Why I think Wimbledon is not slow grass.

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Blinkism, May 21, 2009.

  1. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    We've all heard the argument that the grass surface played at Wimbledon has slowed down in recent years. The argument goes that since 2002, Wimbledon has played significantly slower. Some people argue that not only is Wimbledon slower than it used to be, but that it's grass surface is one of the slowest of the 4 Majors (even being compared to clay).

    Now, while the argument can be made that Wimbledon may have slowed down, I'd like to argue that the grass at Wimbledon has not slowed to down to the extreme that some people claim. In fact, I've taken the liberty of researching all the Wimbledon Men's Singles tournaments since 2002, and taking a look at players who've done well at Wimbledon.

    I've taken a look at players who've achieved success on grass, and also on hardcourts and carpets, but who've achieved their lowest level of success on clay courts - in order to prove that the speed of the Wimbledon surface post-2001 does not benefit players who play well on slower surfaces (such as clay-court specialists) as much as it benefits players who play well on faster surfaces (like it always has).

    Here's a list I've compiled.
    _________________________________________________________________
    2002 Wimbledon
    - Quarterfinalist: Sjeng Schalken – this is a guy who won 2 grass titles and 6 hard court titles, so he was quite adept at faster surfaces. His clay court resume, at 1 title and a measly 3rd round showing once at Roland Garros, leaves much to be desired.
    - Quarterfinalist: Richard Krajicek – another big server with a solid net game, Krajicek is the 1996 Wimbledon champion, and has won 2 other grass court titles, along with 7 hard court titles (including 2 masters) and 6 carpets. His clay court resume is solid, but clearly the weakest of his surfaces relative to his other success (1 clay title, 1 master’s final, and a RG semi).
    - Semifinalist: Tim Henman – sometimes considered a grass court specialist (despite lacking any titles), Henman has 3 grass court finals and made the Wimbledon semi-finals 4 times (3 times before 2002, on the “fast grass”).
    - Champion: Lleyton Hewitt – the 2001 US Open champion, with 3 grass titles, a masters on hardcourt, and the Master’s Cup on hardcourt. After 2002, Lleyton went on to make the AO final, win another grass court title, and amass to date his best win percentage on any surface at 81% on grass (compared to his worst win percentage at 69% on clay).

    2003 Wimbledon
    - Quarterfinalist: Tim Henman – see above
    - Quarterfinalist: Jonas Bjorkman – 2 grass titles + 1 final, 3 hardcourt titles, and 1 title on carpet (and a final in a carpet Master’s); Bjorkman is much more adept to faster surfaces than he is to slow clay (his worst GS result is a 4th round showing at RG, and he has no clay titles to speak of).
    - Quarterfinalist: Alexander Popp – I don’t know much about him, but apparently his favourite surface is grass and he made the Wimbledon Quarterfinals in 2000 on “fast grass”
    - Semifinalist: Sebastien Grosjean – here’s a guy who was good on clay, but his best results were on fast surfaces; 1 grass title, 1 hardcourt title, and 2 carpet titles (including a master’s title).
    - Semifinalist: Andy Roddick – big server, 4 grass titles, 17 hard court titles, 1 carpet title. We all know Andy is no clay-court specialist.
    - Finalist: Mark Philippoussis – 2 grass titles, 8 hard court titles (one of which is MS title), the big serving Australian also made the final at the US Open and made 3 quarter-finals at Wimbledon from 1998-2000, on “fast grass”.

    2004 Wimbledon
    - Quarterfinalist: Lleyton Hewitt, see above.
    - Quarterfinalist: Tim Henman, see above.
    - Quarterfinalist: Sjeng Schalken, see above.
    - Semifinalist: Sebastien Grosjean, see above.
    - Semifinalist: Mario Ancic – the big serving Croat was once considered the next big grass-courter in the style of Goran Ivansevic, and with 2 grass titles and a carpet title, Ancic is definitely adept on faster surfaces.
    - Finalist: Andy Roddick, see above

    2005 Wimbledon
    - Quarterfinalist: Sebastien Grosjean, see above.
    - Semifinalist: Lleyton Hewitt, see above.
    - Semifinalist: Thomas Johansson – 2 grass titles, 3 carpet titiles, and 6 hardcourt titles (including a Major and a Master’s title). Johansson is definitely not a clay-court specialist by any definition, finding fasters surfaces to his liking.
    - Finalist: Andy Roddick, see above.

