Are the courts actually getting slower?

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

  1. ultradr

    ultradr Hall of Fame

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    It's been going on last 2 decade. The most significant one was done in 2003-2004.

    Wimbledon and US Open made a formal announcements on it. US Open added
    more sands on surface, Wimbledon packed more soil underneath grass layer
    and changed grass type.

    They also made the ball touch bigger, heavier and hairier.

    The Game is much slower. Many players changed style in mid career when this happened
    in 2003-4. It was not a slow evolution.
     
    #51
  2. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
    This argument reminds me of the one on the existence of a God.

    Hearsay, conjecture, and whatnot.
     
    #52
  3. llodra_fan

    llodra_fan Rookie

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    Do the slams and masters events resurface every year ? If not then how frequent ?
     
    #53
  4. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Great point. Several great clay court players completely tank during the other majors. Why?

    It is not universally accepted. Even if it was, that does not mean it is true. At one time it was universally accepted that the earth was flat.

    I agree that they might be slightly slower than the 90's, but I doubt it has changed that much. Again, the major change is the use of topspin, not the surface.

    Any sources for this? I don't remember any announcements about the USO slowing the courts, or Wimbledon, or any others. I can only find sources from the majors saying that NO changes have occurred. The only change I recall was the Aussie getting rid of rebound ace.

    The only hearsay and conjecture is the side of the argument that states that the courts have slowed down. There are plenty of sources, data, evidence, and information regarding the courts maintaining their original speed.
     
    #54
  5. Top Jimmy

    Top Jimmy Semi-Pro

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    What evidence? Links to statements? So your link to statements are factual, other players links stating they are slower and bouncing higher are false. Gotcha.
     
    #55
  6. redpurusha

    redpurusha Rookie

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    He's a step or more better than them. But Ferrer is close at semis and world number 4 dont you think. A peak Fed was winning every major except for FO. And peak Nadal is now better than Fed (and others). The courts is one factor of several why only Nadal is winning of that type of play. Slower surface? A little bit.
     
    #56
  7. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    My links were referring to the courts not changing at all. I was being nice and stating that perhaps is they did change it would only be about 5%. This is just a random guess that could explain why some pros say the courts are the same, slower, or can't make up their mind.

    If all of my evidence shows that the courts haven't changed....AND pros can't seem to agree if they are slower or not....then the court speed getting slower can't be happening in a dramatic fashion. Therefore, I was merely stating that if the courts did slow down, it would have to be almost negligible (such as 5% or less). In other words...a pin ***** as opposed to cutting your arm off.

    Additionally my point that shot speed has increased I DID link and provide sources. Being nice again...I was stating that perhaps the courts did slow down a significant amount (perhaps 10% or 15%). However, the increase in shot speed might have offset this court speed reduction. This could explain why some player notice it, while others do not.

    Regardless, this small decrease in speed (if it does exist) is NOT enough to totally change the tennis world.

    Court speed is NOT responsible for:
    • The decline in all-court play
    • The decline of Roger Federer
    • Rafa winning the USO
    • Rafa and Djoker having a 54 shot rally
    • The use of heavy topspin in todays game
     
    #57
  8. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    The courts are slower, we just don't know by how much.
    I will provide five sources from as far back as 1995, and we can go from there.

    I think you and I agree that there is an absence of objective data, hard numbers. We do have a substantial amount of reporting from players, the industry, and the media, that the courts have gotten slower. What we do not have, is objective data to quantify that claim. I think that's the key to the argument.

    I content that in the 90's, the serve (and by proxy, the serve and volley tactic) was considered to be overpowered(1). Because governing bodies move slowly to institute policy changes, we didn't start seeing big moves until the mid to late 90's to the early 2000's(2).

    (1) "Jim Curley, tournament director at the U.S. Open, said organizers began slowing their own courts down in 2002, adding extra sand to the paint, and did so again before the 2003 tournament to make the court fair for baseliners and serve-and-volleyers alike." reports Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal, in 2010.
    (2) "The reason, according to some analysts, has to do with the fact that the courts have been slowing down for some time. Worried that huge servers would dominate those events, all surfaces were slower by 2003." reports Cliff Potter for the Bleacher Report.

