Are the courts actually getting slower?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by tkoziol, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    This does not seem fast to me at all! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pUFwH-m3cY

    The only change I see between now and then would be the amount of topspin and pace. Both have increased in my opinion.

    Does anyone actually have any empirical data that shows the courts have slowed down? Aside from grass, I can't find any evidence of this. And even the grass court evidence seems very misleading: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Gjxf8RjhKXI#!

    The problem with the grass court evidence is that pros are hitting with more spin causing the ball to kick up more. I don't think that the surface is causing the ball to kick much higher. This is supposed to be fast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nECFscrEXfI. Seems very slow to me. Groundskeeper seems to think so too:http://www.thetennisspace.com/wimbledon-groundsman-its-a-myth-that-the-grass-is-slower/.

    Also, it seems like the pros can't even agree on whether or not the surfaces have slowed. Honestly, I think that the real homogenization going on is TOPSPIN, not the court surface. Born Borg is an example of how topspin can be very resilient. Borg won on the super slow clay then went on to win on the "hyper speed" grass (see link above). Borg had three back to back French and Wimbledon titles.

    I think Djokovic and Nadal have a winning formula that enables them to win on multiple surface speeds: Heavy spin + amazing movement (defense) = brick wall. Its not exactly a full proof formula, being a brick wall has disadvantages: 54 shot rallies, damage to body, unusually high levels of patience and will power. Obviously this is just the foundation to their game, Djoker and Nadal hit plenty of winners, aces, and volley/slams. I believe that this style of play is making the courts appear slower than they are.

    Further evidence of this would be Nadal pre-2008. He was very ineffective on faster courts (though he didn't do too bad at Wimbledon). Over the years his style of play has changed. His shots land deeper in the court, he hits a much lower ball (not as many moonballs), hits with more MPH, stands much closer to the baseline, and hits in a more authoritative/offensive manner. He also spent lots of time updating his serve with the help of a "serve specific coach" or with the help of steroids depending on what you believe. Regardless....why spend all this time, energy, and money on a problem that would be solving itself? If all the courts are slowing down and becoming clay, then why isn't Nadal running the table every year?

    The courts are not slowing down. Players are hitting with more spin causing the ball to bounce higher. However, all players on the average are hitting with much more pace then they were 20-30 years ago. We are currently experiencing tennis reach new heights right before our eyes: faster shots, more spin, better movement (speed, flexibility, court coverage, and shot preparation), and yes, the courts are still the same speed.

    Feel free to prove me wrong. However, I'm interested in facts. Your opinion is worthless unless you can back it up. A quote from an ATP pro saying the courts are slower is not a valid counter-argument. I can pump out 10 quotes from top ranked atp players suggesting that no change is occurring. As well as about 5 pros who flip flop their opinions. Anyone with some data?
     
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  2. ser_renely

    ser_renely Rookie

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    I think the courts have slowed a TINY bit, but its not like its a speed trap. Its not going to take that much speed off of the ball.

    The ball is is being hit harder and faster on average though.

    The balls the same?
     
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  3. ultradr

    ultradr Hall of Fame

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    They have been slowing grass and hard courts during last 20 years.
    French Open clay court stayed pretty much same if not touch faster.

    The most dramatic changes happened 2003 (Wimbledon) -2004 (US Open).

    General public were either unaware of it or in denial while Federer was
    dominating (since Federer is a such a special player).

    Now that Nadal, Djokovic and Murray in force, people started to question
    surface condition.
     
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  4. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Evidence? Watching the matches alone would be proof enough for me that there has been no speed decrease. Not mention the ITF has speed ratings for all of the courts and this has not changed in 20 years. So its either topspin, or an ITF scandal...
     
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  5. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    The USO was slowed down for Agassi in the mid 1990's. He still couldn't beat Sampras. From the late 90's to 2010 they were absolutely lightning fast. First for Sampras, then they were kept fast for old Agassi, then they were kept fast for Roddick.

