Slow court surfaces

TJfederer16

Hall of Fame
Watching IW's and how difficult it is to even come close to the top four on these courts is just ridiculous. I mean to get close to Roger and Novak on this court the way they were playing this week would take a stupidly ridiculous level of tennis. I know its been a topic that has been heavily discussed over the years of speeding up the court surfaces, but I just feel its gone too far now and the dominance of the top four is too much on these surfaces. They should give the rest of the field at least a chance to compete. It would make the earlier rounds so much more interesting, instead of just waiting for the latter rounds of every tournament to watch the top players be slightly troubled. Tournament organisers need to look at the bigger picture of tournaments and not just to the latter rounds. Everybody loves to see a big match up between the big guns but not every single week, I want to cherish the match ups not become accustomed to them. It must be an absolute nightmare for the lower ranked players coming up against Novak on these courts, there's literally no tactic to go to. It was so nice for a moment to see some fresh winners of big titles with the likes of Cilic and Wawrinka. The strangehold the big four have had on the masters for the past decade has been ridiculous. Just a few new winners every so often would be great for tennis. Grow some balls organisers please
 

ricki

Hall of Fame
No. Nobody wants to see Karlovic-Seppi and Fognini-Gulbis semifinals. Sorry. Enough said.
 

Cortana

Hall of Fame
Different courts wouldn't change much. Federer, Nadal and especially Djokovic are just too good for the rest.
 

TJfederer16

Hall of Fame
Different courts wouldn't change much. Federer, Nadal and especially Djokovic are just too good for the rest.
It would make matches more competitive and less predictable, which is what the point of sport is really and what makes sport exciting. No doubt the top players would still come through more than often but there would be at least the odd upset here and there. Its not that I don't want to see the top players winning, I would just like more competitive and unpredictable matches starting right from the 1st round.
 

TJfederer16

Hall of Fame
It can only make tennis more interesting speeding them up, I don't mean back to 80s 90s court speeds, just to a speed where you can hit a winner without going hell for leather everytime
 

all.round

New User
There was a nice infographic in the final yesterday showing Federer's average backhand bounce in Dubai vs. IW.

Numbers were something like 0.7m Dubai, 1.1m IW.

That's a pretty significant difference, the latter is nicely in the contact zone which the former is what, mid upper-leg level?
 

ARKustom93

Professional
Watching IW's and how difficult it is to even come close to the top four on these courts is just ridiculous. I mean to get close to Roger and Novak on this court the way they were playing this week would take a stupidly ridiculous level of tennis. I know its been a topic that has been heavily discussed over the years of speeding up the court surfaces, but I just feel its gone too far now and the dominance of the top four is too much on these surfaces. They should give the rest of the field at least a chance to compete. It would make the earlier rounds so much more interesting, instead of just waiting for the latter rounds of every tournament to watch the top players be slightly troubled. Tournament organisers need to look at the bigger picture of tournaments and not just to the latter rounds. Everybody loves to see a big match up between the big guns but not every single week, I want to cherish the match ups not become accustomed to them. It must be an absolute nightmare for the lower ranked players coming up against Novak on these courts, there's literally no tactic to go to. It was so nice for a moment to see some fresh winners of big titles with the likes of Cilic and Wawrinka. The strangehold the big four have had on the masters for the past decade has been ridiculous. Just a few new winners every so often would be great for tennis. Grow some balls organisers please
Silly ... and your 'reasoning' even more so ...
 

