June 15, 2013 by Parveer Mann
It’s been a tough week for the so-called rising stars of the ATP tour. We’ve seen Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori lose in their first matches in Halle. Add in, Benoit Paire and Grigor Dimitrov who fared slightly better before falling against their second opponents in London.
I’m sure each of them realized the same thing shortly after their losses; they would have loved a deep run this week. Because you never seem to get much time or matches to work on your grass court form.
There is no downtime on tour after the conclusion of the French Open. This six week period from the end of May to the beginning of July is unlike anything on the tennis calendar. It has also existed for the entire Open era so it is nothing new for this generation of player. However, there may be some truth that players who inevitably succeed on grass need to develop a certain degree of comfort over many years.
“It’s not easy because it’s played only a few weeks during the year. I like the idea of a longer season on grass. Wimbledon is everybody’s dream to play.” -Kei Nishikori, ndtv.com
If you look at the last 10 years of men’s finalists at Wimbledon, you will see that only Rafael Nadal (2006) was the only player to make the finals in one of his first three appearances. Instead, you are more likely to get those players who develop the tools and tactics over the years that are different and absolutely needed when you shift from clay to grass.
It may be one of the biggest oddities in current tennis, how even though the most beloved Grand slam is played on grass it has still meant so many other tournaments leaving grass for more durable hard court surfaces. To me, it really is one of those trends that I hoped would not have caught on in the late 1980’s but it still should not be a reason for young player development on the surface to stall.
Extra week break coming in 2015
Starting in 2015, there will be an extra week between the end of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon. It will create a three week period that everyone hopes will helps better prepare for the change in surface and playing style. It also may be a sign that the ATP may be getting closer to a Masters series event on grass over those three weeks that will provide the added competition that may help more players be competitive and comfortable when Wimbledon begins.
Something that will be welcomed by all of us watching and those young pros needing the time to transition.