    Only when Roddick stopped being a top player in 2010 and there were no Americans left who were capable of making the final and delivering ratings did they slow the court down for 2011 (for Nadal, who is the next highest revenue finalist possible).

    They were slow in the early 80's too, where they wanted Borg to get to the final.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
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  6. I beat fed

    I beat fed New User

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    Serena said the hard courts have slowed. Andy Murray mentioned it as well. Marat safin credited his 08 wimby semi for the slowing of the grass. Jimmy arias said after nadal won in 2010 they slowed down the us open.
     
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  7. I beat fed

    I beat fed New User

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    There are no statistics to back up the slowed surfaces. You can clearly see the amount of time the players can set up their shots. This isn't top spin causing this. Please tell me the players who have said the surfaces are faster? I'm talking the main courts. Arthur Ashe for USO centre court for wimby and rod laver arena for Aussie. The French open is a wash.
     
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  8. ultradr

    ultradr Hall of Fame

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    For US Open, USTA made a formal announcement in 2004, as I recall.

    For Wimbledon, they did announce extra soil packing and rye grass although
    they denied the courts are slower (which no one believes).

    And watching the play gives you no proof of slowed speed ? Up until 2001,
    since 1960s, the average number of rallies at Wimbledon has been 2 - 3.
    How many rallies do we see now? How come average age of top 25 players
    are older than ever ? How come players suddenly changes from S&V to
    baseliners 2003-2004 ? and so on.

    Players may hit harder/spinnier now. It's just much slower by the time
    the ball reaches the player after bounce on much slower and bouncier surfaces.
     
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  9. You literally have no idea whatsoever what you're talking about.

    You're simply making up a narrative to fit your biases.
     
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  10. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Seems like most people are doing this....
     
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  11. mptennis

    mptennis Rookie

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    #11
  12. jackson vile

    jackson vile Legend

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    Consider this, these same people complained that Wimbledon was becoming so horribly slow, and then totally freaked out in 2008 when Nadal won the championship.

    However, the very next year when it was Roddick and Federer in the final the ace count was incredibly high, but then Nadal won Wimbledon again in 2010.

    If we look at USO 2013, we saw that Richard Gasquet was incredibly effective at S&V, and his serve is not a top serve by any means when compared to the top players.

    So, we have the case of the magical court that is slow in 2008, fast again in 2009, but slow again in 2010. Really?

    Also, Federer had his *** handed to him at Wimbledon 2013 by non other than a S&V player, that was of a very low caliber. There is no doubt in my mind that the S&V players of the past would eat up the baseline game of today. Sampras him self talked about how he can't believe guys are not going to the net more often.

    If Gasquet can volley that well against Nadal, a non-serve volley player, against one of the greatest passing players in history. How the hell can the court be slow, how the hell could someone like Rafter, or Sampras, etc.. not win a title?

    Finally, all of the changes that happened to the courts and balls happened before Federer even ever started winning titles. We know that for a fact when looking at Wimbledon, and etc...

    Why are people complaining now? But not when the courts were originally changed and/or slowed down?

    Why is it that when Nadal does poorly at an event we don't hear any complaining about a slow surface?

    How is it possible that Nadal holds titles on the fastest courts there are on the tour?

    Why is it that no one complains about WTF being so horribly slow and sluggish every time Federer wins?

    Why don't they change the WTF surface back to what it was?
     
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  13. Le Master

    Le Master Semi-Pro

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    I think he's looking for actual speed analysis, not win-loss performance and complaining by fans.
     
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  14. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

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    As anyone who has actually stepped on the courts and played on them (US Open or any ATP hard court event courts) from the past and today -- it is quite obvious the courts are much slower. I have - both in the past and regularly today. The courts today - US Open included - have much more sand/grit in the surface mixture today than they did. That is just the truth and it started in the early 2000's and has just gotten even more so since.