    2006 Wimbledon
    - Quarterfinalist: Mario Ancic, see above
    - Quarterfinalist: Radek Stepanek – with 4 hardcourt titles and no clay titles, Stepanek clearly plays his best tennis on faster surfaces.
    - Quarterfinalist: Lleyton Hewitt, see above
    - Semifinalist: Marcos Baghdatis – 1 hardcourt title and 1 carpet title, the 2006 Australian Open finalist was also a runner up at Halle, on grass. No clay titles or finals.
    - Semifinalist: Jonas Bjorkman, see above

    2007 Wimbledon
    - Quarterfinalist: Andy Roddick, see above
    - Quarterfinalist: Marcos Baghdatis, see above

    2008 Wimbledon
    - Quarterfinalist: Mario Ancic, see above
    - Quarterfinalist: Arnaud Clement – with 3 hardcourt titles (and Australian Open finalist), 1 carpet title, and 3 grass finals; Clement finds success on faster surfaces that he does not on the slower clay (with no finals or titles). Also, the 2007 Wimbledon Doubles Champion.
    - Quarterfinalist: Andy Murray – even though he’s improved on clay, in 2008 he was more of a hard-court specialist, clearly favouring faster surfaces. US Open finalist, 3 hardcourt masters (out of 10 HC titles), and a carpet title.
    - Semifinalist: Rainer Schuettler – 1 carpet title, 1 hardcourt title, and a AO runner-up. While he is solid on clay, his best results come from faster surfaces.
    - Semifinalist: Marat Safin – 2 Harcourt Grand Slam titles (and 2 other HC major finals), 2 Master’s titles on hardcourts + 3 MS shields on carpet. Safin has done well on clay (with 2 titles and a RG semi-final), but is definitely more adept on faster surfaces as one of the best hard courters of the decade.
    _________________________________________________________________

    My conclusion; many players who've done well at Wimbledon have success at other grass-court tournaments and have had success before 2002 at Wimbledon and other grass-court tournaments.
    Most players who have done well at Wimbledon since 2002 have done well on Hard-courts. While there have been some players who've made it deep into Wimbledon who can be considered clay courters or more adept on slower surfaces, they are still the minority at Wimbledon.

    That's my opinion and the facts i'm backing it up with.

    What do you guys think? Am I wrong, and why? Am I right, and why? Discuss.
    And let's keep this free of Nadal/Federer/Djokovic bashing, please.
     
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  2. jamesblakefan#1

    jamesblakefan#1 G.O.A.T.

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    I don't think any sane person has said that Wimbledon is green clay or slow grass, but it is slower than it was in the 90s. But just because clay courters aren't doing well on it doesn't mean that it isn't slower, which it is.
     
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  3. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    Wimbledon is just as fast as it used to be. It's just dramatic how much the styles of play have changed.
     
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  4. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    Well, there are some people with certain "agendas" on this forum who want to argue that Wimbledon is basically "green clay".

    Basically, my conclusion is that it's basically in between the Aussie Open and the US Open in speed. I base that on the fact that most people who do well at Wimby are basically hardcourters.

    Guys like Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic are excellent on every surface so I didn't include them in my list.
     
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  5. RCizzle65

    RCizzle65 Hall of Fame

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    I'm sure everyone is just over exaggerating the green clay thing, I doubt anyone really thinks it is that slow, but we all know it is definitely slower than it was 10 years ago
     
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  6. jamesblakefan#1

    jamesblakefan#1 G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, that's why I said sane people, because some people on here happen to be in-sane. :)
     
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  7. rubberduckies

    rubberduckies Professional

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    Excellent thread and analysis.
     
