Clay is the most important surface in tennis

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by BeautyVenus, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. BeautyVenus

    BeautyVenus New User

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    More than ever the French Open this year has demonstrated that playing on clay is so important for a player to develop to becomnig a good tennis player. Notice all the so called clay court players from South America and Spain are also very good fast court players.

    Clay teaches you to:

    1. Construct points

    2. increase endurance

    3. extended rallies

    4. mental strength
     
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  2. J-man

    J-man Hall of Fame

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    True but it doesn't tell you how to move on hard or grass courts
     
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  3. Grigollif1

    Grigollif1 Semi-Pro

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    You mean the most important surface after harcourts courts right?
     
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  4. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Clay's a very bad surface to learn serve and volley. Hard courts are the best all around courts to learn tennis because you can grind from the baseline and come to the net. Grass is better suited for net players and clay is better for players who play back. Clay is definitely not the best surface for learning all around tennis.
     
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  5. diegaa

    diegaa Hall of Fame

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    Thank u. Ive been saying this for ages.

    (not in here though :mrgreen: )
     
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  6. hoosierbr

    hoosierbr Hall of Fame

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    In many ways clay is the great equalizer in that the very top top players find a way to adapt and win matches on it while others don't. Edberg for example reached the RG final and won titles on clay including the Masters event in Hamburg, though it wasn't a MS when he won it I don't think. Boris Becker, on the other hand, never won a title on clay.

    However, some of the very best players like Sampras, Edberg, Connors, McEnroe, Ashe, Rafter, etc. never won the French and weren't a consistent threat on clay year in and year out. Look at all the one-slam wonders from RG who never did much anywhere else? Gaudio and Costa are two recent examples.
     
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  7. Grigollif1

    Grigollif1 Semi-Pro

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    Yeah Nadal is Amazing at constructing points... Staying far behing the baseline just returing high topspin and running after everything.. He is one fo the most dominant clay court players and he doesn't have an all court game. I think that ironically enough the surface that has produced more greats and all court players is grass...which is the least popular.
     
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  8. David L

    David L Hall of Fame

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    This thread was probably provoked by the 'They need to make the French Open surface fair' thread. So I'll put in here what I put in there, for those who have not looked at that thread yet.

    I love clay court tennis. I love hard court tennis. I enjoy grass court tennis, in moderation(glad the season is short). I recognise Wimbledon as the most prestigious Grand Slam, but this is only because of its history. I don't think it always brings out the better player, because some people can get away with largely just having a big serve. Rusedski/Wayne Arthurs types, can beat people that they really have no business beating. Fortunately, there are players who are good enough to prevent such types winning the title.

    Slower surfaces, I would say, generally bring out the better player. I don't, however, think this is necessarily the case with clay. A special technique(sliding), is the obstacle for a lot of people, who have not grown up on it, so naturally they are at a disadvantage. Clay, however, also tests consistency and endurance, as someone stated earlier. Consistency is a legitimate tennis skill, and as professional athletes, pros ought to be fit. Ultimately, I enjoy clay court tennis. I see no problem with it.

    I think slow hardcourt is the fairest surface. Tests everything. No one can get away with just a big serve, but you can still hit winners or set up easy put aways. There is no loose ground, to disturb your footwork, and no style of play is neutralized too much. You can play the way you want to play and still win, you just have to be better at your style, than your opponent is at theirs.

    I think it's good to have different surfaces at the Grand Slams. It is not a must to win them all, but if you can, it is the ultimate compliment of your abilities as a tennis player. You have the two extremes(Wimbledon and Roland Garros) and the more moderate(Australian Open and US open). It is perfectly balanced as it is. I happen to like 20+ stroke rallies, I can also enjoy the serve and volley game. The hardcourt seasons are a nice, extended respite, that afford players the opportunity to compete equally with their style of preference.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
     
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  9. JayxTheKoolest

    JayxTheKoolest Semi-Pro

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    If they're the best surface, how come aggresive playing styles (e.g. Sampras, Blake) fail? Are aggressive playing styles unimportant in tennis?

