Different strokes for different surfaces

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Aonex, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. Aonex

    Aonex Semi-Pro

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    I was trying to figure out what the best strokes were for the varying surfaces. I know that claycourters generally put a lot of topspin on their shots, and grasscourters generally have flatter shots. I've heard different explanations for each, so I wanted to get something definitive of why each is best. Could anyone give a good explanation, or refer me to a good article describing the strenghts of each surface (clay, hard, grass). Thanks.
     
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  2. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    Big subject. I'll just say one doesn't need as good of a drop shot or volley on clay or grass as on a hard court.
     
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  3. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    On Clay: Because of the slowness of the surface, rallies are longer. If you want to stay with your opponent without making premature unforced error, it is important to apply topspin to your ground strokes. However, on easier mid-court putaway shots, the swing is flatten out. Wide serve followed by wide forehand ground stroke is the order of the day. Whenever possible you run around your backhand to hit inside out forehands (the surface allows that)!

    Grass: Because of the quicker surface, in old times, serve and volley tactic was followed. Even today some players such as Henman, Federer would come in behind their serves selectively. However, there were/are players who won it from the baseline (Borg, Hewitt, etc) without drastically modifying their ground strokes. Yes, you hit through more on grass to flaten the stroke out. But in certain situations topspin is also applied. Grass encourages the use of down the line approach shots followed by cross-court or wrong-footing volley. I feel that wide serve followed by wide volley or ground stroke is a good tactic on grass.

    Hard Court/Deco Turf: Medium fast. Moderate topspin is applied. However, offensive lobs are hit with more topspin. Top or underspin is added according to the situation. In defensive situations you add more topspin, in offensive situations you add less topspin. Rip and charge tactic is followed more these days. However, chip and charge tactic (Dent) is still valid and should be used selectively. Good combination of cross-court shots followed by effective down the line is an excellent tactic on any surface!

    If you play more on these surfaces you get used to them.
     
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  4. Aonex

    Aonex Semi-Pro

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    Thanks so much, MK. Just what I was looking for. I recently started playing on clay, after learning how to play on hardcourts. As for grass, I figured I might as well learn something while we were on the subject. Look forward to adjusting my game accordingly.
     
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  5. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Clay, much slower, easier for opponent to run down your shots, need a more consistent game too win, deep loopy topspin to drive opponent deep and then dropshot is good combo. Players will slide across the clay when they try to stop. Defense is key to winning on clay. Get every ball back and have some wheels (good footspeed)

    Grass, balls take funny bounces and stay lower, so the slice or flat shots are great and it's better if you can volley and take the ball in the air avoid the unpredidactable bounces. Big serve helps as it skids fast across the grass. Be aggressive and go for it, flat forehand or slice approach and volley for winner.

    Hardcourt (some hardcourts have more sand in them to slow them down so they can be more like clay or with less sand and grit more like grass, run your hand over the court and if it feels slick it will play pretty fast and if it's sort of scratchy it will play much slower). Balls take truer bounces and are more predictable so topspin baseliners are favored. Balls can accelerate with topspin as the ball bites into the hardcourt. Aggressive baseline topspin is favored as the slice slows down too much on hardcourt and will bounce up higher than on grass. Volleyers have a harder time as the baseliners get more predictable and higher bounces to rip their passing shots with. Hit aggressive topspin baseline shots to the corners and attack.
     
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  6. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    I have never played on grass but have played on hard (fast and slow) and red clay extensively.

    The one shot that suffers the most on clay is the slice.... The stuff skids and penetrates on fast indoor hard surface, and is very effective.... on some slower hard courts, a good slice can also stay very low to force the opp to hit a difficult pass.

    But the slice is a sitting duck on the clay, no matter how well I hit it.

    A fast surface also helps players with less power on the serve and groundies. (like me). Playing indoor I can come in behind my 80+ mph first serve (my serve location is not bad), but on clay against a decent returner it is suicide.
     
