Australian Open Rebound Ace vs. Pexicushion vs. GreenSet

daggerman

Hall of Fame
I hadn't realized until today that the ITF maintains a database of court speed classifications for all of the surface manufacturers that are registered on it. For those unfamiliar with this, each surfaces falls into one of 5 categories: (1) Slow, (2) Medium-Slow, (3) Medium, (4) Medium-Fast, (5) Fast. I often read on here that the Rebound Ace surface used at the Australian Open until 2008 was faster than the Plexicushion surface that replaced it. While I've been somewhat skeptical of that claim, without data it's hard to say either way.

I looked up all of the Rebound Ace, Plexicushion, and GreenSet surfaces in the database, and this is how they're categorized:

Rebound Ace GS 8 MM: Category 3 (Medium)
Rebound Ace HSA Club: Category 3 (Medium)
Rebound Ace Synpave: Category 3 (Medium))
Plexicushion Prestige: Category 4 (Medium-Fast)
GreenSet Australian Open**: Category 4 (Medium-Fast)

I have two questions, but feel free to share any thoughts:

1. For those who believe AO Rebound Ace was faster than AO Plexicushion and/or AO GreenSet, how do you reconcile that belief with that data presented above? Is it that none of the 3 Rebound Ace surfaces currently registered with the ITF are the same as the Rebound Ace surface used for the Australian Open? Is the Plexicushion surface that is currently registered different?

2. Why doesn't this ITF classification data feature more prominently in discussions of surface speed on here? Is the data misleading in some way? How so?

---
**Note: there are several other GreenSet surfaces in the database, some of which are categorized as "Medium," but since I'm limiting the discussion to the Australian Open, I've only included the specific GreenSet surface that is used there.

Source: itftennis.com
 
Rebound ace was considered a medium-slow court throughout almost the whole of the 1990s and 2000s. It was clearly slower than the US Open hard court surface except for in 2000 and to a lesser extent 2001, because of a coat of paint given to the courts prior to the 2000 event, as the perception was that from about 1997 onwards it had got too slow.

I don't know why posters on TTW have it in their heads that rebound ace was medium-fast.
 

One

Rookie
I don't know why posters on TTW have it in their heads that rebound ace was medium-fast.
Bcuz most of them are Fed fans, and they had to find an excuse for Novak being much better than Fed in AO.
Camera angle often can make us feel surface is slower than other, maybe thats the reason others think post 2007 AO was slower, but i dont think angle was different than before.
 
Bcuz most of them are Fed fans, and they had to find an excuse for Novak being much better than Fed in AO.
Camera angle often can make us feel surface is slower than other, maybe thats the reason others think post 2007 AO was slower, but i dont think angle was different than before.
Well, maybe. But it is a fact of historical record that the tournament organizers of the Australian Open decided prior to the 2000 event that the court was getting too slow and so painted it again to make it slicker. As a result, top players stated many times in the early rounds of the 2000 event that the courts were among the fastest courts in the world. Sampras, for example, stated that he wouldn't be hanging back (meaning he'd attack the net wherever possible).

In 1997, by contrast, the quarter-final lineup was Sampras, Ivanisevic, a bunch of clay-courters (Albert Costa, Thomas Muster, Carlos Moya, Felix Mantilla), and a couple of players who were best on medium-slow surfaces (Chang and Rios). Sampras did win the event, but Ivanisevic got trounced in straight sets by Muster in the quarter-finals. Things weren't all that different in 1998.
 
Technically, I think the most noteworthy characteristic of rebound ace was that the bounce was very high because of the rubber in the court. So, in a sense, it was a very different court from Plexicushion, where the bounce was much lower. Note that bounce height usually correlates very well with court speed, so from that one fact alone, one would think that Plexicushion was much less slow that rebound ace. However, I think it is true that the Plexicushion courts took more of the pace off the ball than did rebound ace, so that while both are probably best characterized as medium-slow overall, rebound ace is faster but higher bouncing than Plexicushion.
 

daggerman

Hall of Fame
Whichever the case, Federer has won 3 titles on each surface.
Yeah, Federer's the best player ever, so of course he'll play well anywhere.

However, I'm interested here in what is the case, not what is true regardless of what the case is.
 

xFedal

Legend
Yeah, Federer's the best player ever, so of course he'll play well anywhere.