    In the same article, Futterman reports: "We're trying to come up with a fair field of play for the integrity of the competition," said Mr. Curley. He said Mr. Roddick complained to him once that the courts had become too slow.
    It's not just the surfaces either, used to slow the game down. The balls have also been studied, considered, and altered to some extent for different levels of play(3).
    (3) "It is hypothesised that this is due to the increasing speed of the serve in the game. There was found to be a significant difference in tie breaks between slower clay surfaces and faster grass surfaces. The women’s game, on the other hand, showed no increase in tie-breaks and no difference in the number of tie-breaks between court surfaces.A larger tennis ball was assessed to see its effect in slowing the game down." Cites the abstract of a study called Engineering tennis – slowing the game down (S. J. Haake1, et al.)*

    In the mid 90's, the ball was being experimented with, for the specific purposes of decreases the serves potentially overpowering effects. It seems obvious that Sampras' dominance was a key factor in bringing the serve, serve and volley, and "pace of play" under the microscope(4).
    (4 emphasis added) Sampras said he didn't have significant complaints about Wimbledon's decision to take some of the starch out of this year's tennis balls in the interest of reviving the art of the rally, and his 20 aces indicated that the switch has done him little harm.

    "If anything, these balls will affect the guys that don't serve as well; when maybe last year a mediocre serve would be helped out by a harder ball, this year it's a little softer so you have a little bit more time to return," he said.

    As reported in 1995, by Robin Finn in the New York Times.
    Wimbledon has slowed their courts down as well, under pressure to lessen the prominence of the serve. In the early 200's Wimbledon changed it's grass, and while the groundsmen said the reason was for durability, Sport's Turf Experts at the time indicated it would also have a slowing effect on the game(5).
    (5) "Adrienne Wild, the editor of Your Garden magazine who has studied sports turfs, said she believed that the new grass would slow the game at Wimbledon. She said: "The traditional grass varieties at Wimbledon, especially the red fescue combinations, have a really fine finish but can wear, allowing the ball to zip off worn and patchy surfaces.

    "These new rye grasses are shorter, hard-wearing and spongy and I imagine they will slow the ball down and allow the ball to sit up instead of skid." There has been increasing criticism of lawn tennis from prominent players. Kournikova said last year that the grass courts of Wimbledon were too quick for her game." reported Rajeev Syal and Neil Harman of UK's The Telegraph in 2001.
    *I don't have access to the full study, so I can't cite the results, however; the purpose of this citation it to demonstrate that the serve under the microscope as being overpowered, and ways to slow the game down were being considered.
     
    #58
  9. FrontHeadlock

    FrontHeadlock Semi-Pro

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    Let's not lose sight of the fact that, among the big four, there are still big differences in their play at the majors:

    1. Roger had by far the most success at W and USO, matching Sampras' totals at those events (and being about the same with Sampras at WTF), less success at AO, and the least success at FO. The difference between Roger and Pete, however, is that Roger grew up on clay, so more success there isn't that odd.

    2. Nadal has had by far the most success on clay, and then grass, which parallels Borg to a degree. Nadal took a while to warm up to the hard court game, but is now probably the best in the world on hard courts. Not coincidentally, his grass game has fallen off a bit and he is looking a bit more vulnerable on clay.

    3. Djokovic has had by far the most success on hard courts, winning the AO 4 times, and, although winning the USO only once, he has been to the finals an additional 4 times. He has had much less success at FO/W.

    4. Murray has been not so great on clay, but at his best at the USO and W, where he has 1 title each and Olympic Gold. He's also done well at the AO with 3 appearances in the finals, but seems to prefer the slightly faster, outdoor surfaces.
     
    #59
  10. iri10

    iri10 Rookie

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    I have a question: would it be possible to make "dual speed" courts, and would it work?

    I'm envisioning courts with very slow surfaces in the service boxes (even slower than today), and much faster surfaces on the other parts of the court (akin to the faster courts of previous decades). Might that not be the best of both worlds? It would prevent the dominance of servebots, while still allowing good winner speed for shots hit deep into the court.

    The obvious drawbacks are increased complexity (which shouldn't be much of a concern for the wealthy Slam courts) and potential differences in the amount of foot traction that might cause problems with the players' footing, or even injure them.

