Friday, 4 September 2015


Hard court tennis has always been a task for the mind and body but it holds no real advantage for any player. The bounce is consistent and the conditions really do not suit any player more than the other regardless of wind or heat. That comes down to conditioning and mental strength.
The hard court tournaments of the World have always been interesting to watch as it really just comes down to talent. That may be stating the obvious however it is rare to see a player who dominates on clay also regularly win on hard.
Look no further than the great Swede Bjorn Borg who ruled the clay courts throughout his brilliant career yet could not find a way to win in New York. Borg could have laid claim to three of the four Grand Slams in 1980 if it weren't for a defiant John McEnroe who edged him out in five sets after Borg almost pinched the title after trailing two sets to love.
Bjorn Borg knew that by being physically fit and by playing with his usual brutal topspin he would be hard to beat yet he struggled to find enough winners against a net rusher.
Mac played the odds just as Federer is currently doing at the tender age of 34. Both Mac and Fed were born with the mindset that asking enough questions of the opponent is too big a task to answer and it may just have merit.
Mac stopped Borg in '80 and '81 in New York and it was the one major that the Swede could not find a way to win yet his game suited the surface. He was simply beaten by a barrage of serves and volleys that tested his passing shots to the limit. He was maybe within half a dozen passing shots of the title in 1980 but his near miss that year was just another one of those heart breaking tennis stories.
There are only so many winners an opponent can come up with if a player is constantly attacking the net and forcing their opponent to find a way through. That is of course if the player who is rushing the net owns an ability to not only volley but to anticipate the pass regularly. That requires a tennis brain that cannot be purchased easily.
Tennis today is a slug fest but only because the game is taught a safe way by most coaches who are not prepared to roll the dice as Roger is now doing on a regular basis. Even the great man himself realizes that he is not young enough anymore to stay on the baseline and out hit an opponent. With age comes experience, we all know that. 
It's interesting to note just how well both Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis played at this year's US Open despite their losses. Nick had four tough sets against Murray and Thanasi had to retire with cramps in the fifth set against Gasquet who also made the Wimbledon semis this year.
So if you do the sums on Australia's two big tennis hopefuls you will see that they both have games to suit a surface which simply relies on one's own ability as a tennis player and nothing else.
There are no clay court wizards in Australia as most training is done on hard courts and our major tournaments are also played on hard. Synthetic and grass courts are not user friendly for developing an all round game hence the lack of training done on them. 
Tennis Australia however continues to stage Davis Cup ties in this country on grass, a decision that I am sure does not just bemuse myself but perhaps the players themselves. Does Tennis Australia lack faith in it's players or are we really still stuck in the dark ages as far as sentiment and tradition are concerned ?
The last two ties in Australia were played on grass against countries that did not own a player inside the top 50 yet for some reason TA looked to grass as 'an advantage'. How does that own an ounce of merit ? Australia's top three players all know how to play tennis on hard courts as it's what they train on more regularly than any other surface, that's a fact.
It would be nice to finally see one day a Davis Cup tie held in Australia on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, home of the Australian Open, that would make sense. It's more than interesting to note that the Australian Open in fact moved away from the grass courts of Kooyong to the hard courts of Melbourne Park yet we still stage Davis Cup ties on grass courts.
Do the sums on that......

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