Differences in surfaces decreasing

22 Apr

We are well into the Clay court season now, the switch to clay requires the biggest adjustments out of all the surfaces for the player’s but it is nowhere near as hard as it used to be.

Clay court (Top) Grass court (Bottom)

Clay court (Top) Grass court (Bottom)

To the people who are new to the game you may not know of the extremes between the clay court specialists,who relied on patience and movement at the back of the court, to the serve-and-volley experts on grass courts.

The former world number one Marcelo Rios famously said during Wimbledon 1997 that grass was for “cows and soccer”. He only played at SW19 three times in his 10-year career.

He was not the only one. The Clay court specialist would regularly go deep into the French open and then not go to Wimbledon at all.

Seeing a professional tennis player do that not is almost impossible to imagine, but that is in part due to the surfaces changing.

Wimbledon is so much slower that it was even four or five years ago. This means that serve and volleying which used to be the way to play on a grass court is now a tactic rarely used in the modern game.

Hard courts have also gone a similar way. The Australian open this year was played on ridiculously slow courts making the remarkable six-hour final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal possible and the reason why it went on for so long.

You could even say that both those great players would have found it far more difficult to win their Grand Slams on all surfaces on the courts of 20 years ago.

Let me make one thing clear I am not saying what they have both achieved is rubbish, far from it, but it is a sign that tennis has evolved over recent years.

In the past it took a wholesale change of approach to your game to conquer a new surface. Where as now you simply play a couple of matches to get used to the surface.

I’m not saying that this is a bad thing as it has certainly provided a much bigger spectacle for the spectator. This also encourage players to follow the calendar, rather than limit their activities to one or two favoured surfaces.

But the problem is the different surfaces are losing their identity. Hard courts, clay and grass should all still pose their own unique challenges. Winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year, for instance, should be a very rare occurrence.

It would be nice, too, to see another week of grass court tennis on the calendar a four week season comes and goes all too quickly.

Hard courts have really annoyed me in recent years, they have been so slow which has meant the players with the most power and strength on service games have not been able to use it to their advantage.

But strangely this has not really affected the women’s game as much as it has affected the mens side. The best have always risen to the top and the best players on one surface are usually the best on all in the women’s game.

Maybe the difference in power between the mens and the women’s game is the reason for this, or maybe it is something else like the depth of players between the men and the women’s game.

The only thing that is clear is that the surfaces are losing their individuality.


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4 responses to “Differences in surfaces decreasing

  1. Dan Martin

    April 23, 2012 at 6:10 AM

    Reblogged this on Tennis Abides.

    • Lavwin

      April 23, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      Thanks 🙂

      • Dan Martin

        April 23, 2012 at 1:10 PM

        No worries

  2. Lavwin

    April 23, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Im curious, what did you like about it?


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