won by Nick, as were several games in the final, fourth set.
 
The resolve of Nadal was now obvious, occasionally bringing flashes of Rafa's past brilliance. But the momentum of the young Australian was now irresistable. Rafa was mostly on the defensive, Nick striking harder and with more aggressive direction. Nick was only occasionally in forecourt, not exposing himself to the game's greatest counter-puncher. But feeding off Rafa's often softish delieveries, Nick's bolts of lightning, delivered with little interruption, proved too potent even for Rafa. And as Rafa's uncertainty grew on how to stem the torrent, so too did his own unforced miscues often in bids to take over dominance in points.
 
Kyrgios's victory raised his score in the 20-and-under rankings (as given earlier) but not quite enough to surpass Vesely's. The victory also certified the strengths of Nick's game. His serving was severe, extremely accurate, deceptive, produced quickly from a fairly low toss. Its direction was hard to read, and its fastest on this day was 133 mph, producing an astonishing 37 aces and resulting in Nick's winning 83% of his first-serve points. But even more impressive was Nick's powerful backhand two-hander, delivered with almost no backswing, which again and again produced withering cross-court rockets at extreme angle which produced winners or moved Rafa far outside the sideline boundaries. Nick also exhibited a comparably potent forehand, typically delivered slap-like at extreme power with body open to net. He is quick to the ball, quick in his shot-preparation and execution, fast-paced in his serving preparations, confident in manner. Nadal never quite adjusted to Nick's pace and general command of the match. Kyrgios d. Nadal 76 57 76 63.
 
Meanwhile there were further surprises on the women's side, Sharapova losing to Kerber in a close three-setter and Radwanska defeated by firm-striking lefty Makarova. Two Czech women, Kvitova and Safarova, each lost only one set in their journeys to a semi-final meeting to decide the monarch of the lower half.
 
The semi-finalists for the upper half became known in simultaneous early matches on Wednesday, where participants included two fine German players. Heavy-hitter Sabine Lisicki -- a finalist last year at Wimbledon -- won four of the first five games against Simona Halep. But Lisicki's play then unraveled in the face of Simona's overall quickness, firm stroking, and avoidance of error. Halep won the last eleven games of the match, many of those games brief. Meanwhile Eugenie Bouchard's heavy stroking held up well against the strong resistance of Angelique Kerber. Eugenie led by a set and double-break. Kerber nearly reversed matters, but in a tight finish Eugenie answered, overcoming any nervousness by executing her heavy bombardment well. Thus both German stars became losers on this day. Halep d. Lisicki 64 60 and Bouchard d. Kerber 63 64.
 
On the men's side, Rafa was gone, but the other three members of the Big Four remained. But not for long, as Wednesday's tennis continued.
 
Andy Murray was the first to depart -- out-hammered from start to finish by Grigor Dimitrov, 23. The young Bulgarian was strong in all aspects, moving brilliantly, playing with confidence and authority. In the critical second-set tiebreaker, Andy, now playing better, reached four points all, but the next three points went to Grigor behind superb backhand shot-making. The fine tennis continued into the third set, but at mid-set several bad errors by Andy produced the service break that essentially ended matters. Dimitrov d. Murray 61 76 62.
 
Next in trouble was the tournament favorite, Novak Djokovic, 27. His opponent was Marin Cilic, 25, a player who had been close to the top level for several years behind good power in serving and stroking. Novak won the first set easily, Cilic won the second. The third turned into a ferocious battle for dominance. There was little temporizing for the Croatian underdog, who struck deep and to the corners often. Djokovic, clearly not comfortable with the traction -- now sliding, slipping, reaching, and falling amid strenuous efforts -- generally followed his instinctive manner of play, essentially defensive, extending points, moving superbly to answer opponent's high-risk bids. His problem was that Cilic's rockets to the corners seldom missed. Amid full-blooded tennis by both men the third set reached tiebreaker, Marin having wasted his service-break edge in a game where he touched net in completing an easy overhead. It didn't matter, as the tiebreaker went to the bolder player, Cilic.
 