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  8. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    You think you mean. It's just theory as the styles of play are now suited for baseliners. It's too easy for passing shots now and baseline game is amazing.
     
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  9. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    I think it's a combination of what you've said and the fact that there's less grass court tournaments these days so the field is less specialized.
     
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  10. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    Yes lots of people have said it (and we all know why). Grass is and will always be a fast surface. Great reseach by he OP.
     
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  11. sh@de

    sh@de Hall of Fame

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    Yeah I don't get it with those people claiming Nadal won on 'green clay'. Just which part of Wimby last year was 'green clay'? The way some people find excuses for their defeated hero is pathetic... I completely agree with OP.

    And a side point, to all you people out there who blame Federer's loss because of 'green clay', how about Madrid last week? Nadal fans are now screaming that Madrid conditions favoured Fed. If you were making excuses for Fed about 'green clay', then don't bother attacking those Nadal fans. That'll just make you sound hypocritical.

    At the end of the day, whether Madrid really favoured Federer or not, and whether Wimby has really been slowed down or not, I think the player who wins deserves it. Why? Because it means he was the one who adapted best. If the surface or tournament changes, then it's up to the player to change. Those who don't adapt will be left behind; they won't deserve the title. Those who do win, and they should receive full credit for their performances.
     
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  12. jamesblakefan#1

    jamesblakefan#1 G.O.A.T.

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    Agreed.
    10 chars
     
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  13. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    Very smart and insightful post, and I agree. Some people like to twist the facts to back up their favorite player, but forget that tennis is still tennis at the end of the day.
     
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  14. Fee

    Fee Legend

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    I asked a player about it at Indian Wells. He said the grass is so slow now that he's changed the way he strings his racquets. I wish I could remember exactly what he said, it was my signature for a week or two. Something like 'it's slow as mud now, it's a complete joke.'

    But that's just one guy's opinion.
     
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  15. IvanAndreevich

    IvanAndreevich Legend

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    Slow grass is still a pretty fast surface. Doesn't mean it isn't slow as far as grass goes.
     
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  16. Geez just watch last years final. Look at how fast the points played out, how much lower the bounce is over other surfaces, how the slices skid through more than any other surface because of the low bounce etc...

    It's not rocket science, just use your eyes.
     
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  17. imalil2gangsta4u

    imalil2gangsta4u Hall of Fame

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    Its definetely still fast, but it doesnt compare do the way it use to be.
     
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  18. tennis_hand

    tennis_hand Hall of Fame

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    even the players and the experts who have touched, stepped on and eaten the grass say it is slower. What are u trying to prove? to prove ur are more intelligent than those players and the experts using your analysis and facts gathered on the internet?
     
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  19. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    Maybe you could post some links to articles where players and experts say that, so we could take a look?

    Thanks.
     
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  20. 380pistol

    380pistol Banned

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    The grass is slower. The groundskeepers and science have confirmed it. End of story, move on.
     
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  21. Lateralus

    Lateralus New User

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  22. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    It might be slower, but it is not slow like clay, which is what some people claim.

    The point of this thread was to prove that Wimbledon is still a fast surface and players who do well on faster surfaces do better at Wimbledon than players who do well on slower surfaces.

    And yes, groundskeepers have confirmed that Wimbledon has been gradually slowing down since the early 90's according to the Wimbledon spokesman in this article from 2002

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/wimbledon/2088800.stm

    So if Wimbledon is slower, it's only that much slower than the 70's and 80's, but not that drastically slower than the time that guys like Sampras and Ivanisevic were making finals, according to the spokesman for Wimbledon in the article.

    Apparently the grass was gradually slowed because the serve-and-volley guys disappeared, and not the other way around (serve-and-volley disappeared because Wimbledon slowed down).

    That's all the word of the Wimbledon spokesperson, though.