ultradr

Legend
Watching IW's and how difficult it is to even come close to the top four on these courts is just ridiculous. I mean to get close to Roger and Novak on this court the way they were playing this week would take a stupidly ridiculous level of tennis. I know its been a topic that has been heavily discussed over the years of speeding up the court surfaces, but I just feel its gone too far now and the dominance of the top four is too much on these surfaces. They should give the rest of the field at least a chance to compete. It would make the earlier rounds so much more interesting, instead of just waiting for the latter rounds of every tournament to watch the top players be slightly troubled. Tournament organisers need to look at the bigger picture of tournaments and not just to the latter rounds. Everybody loves to see a big match up between the big guns but not every single week, I want to cherish the match ups not become accustomed to them. It must be an absolute nightmare for the lower ranked players coming up against Novak on these courts, there's literally no tactic to go to. It was so nice for a moment to see some fresh winners of big titles with the likes of Cilic and Wawrinka. The strangehold the big four have had on the masters for the past decade has been ridiculous. Just a few new winners every so often would be great for tennis. Grow some balls organisers please

Yep. The major event was what Wimbledon and US Open did to their surface from 2001-2004.

And then this new era of modern power baseline began.

This creates several vastly successful/popular players like Federer and Nadal. And they can hang around much longer on slower/bouncier surfaces.

It's huge for companies endorsing these players and helps tennis attract much more wide range of viewers including non-playing casual fans.

That is exactly how WTA has become the most powerful women's sports entity
and ATP has few motivations to change, IMHO.
 

Boom-Boom

Hall of Fame
Watching IW's and how difficult it is to even come close to the top four on these courts is just ridiculous. I mean to get close to Roger and Novak on this court the way they were playing this week would take a stupidly ridiculous level of tennis. I know its been a topic that has been heavily discussed over the years of speeding up the court surfaces, but I just feel its gone too far now and the dominance of the top four is too much on these surfaces. They should give the rest of the field at least a chance to compete. It would make the earlier rounds so much more interesting, instead of just waiting for the latter rounds of every tournament to watch the top players be slightly troubled. Tournament organisers need to look at the bigger picture of tournaments and not just to the latter rounds. Everybody loves to see a big match up between the big guns but not every single week, I want to cherish the match ups not become accustomed to them. It must be an absolute nightmare for the lower ranked players coming up against Novak on these courts, there's literally no tactic to go to. It was so nice for a moment to see some fresh winners of big titles with the likes of Cilic and Wawrinka. The strangehold the big four have had on the masters for the past decade has been ridiculous. Just a few new winners every so often would be great for tennis. Grow some balls organisers please
No breaking news here, but of course you're right...not a chance to see JMac, Becker, Edberg type of players on those slow boring surfaces these days sadly
 

okdude1992

Hall of Fame
Yep. The major event was what Wimbledon and US Open did to their surface from 2001-2004.

And then this new era of modern power baseline began.

This creates several vastly successful/popular players like Federer and Nadal. And they can hang around much longer on slower/bouncier surfaces.

It's huge for companies endorsing these players and helps tennis attract much more wide range of viewers including non-playing casual fans.

That is exactly how WTA has become the most powerful women's sports entity
and ATP has few motivations to change, IMHO.
Agree with this post. The ATP is relying heavily on the top 3 as their cash cow. The problem as far as I'm concerned is that Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are obviously getting their name and star recognition propped up by winning everything...But is this advancing or building up the sport overall? I don't think it is.

As far as I'm concerned (as a baseline grinder myself) variety is the spice of life. Different surfaces, playing styles, and conditions are what make tennis special and different from other sports.

Sadly, the very bland PR generated "personalities" of players are as homogenous and one dimensional as the "modern baseline" game, and current court surfaces/conditions.
 

okdude1992

Hall of Fame
It's the poly strings on the racquets, not the surfaces.
Mustard usually you are right on, but I beg to differ. Please explain to me the results of Paris when it was on carpet, or Madrid on blue clay then... Any variation in surface and more unexpected results start to occur. Like Nadal and Djokovic losing early, Berdych excelling. Or Llodra making deep runs and Soderling, Monfils coming out on top
 

ultradr

Legend
It's the poly strings on the racquets, not the surfaces.
I agree poly strings were huge part of it.

But I think surface speed/bounciness is bigger factor. We still have S&Ver in top 25 and I'm pretty
sure they will benefit if they quicken the surface even just a bit.