    Granted it is a good surface, however, in my opinion, they generate a completely different, more deffensive style of play. Perhaps this is what you value?
     
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  10. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    To quote Mr. Hand, "Are you on dope?"

    In the last 15 years, how many players who have won the French have gone on to have success at the other Slams?

    Reverse that; how many players who have won the U.S. have also won at Wimbledon or Australia?

    FRENCH WINNERS
    89- Chang-no other slams
    90- Gomez-no other slams
    91-92: Courier (won 2 AOs)
    93-94: Brugera-no other slams
    95-Muster-no other slams
    96-Kafelnikov (2 AOs)
    97-Kuerten-no other slams
    98-Moya-no other slams
    99-Agassi (career slam, 8 total)
    00-Kuerten-no other slams
    01-Kuerten-no other slams
    02-Costa-no other slams
    03-Ferrero-no other slams
    04-Gaudio-no other slams
    05-Nadal-no other slams
    06-Nadal-no other slams

    In the last 17 years, only 3 FO winners have had success at the other 3 tournaments, and of those, only one, Agassi, has won anything other than the slow hard courts of Australia.

    US OPEN
    89-Becker (won Wimbledon, AO)
    90-Sampras (won Wimbledon, AO)
    91-Edberg (won Wimbledon, AO)
    92-Edberg (won Wimbledon, AO)
    93-Sampras (won Wimbledon, AO)
    94-Agassi (won Wimbledon, AO, FO)
    95-Sampras (won Wimbledon, AO)
    96-Sampras (won Wimbledon, AO)
    97-Rafter-no other Slams, lost 2 Wimbeldon finals)
    98-Rafter-no other Slams, lost 2 Wimbeldon finals)
    99-Agassi (won Wimbledon, AO, FO)
    00-Safin (won AO)
    01-Hewitt (won Wimbledon)
    02-Sampras (won Wimbledon, AO)
    03-Roddick-no other slams, lost 2 Wimbeldon finals)
    04-Federer-won Wimbledon 03-05, Aussie 04, 06
    05-Federer-won Wimbledon 03-05, Aussie 04, 06

    So, over the last 17 years, there have been only two US Open winners who haven't won at other Slams, but they at least made the finals of Wimbledon. In other words, they have done well outside the U.S.

    Of the French winners, 9, holding a total of 14 of the 17 FO titles, haven't even made the final at another tournament. In fact, only one of the single slam winners, Ferrero, has made the finals at another tournament. And often the FO loser has an equally dismal record outside of Paris.

    What those stats tell me is that Paris is its own little insular world. Clay is its own little insular world. The players who do best and are the most complete are those who can complete on fast hard courts, because they can still play on the slow hard courts like Rebound Ace and adapt their game for the slick grass courts of Wimbledon.

    Clay is a surface that lets one-dimensional players inflate their records and their egos. It's fun to play on, and I grew up on it, and I like to slide, but give me a Deco-Turf II court any day of the week. I loved playing tournaments at Flushing as a kid; the surface is wonderful!
     
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  11. BabolatFan

    BabolatFan Semi-Pro

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    and if you can't play on hardcourt and grass, you're screwed too.
     
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  12. simi

    simi Hall of Fame

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    Good analysis. You put into words what I've felt inside for years, but didn't know how to express.
     
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  13. diegaa

    diegaa Hall of Fame

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    Well see it in another way. Players who grew up in fast courts could take graet benefits for learning how to play in clay.
     
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  14. LowProfile

    LowProfile Professional

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    Not so.

    Gaston Gaudio. Nicolas Massu. José Acasuso. Agustín Calleri. Mariano Puerta. Mariano Zabaleta. Albert Costa. Nicolás Almagro. Alberto Berasategui. Félix Mantilla. Alberto Martín. All are very fine clay court players and yet have far from stellar fast court games.
     
