is the "slower" wimbledon grass blown out of proportion?

big ted

Hall of Fame
people talk about how player x won because the grass is slower or player y wouldn't have won back in the day on faster grass (I think ppl say it was changed in 2002..). my question is did they change the speed in the grass warm-up tournaments as well? because the players winning there do well at wimbledon as well...so it seems the change isn't much of a factor?
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I think so, yes - it's a bit exaggerated

You look at numbers that are tied to court pace - aces, 1st serve points won, return points won etc. - however slow people say the grass is, its still the fastest surface out there

You use your eyes - the ball typically bounces knee high - it's a low bouncing surface

I'm sure the surface is slower than it was in 90s - but not to the extent it's often portrayed as

The big change is in the way players tackle the surface

From 1968-2001, only one Wimbledon winner did it with an out-and-out baseline style

2002-present, they all have

Why the drastic change in pattern? I think much of it is due to evolving racquet & string technology. .. the rest the relatively slower surface
 

sportmac

Hall of Fame
I think so, yes - it's a bit exaggerated

You look at numbers that are tied to court pace - aces, 1st serve points won, return points won etc. - however slow people say the grass is, its still the fastest surface out there

You use your eyes - the ball typically bounces knee high - it's a low bouncing surface

I'm sure the surface is slower than it was in 90s - but not to the extent it's often portrayed as

The big change is in the way players tackle the surface

From 1968-2001, only one Wimbledon winner did it with an out-and-out baseline style

2002-present, they all have

Why the drastic change in pattern? I think much of it is due to evolving racquet & string technology. .. the rest the relatively slower surface
I'll agree with that. I think the ball is a higher and truer bounce than before, even though it's still a low bounce surface. Before a good slice and getting to the net was a low risk/high reward play.
The higher bounce coupled with the strings that dip the ball like crazy now make rushing in there risky business.
 
people talk about how player x won because the grass is slower or player y wouldn't have won back in the day on faster grass (I think ppl say it was changed in 2002..). my question is did they change the speed in the grass warm-up tournaments as well? because the players winning there do well at wimbledon as well...so it seems the change isn't much of a factor?
Nadal's match record on the fast grass in Halle: 1-3.

Federer's titles on the fast grass in Halle: 8

:(
 

SpinToWin

Talk Tennis Guru
Balls have changed significantly as the possibilities of the game have evolved (due to technical advancement, equipment advancement, etc.). I believe it was Roddick who exclaimed one year at Wimby that the balls were like watermelons.

The new grass also is slightly slower and more consistent. That's why baseline play is so big now, less bad jumps and therefore it's easier to hit passes (less risky to let the ball bounce). The main reason for the frequent net play previously (from my understanding) was the bad bounces (compounded by the speed of course) rather than the speed of the court. On carpet too you need to be very careful with net attacks; the bounce is consistent and if the court is fast, then you'll be stuck before the service line when the pass comes back (if your opponnent gets it).

Many things have changed for net play to fall out of favour, most of all string developments and the topspin/control potential they bring and bounce consistency.
 

jm1980

G.O.A.T.
The slowness is definitely exaggerated. A big part of that is due to Nadal and Djokovic winning multiple Wimbledon titles.

A certain fanbase whines the most about this slowdown, which is funny considering their favorite won all his titles after the grass composition changed... And there really haven't been further changes since
 
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NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
It may be exaggerated a little but it is considerably slower. The balls and the court itself are what create slower conditions. 20 years ago you did not see long baseline rallies like you do now. Quite frankly, I was sort of bored of some of the matches especially in the early rounds and I enjoyed watching the women play because there were rallies. There was a lot more attacking the net and the big serving, aggressive forehand ballstrikers were always in the second week. Clay court specialists were basically extinct at Wimbledon during that time.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
It is not blown out of proportion. If the Wimbledon grass was identical to what it was in the 80's and 90's, neither Nadal or Djoker would have had success there. Nole was so good and so fast in 2014/2015 he might have won it once. His ROS was always fabulous, so he would have had a chance at returning rocket-like serves. On fast grass Nadal never would have won Wimbledon, IMO.