    I don't think most people out here get a chance to actually hit on courts that are like what ATP/WTA are playing on today. Literally you will wear the sole of your shoe off or a hole in only a few sets - especially if you are a toe dragger. It is like super hard grit sandpaper and the ball sticks to it and bounces up much higher and it's much harder to hit though the court. It didn't used to be like that. The US Open courts were fast and much more like most normal hard courts that you'd find all around the USA.

    This is the way it is -- no judgement -- but it is the fact of the matter. Courts in general have become much more gritty and slow and the style of play that is successful reflects that.
     
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  15. RNadal

    RNadal Semi-Pro

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    Great thread, mate. I'm with you, there was not a big change on the courts. What really changed is the game itself, along with the racquets and string technology.
     
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  16. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    This explains what I've been saying better: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/...the-court-speeds-at-wimbledon-and-the-us-open



    Here you go:

    Roger Federer on Wimbledon speed (2008.).:
    Well, I don’t think it’s that much of a difference since I played Pete here in 2001 really. So, I mean, it’s not that extreme, you know, to the point where I need to thank anybody, I think, you know.
    I think it’s just also the way how players are playing today: more from the baseline, not as much serve and volley, chip and charge. That sort of gives you the feeling that it’s slowed down, as well, you know.
    Because 95% of the guys play from the baseline today, whereas before it was maybe 50/50. That is a big change, I think, and that’s happened in the last, let’s say, 10, 15 years.

    Rafael Nadal on the court speed at Wimbledon (2007):
    I saw, I don’t know where, that the court was so much slower than last years. The true is not. For me the court is the same. I was here the last maybe four years. I lost one time for injury. But for the last four, five years I was here. Every day I feel the same feeling. Every time I feel the same feeling in the court. The court is not coming slower than last years.

    Rafael Nadal on court speed at Wimbledon (2007):
    "The truth is that now the players are so good that if it is a fast court, then when you serve and go to the net the ball flies past you even quicker."



    Feel free to pump these into google. You will find that these are the exact quotes from the interviews.

    Topspin is the reason that net play is dead. Its too easy to pass people now. What is the fastest forehand now...131? What was the fastest forehand in 1980? Probably under 100mph. This has nothing to do with a slow surface giving you more time to prepare. It has to do with topspin enabling you to blast the ball and actually get it in.

    Grass must have been REALLY slow in 2001 giving Federer time to prepare: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-HOGspAApw
    or...maybe....Federer had a ton of topspin and was able to pass Sampras with ease. Look at :06!!!! Looks like a loopy Rafa return doesn't it?

    You can't do stuff like this without heavy spin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTRSatsZcEE
     
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  17. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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  18. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    An actual speed analysis would be nice. However, he does bring up a good point. Lots of up and down magic occurring. We are talking about a court surface, not tuning a radio... It does seem very unlikely that the surfaces are being dramatically altered year after year as a part of some conspiracy....
     
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  19. Defcon

    Defcon Hall of Fame

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    If you think the authorities don't manipulate court surfaces to favor certain players and thus increase revenue, then you are incredibly naive.

    How much of a difference it makes, that's another matter. But its done in other ways too - e.g. Wimbledon used to (maybe still do) use old balls since they were slower.
     
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  20. mptennis

    mptennis Rookie

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    So what are you looking for? What would be factual proof in your eyes?

    Also that link wasn't debunked. You just quoted a guy with a different opinion on one aspect of the article. I guess you're welcome to ignore the 6 different pro's that all agreed courts have slowed down. I imagine you would know better than the guys that actually play on it.

    According to this link: http://www.perfect-tennis.co.uk/tennis-court-surfaces-and-court-speeds/ there are far fewer fast courts than slow courts.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
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  21. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    I have no doubt that they would try. Even IF the courts are getting slower, its a very minor alteration. How much harder players are hitting is a FACT. And that alone tells me that there is no difference. If the surface slows but the ball is hit harder then you end up with the same result.

    If you have three apples and add two, then you have five apples. If you only have two apples, but add three...guess what? You'll have five apples.

