What's your idea of an ideal court surface?

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Post by lydian on Tue 08 May 2012, 4:00 pm

There's been alot of talk about courts and their (convergent) playing speeds these past few months...and now of course blue clay this week and how its playing differently too vs. the "normal" red ones.

Simple question, lets imagine the ATP only want to have 1 type of court surface across the whole of the ATP/ITF tour - yeah I know, they wouldnt but hey lets run with the idea. What actual court surface (not just hard, clay, grass, carpet, etc) do you feel would be the best to use across all events, i.e. what current event surface, e.g. Monte Carlo, Cincinnati, AO, Wimbledon, etc, would be the ideal benchmark?

I'll go for a fast clay surface - and in particular Rome Masters - arguably quicker than Madrid as its not "high" altitude.
+ its a natural surface
+ plays relatively quick (some say quicker than SW19)
+ has been won by a variety of different players down the years including Sampras, and Federer almost won it vs. Nadal in 2006, so rewards different styles
+ creates some great matches of attacking and defending stylres - infact didnt Stepanek beat Federer on it with S&V style 2-3 years back?

So, which event/surface would you pick and why?
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Post by socal1976 on Tue 08 May 2012, 6:12 pm

If had to be one surface I would go clay because it is easy on the body and favors the baseliners that I prefer to watch. I think Madrid has a great surface by the way, the players are hitting through the courts pretty easy but it still allows for clay court style of play. I think every tournament being hardcourt has impacted the players physically as well. If i had to limit the surface to one surface I would go with a natural surface clay or grass.

Ideally what I would like to see is the tour go to a strict formula of 25 percent outdoor hardcourt, 25 percent indoor hard, 25 percent outdoor clay, 25 percent grass. i would like to see the season split into 4 separate seasons that are more equally weighted. This way 50 percent of matches are off the hardcourt and i think this would lessen injuries. It also would give a leg up to the serve and volley and fast court players as half the touranaments would be on ideal conditions for their game either on grass or indoors.

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Post by bogbrush on Tue 08 May 2012, 6:14 pm

Medium - Fast, steady bounce, takes slice.

The surface that rewards variety and allows players options on tactics.
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Post by LuvSports! on Tue 08 May 2012, 7:11 pm

grass, because it makes me feel like im playing at wimbledon Very Happy

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Post by lydian on Tue 08 May 2012, 8:51 pm

socal - agree the ratio is all wrong, too much HC. We have 6 HC Masters and 2 HC Majors! Agree variety is key...and surfaces help that. Ideally there should be 2 Masters leading up to each Major...and an indoor Masters leading up to WTF. But this is never going to happen as it would need 1-2 Majors to move their timing (ideally AO - March (cooler too), RG - May, SW19 - July, USO - Sep) and the Masters too...it would bring good logical sense to the tennis calendar.

BB - yes slice is such a great (and graceful) shot, and can be an attacking shot too - I love the sight of a really well "cut" slice - takes great technical skill to produce them off a topspin shot. You really only see a few of the top guys using it now - with the loss of the use of SHtopspinBHs we see less of it now - obviously Federer stands out there. But Nadal uses it pretty well too (surprisingly perhaps), Murray to a lesser extent but not many other DHBHer's use it effectively. As the courts slow we are seeing less, not more variety, of shot.

I agree we dont want a return to the 90s acefests...but I dont worry that will happen much if they speed up some of the courts a little as returners are generally better than before (better racquets/strings, movement and returning techniques).

My belief is that a fast clay court...almost like a mix of Madrid/Rome...can give reward to fast serve, slice, topspin and volley...after all Stepanek beat Tomic today.

But some of this also concerns what we believe is the predominant shot in tennis...should any shot have, or be allowed to have, dominance? The serve was invented as a way to start a ralley...by the 90s it had eradicated ralleys on grass (and USO to an extent)...the volley used to end many points in yesteryear but now its a liability to come to the net on an approach shot. The game has become serve&inside-out-FH...are we naive to think it can ever become, or even should become, S&V again sometimes?
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Post by Henman Bill on Tue 08 May 2012, 9:02 pm

I think a medium/fast hard court. Hard court is the truest bounce, can be laid in various different climates, and could work as a leveller.

