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Adapting to the surface

by TN

One of the most challenging aspects for tennis pros is adapting to the surface. Grass court tennis is in stark contrast to clay-court tennis.

Some players are great at adapting to the surface. The three GOATs come to mind (Nadal, Djokovic and Federer) as the obvious example, but other players do this well too. Just by looking at the first few grass court events of the season, it’s clear that Matteo Berrettini loves the grass (but he can also play well on clay and hard courts). On the other hand, players like Aslan Karatsev and Casper Ruud seem to be struggling on the grass. Casper Ruud picks up clay-court titles like the Buenos Aires ATP without blinking, but on the grass so far he has struggled. Ruud lost to qualifier Ryan Peniston in Queens in two tie-break sets, but arguably that was his first match of the season on grass.

Since it’s essential to get match practice on the surface, it might be wise to go for a last-minute entry into Mallorca or Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon. But some players prefer to go to London early and get some good practice in.

Playing on grass

Grass courts are kind of the “heritage” surface of tennis. Once upon a time, three of the four Grand Slams were on grass. Nowadays, the grass-court part of the season is the shortest and, for many players, the most difficult one to adapt to. The ball bounces lower, the overall tennis is faster, you can expect some inconsistent bounces at times and the serve and returns are even more critical than on the other surfaces.

On clay, serve and return often seems like just a natural way to start the point, while on grass, it will determine the match.

Some players love the type of tennis that grass courts provide. Berrettini was mentioned, Murray is another one. While players that are good on clay, where the ball bounces high and slow and big top spin is necessary, find it more difficult to adjust their games.

Which surface is your favorite and who do you think will win Wimbledon?

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