    As for Wimbledon using old balls because they are slow....SOURCE? Also I'm not sure if your serious in two different ways...

    First way: [​IMG]
    An old ball would likely travel faster through the air (lack of fuzz). When players are examining balls before they serve, they are looking for the old ones to serve with.

    Second way: [​IMG]
    Unless you mean that Wimbledon is using dead balls that are so old that there is core damage.
     
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  22. Readers

    Readers Semi-Pro

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    LOL @ they slowed it done for Nadal, when Nadal already won on the "lightning fast" surface of 2010.
     
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  23. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Factual proof would be the consequences of a slower surface while still eliminating topspin contamination. For example most servers flatten out their first and try to get as much power and pace as possible. If the courts are getting slower than this flattened out serve would not penetrate very well. Thus, you would notice a steady decrease in aces over the years. This stat would actually be exaggerated given the 90's era of huge servers. Instead the opposite is true. Aces are increasing.

    Yes debunked. Read again: "The above video provides a considerable proof for that; but what the above video doesn’t mention is that the trajectories of the two serves (even though it originated at same speeds) were different.

    In 2008 (the yellow trail), the ball was hit with more topspin, which is why it was already higher up in the air than the one in 2003 (the blue trail). The different trajectories ultimately result in different speed at which the opponent hits the ball."

    No opinion there. Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zQWePrIl-Y. The balls are at two different heights. Clearly one of the serves is hit with more topspin.
     
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  24. jackson vile

    jackson vile Legend

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    This whole blog is a bunch of bull****, it says 37 winners USO, 34 winners FO. Wow, look how fast the FO is, yet it is Nadal's best surface, and Federer is only second to Nadal on that surface going virtually uncontested by any other player.

    Also, talks about how the FO is slippery and how that is not fair for the USA players, however grass good grass is also slippery, yet no complaints?

    Finally, STOP USING FEDERER'S SERVE AS A MEASURING TOOL FOR SURFACE CONDITIONS! That is not empirical data, that is not objective. Federer has made many changes in his game.

    Not only that, but Wimbledon was changed as far back as after the 2000 Wimbledon championship. It did not change in 2008. In 2009 Federer and Roddick had more than enough aces for the whole tour.

     
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  25. jackson vile

    jackson vile Legend

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    How do you separate what is actually affecting the players? Is it their change of game/playing style, are they getting "old", are they chronically injured, etc


    Correlation does not imply causation​


     
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  26. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Just wanted to acknowledge that this is the best argument I have seen so far for the courts being slow. It is opinion, has no way to back it up. However, I have come across a few articles stating that grit/sand was added to better facilitate topspin. A side effect of this sand/grit is that is slows down flat shots.....or is it better promoting topspin like it is supposed to do? In my opinion it is facilitating topspin: creating more margins, angles, longer rallies, higher bouncing, and many other topspin related traits that the courts may or may not be boosting. Regardless, most serves are hit flat with little topspin. If the sand/grit was impeding serves we would see a reduction in aces. We are not seeing that, quite the opposite actually...
     
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  27. henryshli

    henryshli Semi-Pro

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    I do think that Stan getting to the semis is a hint that court speed may have changed a little at the US Open.
     
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  28. mptennis

    mptennis Rookie

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    I'm talking about the other parts of the article not referencing the Federer serve.
     
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  29. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Thank you for posting a new article that proves my point! Average serve speed is increasing over time. The speed tracked is the INITIAL speed. The homogenization across the grandslams is the initial serve speed hit. In english: players like John Isner are going for aces at the French, Aussie, US, and Wimby. Why? Because when you can serve 140 mph consistently, you might as well go for it. Not the most intelligent strategy, however, Isner is one of few people who took Rafael Nadal to 5 sets at the French Open (yes this actually happened).

    What you need to look at is the final speed. This is the speed AFTER the bounce. If this court slowing conspiracy was true, then ACES would be decreasing over time as the courts slow down. Also the gs would soon converge. Maybe you would even get a year where the French Open has more aces then Wimbledon.

