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Rabbit
06-06-2007, 10:13 AM
Last night, Pat Cash was interviewed on the Tennis Channel's roaming coverage. He was asked about the American's current state of malaise on clay. Cash offered up some interesting points:


Everyone thinks the grass at Wimbledon has gotten slower, and it has. But not many people know that the clay courts at the French have changed just about as much. Cash said during his day the courts had much more clay on them and some of the clay was packed down. This resulted in a slower, softer court. Today, he continued, you can see that there is a thin layer of clay and when it's moved around a little, you can actually see the limestone base beneath it. <End of paraphrasing Cash> <Begin annecdote> Last year, Nads got upset because of this and said the court was dangerous (no clay means lots of slipping and unsure footing). Nads and others said that without the clay, the courts played more like hardcourts. So, the French combined with a change to pressurized balls, has gotten considerably faster than when Borg won it.
Cash said, and it makes sense, that the majority of pros from non-clay countries (i.e. read America and Australia) really put up with the clay court season rather than embrace it. He said that even when he played he just tried to improve his groundstrokes and get through it. He and his mates looked forward to grass tennis.
Cash then went on to say that when he grew up, he grew up on clay. (Holy crushed brick, Batman!) Cash on clay you say? Well, he went on to say that he pretty much dominated on clay until he got into the upper juniors. It was then he became more agressive, lost his patience on clay, and began to develop an attacking game which translated very nicely to faster surfaces. Who does this sound like? Wait, it's coming...oh yeah, John McEnroe.
Cash then opined that the US and Australia basically give lip service to clay and until they change this thought, they won't have any real success.It seems to me that there is a common demoninator here. Players who build their game on clay have a better foundation on which to build a game. It would be germane again to mention that the first Wimbledon champion who grew up on hardcourts was Andre Agassi. Everyone before him grew up on either grass or clay...Becker....Edberg....the hits just keep on coming...

FiveO
06-06-2007, 10:58 AM
Interesting thoughts, however, not quite a 1 + 1 = 2 proposition, with some major exceptions to the rule through Open history. All raised on hardcourts.

Connors.

Chang. (Raised on hards. Yes Chang. Hated clay as a junior as late as the year prior to winning RG, as related by Nick Saviano in Maximum Tennis)

Sampras

Courier. (Raised on hards. Yes Courier. On a quick count only 5 of his 23 titles and 4 of his 19 other tour finals came on clay.)

Agassi. (Raised on hards.)

Todd Martin. (Raised on hards. Limited but was a consistent performer. Reached two other slam finals.)

Roddick. (Yeah, I know, but reached SF in 3 of 4 majors, won one, finaled thee times at two venues and reached #1. If it ends now it's still a better career than 99.9999 percent of the other competitors out there)


Also Mc never won at RG despite his upbringing. IMO his 1 final, 1 semi, and to QF's in 10 tries there is not so significantly better than Sampras's 1 semi and 3 QF's to indicate a major advantage.

In the alternative, name the successful RG performer, who is winning the other 3 majors. Still hasn't happened since Borg and Lendl and even they couldn't get the fourth GS jewel.

Ultimately it's grips and game-styles which reflect results on different surfaces. Movement skills too. Then it comes down to adaptability. Connors, Chang, Courier, Agassi all adapted. Those are just four Americans raised on hards who won majors on clay and har-tru.

Borg and Lendl came closest to winning majors on all the surfaces but didn't get it done.

What is advantageous for 3 of the four major surfaces is not advantageous at the fourth and vice versa. Will Nadal prove that wrong? Maybe but IMO his performance at Wimbledon last year is as draw driven and anomolous as Courier's one final. Fed may break through at RG or not. We won't know until he is done.

How much exposure to clay is enough as a junior? How much exposure will return results like the Spaniards and S. Americans show at the 3 other majors? We will never know. History is proving over and over again that specialization has ultimately won out and aside from Fed, that by some small margin American hardcourt raised players have been more adaptable to the other major surfaces.

Rabbit
06-06-2007, 12:11 PM
You may have misunderstood, the first guy to win Wimbledon that grew up on hard was Agassi. There have been some since...

vsbabolat
06-06-2007, 12:28 PM
Also Mc never won at RG despite his upbringing. IMO his 1 final, 1 semi, and to QF's in 10 tries there is not so significantly better than Sampras's 1 semi and 3 QF's to indicate a major advantage.



Really, Mac in the 1984 French Open final being up two sets to love and up in the third set to lose in a hart breaking 5 set thriller is not significantly better than Sampras.

Borg and Lendl came closest to winning majors on all the surfaces but didn't get it done.

Also Agassi did achieve the career grand slam in 1999 when he won the French Open. Therefore Agassi won all Four Grand Slams on the four different surfaces.