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Post by hawkeye on Tue 08 May 2012, 10:58 pm

Henman Bill. You have forgotton it's most important attribute. It is relitively cheap. For that reason alone you will get your wish.

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Post by Guest on Tue 08 May 2012, 11:02 pm

Grass every time. I would have Murray play in the long grass (pampas) so I didn't have to hear his tantrums. As much as a shriek from the lassies and they would end up in the long grass next to the crocodile marshes. I would bar Venus from wearing her bedroom lingerie - I would send her to Holland.

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Post by laverfan on Wed 09 May 2012, 3:52 am

Lydian.. I think a variety is better for the overall sport and it's development and players.

As you can see, opinions vary, so choosing a single ideal surface is already hard.

I would prefer three or four different and non-homogenous surfaces. I have seen five surfaces - wood, clay, grass, carpet and hard. Each brings out qualities and great matches.

A balance of tourneys would be very nice. A grass Masters, A Wood slam(Laugh).

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Post by lydian on Wed 09 May 2012, 8:29 am

LF, the OP was more about choosing one surface if you had to...clearly we all want variety in the game itself, who wouldn't, but my question was what single choice of surface gives the option of most variety in the current game.

Wood? Blimey...that would be a bit quick! Combine grass and wood together and you've almost got 'tree tennis'...
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Post by JuliusHMarx on Wed 09 May 2012, 8:59 am

Does anyone know (without looking it up) how many different official surfaces the ITF sanctions?
I read it not long ago and promptly forget - something like 25 possibly.

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Post by reckoner on Wed 09 May 2012, 12:57 pm

JHM I hope you realise you've totally killed people responding to this by forbidding the use of wikipedia.

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Post by JuliusHMarx on Wed 09 May 2012, 1:14 pm

True.
Anyway, there's a couple of hundred or so - http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_62133_original.PDF

My ideal surface would be either Supersoft Doppio or DIY-Sports Flooring.

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Post by reckoner on Wed 09 May 2012, 1:17 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:Supersoft Doppio

I'm pretty sure that's a type of ice cream.

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Post by JuliusHMarx on Wed 09 May 2012, 1:19 pm

reckoner wrote:
JuliusHMarx wrote:Supersoft Doppio

I'm pretty sure that's a type of ice cream.

I thought it was the result of a bowel infection.

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Post by reckoner on Wed 09 May 2012, 1:25 pm

Has there ever been a more matter of fact name for a product than DIY-Sports Flooring?

I wonder if there's an industry mag for tennis surfaces - it'd be great on HIGNFY.

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Post by graf_the_greatest on Thu 10 May 2012, 12:33 am

Well I know what my ideal surface ISN'T.

It isn't:

  • faster clay

  • slower grass

  • medium-slow hard courts


Because that only leads to less variety on the Tour, players with games that means they can 'play on one, play on all' surfaces, loss of the serve as a real weapon, loss of the slice shot, eradication of S&V, players who all have extreme western-grip forehands.

On no, wait a minute, we do have that...D'oh!...

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Post by Guest on Thu 10 May 2012, 1:02 am

laverfan wrote:... I would prefer three or four different and non-homogenous surfaces. ...
Yeah - that non-mahogany thing, I'll go with that innit.

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Post by summerblues on Thu 10 May 2012, 3:16 am

Tennis fans disagree on all kinds of things but pretty much everyone agrees that having a variety of surfaces is a good thing. So I will likely be finding myself in a minority of one when I say that I would prefer to have just one surface.

Now that is actually not quite true. I do not like parting with tradition easily and given that tennis has traditionally been played on multiple surfaces, I would not in reality want to replace them all with one surface only.