But amid the adversity, Djokovic stayed with his strengths -- air-tight tennis, variety and steadiness, keeping moderate pressure on opponent but at little risk of error. The misses by Cilic now came more often, as Novak was now the fresher player despite his extreme defensive efforts earlier. The fourth set was difficult for Novak but the fifth was easy. Djokovic d. Cilic 61 36 67 62 62.
 
Murray was gone, and Djokovic narrowly survived. There was a moment when Roger Federer also looked vulnerable, having lost the first set aface the extreme backhand power of his opponent, Stan Wawrinka. Roger almost lost the second set as well but survived in a thrilling tiebreaker. With Stan's edge broken, Roger's considerable greatness set in and except in a final game well played by both men, when Stan nearly equalized at five games all, Roger stayed on top. Federer d. Wawrinka, 36 76 76 64.
 
The remaining men's quarter-final became a blistering affair pitting Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios won the serving-dominated first set in a tiebreaker. But the young Aussie gradually faded thereafter, probably worn down from his previous day's struggle with Murray. Then too there was the forceful striking power of Raonic off the ground that made it difficult for Nick to be the attacker. Thus the backhand cross-court rockets of Kyrgios were fewer and less deadly than the day before, the aces fewer, the errors more frequent and coming earlier in points. Raonic d. Kyrgios 67 62 64 64.
 
WOMEN'S SEMIS
 
The first set between the two Czech lefties was close -- a bit sleepy for watchers perhaps -- but Lucie Safarova showed her excellent movement and shot-making crispness to stay even until the set's final minute. Petra Kvitova was unable to find enough consistency to make her superior firepower take full effect. But she squeezed ahead early in the tiebreak game and finished strongly to collect that first set. After that, with Kvitova now confident in her lead, Petra's potent serve and ground-strokes became freer and more accurate, producing an early lead which her countrywoman seemed resigned to accept. Kvitova d. Safarova, 76 61.
 
The second semi merited closer attention. Simona Halep, 22, wiry and strong at height 5-6, brought a stunning defensive/offensive game based on superb movement and shot firmness. Quick to the ball, she was very good at dispatching an opponent's short offering. Otherwise she preferred back court, remaining always a threat to step up her shot direction and pace. Her opponent, Eugenie Bouchard, 20, was taller at 5-10 than Simon and inherently more powerful in serving and stroking. Eugenie's tactics on this day entailed relentless attack starting with the serve and serve-return, then maintaining point dominance despite high risk of error.
 
Halep, the more experienced, early-on turned an ankle in slipping but resumed play after taping. Both attacked from the back court, Bouchard proving the more aggressive in moving forward behind strong approach shots. Simona as expected was the better mover but Eugenie did some fine work in defanging forceful strikes to the corners by Simona. In the first-set tiebreaker Eugenie came from behind, her power game becoming relentlessly error-free despite some remarkable countering by Simona.
 
Whether it was Simona's ankle injury, or tiredness from her extreme efforts so far, or perhaps disappointment at the tiebreaker turn, Simona never recovered her spark. Eugenie's increasing threat of punishing Simona's serves obviously bothered Simona. Soon it was double-break in favor of Eugenie. The second set took only 34 minutes, completing an indeed impressive performance by Eugenie. Bouchard d. Halep, 76 62.
 
MEN'S SEMIS
 
The first of the men's semis proved a gripping affair, played amid breezy conditions and the familiar problems of slipping and bad bounces on Centre Court. Both players, however, scored more winners than unforced errors over the full match, and both provided countless instances of amazing, indeed spectacular play. It was an affair of high drama, extreme athleticism and skill, played with both power and tactical variety.
 
The younger player, Grigor Dimitrov, 23 at height 6-2, was the more powerful in striking and was also the more highly athletic, especially in volleying and in the many exchanges with both men inside baseline. His rise has been chronicled as member of our computer-generated watch list active through much of 2013-2014. As member of the age cohort now 23-and-under, Grigor's results overtook those of his contemporary Milos Raonic at mid-2013 and kept Grigor atop the cohort since.
 