However, I'm interested here in what is the case, not what is true regardless of what the case is.
This years AO21 played the fastest maybe in 21st century was rated 50 cpi and 45+ is rated fast. And 40-45 is medium fast.
 

daggerman

Hall of Fame
Did you not say "share any thoughts"? I did so and stayed on the topic of rebound ace and plexicushion.
Yeah, there was nothing wrong with what you said. You said something and I responded to it. I didn't even say you were off topic; I just stated what I was interested in knowing.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
I hadn't realized until today that the ITF maintains a database of court speed classifications for all of the surface manufacturers that are registered on it. For those unfamiliar with this, each surfaces falls into one of 5 categories: (1) Slow, (2) Medium-Slow, (3) Medium, (4) Medium-Fast, (5) Fast. I often read on here that the Rebound Ace surface used at the Australian Open until 2008 was faster than the Plexicushion surface that replaced it. While I've been somewhat skeptical of that claim, without data it's hard to say either way.

I looked up all of the Rebound Ace, Plexicushion, and GreenSet surfaces in the database, and this is how they're categorized:

Rebound Ace GS 8 MM: Category 3 (Medium)
Rebound Ace HSA Club: Category 3 (Medium)
Rebound Ace Synpave: Category 3 (Medium))
Plexicushion Prestige: Category 4 (Medium-Fast)
GreenSet Australian Open**: Category 4 (Medium-Fast)

I have two questions, but feel free to share any thoughts:

1. For those who believe AO Rebound Ace was faster than AO Plexicushion and/or AO GreenSet, how do you reconcile that belief with that data presented above? Is it that none of the 3 Rebound Ace surfaces currently registered with the ITF are the same as the Rebound Ace surface used for the Australian Open? Is the Plexicushion surface that is currently registered different?

2. Why doesn't this ITF classification data feature more prominently in discussions of surface speed on here? Is the data misleading in some way? How so?

---
**Note: there are several other GreenSet surfaces in the database, some of which are categorized as "Medium," but since I'm limiting the discussion to the Australian Open, I've only included the specific GreenSet surface that is used there.

Source: itftennis.com
Which one has the most cushioning and most easy on the knees ?
 
2000 played fast? Faster than USO2000?
AO 2000 was extremely fast. I don’t think we see courts in that speed category anymore. See my earlier posts about the paint job on this point.
US open 2000 was also very fast though. In its early years, from 1998 until about 2003, the Ashe stadium was one of the fastest courts around. Hence, for one thing, the Sampras-Agassi no break match in 2001.
When we complain about courts being too slow now, it is worth remembering how fast they were in 2000-2001.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
AO 2000 was extremely fast. I don’t think we see courts in that speed category anymore. See my earlier posts about the paint job on this point.
US open 2000 was also very fast though. In its early years, from 1998 until about 2003, the Ashe stadium was one of the fastest courts around. Hence, for one thing, the Sampras-Agassi no break match in 2001.
When we complain about courts being too slow now, it is worth remembering how fast they were in 2000-2001.
AO 2000 extremely fast? Not to me, by a long shot. It was faster than previous years, and I would say a high medium court, but nothing like AO this year or in 2017-2020. I mean you can look at the Sampras/Agassi highlights from 2000 AO and then look at some more recent matches and see the difference.
 
Last edited:

xFedal

Legend
AO 2000 was extremely fast. I don’t think we see courts in that speed category anymore. See my earlier posts about the paint job on this point.
US open 2000 was also very fast though. In its early years, from 1998 until about 2003, the Ashe stadium was one of the fastest courts around. Hence, for one thing, the Sampras-Agassi no break match in 2001.
When we complain about courts being too slow now, it is worth remembering how fast they were in 2000-2001.
I have seen data that shows big increase in speed in 2000 yh it got faster than even USO. https://www.ultimatetennisstatistics.com/tournament?tournamentId=21 But my point still stands 2021 > 2000 in speed . This site agrees as well.
 
I have seen data that shows big increase in speed in 2000 yh it got faster than even USO. https://www.ultimatetennisstatistics.com/tournament?tournamentId=21 But my point still stands 2021 > 2000 in speed . This site agrees as well.
@NoleFam

I'll have to look into the data. To my mind, 2000 is far, far faster than any of the recent years, including 2021, at the AO, and in fact faster by a long shot than any event on tour in the last decade or more. They just don't make fast courts like they used to - even what passes as medium-fast now would be medium or medium-slow by the standards of the time. Equipment may make the ball seem like it's going through the air faster, but that doesn't mean that the reaction off the court is the same. Anyway, I'll try to dig a bit deeper if I can.
 

xFedal

Legend
@NoleFam

I'll have to look into the data. To my mind, 2000 is far, far faster than any of the recent years, including 2021, at the AO, and in fact faster by a long shot than any event on tour in the last decade or more. They just don't make fast courts like they used to - even what passes as medium-fast now would be medium or medium-slow by the standards of the time. Equipment may make the ball seem like it's going through the air faster, but that doesn't mean that the reaction off the court is the same. Anyway, I'll try to dig a bit deeper if I can.
Remember everyone was saying 2010 Paris masters is playing too fast, this site confirms it.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
@NoleFam