It's not just Wimbledon that slowed down, so did the USO. Connors was just saying a few months ago that the difference in court speed between 1980's and now is "night and day."
 

ojo rojo

Hall of Fame
Is it possibly more to do with the widespread use of poly strings? Rather than solely blaming the removal of the fescue from the rye on Wimby courts?
Around the same time, no?
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
and also yes wimbledon is long rallies now but thats because serve & volleyers dont even exist anymore. I do think the surface plays "firmer" now watching from tv... would someone like djokovic or nadal win wimbledon on "fast grass"? my opinion is yes as long as they're playing the same kind of opponents they are now...
 

vanioMan

Legend
It is not blown out of proportion. If the Wimbledon grass was identical to what it was in the 80's and 90's, neither Nadal or Djoker would have had success there. Nole was so good and so fast in 2014/2015 he might have won it once. His ROS was always fabulous, so he would have had a chance at returning rocket-like serves. On fast grass Nadal never would have won Wimbledon, IMO.

It's not just Wimbledon that slowed down, so did the USO. Connors was just saying a few months ago that the difference in court speed between 1980's and now is "night and day."
I believe Federer would also have less success if he played on the old, faster grass. He benefited from the slowing down as well.
 

ibbi

Legend
It probably is exaggerated to some degree, yes, but there is absolutely a gigantic difference between how it was, and how it is. As has been said, it's still very much its own thing compared to other surfaces, but not to the degree that it used to be. Though I'd agree that balls, rackets, and strings have all contributed to this shift too.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
The factor of grass only is hugely exaggerated.

But when you put the change in balls and change in grass together with the change in rackets and strings, the whole thing goes together to make tennis on grass in 2017 night and day different from as recently as the late 90s.

It just takes a bit of common sense to see the difference.

Whether it's better or worse is totally a matter of opinion.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
Near the baseline, it might be a tad slower. At the service line, not so much, hence why the best servers still hold 90-95% of the time in a given year on grass. Due to wear and tear the back court slows down as the tournament progresses.

The comparisons to clay courts are, of course, ridiculous. I do reckon that the grass is a little bit slower today than it was in the 90's (and Wimbledon is slower than Halle etc) but the strings and balls also play a very big role.
 
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big ted

Hall of Fame
Not at all. Watch some matches in Stuttgart, Hertogenbosch or later Queen's/Halle and compare it to Wimbledon. It's a joke how slow Wimbledon is, even when the grass isn't worn out yet.

you may be right but i suppose my point is federer won Halle 8x and W 7x.. murray & raonic were finalists at queens AND W... dustin brown beat nadal at halle AND W...players that do well at queens also do well at W so my opinion is the slow grass theories are blown out of proportion and that grass is grass
 

Krish872007

G.O.A.T.
To help everybody along with their point of view...:D There is a difference in the speed if you look closely...(play them at the same time for full effect)

I remember that one. The loss destroyed Goran for a period of time, he spoke about how distraught he was in the locker room afterwards. Huge effort on his part to come back and win it all in 2001.
Goran and Pete were serving absolutely brilliantly, especially Goran - I can only imagine what they'd have done with modern racquets.
1998 Final was a big talking point and arguably one of the main driver behind the shift towards slower courts, alongside the 1994 Final.
 

NoleFam

Talk Tennis Guru
I remember that one. The loss destroyed Goran for a period of time, he spoke about how distraught he was in the locker room afterwards. Huge effort on his part to come back and win it all in 2001.
Goran and Pete were serving absolutely brilliantly, especially Goran - I can only imagine what they'd have done with modern racquets.
1998 Final was a big talking point and arguably one of the main driver behind the shift towards slower courts, alongside the 1994 Final.
Yea that loss was a hard pill to swallow for Goran and I was very happy he won it in 2001. Such a great atmosphere and energy in a match that stretched over two days. Yea this was one of the reasons they slowed down the conditions. The first thing that struck me was how noticeable the string difference is when you play them side by side. That is one of the most underrated aspects of the modern game.
 
you may be right but i suppose my point is federer won Halle 8x and W 7x.. murray & raonic were finalists at queens AND W... dustin brown beat nadal at halle AND W...players that do well at queens also do well at W so my opinion is the slow grass theories are blown out of proportion and that grass is grass
Federer won the junior Wimbledon on the old grass.