    The latter concern is a big deal, but the fact that the slower stuff is only in the service boxes might mitigate some of the problem because players spend so little time there these days.
     
    #60
  11. Graf=GOAT

    Graf=GOAT Professional

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    Are you saying Murray is some kind of fast court specialist? He made 3 AO finals before winning Wimbledon.
     
    #61
  12. bullfan

    bullfan Legend

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    I thought there was a piece during the Wimbledon final that discussed speed by showing the arc the ball made some years prior, vs. the current year.
     
    #62
  13. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Find the piece. I'd love to see it.

    People so often like to argue with no citations. And on a topic as heated as this one, I think we should move beyond conjecture--or at least try to.

    In one of my previous posts, I cited that Wimbledon changed the grass, and then cited a sports turf expert that gave her opinion on how that change would affect the pace of play (slower, with more bounce, was her answer, essentially).
     
    #63
  14. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I think the impression of speed of a court is enormously influenced by who is playing on it, and how.

    Lendl-Wilander 1987 USO final
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_1TmcOo954

    Just watch the first point, to get an idea how much ¨faster¨ the courts looked back then.

    There are also many points in that match where one of them comes to the net quickly. If you select those points, you may get a different impression.

    Or take Wimbledon. Watch a few points between Chris Evert and another baseliner, then watch Navratilova against another agressive player. The impression is quite different.
     
    #64
  15. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    I remember they talking about the need to slow down the courts as early as the beginning of the 90s.

    In 1995 they changed the balls in Wimbledon, slower and softer balls. Also in 1995 several top-players complained about some indoor carpet tournaments that had changed the type of carpet to a slower one. Some of them called Paris-Bercy as "the little Roland Garros" because of how slow they said it was that year.

    It's been going on since much earlier than what many people think...
     
    #65
  16. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    For example, in this clip ( from 1995 ) at 11:49, the commentator says "What is your impression of the courts speed, for I've been talking to the boys (the players) about the courts here, the indoor courts in Europe and they said that generally speaking, they have been slower"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEgrnpJk6qY
     
    #66
  17. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Yeah. You're right on the money. I provided a few sources in post #58, in case you missed it.
     
    #67
  18. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    Yes, two or three years ago I provided several sources about the slowing down of the US OPEN surface in 2001 and then again in 2003 and also many other tournaments, and also the type of balls.

    Now I don't feel like looking for them again. It is obvious that they've been slowing down surfaces and balls, I have provided the official sources (and other posters did it too) some years ago and any person that has been watching tennis more than 20 years knows it.
     
    #68
  19. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Right. But do you and I agree that the word slower, and the various modifiers added to it (much, super, very, painfully, etc ...), are not quantifiable? That's the rub with me.

    People can come to the table with testimony all day long--I know I can--but who has data? I don't think anybody does, frankly.
     
    #69
  20. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    I am sure the data exists.

    Tournaments directors, technical staff, and other bodies, they must have done a ton of tests before changing surfaces and ball types.

    Will all that data come out? Probably not.

    But I am sure all that technical data exists.
     
    #70
  21. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    To timespiral

    1) Your should have included the FULL quote from the wallstreet journal article: Jim Curley, tournament director at the U.S. Open, said organizers began slowing their own courts down in 2002, adding extra sand to the paint, and did so again before the 2003 tournament to make the court fair for baseliners and serve-and-volleyers alike. Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, who has a rifle-like serve, beat Mr. Federer in last year's final, demonstrating that a fast server can still do plenty of damage on the surface. But Mr. Del Potro, when healthy and on, also has a true all-around game.

    Again as I have stated several times, any speed change would be negligible if the player were a top 25 level player. For example Sampras in prime would probably have a serve just as devastating as Del Po

    2) The bleacher report article is full of conjecture and has no facts what so ever. The article looks like a TW poster wrote it.

    3) Your article proves my point that there IS a difference between tiebreaks. I have used the "ace argument" to show that court homogenization is NOT occurring. However I never thought to look at tiebreaks. Obviously tiebreaks would signify strong serving, and lack of tiebreaks would show breaks. I can't believe I didn't think of this. Well thank you, because they found a huge difference in clay court vs grass courts in regards to tiebreaks, proving my point. However, this article was published in 2001. Therefore, it wouldn't have many of the changes that SUPPOSEDLY occurred in 2001 and later.

