Veteran Braddon has cleverly stitched together ideas for two commercial novels: a sentimental romp around the buddy-buddy bonding of two international tennis stars--and an assassins-in-the-stadium thriller. By the time that Australian Gary King and teen-aged Russian defector Vissarion Tsarapkin make it to opposite sides of center court at Wimbledon, they've become roommates and famous superchums (Gary helped ""Rastus"" defect, taught him English) with different approaches to the game--the Australian plays to win, the Russian plays to make tennis ""a kind of theatre and a form of art."" As their championship final begins, a bisexual psycho phones in his threat: helicopter in the Koh-i-Noor diamond or the Wimbledon winner and the Queen (she's spectating) will die at the end of the match. A few bystanders are shot (just a token show of strength), and the cops are having trouble figuring out where the gunmen are and how the psycho is signaling them. So the finalists must literally play for time, and the Russian (he knows about the threat, Gary doesn't) uses all his skills to keep the ball in play for the longest five sets in tennis history. All of Braddon's slick seams may show, but with an unexpected absence of any sex but the sublimated (""I was thinking of you the first time I met you, looking for your jock strap"") and earnestly recorded volleys and rallys for the fans, this is a reasonably well-placed shot to a sure-shot audience.