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  15. simi

    simi Hall of Fame

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    You are absolutely correct! I wish I had/have the chance to play on clay, because I know it would force me to be more consistent and patient. Alas, clay courts are quite rare in California.
     
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  16. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Excellent research, Arafel. You've proven to everyone that players who excel on hard courts are capable of winning on other surfaces where clay court specialists do well on clay and on rare occasions, slow hard courts. BVenus made a mistake in claiming that clay is the most important surface in tennis because those who specialize in clay play are doomed for failure on other surfaces unless they're willing to change their games to adapt.
     
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  17. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I pretty much agree with you. Becker, Edberg, Federer, Borg, I think even McEnroe, all grew up on clay and excelled on grass. It's between hard courts and clay in terms of best surface to develop a player on (both would be great), and I give a significant edge to clay. All the extra balls you hit on clay, more chances to groove your strokes, and, yes, learning to construct points. Seems like the benefits of clay translate more readily to other surfaces than the other way around. And I see no reason why your volleys have to suck because you grew up on clay (Edberg and Mac's certainly don't), and it's not like hard courts automatically makes you a better volleyer anyway. Seems like volleying is a lost art regardless of surface you grew up on.
     
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  18. HyperHorse

    HyperHorse Banned

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    i dont think any one surface is more important than the other...
    but we need MORE grass and clay courts....
    and we need more grass tournaments before Wimbledon...
    why not make Wimbledon early-mid July?
     
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  19. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I took his message to mean that developing a player on clay is advantageous, not so much that success on clay is the best predictor of overall greatness. You're right, the French is notorious for winners who don't succeed as greatly on other surfaces, but if you compare the accomplishments of players who grew up on clay against those who grew up on hard courts, I think overall the clay court kids come out on top. Really, it's only clay or hard courts, and maybe it's not "significant" like I said above, but still a slight edge to growing up on clay.
     
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  20. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    It would be great to have on Masters series tournament on grass. Extend the grass court season by a week or two.
     
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  21. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    DavidL and Arafel,

    Nice posts.

    Two corrections on Arafel's lists though:

    RG winner Kafelnikov won a single AO in 1999 over Enqvist. He reached the final again in 2000 losing to Agassi.

    Also one time RG winner Moya reached the final of the '97 AO losing to Sampras.



    To the OP,

    Some valid points, others are a tad overstated. I know clay courters like to stake an exclusive claim to point construction, but the constucts take place on grass, hardcourts and carpet, where they even involve trasitioning forward and net play i.e. all-court. And despite the popular belief serve and volley points also involve construction, strategy, use of angles, touch, etc. No? Watch some clips of Edberg, JMc and Rafter. Watch there use of spin, height, angle, court sense, touch, tendencies and strategies in there point construction. None were ever considered big servers yet all won majors and even threatened at RG. Yes, all of them. It would behoove every player to play on any and all surfaces, strategies vary from surface to surface as does the necessity for the development of all the strokes and elements of the game for each.

    Also re-examine the claim regarding Spanish and South American players distinguishing themselves on fast courts, aside from Nadal's h2h with Fed right now and with rare exception (as in Moya's run to the '97 AO final, which included wins over a 6th seeded Boris Becker 1R, Jonas Bjorkman and 2nd seeded Michael Chang or much more impressively Ferrero's performance at the '03 US Open where he beat Todd Martin in the R16, the 6 seeded Lleyton Hewitt in the QF and 1st seed Andre Agassi in the semis before falling to Roddick in the final) runs by clay courters invariably involve a gauntlet of other clay courters if they go fairly far in fast court tourneys. Generally they prove only that they may be the best fast courter among their fellow clay courters. The "happy, happy, joy, joy feeling" generally goes away when meeting an actual fast court player, i.e. Blake, Agassi, Haas etc..