    4) Further proving my thoughts regarding #1. Top 25 players could care less about these 1-2% differences (estimate not a fact). Sampras said he it would effect the weaker servers. Its like switching from a 95 sq inch racquet to a 94. Not a big deal. Balls do make a difference, but its something that the pros adjust to. Also, the changing balls has nothing to do with a conspiracy theory. Most of the time it has to do with money (see below)

    5) Pretty scientific. I really like this article. Unfortunately, the expert is wrong. The slowed down grasses of 2001 had almost no effect. Where is my evidence? The mens final was between Goran Ivanišević and Patrick Rafter. If you don't know who they are, let me sum it up in 3 characters: S&V.

    Now my turn.....

    1) The Ace count/tiebreaks: The ace count and tiebreaks have increased on all courts steadily every year. If the courts were slowing down, this would NOT happen. Here is another article about it: http://www.pinnaclesports.com/onlin.../wimbledon-betting-grass-court-advantage.aspx

    2) Speed Increase: The speed of shots has increased every year. A 75mph forehand in 1985 was a BIG deal. I think the record forehand now is around 130. I have a youtube video of Rafa hitting one 110mph. If the courts were slowing down it would be to COUNTERBALANCE the speed increase. Which means that we wouldn't notice the change (please don't make me count apples again...).

    3) Topspin: Topspin has vastly increased and this has destroyed the S&V all court game, NOT court speed. Quotes, videos, and on court experience shows that topspin has killed this style of play. Topspin allows the ball to be hit much harder, it changes the dimensions of the court making passes easier. Guga is a good one to look at. He was one of the first to use an ATP windshield wiper forehand and poly strings (ALU power unless I'm mistaken). He managed to get to the QF of wimbledon and USO in 1999 (before any changes were made). His ability to pass S&V attacks helped him out greatly.

    4) Quotes: It seems that some players say the speeds are slower and other say they are the same speed. Some players have said both and can't seem to make up there mind. Because of this, I think we have to throw out quotes. If there was a consensus, then it would be different. Changing the court is a big deal. Remember this? http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/spor...adrid-open-blue-clay-causes-a-stir/54802964/1

    5) Balls: I agree 100% that the balls have been changed and experimented with. Again, as Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal have said, players adjust to the balls and the changes are negligible after a few days of hitting with the different balls. I have hit with Aussie Open, USO, Wimby, and French Open tennis balls. There are definitely so odd differences between them, but I don't think it has anything to do with controlling speeds. Its all about the money. Similar to the court speeds, people can't seem to agree on balls either. This article states that the Babolat balls at the French are slow: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304520804576341380613199152.html. This article says that the balls are fast: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304520804576341380613199152.html.

    My conclusion: I think that topspin, power, and speed got into the extremes in the 90's. Huge serves, forehands, backhands produced by: racquets, strings, players being more fit, advancements in techniques such as wwfh/atp fh. I think that SLIGHT changes were made to balls and to courts somewhere between 1999-2003 (although it is difficult to quantify). Given the success of several players during this five year time span (Goran, Sampras, Federer, Rafter, etc.) I do NOT think that these differences killed the all court style of play. Additionally, based on ace counts, serve speeds, and comparisons between the four majors, I do NOT think that homogenization is occurring. I also do NOT think that longer rallies and safer play is due to the courts slowing down. It is due to TOPSPIN! If players were forced to hit slice and flat ONLY, then the all court style of play would return.

    I think this conclusion is a fair compromise. If anyone has evidence of courts changing speed after 2008, PLEASE send it my way.
     
    #71
  22. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    I wish. I'm not sure how intelligent these tournament directors and staff actually are...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30lVS47LopU
     
    #72
  23. swordtennis

    swordtennis Hall of Fame

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    Please, mattennis does not need to be circle jerked on this topic. He is a good member on here.
    I remember his thread and the data it contained. Most anyone that is not focused on one player and one player only can see that the courts and the play have slowed. It is almost in-perceivable to the naked eye but perceivable none the less.
     
    #73
  24. dooknookem

    dooknookem Rookie

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    Love all the conspiracy theories. People just aren't used to seeing real top level athletes swing a racquet and what they can do with the ball with topspin etc. Now that tennis has a few real world class athletes at the top who can cover the court and all of a sudden all the scrubs cry that the courts are slower, lol.
     