    There's still no proof Wimbledon is a slow surface, as some people say. Perhaps it has slowed down, but if you read my original post, you'll see that most people doing well at Wimbledon are guys who've always played well on grass and hardcourts but not as well on clay (with the exception of Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer).
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
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  23. IvanAndreevich

    IvanAndreevich Legend

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    #23
  24. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    What language is this video?

    Are the commentators talking about Roger's serving technique and the fact that he's added topspin to his serve, thus possibly slowing it down on contact with the grass?
     
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  25. IvanAndreevich

    IvanAndreevich Legend

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    Doesn't look like there is much more spin on it. The 2008 is just going deeper into the service box, but other than that the trajectories are pretty straight.

    Besides, what kind of topspin do you think he added at 126 mph?!
     
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  26. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    Federer vs. Hewitt - s'Hertogenbosch Semi-Final 2001
    Roddick vs. Hewitt - Queen's Club Semi-Final 2004
    Federer vs. Hewitt - Wimbledon Quarter-Final 2004
    Federer vs. Roddick - Wimbledon Final 2004
    Nadal vs. Roddick - Queen's Club Semi-Final 2008
    Nadal vs. Federer - Wimbledon Final 2008

    And for good measure

    Henman vs. Sampras - Wimbledon Semi-Final 1998

    IMO, It's more about the style of play than it is about the surface. Henman shows in the clip with Sampras the same thing Nadal does with players at the net, with great passing shots.

    Anyways, from what I see in these clips is that the grass plays the same, or very similar, for players making big serves and moving to the net and those that play at the baseline.

    And here's another clip, Agassi vs. Martin - Wimbledon 4th Round 1994
    Agassi here plays in a similar fashion to Nadal, longer rallies and passing shots when his opponent comes to the net.

    It's more about style, as Nadal_Freak pointed out, than it is about the surface, really. The grass-court style of play has evolved from serve-and-volley to what it is today because baseline players have adapted to the surface and pushed serve-and-volley players off the top of the grass hill.
     
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  27. sh@de

    sh@de Hall of Fame

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    The vid comparing Fed's serves in 2003 and 2008 is not really proof of the grass slowing down. Spin was not taken into account, wind speed was not taken into account... there are countless variables not controlled that make that analysis inaccurate.
     
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  28. Dave M

    Dave M Hall of Fame

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    Good research by the OP, have to agree that it's not green cay by a long way but it is a lot slower than the first time i went there around 1992.The grass seems denser as well but the thing i've really noticed is that it stays grassy for more of the tournament. I don't just mean around the boxes as very few people goto the net as thats obvious, but the baseline.
    But I think the technology changes that happened from the late 80s/ arly 90s (rackets then balls) and the fact that for the mostpart you don't get bad bounces means that the baseliners have much more time to set for their stroke. Look when Agassi won hi title and how amazed eveyone was, it was a9i think) hot yearte courts were hard and played more evenly previously you couldn't rely on a regular high/ even bounce so people came ino the net to volley the ball and therefore remove that influence from their game. As the balls bounc more consistantly and higher it means a baseline hugger can pick a guy off at the net without feara good sliced volley will be at his ankle each time.
    Just my thinking though!
     
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  29. Gen

    Gen Banned

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    Here's a link to the article where this "green clay" was used for the first time to prove that not only forum amateurs have "agendas". So-called "experts" are also biased.
    http://nationalsportsreview.com/2008/07/08/the-green-clay-of-wimbledon/

    After all this speculation about grass-slower-than-clay had started, ITF declared several times that they calibrated all the slam surfaces. According to ITF site, Wimbledon grass plays nearly as fast as USO surface (depending on the weather, when it's rainy, it's a bit slower). I haven't saved these links, but I'm pretty sure that this info can be found in ITF site.

    About players saying that Wimbley grass is no grass any more. Tim Henman, a Wimbledon failure, says it's slow. Boris Becker, a Wimbledon champ, says it's the same. Andre Agassi, another Wimbledon champ, said he saw no difference (at least last year).