ATP also changed the balls and standardized them more across all tournaments.
The ball is touch heavier and the layer of hairs is much more densely packed
and they favor top spin baseliner. This is sneaky but considerably important change.

They also started regulating balls more strictly compared to past.
Top players now have less adaptations for balls to make tourney to tourney.
(Now I hear ATP is trying to change the balls).

They also modified ranking system. For example, there is no extra bonus point for lower ranked players in beating top players.

It's all carefully coordinated changes made along with the advent of polyester strings.
 
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ultradr

Legend
Agree with this post. The ATP is relying heavily on the top 3 as their cash cow. The problem as far as I'm concerned is that Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are obviously getting their name and star recognition propped up by winning everything...But is this advancing or building up the sport overall? I don't think it is.

As far as I'm concerned (as a baseline grinder myself) variety is the spice of life. Different surfaces, playing styles, and conditions are what make tennis special and different from other sports.

Sadly, the very bland PR generated "personalities" of players are as homogenous and one dimensional as the "modern baseline" game, and current court surfaces/conditions.

I think the most varieties of styles were in the era of 1970's - 1990's.
The tennis really advanced in that era.
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
Mustard usually you are right on, but I beg to differ. Please explain to me the results of Paris when it was on carpet, or Madrid on blue clay then... Any variation in surface and more unexpected results start to occur. Like Nadal and Djokovic losing early, Berdych excelling. Or Llodra making deep runs and Soderling, Monfils coming out on top
Carpet courts no longer exist today. Nadal and Federer often skipped or were injured for Paris Indoors in the mid 2000s when it was still on carpet, like when Berdych won in 2005 and Davydenko in 2006.

The poly strings tend a lot more towards hitting balls with topspin with any given shot. With poly, there is more power than before (which in certain ways makes things faster), yet there is also a lot more topspin (which in certain ways slows things down). There's power, yet the increased topspin means a greater margin for error and more consistency in the rallies. This is the reason for baseline play predominating so much everywhere.

The differences on surfaces these days are confined to movement, tactics and strategy, such as on grass one would place more importance on serving and standing closer to the baseline to return serve. They no longer result in completely polarised gamestyles, and favouring different styles of play like they did in the days of power and gut strings in the 1990s. What all this has served to do is make it easier for a player to completely dominant the sport as a whole today, which makes it easier to create rivalries at the top which can be constantly marketed. In the 1990s, by contrast, the players went all over in different directions for a lot of the year. There were very few prominent rivalries that could be constantly marketed in the 1990s. Even Agassi vs. Sampras was limited in a sense.

Why can't it be both?
There is a surface factor in it too, but I believe the poly strings to be the most vital factor, along with how there are so many compulsory tournaments today.
 

TJfederer16

Hall of Fame
Silly ... and your 'reasoning' even more so ...
How so?

What do you like seeing one-sided tennis all the time and seeing the same old faces winning the same titles over and over again?

You may well do, but my reasoning is still legitimate for a way of seeing new faces come through every now and then, every sport needs an air of unpredictability. I don't mean speed up every tournament surface, but at least make the traditionally quick surfaces faster like the WTF's, USO and Wimbledon faster.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Yep. The major event was what Wimbledon and US Open did to their surface from 2001-2004.

And then this new era of modern power baseline began.

This creates several vastly successful/popular players like Federer and Nadal. And they can hang around much longer on slower/bouncier surfaces.

It's huge for companies endorsing these players and helps tennis attract much more wide range of viewers including non-playing casual fans.

That is exactly how WTA has become the most powerful women's sports entity
and ATP has few motivations to change, IMHO.
I think faster courts would merely change the balance of power a bit. Players like the former Big Four all adapted to a game of mostly basline rallies because that's what worked for them. Fed did it too.

I think they could have all come in more. We are where we are because of slower, higher bouncing courts. It just happened.

Of the top players, Fed was the first to try more attacking tennis. I believe he could have done this years ago, but it was easier to coast. If Novak, for instance, starts attacking more, others will follow suit in order to compete better. If he did this, Fed would not have a chance. And I say this as a fan of Fed's play.
 