He is simply that good on the surface.

Brown beat the Nadal when the grass at Wimbledon is still fresh.

Coincidence?

Anyone who has watched grass tennis long enough will tell you that the grass makes a difference.
 

KINGROGER

G.O.A.T.
Stuttgart's surface is a exactly the same as Wimby.
I heard the commentator say that too but to the eye it looks way faster.

Maybe it's the camera angle I don't know. Wimbledon seems slow. Ball doesn't really fly off the court for winners unless you hit the corners.
 

Rod Laver

Professional
Balls have changed significantly as the possibilities of the game have evolved (due to technical advancement, equipment advancement, etc.). I believe it was Roddick who exclaimed one year at Wimby that the balls were like watermelons.
They haven't changed since 1995 I think.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I do think the surface plays "firmer" now watching from tv...
Probably, yes. There was a lot of talk about bad bounces on 'old' grass - and coming to net a lot was perhaps a defence against having to cope with that as well as a direct offensive against the opponent


and also yes wimbledon is long rallies now but thats because serve & volleyers dont even exist anymore. ...
The big question is why?


would someone like djokovic or nadal win wimbledon on "fast grass"? my opinion is yes as long as they're playing the same kind of opponents they are now...
And with the same equipment.

With the strings they have now, the players can -

- a) generate much more power from the baseline
- b) maintain control of the shot while doing so

This makes it much easier (relative to yesteryears) to pass a guy at net

If todays lot, with todays equipment, played on 'old grass'? - I think your right, Nadal/Djokovic would still win Wimbledons and most players still wouldn't come to net

If todays lot, with yesteryears equipment, played on 'old grass'? - that's a tougher equation... I think Nadal/Djokovic et al would find it much harder to pass the likes of Becker, Edberg, Sampras, Rafter, Henman etc... I think they'd change their game completely and be forced to come net more themselves

In summary, I believe raquet changes > surface changes, in accounting for the differences we see in the styles that are suited to grass between now and the past

---

On video, you can see how it was becoming harder and harder to hold the net even before serve-volleying became all but obsolete.

Stefan Edberg in particular, but also Boris Becker, played from much closer to the net than did Pete Sampras. Further back still, McEnroe seemed to all but be hugging the net - even the 90s lot wouldn't have had time to handle the pace of the passing shot from that close
 

Dolgopolov85

G.O.A.T.
people talk about how player x won because the grass is slower or player y wouldn't have won back in the day on faster grass (I think ppl say it was changed in 2002..). my question is did they change the speed in the grass warm-up tournaments as well? because the players winning there do well at wimbledon as well...so it seems the change isn't much of a factor?
At least for Queens, this is demonstrably not true. Mahut and Blake both made finals here and never went beyond 4th and 3rd round respectively at Wimbledon. Karlovic was a finalist here too and made a lone QF at Wimbledon, otherwise never getting beyond the 4th round. Fish too doesn't have a good record at Wimbledon whereas he made the finals at Queens. Somebody has made the contention below that one would think that conditions at the warm up events would resemble the slam itself. The only warm up event which resembles Wimbledon somewhat is Queens and I reckon the bounce is still a bit lower at Queens. Used to be pretty slick back when Nadal won it (the horror, the denial!!) but looks more lush now. Halle and Stuttgart have very slick grass. Hertogenbosch has gone lush this year and yet the bounce tends to be lower than Wimbledon. One could put it this way - in the first week, conditions are more similar between Wimbledon and the warm up events but by the second week, Wimbledon plays slower and the bounce is higher. While this would have been historically true too, the gap was less pronounced because Wimbledon too had slick conditions. There's also the variance between Centre Court (which plays slowest) and the other courts which play faster. There is a clear cut intent at Wimbledon to help the top seeds go as far as possible in the draw. This has its genesis in a threatened boycott of Wimbledon by the seeds if they didn't change conditions to help baseliners. At warm up events, this is not so important, especially with Nadal and Djokovic either not doing well or disdaining warm up events altogether in recent years. Fed turns up at the Halle final almost by default and so does Murray at Queens, so both tournaments are happy.
 