I'll have to look into the data. To my mind, 2000 is far, far faster than any of the recent years, including 2021, at the AO, and in fact faster by a long shot than any event on tour in the last decade or more. They just don't make fast courts like they used to - even what passes as medium-fast now would be medium or medium-slow by the standards of the time. Equipment may make the ball seem like it's going through the air faster, but that doesn't mean that the reaction off the court is the same. Anyway, I'll try to dig a bit deeper if I can.
I think a bit of nostalgia is getting to you here. It happens to me too until I go back watch some of those matches again. 2000 AO was "faster" than the slower years before it, but not what you call fast. Look at the difference in 2000 AO match and the 2001 USO match between Sampras and Agassi. 2001 USO is what I would call fast. I don't believe you can create a true fast court on rebound ace because the surface is rubbery and gets sticky when it warms up. That means it's always slowing the ball down.
 
I think a bit of nostalgia is getting to you here. It happens to me too until I go back watch some of those matches again. 2000 AO was "faster" than the slower years before it, but not what you call fast. Look at the difference in 2000 AO match and the 2001 USO match between Sampras and Agassi. 2001 USO is what I would call fast. I don't believe you can create a true fast court on rebound ace because the surface is rubbery and gets sticky when it warms up. That means it's always slowing the ball down.
I think that of any of the recent versions of the Australian Open - faster than the very slow courts that are now common on the tour, but not by any means fast. Medium paced, maybe medium-fast, but far slower than, say, the Wimbledon courts of 2001 and before.

I'm not going just by the eye test on the Australian Open 2000, but by the reports from players and media at the time that it was about as fast as a hard court gets and almost on a par with the US Open of those days.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
I think that of any of the recent versions of the Australian Open - faster than the very slow courts that are now common on the tour, but not by any means fast. Medium paced, maybe medium-fast, but far slower than, say, the Wimbledon courts of 2001 and before.

I'm not going just by the eye test on the Australian Open 2000, but by the reports from players and media at the time that it was about as fast as a hard court gets and almost on a par with the US Open of those days.
I have to disagree with you here. This past AO was listed as 50 CPI when anything above 45 is considered "fast". It was not only fast, but by far the fastest court on tour. Not even Shanghai is 45 CPI.


I'm going by the eye test on 2000 AO and when I have time, maybe I can pull up reports from then but to me it's not as fast as early 2000's USO speed.
 
I have to disagree with you here. This past AO was listed as 50 CPI when anything above 45 is considered "fast". It was not only fast, but by far the fastest court on tour. Not even Shanghai is 45 CPI.


I'm going by the eye test on 2000 AO and when I have time, maybe I can pull up reports from then but to me it's not as fast as early 2000's USO speed.
I don't think they had CPI back in the 1990s, but if they did, I think the categorizations must have changed over the years. No court now seems to me anywhere near the old grass courts. Not even close. Neither the Australian Open nor Shanghai. If the past AO was 50, then "fast" back in the day would have been at least 60+, and the grass courts more like 65-70. The court just seemed far smaller than does any court today, given how easy to hit through the court it was. Even the old carpet courts such as those used for the year-ending championships would have been in the high 50s or low 60s (taking this year's AO's score of 50 as benchmark). Perhaps the 2000 AO would have been low 50s, and the 2000-01 USO mid-to-high 50s.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
I don't think they had CPI back in the 1990s, but if they did, I think the categorizations must have changed over the years. No court now seems to me anywhere near the old grass courts. Not even close. Neither the Australian Open nor Shanghai. If the past AO was 50, then "fast" back in the day would have been at least 60+, and the grass courts more like 65-70. The court just seemed far smaller than does any court today, given how easy to hit through the court it was. Even the old carpet courts such as those used for the year-ending championships would have been in the high 50s or low 60s (taking this year's AO's score of 50 as benchmark). Perhaps the 2000 AO would have been low 50s, and the 2000-01 USO mid-to-high 50s.
60+ would be virtually unplayable. It would just be ace after ace, with no rallies. I dont think any court has ever been that fast imo. Wimbledon was probably in the low to mid 50's. Multiple players said this past AO was the fastest court they have ever played on, including Djokovic, Diego and Thiem. I value Djokovic's opinion more because he's been around since the mid 2000's and has more experience in playing conditions. This past AO absolutely qualifies as the same category as the hardcourts of the past. Agree to disagree with you here.
 
