June 23, 2005

Green is red for some !

June 23, 2005 Posted by Vijay 5 comments
Many a tennis player has hated playing on the Grass Court at Wimbledon. Mainly, the ones who are supreme on clay surfaces struggle to perform on the grass courts at the All England Club.Mainly because, the grass is a much faster surface and it is the serve and volley game which benefits there. On claycourt, there are more of ralleys and more shots are won from the baseline.So a player needs to be physically strong and have great stamina to withstand the Roland Garros kind of tournament in France. Roger Federer found this out against the eventual winner of the French Open this year - the 19 year old Spanish sensation, Rafael Nadal.Unlike the dead slow clay surface, grass favours the big servers and volleyers who attack the net rather than sit back, rooted to the baseline.

But French open champions more often than not have struggled on Grass Courts. So much so that they have said, it is not worth playing on the most prestigious Grandslam Tennis tournaments.Gustavo Kuerten, who has won the French Open three times, graced the All England Club just 5 times and said - "Everybody in Britain keeps going on about how wonderful Wimbledon is, but I simply don't have any desire to play there, and it means nothing to me". Marcelo Rios a former world number 1 from Chile was another such player.The Chilean was world number one for six weeks in 1998, the same year in which he reached his only Grand Slam final at the Australian Open.Rios was the first South American in history to reach the number one spot, and only the third ever player to be ranked top as a junior and as a professional.He won five Masters Series titles, including three in 1998, and was later named Chile's sportsman of the century. But his hatred for the grasscourt couldn't have been more succinct thatn when he commented - "grass is for cows".

Marcelo Rios

Well, is that all the so called Grandslam champs at French Open have in them ? Should Tennis not be an all round game ? Shouldn't surfaces which a player is not good enough motivate them to improve their skills and perform better ? One probable reason that players quote is that, there is hardly a gap of 4 weeks between the French Open and The Wimbledon. So it is harder for the players adapted to clay to come to terms with the grass court surface. Well, maybe there is a valid point there. Maybe the ATP and WTA need to work out a way, wherein there is sufficient time for players to prepare for Wimbledon. Because, a French Open champion has won it not on fluke but on pure merit and the game needs such players to rise up and challenge on the Grass courts too. Otherwise the game will have a set of players who keep winning the French and another set who keep winning the Wimbledon all the time. That will render the game devoid of competition across surfaces.

A heartening thing is that, Marat Safin, The Australian Open champion, believes he is well equipped for the grass court at Wimbledon this year. Last year he crashed out in the first round at the Wimbledon to another Russian, Tursunov.Safin had then said - "I give up on Wimbledon. It's not the tournament for me.I hate this. I can't move on grass. Every time I don't know how the ball is going to bounce, it's a real nightmare for me. So after a while, I just got bored. I lost motivation and gave up."Incidentally Tursunov upset British hope and 6th seed, Tim Henman in the 2nd round yesterday in a gruelling 5 setter.Safin came to the championship at Wimbledon after having reached the final at the Halle Open in Germany where he lost to Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.Safin's Swedish coach Peter Lundgren, who previously worked with Federer, said the Russian had a chance of winning the title at the All England Club.Seems Lungdren has motivated Safin through Federer's own performances at the Championships.Safin has so far overcome Paradorn Srichapan and Mark Philippousis, both big performers in the recent past at Wimbledon in the first and second round. He won both the matches in straight sets too.

On a discouraging note, French open champion Rafael Nadal lost in the second round ,while women's champion at the French Open ,Justin Hardenne Henin lost in the very first round, seeming to prove once again the vulnerability of clay court specialists on grass.But Nadal has vowed to claim the crown one day. That definitely will spur more clay court specialists to improve their performances on grass. They need to rise up to a new kind of surface, alien to them maybe, and take it as a challenge rather than shirking away from it. Safin is on the way to giving some nightmares for Federer. It won't be long before Nadal gives some too.Other should follow their examples too.


Japesh said...

The comments given by Clay court specialists who have not done well in Grass courts is more like - "The Grapes are sour" stuff.

There are so many people who have done exceptionally well in all the surfaces. Few names who have done well in all surfaces - Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Federer etc.

So its all a question of mind over matter and adaptability

Vijay said...

guess what ? Safin lost too !!! Sad blow :(

Aslan said...

Haha- empty words by Safin. Lopez just mashed him. Man, grass is grass. Clay is clay. Nadal sucked too. Federer is the champ. I love watching grass court tennis, so Wimbledon is the best. Rios or Kuerten have never been my faves. I love Federer. Serve-volley is the way to play :) The Spaniards want stamina to play a role in tennis?! They can go n' play football. Tennis is a game of finesse, skill n' agility. Thats why its special.

Aslan said...

n' dude, great post indeed! A wealth of information n' facts in it, aptly describing grass n' clay court tennis. Frankly, watching clay court tennis is really boring.

Sarita Shekhar said...

Nice article! I feel, the best players should be the best on both - tennis should be honored on both surfaces. Bjorn Borg won on grass and clay with ease, and was the best at both! Guess Lendl and Sampras have an innate mental hurdle to play on one surface type alone. Only scientists and linguists stick to innateness, not athletes! Hope both Federer and Nadal fulfil their wows to conquer each other's favorite surfaces someday, and I guess that would end the clay-grass debate once and for all!