Dolgopolov85

G.O.A.T.
Probably, yes. There was a lot of talk about bad bounces on 'old' grass - and coming to net a lot was perhaps a defence against having to cope with that as well as a direct offensive against the opponent
Also the bad bounce denied much rhythm for the baseliner. Rafter fed mid-pace balls at 3/4 length to Agassi's backhand at both the epic semis (00/01) where he beat him in 5 sets. He would in fact use the lack of pace to set up a sneaky move into the net and ambush Agassi. Muller did that to Zverev yesterday at Bosch, so given conditions similar to old Wimbledon, it could still be done. But the seeds will have none of it and Wimbledon doesn't want the bad publicity of the 90s ever again, I guess.
 

enlightenment

Semi-Pro
Federer more likely to get upset early,(R1-R4) but more likely to beat his top rivals on fast grass when he finds his rhythm (QF-F). Overall I believe he'd have a similar number of Wimby titles, he was so good at his peak he would have won regardless.
 

Dolgopolov85

G.O.A.T.
Further, there is anecdotal evidence from the players themselves that, contrary to Wimbledon's official position, conditions have slowed EVEN since 2001. Djokovic says it was the fastest court in the world when he started playing but is slower now. He mentioned that the earlier conditions helped serve volleyers like Ancic, so clearly referring to the early/mid noughties and not the 90s, and acknowledged that while slow conditions helped him, it had killed the variety of Wimbledon. Jankovic and Bouchard have suggested that the courts play slower every year than the previous. So it's not merely a fiction invented by grass apologists as is often suggested by the Vamos crowd; the players (except one of them) also confirm that indeed conditions have slowed down and not only the one time from 2000 to 2001 but probably multiple times since.
 

Feather

Legend
Yea that loss was a hard pill to swallow for Goran and I was very happy he won it in 2001. Such a great atmosphere and energy in a match that stretched over two days. Yea this was one of the reasons they slowed down the conditions. The first thing that struck me was how noticeable the string difference is when you play them side by side. That is one of the most underrated aspects of the modern game.
I must say Goran winning Wimbledon in 2001 was the most fairytale win that I ever saw in Tennis in the last thirty years. It was like the script from a Hollywood film
 
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Deleted member 735320

Guest
It is not blown out of proportion. If the Wimbledon grass was identical to what it was in the 80's and 90's, neither Nadal or Djoker would have had success there. Nole was so good and so fast in 2014/2015 he might have won it once. His ROS was always fabulous, so he would have had a chance at returning rocket-like serves. On fast grass Nadal never would have won Wimbledon, IMO.

It's not just Wimbledon that slowed down, so did the USO. Connors was just saying a few months ago that the difference in court speed between 1980's and now is "night and day."
But more than the court isn't it the rackets and the strings? After all McEnroe was up 2 sets to zero in 1984 on clay serving and volleying.

I still think they need to run an old school rackets only tournament and see what Rafa et al could do with a T2000 or Borg's 1976 rackets; GOAT my ass
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
AO this year was faster than WIM last year :confused:
Pretty sure that never happened before
Think 2000 AO might have come close, everyone was raining down aces like crazy that year (even players who weren't the biggest servers on tour). IIRC Sampras even said something to the effect that it was the fastest court he ever played on and Goran said it was as fast as grass after he beat Pioline, Agassi called the conditions crazy etc. I think they might have also used lighter balls that year.
 
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Deleted member 77403

Guest
I must say Goran winning Wimbledon in 2001 was the most fairytale win that I ever saw in Tennis in the last thirty years. It was like the script from a Hollywood film
My all time fav player. Ivanisevic.
 
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