As the match began, Novak Djokovic brought his familiar rallying style, trying to keep pressure on his opponent while minimizing his own errors. Amid almost perfect serving, Novak lost only four serving points in the first set. Grigor meanwhile lost only five but four came in a single serving game, all on misses by Grigor, accounting for the only break of serve in the set. The second set went to Grigor, however, amid some ragged shot-making by both men and what had become largely defensive play by Djokovic.
 
I cannot remember ever watching Novak Djokovic playing as aggressively as in what followed. After making just two net approaches in set two, Novak recorded 19 in set three, including several all-out serve-and-volley rushes. He was not always successful in forecourt, winning just 57% at net (over the full match), but the change in tactics restored the balance on the scoreboard. Grigor's success at net, where he had won all of his eleven net points in set two, had been diminished by Novak's now sometimes getting there first. In the tiebreaker ending the third set, it was Djokovic who produced his best tennis, temporarily away from his recent aggressiveness. Dimitrov helped out with several errors including a double-fault.
 
Either man could still win. Dimitrov's many superb points especially in forecourt continued to unfold, though Grigor's strenuous efforts were now regularly producing slips and spills. Djokovic's tally of points won at net during the set exceeded Dimitrov's. It went to another tiebreaker, where Dimitrov moved ahead in points 6-3, with three set points in hand. But Novak was now producing air-tight first-strike tennis, his timing now well tuned. Novak won the three adverse set points, and a few moments later it was Novak raising his arms upward in triumph. The more experienced player had found a path to winning. Djokovic d. Dimitrov, 64 36 76 76.
 
Novak's final-round opponent would be Roger Federer, now age 32 and in his 16th Wimbledon seeking his eighth crown there. Roger defeated Milos Raonic in a straightforward semi. Milos's only edge was in his serve, where he led in aces 17-6 and in maximum serve velocity at 139 mph. But Roger, playing brilliantly, had the better points-won percentage whether serving or receiving, his serve never broken. It was vintage Sir Roger. Federer d. Ranoic 64 64 64.
 
WOMEN'S FINAL
 
The wonderful strengths of Eugenie Bouchard seen all week hardly mattered. The tall Canadian was wholly unprepared for and wholly unable to answer the devastating and superior power of the past Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova. Petra's rocketry in serving, serve-returning, and stroking blistered in its severity from the outset. Even when Petra was pressured by her opponent's more-than-respectable firepower, Petra often sent back an unexpected missile that exceeded Eugenie's ability to reply. The only question, which lingered until the end, was whether Petra could continue to keep her artillery inside the lines. But even that did not matter much, as most points ended in one strike by Petra leaving no further opportunities for errors. Throughout, her striking grew freer and more accurate. It was perhaps hit-or-miss tennis, but with almost no misses. The match ended in only 55 minutes.
 
Kvitova's greatness had grown throughout the tournament, having been honed in the difficult victory over Venus Williams. That her success would continue in coming weeks and months seemed more than likely. Kvitova d. Bouchard, 63 60.
 
MEN'S FINAL
 
The greatness of Novak Djokovic was confirmed on final-round Sunday in his narrow victory over a Roger Federer at his best. Roger rallied and moved forward aggressively throughout, showing his remarkable skills in serving, striking, movement, and net play, all at highest level. It was difficult to see a realm where Roger was not the better player, for even in the long baseline exchanges where Djokovic is almost unbeatable, it was frequently Federer who came out ahead and Djokovic whose steadiness faltered. Both men officially tallied more than twice as many winners as unforced errors.
 