However, tradition aside, I am not a big fan of multiple surfaces. While I enjoy watching variety of playing styles I also want tennis to be primarily a sport. That is, I would not watch tennis just for the beauty of it if there were no winners and losers. Just like I want to see a winner and a loser in each match, I also want to ultimately see tennis circuit as a competition to determine who is the best. If the surfaces diverge too much we may end up with "clay court specialists" and "grass court specialists" who are almost playing two different sports with no direct comparison between them. At one point in the 90s I almost stopped watching men's tennis, partly because of the extreme specialization.

To answer the original question, I would prefer a surface that would be relatively fast, with a true and low bounce. Something that would allow SHBH and S&V to flourish but not to the point where baseliners would be at a disadvatnage. In the past I thought US Open had a pretty good surface for a number of years.

So I am not a huge opponent of the current convergence of surfaces (even though I would prefer if they converged to something a bit different).

Alternatively, I could enjoy a circuit that would be set up more like F1 - where all players would have to play the same tournaments. If the circuit were set up that way, then I would perhaps welcome even large differences between surfaces - because then it would really test each player's versatility rather than allowing surface specialists to pad their ranking points by playing minor tournaments on their favorite surface.

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Post by laverfan on Thu 10 May 2012, 3:58 am

Nore Staat wrote:Yeah - that non-mahogany thing, I'll go with that innit.

Brazilian Rosewood. Laugh

summerblues wrote:However, tradition aside, I am not a big fan of multiple surfaces.

I will use Cricket as an example. A Cricket Wicket (say it quickly five times Wink) is a single surface but is treated and made to behave differently by leaving grass or removing all of it, watering it or letting it dry and break. Variable bounce, etc.

Theoretically, it is the same surface, but can result in almost many varieties, from a spinning wicket, to a fast-bowling paradise.

I wonder if Tennis should try something like that. If we can try Blue Clay, then it is fair game, innit (Sorry NS).

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Post by summerblues on Thu 10 May 2012, 5:20 am

laverfan wrote:I will use Cricket as an example.
Oh dear please do not do that to me. I know this is all UK and what not, and I imagine all you say is true, but when you say "Cricket", all I know is that it is similar to a grasshopper. Not enough for a reasoned discussion here.

BTW, speaking of UK, where are you posting from? You do post some pretty late UK hours.

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Post by tammywilson52 on Mon 02 Jul 2012, 11:50 am

I tend to agree with SummerBlues on this one. In my opinion, tennis would benefit greatly from standardizing the tennis court surfaces they use, especially in the bigger tournaments. If there was some way to keep it to grass, hard court, and traditional clay, I think it will help the sport in the long run.

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Post by banbrotam on Mon 02 Jul 2012, 12:04 pm

bogbrush wrote:Medium - Fast, steady bounce, takes slice.

The surface that rewards variety and allows players options on tactics.

I'm with BB. Of course this is because it also helps Murray - but remember it helps Fed even more and he's better at it!! If I was choosing a court it would be the Wednesday conditions at Wimbledon (see how a very fast court affects Rafa) or the Paris Masters. A hot US Open, would be nice

I want these just so we have some extremes from the medium to medium slow surfaces we seem to have everywhere

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Post by lydian on Mon 02 Jul 2012, 12:14 pm

I like lush grass, a hot dry French Open clay court, a high bouncing rubbery AO court and a fast, slick USO court.

Variety!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then lets see who can win them all....
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Post by Super D Boon on Mon 02 Jul 2012, 12:20 pm

Why don't they use carpet anymore? Does anyone know the reason for the lack of carpet? Carpet courts were aplently aound 15 years ago now they're all but gone.

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Post by lydian on Mon 02 Jul 2012, 12:32 pm

I think they felt (pardon the pun) that carpets were simply too quick for the modern game. We also have to recognise that hardcourts are low maintenance in these cash-strapped times...once you've laid them you basically have to just repaint them from time to time. Also, I think many events dont want to stand out with different surfaces or face players not going there.
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