    Thanks for your review. You have an interesting approach. Others calculated the actual speed after the bounce, used stats to prove that nothing has changed much. It's the first time that somebody looks at this issue "player-wise".
     
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  30. Winners or Errors

    Winners or Errors Hall of Fame

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    Green clay. :)

    I'm in agreement with those who say it's no longer the fastest major, because it's no longer the fastest major. The US Open is.... That doesn't mean it's RG slow, just that it plays slower than many think grass should and gives more bounce than it did prior to the grass change.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
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  31. The-Champ

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  32. fps

    fps Legend

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    yep, and the ball still bounces differently- it still bounces lower, it's still a big adjustment to make.
     
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  33. fps

    fps Legend

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    they need to do that analysis with 100 first and second serves from the same guy landing in a similar spot. one ball from each year can only show so much.
     
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  34. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    No. Simply no.
     
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  35. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    This thread is a joke - No one has said the grass at Wimbledon is as slow as clay. What has been said is that it is slower than it used to be. It is uncontrovertable - I don't really care and frankly think the matches are more fun to watch now that it is slower as both baseline and attacking can take place.

    When it was faster, even pure baseliners had to serve and volley/come to net often as it was basically impossible to win points otherwise.
     
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  36. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    They are speaking spanish. No, they are not speaking about his technique, rather stating that one could see form the graphics that the ball not only slows down much more in 2008 after contact with the ground, but also bounces higher.
     
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  37. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    Well, only a few people go as far as saying Wimbledon plays as slow as clay. But alot of people point out that the speed at Wimbledon, these days, allows for guys like Nadal, for example, to do well despite lacking the skills of grass-court players from the 90's (serve-and-volley, for example).

    The point of this thread was just to show that the players who do well at Wimbledon still fit the profile, for the most part. That's what I was trying to point out in my original post.

    I don't think it's fair to say this thread is a joke. I wasn't trying to argue Wimbledon doesn't play like clay (that's a ridiculous point of view), but rather i'm arguing that it is still played on a fast surface and any player that does well there is usually adept on other fast surfaces (hardcourts and carpet), as well.
     
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  38. Cyan

    Cyan Hall of Fame

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    If Wimbledon was slow grass like clay then the other claycourters would be going deep and that is not happening.

    Venus is still winning Wimbledon and she doesn't like slow courts....
     
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  39. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^Wimbledon is not a "fast surface" anymore. And yes, the changing of the surface their (slower and higher bouncing) has enabled players who wouldn't normally do well there to excel.
     
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  40. Gorecki

    Gorecki G.O.A.T.

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    to a certain extent this makes sense.
     
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  41. Blinkism

    Blinkism Legend

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    Like who for example?

    I took a look at players who've made at least Quarter-finals at Wimbledon since 2003, and the large majority of those players (with the exception of Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer) are usually players who haven't had as much success on clay than they've had on grass, hardcourts, or carpets. There are some exceptions, Juan Carlos Ferrero being the most obvious (Quarter-finalist in 2007), but he was also a US Open finalist so he's adept on fast surfaces, also.
    Maybe the surface has slowed down, but it is still a fast surface (somewhere between the AO and the US Open in speed, in my opinion).

    Otherwise, Nadal is usually used as the prime example of someone who benefits from Wimbledon having been slowed down, even though this goes against what I posted in this thread's original post (which is that the large majority of players doing well at Wimbledon are not clay-courters, but rather players who do better on fast surfaces). The fact is that Nadal has excelled on fast grass, making the Quarter-finals at Queen's in 2007, and finally winning the tournament in 2008.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
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  42. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^You have obviously never played on grass.

    Guys who like the ball high, and hit with extreme grips don't typically do well on fast, slick surfaces that bounce low.
     
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  43. Blinkism

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    Like who, for example? If Nadal's your only example, then I think we'd have to agree that his success at Wimbledon is an exception and is more to do with his work ethic and ability to adapt and apply his technique on grass.

