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You only have to look at Rafael Nadal’s record on grass the week following his wins at the French Open to understand the folly of him playing on that surface just days after his almost routine victories on the red clay in Paris.

There have been 10 years since Nadal won his first Roland Garros in 2005 and he has played a grass-court event the next week every time except for 2009 and 2013. In 2009, after losing to Robin Soderling in the round-of-16 at Roland Garros, he didn’t play for two months because of knee problems. Another knee ailment kept him out in 2013.

Gerry Weber Open – atptennis.com

Here’s Nadal’s record on grass the week following his triumphs at the French Open:

Halle Queen’s Club
2005 – out first match 2006 – two and out
2012 – one match and out 2007 – two and out
2014 – out first match 2008 – won tournament
2010 – two and out
2011 – two and out

The anomaly is, of course, 2008 when he won Queen’s Club. Actually, he beat Jonas Bjorkman, Kei Nishikori, Ivo Karlovic, Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic, an impressive run, to take the title.

Maybe the best explanation is that he was playing great and wasn’t too worn out after winning in Paris. That year he beat Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-0, 6-2, Nicolas Almagro 6-1, 6-1, 6-1, Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(3) and Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in his last four matches at Roland Garros.

It was also the year he triumphed at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon – the first player to do that since Swedish great Bjorn Borg in 1980.

Since winning those five matches in 2008 at Queen’s Club, Nadal has lapsed back into early exits at his annual first event on grass – two and out in 2010 and 2011, one and out in 2012 and none and out this year – a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Dustin Brown in Halle last week.

Also last week, French Open semi-finalist Andy Murray lost in his second match at Queen’s Club by a 7-6(10), 6-2 score to 35-year-old Radek Stepanek.

Gerry Weber Open – atptennis.com

The exception, of course, was Roger Federer who won the title in Halle last Sunday – but he needed only three matches to do so after getting a first round bye and then a walkover to Yen-Hsun Lu in the quarter-finals.

It has made no sense that every year since 1977 there has been only two weeks between the French Open and Wimbledon – but that’s still not quite as nonsensical as 1977 and earlier when there was just a single week between the two European Grand Slams.

Likely the best explanation for Borg being able to win his first Wimbledon in 1976 was that he lost in the quarter-finals in Paris (one of only two times in eight French Opens that he didn’t win the title) and was able to get in extra practice time on the grass, helping him prepare for and win his first of five successive titles at the All England Club.

Getty Images – atptennis.com

Philip Brook, the current chairman of the All England Club, deserves credit for taking the initiative to create an extra week between the French and Wimbledon by moving the 2015 Wimbledon dates back by one week – June 29 to July 12.

There obviously should be three weeks – one week to de-compress after the French Open, one week to play a warm-up tournament on grass and a third to kind of relax and fine tune before all the madness of Wimbledon begins.

This is what will happen next year with those three weeks on grass for the men:

1st week:  s’Hertogenbosch – ATP 250

2nd week: Halle – ATP 500 / Queen’s Club – ATP 500

3rd week: Nottingham – ATP 250

For the women:

1st week: s’Hertogenbosch – International

2nd week: Birmingham – Premier

3rd week: Eastbourne – Premier

Getty Images – wtatennis.com

It seems a little strange that Eastbourne will remain one week (not two) before Wimbledon – but maybe officials think that’s the way it has always been and that the event will still get a good player turn-out.

On the women’s side, the game’s two biggest stars, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, have historically not played a warm-up event on grass, and similarly with Novak Djokovic among the men. It will be interesting to see, with one more week between the two Grand Slams, if those players will feel inclined to play a pre-Wimbledon event. Depending on when they lose at Roland Garros, they could have to go four weeks or more without tournament competition.

The extra week should also improve the quality of grass-court tennis at Wimbledon. Since the Australian Open went from grass to hard courts in 1988, there really have only been two weeks every year for players to get accustomed to the grass-court tennis before Wimbledon. Grass is a unique surface and, once a player gets the hang of playing on it, and is comfortable on it, he or she has a huge advantage. That surely played a part in helping Pete Sampras and Roger Federer win the title seven times each.

Getty Images – atptennis.com

Now, as the years go by, grass-court novices will have more opportunities to adapt their games to grass. That should result in an improvement in the quality of play.

So, the grass is looking greener for 2015. In particular, the tournaments in the second week before Wimbledon – and two weeks after Roland Garros – should be more attractive to the players and draw a greater number of the marquee names.

It will make the main events between Paris and London more credible and more exciting to follow.


Dutch video journalist Jan-Willem de Lange sends along this excellent piece with Vasek Pospisil after his 6-4, 7-5 first-round victory over Dusan Lajovic of Serbia on Monday at the s’Hertogenbosch ATP 250 event.

Pospisil will play No. 65-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany in the second round on Wednesday.



Ever since he had a heat rash during the Indian Wells event in March and started wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm to protect it from the sun, Milos Raonic has played almost every match with his right arm covered.

The heat rash is long gone but Raonic has kept the sleeve partly out of habit and partly because he thinks it keeps his bicep heated up.

Above, Raonic takes off the sleeve after his second round win over Jiri Vesely at the French Open.

Below, is a picture of him wearing it at the Halle event last week.

N.B. He will be wearing a white sleeve for Wimbledon.

Gerry Weber Open – atptennis.com


Here’s what Venus Williams will be wearing at Wimbledon. It is from the five-time champion’s EleVen collection. BTW – Venus is 34 years old as of today, Tuesday, June 17, 2014.



Here’s a selfie taken by Kim Clijsters during the French Open. Left to right her fellow former players are Nathalie Tauziat, Sandrine Testud, Clijsters, Iva Majoli, Nathalie Dechy, Anastasia Myskina and Mary Joe Fernandez.



This has nothing to do with tennis but it’s a fun, comparative look at all the nations in the World Cup.