Gemma Newell reflects on the different surfaces at Grand Slam events
I was talking to a patient the other day who was moaning about a forthcoming away club level match on a hard court. ‘We always play on Astro courts at home and we feel paralysed on hard courts!’
Well the same applies at all levels of tennis in terms of adjusting the game and preparing for different surfaces.
I always recall an interview from Gil Reyes, who was for many years Andre Agassi’s personal trainer and fitness guru, describing how Andre’s fitness regime was changed when moving from clay to grass, then from grass to hard courts.
No doubt Rafael Nadal’s team will have been going through the same process after his fantastic win in Paris and superb victory at Wimbledon this year.
Whilst playing on clay, the body has to withstand punishing long rallies requiring a lot of stamina, combined with more torso rotation to put topspin on the ball.
The grass of Wimbledon is gentler on the legs but players need to work on speed and those with more compact strokes have a definitive advantage. Strength of service is also of the essence, the big servers clocking an amazing number of points.
Then comes the hard court season! Tough on the legs, with high ball bounce and long rallies, giving another training challenge.
It is therefore not surprising that the top players have such an entourage of trainers, masseurs, dietitians, advisors, to cope with the pressures of the game, of which surface is a major one.
I will be at the AEGON Pro Series International Ladies Tennis at Foxhills all week providing physio treatment for the LTA; no doubt the hard courts there will keep me busy.