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  7. GrahamIsSuper

    GrahamIsSuper Semi-Pro

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    Grass: Very fast, fastest court there is, maybe besides like gym floor. Slice works very well. On heavy slice serves, its possible for balls to take a foot of skid before coming back up, and yes, it counts from the beginning of the skid, so you're really in trouble if your opponent can do it well. Lots of serve and volleyers hit here. I guess a good tactic would be hitting less angle than you would on clay? Its harder to get to balls, so to be safe, you may as well aim more inside the lines for better consistancy.

    Clay: Fun stuff, very strategical, almost like chess. You use your big shots to get the guy off balance, then put em away. Also it can depend on the consistancy of the surface: if its wet or moist, play it safer and hit more crosscourt, its easier for the guy to get his footing. If it's real dry, hit crosscourt then maybe the same exact place. It'll be hard for him to regain his footing on the dry loose clay, giving you control of the point. Drop shots work well, even though the balls bounce higher, because if you set them up right, opponents cant get there in time because of the footing.

    Hard: Medium/fast depending on court temp. Hotter the faster, and the higher the balls bounce. Do whatever really, Chances are you've already got strategies for the hard court, as thats what most courts are in the US.
     
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  8. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    We have extremely fast indoor courts inside (some type of rolled flooring) and clay outdoor courts - both ends of the scale.

    I find that I have to change my grip (rotate more to a eastern forehand indoors from a semi-western on clay) to hit because of the height of the ball after the bounce.
     
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  9. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I would agree that a flatter Eastern grip is better on a faster surface. SW would be better on a slower surface like clay.
     
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  10. kickingbird

    kickingbird Rookie

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    Wait, so let me get this straight. I always thought Clay gave the highest bounce but my PS2 game (Smash Court pro tournament 2) says Hardcourt gives highest bounce, followed by Clay.

    So maybe it only seems like the ball bounces higher on Clay because players use more loopy topspin shots? Cos if Clay did give the higherst bounce, then it wouldn't make sense to use dropshots (other than maybe because players play from well behind the baseline)? Then again, people say the kick serve is most effective on clay... arrgh confused.
     
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  11. crosscourt

    crosscourt Professional

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    Don't write off the slice on clay completely. Drop shots, short angles, and above all defensive forehand and backhanded slices are key shots. On very slow clay courts a slice can bight and bounce unpredictably, and give your opponent no pace to feed off.
     
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  12. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    kickingbird,

    I believe a dropshot is effective on clay because the surface kills the forward momentum of the ball. A dropshot on grass dies fast because of the low bounce. But the shot is equally effective on both surfaces despite being at opposite end of the spectrum.
     
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  13. GrahamIsSuper

    GrahamIsSuper Semi-Pro

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    Dropshots can be extremely effective on clay, you just have to know how to use them. You NEVER want to just tap a dropshot up there out of the blue, the bounce makes it too easy to get to.

    Instead, you first must take control of the point and get your opponent off balance for it to be effective. They will be so concerned with the next crosscourt that they'll be completely off balance to rush the net, hence, a lot of people won't even try for them.

    Clay has the strongest bounce. For some reasons, Mario Tennis thinks it has the weakest :lol: oh well. I hear that Topspin game for the X-Box is excellent, one of the best tennis games ever made. I may have to go get it.
     
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  14. kickingbird

    kickingbird Rookie

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    Thanks Graham and andreh.

    What makes the ball bounce higher on clay though?

    PS Graham, I've played Topspin as well but I'd recommend Smash Court 2 if you have a PS2!
     
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  15. GrahamIsSuper

    GrahamIsSuper Semi-Pro

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    I think it's just because of the chemical makeup. Perhaps the particles of clay are packed closer together than cement. Not really sure on that. I would mainly stress that its bouncier than cement, no idea why :lol:

    Wow, the above made no sense.....you just completely confused a 16 year old lol. I've never really thought about it, it just IS to me.

    I have ps2/x-box, so i may have to rent first to see what I like.
    I broke one of my Babolat pure controls this weekend against some nationally ranked kid who beat me in 30 minutes, mainly cus I was totally off, but he was also really good. Anyway, all my time/money right now is going into practice sets, and buying several Estusa Power Beam Pro's. Keep it real!
     
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