    Guess what? THIS ISN"T HAPPENING. Aces are increasing over the years. Wimbledon has the most aces, followed by the US Open, then the Aussie, and finally the French. The only thing skewing this data is when two or more big servers do extremely well or extremely bad at the US Open. For example if Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick, and Nico Almagro lost in the first round of the USO then that year might have a slightly lower than normal ace count.

    Lets see how smart you are... Take a look at the the 2010 Wimbledon. Anyone know why the ace count is so high that year? I'll give you three hints: 1. Its not because the courts are getting slower.
    2. Its not because the courts are getting faster.
    3. Its not because Roger used a wood racquet.

    [​IMG]
     
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  30. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Also...Bump bump bump....and....bump. I think I have seen 4 new threads talking about the courts being slow as if it is a fact despite NO evidence. I have evidence proving that the speeds have not been drastically changed (if they have been changed its a less than 5% difference). Do we need TW Professor? Should mods sticky this?

    There is more evidence of the existence of bigfoot than there are for the courts being slowed down.

    [​IMG]
     
    #30
  31. Start da Game

    Start da Game Professional

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    17 year old nadal took care of fed beater ancic at wimbledon 2003 and helped fed win his first wimbledon......

    19 year old nadal won 11 titles in 2005, two of them masters series events on the fast indoor court of madrid and decoturf-2 of montreal......he also bagged the china open on a fast hardcourt......

    19 year old nadal defeated federer in 2006 dubai final on decoturf-2......

    20 year old nadal schooled agassi, new kid baghdatis in wimbledon 2006......

    come 2008, he pummeled everyone on all surfaces.......2005 and 2006 were his learning years on grass and hardcourts and he still scored great wins on fast courts.......so what ineffectiveness of nadal are you talking about exactly pre-2008?
     
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  32. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    I think Nadal changed his game and became even more effective after 2008. He was still a great player before 2008, however he did have a few holes in his resume. He had no USO, Aussie Open, or Wimbledon titles pre-2008. Post-2008 he now has 2 wimby titles, 1 aussie, 2 uso, and a Cincy title (which is very impressive to me). This is obvious improvement on an already amazing hardcourt/grass court player. Regardless, this was not my point. My point is that the courts have not changed. Players styles have changed.
     
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  33. monfed

    monfed Guest

    They're not? :lol:
     
    #33
  34. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    I remember playing on poorly maintained concrete courts in public parks when I didn't have experience yet playing on different surfaces. Having since played on the University of Washington's Nordstrom Tennis Center's courts which are considered benchmark au courant facilities, I have seen with my own eyes how much slower certain hard courts can play than others, and how much more difficult it can be hitting through a slower, more contemporary hard court.
     
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  35. LeftyRighty

    LeftyRighty Rookie

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    I had no clue about this until seeing all these threads pop up.

    Someone said slower courts have more grit and ruin your shoes faster...

    Could be why my Tour vapor 9's are still going over a year later, and others said they were ruined in a month or two.

    I started noticing the court I mostly play at, and it's very very smooth. Like glossy painted concrete with a sealer...smooth....

    idk
     
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  36. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    All hardcourts are different. Clearly Indian Wells would play slower than Cincy. However, the idea is that there is some "conspiracy" with tourny directors to make courts slower. The conspiracy theory is that soon all the gs will play the same speed. This theory has no evidence and makes no sense. Every argument for it has been bashed to pieces. Some tournaments might put a bit too much sand or grit. However the speed decrease will be under 5% at best. NOT a speed trap allowing Rafa to win. NOT a speed trap designed to kill all court style of play. Any speed decrease under 5% would not even be noticeable given that the pros increase the speed/power of there shots by about 3% every year. Remember when Sampras was a beast because he could hit a 135 mph serve? Only a select few could do that it 1993, now 20 years later the list is endless. Even Rafa (a weak server in regards to speed/power) has hit a serve 135 mph.
     