    #74
  25. swordtennis

    swordtennis Hall of Fame

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    They have been using big topspin at least since the 70's. Watch the 1981 FO Vilas vs Noah. The compositions of the courts have changed.
    You new to the game or what?
    Are you a Nadal fan by chance?
    Whats up with the scrub reference?
    :-?

    Oh yeah Duke was an epic game. Live up to it.
     
    #75
  26. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Not trying to circle jeck anyone...? I do seriously doubt the competence of tournament organizers. I even posted a funny youtube video to prove my point. Half of the drama of the majors is with the tournament itself. Take the USO for example: monday final, bad seeding choice, no roof, etc.

    I apologize if it seemed as though I was jerking someone in a circular motion. I assure you that I do not do that.
     
    #76
  27. swordtennis

    swordtennis Hall of Fame

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    IMO, the speed, athleticism and skill of the players are definately better than ever before. Tech balances alot out. However these players are beasts. They get to the balls like never before. Speedier courts just might make it so they can get to 15 balls instead of 30.
    So all I might do is to maybe slick up I say, off the top of my head, the USO and the WTf.
    Not a huge speed up just something to get the ball to bounce lower and faster.
    Prob someone can articulate it better than me.
    Leave the AO and FO alone.
    No problem brother! I just see the argument thing going on where people ask a question and when they get an answer start circle jerking. Why ask a question if you have your mind already made up and are a brick wall?
     
    #77
  28. dooknookem

    dooknookem Rookie

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    Thanks for the match reference, I'll check it out when I get the chance later. I can't imagine the top spin is comparable to what is happening today however??? Not arguing that the court composition hasn't changed, but the composition of the athlete has changed significantly in my opinion, across all sports. And the scrub reference is for all the people here who complain, complain, complain. Any other old school matches to check out?
     
    #78
  29. swordtennis

    swordtennis Hall of Fame

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    Gotcha on the complaining thing. It is tiring big time!
    Oh absolutely not like the topspin today. But they were using these tiny heavy wooden clubs as well tho. If Vilas had the tech Nadal does he would be whipping the topspin no doubt. But the topspin is still darn impressive IMO. They were def on the path towards the full blown whip forehands.
    From what I see Vilas's topspin strokes were more advanced than Borgs.

    Here is a good one showing Vilas topspin strokes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anZm8DtTW58
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
    #79
  30. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Definitely an equipment issue. He would be getting much more spin with todays technology. Regardless, he is still getting some decent kick. What I found especially interesting was his loopy shots similar to Nadal that changed the dimension of the court. McEnroe stayed back and did some grinding baseline to baseline. McEnroe was not comfortable coming in. That topspin of Villas made passing more deadly. I think this is a great example of how the a heavy topspin hitter can be a bad match up for an all court player.

    Now players have better technique, better technology, and are in better shape (beasts). They all hit with topspin. Villas made it a bit more challenging for McEnroe to comfortably play net. Today's players would make it impossible to charge net every point.
     
    #80
  31. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    At first, I thought we agreed on the big picture. I was attempting to nuance the argument with quantification, but now--with all this pushback--it seems to me like we might be on different pages.
    Exactly why I provided a link to the source. So you could read the article, if you wanted to.

    I think the top 25, historically, would take issue with your claim that the speed of the court makes only a negligible difference to them. I'd be inclined to let them speak for themselves on that note, which many of them have.

    So you didn't like the article, lol?

    It's getting a little harder to take you seriously when you use such broad generalizations, like claiming, "no facts whatsoever," which even a cursory examination proves to be a false claim.

    Well, technically since neither of us can view the test results or the conclusion, we cannot tell whether the hypothesis was supported or refuted by the data. And, your observation is slightly off. This study was focused on the balls, which started changing in the mid 90's.

    I cited the study to support my claim that the balls were being studied as a way to slow down the game.

    If your claim was that Pete Sampras didn't claim that modified balls affected him game significantly, then yes, that article would support your claim.

    Of course the pros are going to adapt to the changing conditions of the game. They're professionals making a living at said sport. But again; to suggest you know how much a difference it makes to them is more presumptuous than I'm willing to be. I'll take their words for it. In this one instance, Sampras claimed it didn't make a big difference for him.