    The locale you stated in your post may apply, but when I suggested that Nalbandian was a clay courter in another thread regarding clay court play having won his first three of five total titles on clay, someone corrected me and said he had only two hard courts to play on in the area of Argentina he grew up in.
     
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  22. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Tennis magazine had an article some years back. It pointed out that every US Wimbledon champion prior to Agassi grew up on.....clay. If you look at the other greats in the game, they all pretty much grew up on clay. Now, that has changed some due to the insurgence of hard courts. However, the Australian tennis federation is looking into building.....clay courts. Why? Because of the success of other countries like Spain & Argentina. They see the common foundation of a great game as the steadiness that comes from learning the game on slow clay.

    The suggestion that clay is not good to learn to serve and volley on has some merit. However, if you can serve and volley on clay, you can serve and volley on any surface. Combine that thought with the knowledge that the serve and volley tactic is learned after you know something about the game, i.e. S&V players mature later, and clay is the best way to learn the game.
     
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  23. North

    North Professional

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    Yeah, definitely there is point construction on faster courts and in S&V. The player just has to construct the points, well... faster. Good examples of Edberg, JMac, and Rafter. It's just that the point construction would take place over maybe only 4 or 5 shots (give or take) rather than 10 or 20 shots. I've always feel a much greater urgency and pressure to quickly come up with tactics on faster surfaces and in playing S&V - have always personally found that much more of a challenge to have to construct the point in such a short time and over so few strokes.
     
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  24. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    The history of tennis is best shown at Wimbledon. Every year it differentiates the most skilled tennis players. Lawn court tennis is the heritage of todays game.

    Grass teaches you to:

    1. Stay low, watch the ball, and use sound stroking techniques

    2. increase half vollies and volleying techniques

    3. play aggressive point to end rallies

    4. mental concentration

    I have obviously used this post as a counter to your dirt balling post and as a counter view which many of todays players dont realize. I believe the game of tennis needs variety back including more grass and clay events ...
     
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  25. Scud

    Scud Guest

    Interesting Rickson! Thank you! Just a statistical
    note: Moya was a finalist in Australian open 1997,
    and Chang was a finalist in Australian open and
    US open in 1996.(not only Ferrero was a grand
    slam finalist in another tournament, then). But
    nevermind, your point is very clear. This does
    not change anything.. Im just at statistical guru : )

    Johan.
     
    #25
  26. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Hall of Fame

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    Clay Is The Most Important....blah!...blah!!

    Clay is the most important surface in pottery (and pizza stones), period.
     
    #26
  27. 127mph

    127mph Semi-Pro

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    hard court is more important in the pros since the first quarter of the year and the second half of the year is hardcourt tournaments(including carpet) nadal would not be number 2 if he just played clay.
     
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  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Luke Jensen was on TTC (in the Matchpoint program rant&rave section) and suggested expanding grass play. He said there is too much clay before Wimbledon and too much after Wimbledon before the indoor season and it gives non-US players a huge advantage.
     
    #28
  29. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    i want more grass!
     
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  30. mislav

    mislav Semi-Pro

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    And I pretty much agree with you.
     
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  31. mileslong

    mileslong Professional

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    you construct points on fast surfaces (ie. serve out wide, follow your shot in a bit hit it back to the same corner off of your opponents short return, when and f and when he retrieves that one then you are standing at the service line putting it away crosscourt)

    on clay you hit for an hour until someone messes up...
     
    #31
  32. The Pusher Terminator

    The Pusher Terminator Banned

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    I do not think Lendl, Courier, or Agassi would agree with that statement. They sure as hell smacked winners on clay.
     
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  33. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    Yeah, the greatest claycourters didn't all play defensively like Nadal. Courier and Agassi were for a time the best claycourters around. They hit the ball harder than anyone.
     
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  34. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Hall of Fame

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  35. alienhamster

    alienhamster Hall of Fame

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    Nice one, Dedans.

    And I was just gonna reply, per your clay *STONE* reference, "I LOVE pizza!" . . . in that munchies sorta way.
     
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