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Jeff Cooper

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Serena's Exit Opens Lots of Doors

Thursday May 29, 2014

When Garbine Muguruza upset Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday, the rest of the women's field had to see a much-improved opportunity at Roland Garros this year.

Maria Sharapova, seeded 7, is widely considered to be currently the best player on clay, except when she faces Serena, whose absence makes her the new favorite.  The highest seed left in the first quarter with her is Dominika Cibulkova (9), but at 5'3", she may have trouble with the exceptionally heavy topspins of her next opponent, Sam Stosur (19).  Maria, at 6'2", won't be nearly as bothered by heavy kicks, but at her best, Stosur can beat anyone.

In the second quarter, Agnieszka Radwanska (3), the highest seed left in the draw, should manage to come through, despite preferring surfaces other than clay.  If Angelique Kerber (8) gets on a hot streak, she could overpower Radwanska, and Eugenie Bouchard (18) is a fast-rising star, but Radwanska has the best assortment of tools in the women's game--minus huge power.

The third quarter is full of unpredictable, powerful players, Petra Kvitova (5), Svetlana Kuznetsova (27), Ana Ivanovic (11), and Sloane Stephens (15), along with the second-highest seed left in the tournament, Simona Halep (4), who has a great chance to come through if none of the others has an unusually extended hot streak.

In the bottom quarter, two players who rely on quickness and consistency, Jelena Jankovic  (6) and Sara Errani (10) have the best chances.  A Jankovic vs. Errani quarterfinal would likely feature the longest average rallies of the tournament.

Mladenovic Upsets Li

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Kristina Mladenovic, ranked #103 in the world, upset the second seed, Li Na, in the first round at Roland Garros on Tuesday 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.  Facing set points at 4-5 in the first set, the 5'11" Mladenovic found big serves just when she most needed them and, after holding, broke Li and then closed out the set.  The result of the first set seemed to have opposite effects on the players, as  Mladenovic, perhaps overexcited or anxious about the prospect of the biggest win of her career in front of her home-country fans,  suffered a lull, and Li, perhaps shocked, steadied up.  Once they were back on even terms at a set apiece, though, both players seemed to have another mental reset, which in Li's case was unfortunate, as she her errors quickly outnumbered her winners.  Mladenovic, who just turned 21, will be one to watch, as her size, power, well-rounded game, and mental resilience signal a lot of potential.

Rankings Mini-Quiz: Week of 5-26-14

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Which player in the WTA top 20 gained the most ranking spots between last week and this week?

Who is the only player in the ATP top 20 to improve his ranking between last week and this week?

Wawrinka Upset in First Round

Monday May 26, 2014

Stan Wawrinka, the third seed at Roland Garros, lost in the first round Monday to 41st-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0. Wawrinka has put together only one really strong tournament, his Masters 1000 title at Monte Carlo, since winning the Australian Open in January, but he was in poor form even compared to his recent disappointments. Stan committed 62 unforced errors, with 37 winners falling far short of compensating.

French Open History Quiz

Friday May 23, 2014
Tennis has come a long way since 11th-century French monks started hitting a ball of wool across the monastery courtyard. This quiz doesn't take you back quite that far, but it does reach back to Roland Garros himself.

Clay Courts: the Good, the Bad, and the Debatable

Friday May 23, 2014
As you watch Roland Garros over the next two weeks, you'll see many of the pros and cons of clay courts demonstrated at the highest level.

Rankings Mini-Quiz: Week of 5-19-14

Tuesday May 20, 2014

Which two players in the ATP top 10 traded ranking spots between last week and this week?

Which WTA player climbed into a ranking spot between last week and this week that will prevent her having to face any of the top three at Roland Garros before the semifinals?

Choosing Racquets and Strings to Prevent Tennis Elbow

Tuesday May 20, 2014
Arm-friendly racquets and strings may not be able to save your arm from really poor stroke technique, but if your strokes are fairly sound, your choices in gear can make the difference between a happy and a hurting arm.

Tennis Pros Looking Funny

Saturday May 17, 2014
If you want to be a tennis pro, you'll need power, speed, stamina, focus, great coordination, and many other assets. You'll also end up looking pretty funny once in a while.

How to Hit Low Volleys Video

Saturday May 17, 2014
Learn why low volleys are so different from high volleys and how to hit your three best options when you're meeting the volley below the top of the net.

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