    "The expert is wrong."

    I lul'd.

    By all means (but you did ask me for my references to begin with, not the other way around).

    You're going to criticize the Bleacher report article, and then cite this one? Dude ... really? I couldn't even finish the article it was so amateurishly written. This kid (Super, super young) is really, really bad. Not a single citation in his betting guide article, and so many of his passive claims are wildly incorrect.

    "If the courts were slowing down, this would NOT happen." You do know that you cannot make this claim, right? That's not how science works. The premise of your claim is not sound, unfortunately.

    Count apples? What are you talking about?

    Buried in this paragraph is something that I agree with: slowing the game, via the courts or the balls, was done specifically to balance the increasing pace being applied to the ball with newer racquets and stronger athletes.

    I'm only going to push back a little here. Professional tennis players figured out how to beat the S&V as a primary tactic. Taking a huge cut at the ball and putting tremendous spin on it does not change the dimensions of the court. LOL! Come on now. The tech improves a player's potential power and control, and what we've seen is serve and volley players have been unable to adapt the same technology to their primary tactic as effectively.

    Tennis players are humans with opinions just like anyone else. Of course they are not all going to agree on everything! Some feel one way, some feel another, but I'm going to point out that your article doesn't support that claim.

    That is an article about Madrid's controversial blue clay, with some player commentary. I think Madrid is an example of changes being too drastic--the players pushed back so hard, the blue clay is being canned.

    Hopefully your point was to list the same article twice :confused:

    Lab performance tests showed the new Babolat balls performed "the same" (no data in the article, so there is likely a threshold here) as the old Dunlops. The player's commenting on their experience with the ball disagreed. Granted, it's been a year since they played with the Dunlops, might be using new strings, and racquets, the air temp and humidity might have been different--but none the less, they felt they perceived a change. It's worth noting that the players agreed with each other here. They were at odds with lab test results (which means they are probably wrong).

    To say that changes to the ball has "nothing to do with speeds" is another generalization I cannot support, especially when there is clear record that balls were modified specifically for this purpose.

    It all comes out right there. We definitely disagree. Court homogenization seems to be happening, but there is no data to quantify the levels.

    I believe one of the only ways to get quantifiable data is to collect pace data gathered from standardized tests, such as the ITF's court testing program, which they utilize for the Davis Cup and other tournaments.
     
    #81
  32. swordtennis

    swordtennis Hall of Fame

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    And how about that Vilas lefty over the shoulder whip forehand down the line?! It looks like the prototype to the Nadal forehand whip down the line. Crazy.
    The topspin will give the net player all sorts of problems especially now where the ball is ludicrously high on the topspin.
    Players using heavy topspin have a greater margin for error than the all court shot-makers as well. So conditions now give them even more of a safety net. Making conditions quicker just might give a shot-maker more of a chance against a topspin grinder. Now the topspin guy will eventually wear out the shot-maker and the match you know is basically over. Many matches now I turn off before they are even over because one can see the pattern and know it is just a matter of time.
    Plus it awesome when you have two contrasting styles playing each other. Just need the platform (the court) to be neutral that allows both to utilize their strengths on equal footing.
     
    #82
  33. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

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    Tell you what these giant posts are causing me to lose my mind and make mistakes. Lets make it simple:
    [​IMG]

    Look at the picture. Look at Ace counts and Tiebreak sets. Look at the separation that has been maintained between the AO, FO, W, and USO. Wimbledon has the most aces and tiebreaks signifying that it is the fastest, followed by USO, then Aussie, then French.

    For homogenization to occur, be in the process of occurring, or thinking about being in the process of occurring. We should see SOME FORM OF CONVERGENCE. And guess what? WE DO NOT!

    You say homogenization is occurring and you can't back it up! I say it is NOT and I have a graph from an empirical study proving my point!

    Show me a graph, figure, etch-a-stetch, SOMETHING! That shows a convergence. Do NOT show me an article that has a bunch of opinions. Do NOT show me an article that talks about slow grass in 2001 and the death of all court play, yet in 2001 the mens final had Rafter v Goran!!!!