The first set alone was worth the price of a whole season of tennis tickets. Both men played at almost incredible level in the violent exchanges that marked every game. Federer prevailed in a harshly contested tiebreaker, serving brilliantly in the tiebreaker's overtime finish. The second set went to Djokovic after Roger yielded early the set's only break of serve. Set three went to Djokovic in a tiebreaker, but Novak failed to serve out the fourth set to complete the victory. By then the fresher-looking player was Federer, while Djokovic had become increasingly conscious of his leg injury. But the final verdict came in game ten of the close fifth set, when Djokovic's energetic defensive pressure finally cracked Federer's consistency, Roger yielding four unforced errors and thus the match.
 
Both men served with severity throughout, Roger scoring 29 aces against Novak's 13. Roger's second serves carried more pace than Novak's -- on average 100 mph against Novak's 92. Roger tried to step forward to attack Novak's second serves with only moderate success. But Novak's punishment of Roger's albeit heavier second serves produced an astonishing 65% second-serve-return point-winning rate, against Roger's more-customary rate of 44%. Djokovic d. Federer 67 64 76 57 64.
 
OTHER LAURELS
 
The Doubles
 
The Italian pair Errani-Vinci captured the women's doubles where all six of their victories ended in comfortable margins. In men's doubles, young North Americans Posposil and Sock defeated the Bryan brothers in the final. Zimonjic-Stosur won the mixed.
 
Triple Crown
 
As usual, there were no players having realistic chance for the Triple Crown -- winning singles, doubles, and mixed, all three. Three players came closest to doing so, each achieving 8 match-wins:
 
-- Kristina Mladnovic, women's doubles 5, mixed doubles 3, total 8 match-wins.
-- Lucie Safarova, women's singles 5, women's doubles 3, total 8
-- Nenad Zimonjic, men's doubles 3, mixed doubles 5, total 8
 
Overachievement
 
The prime overachiever in singles among the men was Nick Kyrgios, unseeded, who reached the tournament's final four, thus scoring three levels of overachievement. Five women also overachieved by three levels, as follows:
 
-- Tereza Smitkova, won qualifying tournament for one credit, then reached final 32 and 16.
-- Barbora Zahlavova Strykova, unseeded, reached final 32, 16, and 8.
-- Lucie Safarova, seeded #17-32 level, reached final 16, 8, and 4.
-- Eugenie Bouchard, seeded #9-16 level, reached final 8, 4, and 2.
-- Petra Kvitova, seeded #5-8 level, reached final 4, 2, and 1
 
The Nations
 
In the tallies of match wins (singles, doubles, mixed) by nation, first place went to France among the men, Czech Republic among the women. The French males were strong in the early rounds of both singles and doubles, but it was the doubles success of Llodra-Mahut and Benneteau-Roger Vasselin in the middle rounds that lifted them into first place. France had not previously won the male honors at Wimbledon since the start of my counts in 2001. The Czech women, led by Kvitova and Safarova in singles, won for the second straight year.
 
Men
1. France, 19.0 match wins
2. U.S.A., 17.5
3. Spain, 17.0
 
Women
1. Czech Republic, 30.0
2. U.S.A., 19.0
3. Russia, 17.5
 
Indicators and Predictions
 
The many upsets prior to the late rounds were reflected in the low success achieved by the indicators and predictions previously offered here, whose success scores were no better than that of the official seedings. Serena Williams had been wrongly predicted as the tournament winner in all forecasts, while most here and elsewhere correctly picked Djokovic as male winner. Grass-Court Index (GCX), however, had instead named Federer to win the tournament and Murray as runner-up, in both cases hurting the success of that indicator. Quality-Win Quotient (QWQ) was less successful than the other indicators on the women's side, as Kvitova had scored very low in that pre-tournament measurement. Recognition is owed to Riser Index for naming as its top candidate Bouchard, who became the tournament runner-up. Riser also chose as the men's runner-up Dimitrov, who reached the semis.
 
LAST WORD
 
This newest Wimbledon was, as always, a magnificent celebration of world sport, a showplace for tennis at its highest level ever, played out amid the personal dramas of hundreds of competitors and their supporters. Worldwide television brought it to the world as it happened, enriching the human experience everywhere, momentarily linking all mankind.
 
-- Ray Bowers, Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.
 

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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