Boom-Boom

Hall of Fame
I agree poly strings were huge part of it.

But I think surface speed/bounciness is bigger factor. We still have S&Ver in top 25 and I'm pretty
sure they will benefit if they quicken the surface even just a bit.

ATP also changed the balls and standardized them more across all tournaments.
The ball is touch heavier and the layer of hairs is much more densely packed
and they favor top spin baseliner. This is sneaky but considerably important change.

They also started regulating balls more strictly compared to past.
Top players now have less adaptations for balls to make tourney to tourney.
(Now I hear ATP is trying to change the balls).

They also modified ranking system. For example, there is no extra bonus point for lower ranked players in beating top players.

It's all carefully coordinated changes made along with the advent of polyester strings.
Very good post. Let's not overestimate poly strings. It's a mix of various factors but surface speed / bounciness is still the biggest factor. If carpet was still roughly counting for a quarter of all tourneys during the year like in 80's 90's, today's rankings would look very different, even with poly strings.
 

Firstservingman

Talk Tennis Guru
Watching IW's and how difficult it is to even come close to the top four on these courts is just ridiculous. I mean to get close to Roger and Novak on this court the way they were playing this week would take a stupidly ridiculous level of tennis. I know its been a topic that has been heavily discussed over the years of speeding up the court surfaces, but I just feel its gone too far now and the dominance of the top four is too much on these surfaces. They should give the rest of the field at least a chance to compete. It would make the earlier rounds so much more interesting, instead of just waiting for the latter rounds of every tournament to watch the top players be slightly troubled. Tournament organisers need to look at the bigger picture of tournaments and not just to the latter rounds. Everybody loves to see a big match up between the big guns but not every single week, I want to cherish the match ups not become accustomed to them. It must be an absolute nightmare for the lower ranked players coming up against Novak on these courts, there's literally no tactic to go to. It was so nice for a moment to see some fresh winners of big titles with the likes of Cilic and Wawrinka. The strangehold the big four have had on the masters for the past decade has been ridiculous. Just a few new winners every so often would be great for tennis. Grow some balls organisers please
+1.
It would be nice to see more upsets and more interesting tennis in general.
I am so, so sick of seeing 6-2 6-1 scorelines all the damn time from Nadalovic and even Federer.
Look at that match between Fed and Millman in Brisbane.
We need more of that, much more.

I hate how the first few rounds are just a formality, it's better that those 6-2 6-1 matches are rarer so that they are more special.

Slowing the surfaces has caused this at least in part, but like others are saying, strings and racquets probably have something to do with it as well.

I might stop watching some tournaments, they are just too predictable.

Also lol at folks who just say "no, it sounds terrible".
What, you like the New Establishment Of Grinding?
Tennis is going to die if this continues on the same trajectory, there will be 1-2 guys who are fit enough to win anything, and everyone else will eventually give up and move to another sport.
Top-heavy prize money will drive this too.
 
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moonballs

Hall of Fame
Yep. The major event was what Wimbledon and US Open did to their surface from 2001-2004.

And then this new era of modern power baseline began.

This creates several vastly successful/popular players like Federer and Nadal. And they can hang around much longer on slower/bouncier surfaces.

It's huge for companies endorsing these players and helps tennis attract much more wide range of viewers including non-playing casual fans.

That is exactly how WTA has become the most powerful women's sports entity
and ATP has few motivations to change, IMHO.
Why do you lump Fed and Nads together as chief beneficiaries of the slow surface? Fed has always been more successful on faster courts (W, USO, indoor, Cincy, Dubai...). I don't see how his main rivals of same age could have done better playing him if the courts hadnt been slowed down. Fed was the first top player hitting with high racquet head speed that has become common nowadays. In fact everytime he stepped on court the commentators would mention how versatile his forehand was. Everyone in his age cohort was too old to adapt to it. The tour needed someone five years younger to come up with the high racquet head speed.
 
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