    Also, if you don't know what a convergence looks like on a graph. Take a look at the serve speeds. Technology, better strings, and beast athletes has caused a convergence on serve speeds (speed of ball directly after contact). All those pretty colors got mixed up after about 2004-now.

    Again, and I can't stress this enough...look at the figure. If you need me to explain it further, then I'm seriously amazed that you manage to feed yourself. I don't know what more to do. For godsakes I have a visual aid! I'm not going to draw this in crayon and have Morgan Freeman narrate. I officially wash my hands of this debate until someone provides a graph or a figure from an empirical study that counters mine.

    Goodbye!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
    #83
  34. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Whoa there, tiger! :twisted:

    [​IMG]

    But I do appreciate the attitude, the showing of true colors--now I know you're not serious. Saved me some time and effort right there.
     
    #84
  35. Murrayfan31

    Murrayfan31 Hall of Fame

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    If they can find a way to make the ball bounce lower without the courts getting too fast, that would be ideal. I think a surface similar to the WTF would be the ideal option to stop moonballing while avoiding a serve fest at the same time.
     
    #85
  36. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    There have been players that used a huge amount of top-spin since the 70s.

    Kent Carlsson hit with an increbible amount of top-spin during the 80s.

    Sergi Bruguera averaged 3300 rpm, just like Nadal, but Sergi could hit like that without co-poly strings (imagine Sergi with todays strings, would be scary) http://www.fawcette.net/2012/02/federer-hits-with-more-spin-than-nadal-.html


    All that huge top-spin didn't mean a thing on fast courts, because Sergi, Carlsson...they didn't have enough time to setup their shots, to hit with that amount of topspin on fast, low bouncing and skidding courts. They were great on clay, but neither got to QF on any of the other three GS.

    The type of bounce of todays hard courts, along with bigger and slower balls allow the players more time to hit the way they hit.

    In other words, if suddenly they changed the courts to a lot faster, low-bouncing and skidding courts, Nadal and Djokokic (and some others) would have to change noticeably their strokes to adapt to faster conditions. They would need to shorten their swings A LOT, to have more compact, flatter strokes, if they wanted to be still competitive.
     
    #86
  37. 10is

    10is Professional

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    tkoziel - I hope you realize you are trying to peddle BS. When we talk about homogenization, we're discussing it in the context of disparity in "court speed", claims of "green/blue clay" nothwithstanding, variable surface "textures" aren't suddenly going to start behaving the same way so an expectation of "convergence" is moot.

    Except for Wimbledon (which is accounted for by 2009/2010 being outlers in terms of unseasonably warm weather) there are no clear trends (in terms of peaks & valleys) when evaluating each tournament in isolation.

    Now, you might posit that this might be indicative of there being no change in court speed. However, one statistic which does show a clear trend would prove you wrong - this being convergence in the average serve speed which you touted.

    Avg serve speed has clearly been trending upwards since 2000 (and been in homeostasis more or less since 2006 probably due to combination of technological plateau and that will shall not be termed) but it does not seem to have been associated with correspendingly higher trend in the ace count as well (across all surfaces) when looking at each tournament individually (barring the 09/10 Wimbly aberration which I have already explained), where as logic dictates that it should have been the case. Why is that do you suppose?* ;)


    *Do remember that serve speeds are measured at point of impact - not after the bounce.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
    #87
  38. FrontHeadlock

    FrontHeadlock Semi-Pro

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    Isn't that sort of proving his point though? Guys are hitting harder, courts have slowed a bit, so the result is similar to what it was previously?
     
    #88
  39. 10is

    10is Professional

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    Not really, when you factor in the speed of the ball post-bounce -- the ace count hasn't significantly changed (despite serve speed being significantly higher on average) because the slower courts also correspondingly slow down the serve by the time it reaches the returner, which is why the avg ace count has more or less maintained it's parity. Considering the disparity in serve speed between the current era and the 2000s, they would have needed to have been appreciably slowed down to make it so.

    As far as groundtrokes are concerned, the difference in the physical mechanics compared to the serve make it difficult for me to apply the same judgement. Players might be "fitter" (and some even espousing Live Strong levels of fitness) in terms of endurance but I highly doubt they are any stronger, or that groundstrokes on average are any faster.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
    #89
  40. FrontHeadlock

    FrontHeadlock Semi-Pro

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    Isn't that the point? They slowed the courts down, but the effects (number of aces, number of tiebreak sets, and their disparities at the majors) have remained the same because guys are hitting harder, etc.