    That's quite the achievement when you consider that, as it seems, no other player who likes the ball hit and hits with an extreme grip has done so well on a fast slick surface. But, it still seems that, overall, most players who do well at Wimbledon are players who play their best tennis on fast surfaces. That's not too different from the 90's, for example.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
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  44. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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  45. SteveI

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    Why I think Wimbledon is not slow grass???

    If the OP is saying the current Wimbledon grass is not slower than in the past... he has not been watching as long as I have been. Watch Fed vs Sampas (BTW.. what year was that??) and watch a match now. I am 52 and have seen at least the finals since 1978 or so. I have no facts... or video.. only my eyes. There is no doubt the grass is slower than in the past. The folks at Wimbledon even say so..
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
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  46. Blinkism

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    You're right, I haven't been watching that long. You've got a 20 year head start on me as i've started watching Wimbledon since 1998. Since then, though, I haven't noticed a huge change in court speed. It's just that baseliners have improved on grass, while serve-and-volley players have basically disappeared.

    Maybe Wimbledon is slower than in the past, but I'm just trying to say it's still up there with the hardcourt majors, in speed. If anything, it's probably the second fastest major now, after the US Open (in my opinion).

    Here's what I don't get, though. If you look at serve-and-volley guys like Edberg, Sampras, Becker, Rafter, and McEnroe, you'll see that they did very well on hardcourts too.

    So, even if Wimbledon is slower, shouldn't there still be prominent serve-and-volley guys playing on hardcourts, or carpet tourneys?

    It's more about the style in men's tennis changing, rather than the surface. The baseline style favored by the top guys these days means that rallies will be longer, and because the top guys are excellent at passing shots, it's less likely someone will move forward into the net.
     
    #46
  47. tacou

    tacou Legend

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    well yeah, if you only show all the fast-court specialists who do well at W every year it'll look like the same tournament it was in the 90s.

    I think it all boils down to an opinion, really, because the facts are facts: Wimbledon is much slower than it used to be. It cannot be debated.

    However, people who say it is slower than the French or call it green clay are just upset that Nadal is playing well there now and/or miss serve and volley. I miss it too but just because Wimbledon changed the grass does not make it any less prestigious in my eyes.
     
    #47
  48. EtePras

    EtePras Banned

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    Even Spanish speaking people are proving Wimbledon is slower now.
     
    #48
  49. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Have you seiously been watching tennis since 98???? If you have, I'm having a hard time understanding why you wouldn't know the answers to your questions.
    • For starters, Wimbledon was always the very fastest court (much faster than the US open), and much slicker/low bouncing. Couple that with the fact the bounces were horrible, compared to a hard court, and you the very toughest condition compared to any other type of fast court. The bad bounces, fast/slick, low bouncing court have all been taken out of the equation. What you have today at Wimbldeon are slower courts, that are higher bouncing, don't skid as much, and are much smoother to play (hence, no bad bounces).
    • The US Open, although the fastest slam right now, has also been slowed down recently. In other words, doesn't play as fast as it used to.
    To sum it up for you,,,,,,,,, the US Open is slower than it used to be, and yet is now faster than Wimbledon. Which goes to show you just how much they have slowed down the surface at Wimbledon.

    No way in hell do any of these guys (Fed included) get away with playing the style of tennis they do at Wimbledon 10 years ago. And if they do play that style, they lose 9 out of 10 times to a good serve and volleyer.

    This includes Nalbandian, Hewitt, Nadal, Roddick, Federer, etc.

    guys who play like karlovic, dent, ancic would be heading the way at Wimbledon. and definitely no way a guy like Nadal who tends to return from 50 feet behind the baseline and doesn't remotely have a weapon as a serve make it to the second week.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
    #49
  50. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

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    I remember last year Jason Goodall did a piece whichs shows Nadal stands closer to the baseline on grass than on clay to return.
     
    #50

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