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  37. Top Jimmy

    Top Jimmy Semi-Pro

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    If you've ever played on a real slow hard court you could easily look at the current hard court surfaces and tell. Unfortunately I've never had a chance to see a pro court up close other than the FO.

    Even if they are only 5% slower it's that extra milli-second that allows these guys to get rackets on balls they normally wouldn't.
     
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  38. Top Jimmy

    Top Jimmy Semi-Pro

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    Placement and spin matters more than speed. Serena can hit it 125+, is she an equal server to men that hit it 125?
     
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  39. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Thats 5% at absolute maximum (evidence shows that there is no change). And the increase in speed that pros hit with would more than make up for it if there was a 5% decrease.
     
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  40. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Yes to the first sentence. No to the second sentence. What does this have to do with court speeds getting slower.

    Focus on my main point not the nitty gritty of my examples. If my argument is that 2 apples plus 2 apples equals 4 apples (but everyone including Serena seems to think it equals five) don't ask me what color the apples are, or that you think oranges are better.
     
    #40
  41. The_Order

    The_Order Legend

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    Just thought I'd say this in case it hasn't been stated yet. In 2011, the US Open was slower, not by design, but by the fact that rain prevented players from using the courts, leaving the "sandy" like texture which is what made conditions slower.

    Usually the more wear and tear on the HC at Flushing Meadows leads to the sandy texture becoming a bit more glossy which in turn increases the court speed.
     
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  42. furryballs

    furryballs Banned

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    Wally Masur described the US open courts as "slow and high bouncing"
     
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  43. adil1972

    adil1972 Professional

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    if the courts are slow why clay court players other than nadal didnt reach us, wimbledoon and australain open finals
     
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  44. furryballs

    furryballs Banned

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    same reason they didnt reach the french final except ferrer who was bloody lucky with the draw and should never have been there
     
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  45. Start da Game

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    that is because he hit his prime in 2008......not that the courts were slowed down exactly in 2008......
     
    #45
  46. Murrayfan31

    Murrayfan31 Hall of Fame

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    I think it is universally accepted that Wimbledon and the US Open have slowed down. All courts play pretty close to the same speed now. Wimbledon is probably the fastest still. Thus why Murray won it.
     
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  47. President

    President Legend

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    Hard courts and grass in general are certainly slower than the 90's, although I dispute that they have changed significantly since 2005 or so (I'm sure a few courts have slowed, but not a dramatic difference). Aussie has got slightly slower, but IMO the difference isn't significant and Rebound Ace actually bounced higher than Plexicushion. US Open is still clearly a different court than Aussie, Djokovic (who is a much better slow HC player than fast) has done much better at AO and Miami than USO and Cincy. I would still consider the USO a relatively fast court, the serve is still quite effective there.
     
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  48. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    The court speed is all relatively the same. The difference in playing conditions is now the footing on grass vs clay vs hard, where as in the past it was the footing, as well as the speed/pace of the game.
     
    #48
  49. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

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    Relax folks, ...
    There are probably some distasteful people here who would try to gently infer that maybe the courts have gotten faster.
     
    #49
  50. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    There is no evidence to quantify the claim that the courts are slower.

    The courts are slower, for sure. We know this based on various professional and industry testimonies. This was a decision made by the governing bodies to balance the game, because the serve became overpowered.

    When people argue about the slow courts, no one knows if it's .025% slower, 5%, 150%, etc ... Additionally, nobody ever comes to the table with speed in, speed out data that is statistically significant that shows any type of discernible effect on match play. The ITF has speed data and surface testing, but it is all current.

    The nerfing of the courts came as a result of the racquets being buffed. The athletes are more fit. The clothes are better. The understanding of how tennis is played has evolved. All of these things affect the balance of the game.

    Still, to this day, I've seen no objective, statistically significant study that examines the difference between court speeds, the changes in court speeds, ball in and ball out speed, and their changes over time in relation to fitness and racquet tech.

    In other words: the arguments are hearsay and conjecture, at best.
     
    #50

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