    Really, it's not the absolute court speed that matters, but the effects it has on the game, right?
     
    #90
  41. President

    President Legend

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    Why would serve speed have increased and not groundstroke speed/power (factoring in spin)? I actually think serve speed is more dependent on strength than groundstroke power.
     
    #91
  42. 10is

    10is Professional

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    No -- otherwise we would still be seeing at least some sembelance of the sort of offensive minded tennis that was being played a decade ago. Unless you're resorting to unorthodox measures fitness levels haven't suddenly skyrocketed to ubermensch level compared to the 90s. As far as tie-breaks/aces etc are concerned, parity remains on account of the fact that the slowing down of surfaces has correspondingly also increased players ability to return better on average. Same reason why defensive-tennis has become more rewarding on account of the courts inhibiting offensive stroke-making. Statistically, it's a sort of zero-sum game, but not in pragmatic terms.
     
    #92
  43. 10is

    10is Professional

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    Physics. Lateral vs Vertical point of impact and the body mechanics utilized in both. Spin has obviously perceptibly increased though on account of the poly revolution.

    Regarding serve speed though -- does anyone know if they had different standards of measuring it in the 90s? I'm fairly certain I came across something in this regard a while back, which could possibly account for the sudden leap.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
    #93
  44. President

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    Physics...ok...? Exactly why would the vertical point of impact of the serve lead to faster serving speeds in the 2000's when compared to the 90's as opposed to the lateral point of impact on groundstrokes?
     
    #94
  45. 10is

    10is Professional

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    Do you have any statistics to prove that groundstroke speed on average has in fact increased compared to the 90s? If not, then your point is moot since my stance is that it hasn't.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
    #95
  46. President

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    No, I don't think groundstroke speeds were measured in the 90's because they didn't have Hawkeye. IMO the change in serve speeds is only as drastic as it is because of the factor you mentioned, the change in measurement of the serve. IIRC in the 90's they measured the speed of the serve as it crossed the net, while in the 2000's they began measuring it at the point of impact. Guys like Becker and Ivanesevic were easily serving 140+ regularly IMO when measured by today's standards. Federer apparently gets similar mph to what Sampras did in his prime, but his serve is visibly slower. On todays guns, Sampras would probably be hitting 135 regularly (as opposed to Federer's 125) with the same pinpoint accuracy.

    IMO this shows that the change in surfaces (at least HC and clay) has not been THAT drastic since the 90's, since ace counts are relatively constant between the two eras.
     
    #96
  47. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Guys ... the OP is not interested in an intelligent debate. I thought he was, be he isn't.
     
    #97
  48. 10is

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    Do you know exactly when they changed measurement parameters? That would help contextualize the issue.

    Yes, but still a change nonetheless as well as on-going trend -- and for certain tournaments in particular it has been quite pronounced.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
    #98
  49. swordtennis

    swordtennis Hall of Fame

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    Exactly. This is what I was trying to say in my posts. This would be a great way to start off the testing process.

    Did I get snookered again? I get confused on the motives of some threads. I hope this was not a "motive behind The Nadal" thread.

    Darn good stuff, Man......
     
    #99
  50. andrewski

    andrewski Semi-Pro

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    Could it be that average level of tennis players improved in the last 20 years, so we have more aces because we have more closer matches with higher number of service games (because of fever 6:0, 6:1 sets) required to win a match?

    Should we therefore compare the number of aces in tournament in a given year against average number of service games and total serves attempted in a tournament to see what really happened with the serve effectiveness?

    It would be too time consuming and costly to do it, but if we analysed films of many serves of close enough trajectory and compare the ratio between time it took the ball to travel from serve to bounce and time ball took to travel set distance after bounce than we could see if courts are slower or not.

    Even then, could we really eliminate factors like different (size or weight) balls?

    Did anyone track average rally length in tournaments over the years? This would not be too difficult to do for GS tournaments just for finals and semis even if just by watching the replay if stats are not available.

    Any school teachers on this forum looking for ideas for student projects? :)

    I definitely enjoy watching Wimbledon in the last 10 years more than in the nineties.
     

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