60+ would be virtually unplayable. It would just be ace after ace, with no rallies. I dont think any court has ever been that fast imo. Wimbledon was probably in the low to mid 50's. Multiple players said this past AO was the fastest court they have ever played on, including Djokovic, Diego and Thiem. I value Djokovic's opinion more because he's been around since the mid 2000's and has more experience in playing conditions. This past AO absolutely qualifies as the same category as the hardcourts of the past. Agree to disagree with you here.
The 1994 and 1995 Wimbledon finals did have basically zero rallies of more than four shots. Perhaps one or two each? I'm not recommending going back to those courts - there's a good, spectator-based reason why the tour moved away from them. It wasn't, as some Federer fans are convinced, a conspiracy to favor certain players. It wasn't about the players at all, but only about the spectacle.

Yes, I'm sure we won't convince each other, and that's fine.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
The 1994 and 1995 Wimbledon finals did have basically zero rallies of more than four shots. Perhaps one or two each? I'm not recommending going back to those courts - there's a good, spectator-based reason why the tour moved away from them. It wasn't, as some Federer fans are convinced, a conspiracy to favor certain players. It wasn't about the players at all, but only about the spectacle.

Yes, I'm sure we won't convince each other, and that's fine.
Yea the bounce was also lower at Wimbledon on top of the speed which made it even harder to return serve to get into a rally. Yea it had nothing to do with Federer. It was after complaints at 1998 Wimbledon finals with Ivanisevic and Sampras when viewers said it was boring, and 0 rallies and they didn't enjoy it. They started slowing down Wimbledon and USO after that, with both slowed down starting in 2001.
 
Yea the bounce was also lower at Wimbledon on top of the speed which made it even harder to return serve to get into a rally. Yea it had nothing to do with Federer. It was after complaints at 1998 Wimbledon finals with Ivanisevic and Sampras when viewers said it was boring, and 0 rallies and they didn't enjoy it. They started slowing down Wimbledon and USO after that, with both slowed down starting in 2001.
Also, the bounce on grass is erratic, and so it's harder to return serve and there's a premium on attacking the net so as to take the ball before the bounce. In the Sampras/Becker 1996 YEC, there are a few (short) baseline rallies.

I think the courts started to slow for the 2002 events, with the courts relaid in 2001 but after that year's tournament. That's definitely the case for Wimbledon, and I think it is for the US Open, too. After all, the Sampras/Agassi match that you pointed to was in 2001.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
Also, the bounce on grass is erratic, and so it's harder to return serve and there's a premium on attacking the net so as to take the ball before the bounce. In the Sampras/Becker 1996 YEC, there are a few (short) baseline rallies.

I think the courts started to slow for the 2002 events, with the courts relaid in 2001 but after that year's tournament. That's definitely the case for Wimbledon, and I think it is for the US Open, too. After all, the Sampras/Agassi match that you pointed to was in 2001.
Wimbledon was changed after their 2000 edition. You can read the change and when they made it on the Wimbledon website. I read an article from an old thread in here where they slowed down the USO in 2001 and then again in 2002, but it probably meant after those editions because 2001 looked fast to me.
 

Nadalgaenger

G.O.A.T.
Technically, I think the most noteworthy characteristic of rebound ace was that the bounce was very high because of the rubber in the court. So, in a sense, it was a very different court from Plexicushion, where the bounce was much lower. Note that bounce height usually correlates very well with court speed, so from that one fact alone, one would think that Plexicushion was much less slow that rebound ace. However, I think it is true that the Plexicushion courts took more of the pace off the ball than did rebound ace, so that while both are probably best characterized as medium-slow overall, rebound ace is faster but higher bouncing than Plexicushion.
So Nadal wins multiple AO on RA?
 

PMChambers

Hall of Fame
RA was Med-Slow but played slower in high heat and faster in cooler temps. A lot of big matches where put on at night when it played faster as court temps dropped.
I sometime think comments it played Med or Med - Fast where based upon watching certain top players playing late {men used to play 2nd night match} at night.
Also a higher bouncing slow HC allows the big boys to tee off as they can get set. It's fast enough that it can be hit through. Players like Lendl, Becker, Agassi, Federer, Waw, Safin.
It was a good step up from the grass but not right surface. Medium would have been better, but something more stable under the temperature changes.
Now US gone Fast{5} to Med-Slow {2} making AO go from Med - Slow {2} to Med-Fast {2} makes sense and adds variety. Miami & IW are both Med - Slow but MI playes slower in humidity and IW flies through air faster, so the double are consistent in some ways.
 
Top