Young Pros cut down to size quickly on Grass

5

June 15, 2013 by Parveer Mann

Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori were both early losers at the 2013 Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.

Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori were both early losers at the 2013 Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.

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.

Quick turnaround

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.

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5 thoughts on “Young Pros cut down to size quickly on Grass

  1. gurveermann says:

    I definitely would want to see a Master’s series event on grass.

    • Parveer Mann says:

      It would be great to see. I believe the current venues in Halle, London and Eastbourne are not up to ATP 1000 standards but surely one of those could be expanded.

  2. Mark Darovny says:

    How many pro courts are grass as opposed to other surfaces (I’d guess most of them are clay? not sure)

    Has there been much development of artificial surfaces for tennis? Or would that be too non-traditional for the sport?

    • Parveer Mann says:

      Good questions Mark.

      1. The grass court season is about four weeks long and it culminates at Wimbledon. There are about five events on grass compared to about 60 or so on clay or deco turf (hard courts).

      2. It is an interesting thought to go with artificial grass but it never has been discussed. I think it would go against the traditional nature of the sport to ever come to light.

  3. […] The movement towards more grass courts only really gained traction in 2012 after the All England Club announced it would be moving the Championships back one week come 2015. This extra week would allow players extra rest before the Championships and give them more time to adjust to grass courts. Something that is not easy for every player especially those who are younger or less experienced on the surface. […]

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