Real Grass Calling for U.S. Hosting Spain in Davis Cup Quarterfinals
by Jeremy Davis | March 6th, 2011
  • 30 Comments

This weekend both the U.S. and Spain advanced out of the first round of the Davis Cup into a second-round meeting. The U.S. will host Spain, and U.S. captain Jim Courier and the USTA have only one choice for the quarterfinal meeting. Grass. REAL grass.


Not the fake clay-painted-green that they now use at Wimbledon. I’m talking the grass that players like Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic won titles on. ‘One and done’ grass. As in, one serve, now on to the next point. REAL grass, not like Wimbledon where they’ve seeded it so you now get a uniform bounce.

I’m talking more like the grass they still use at the ATP Newport event. Where the ball doesn’t as much bounce as it skips and slides. Where service returns don’t come up. Where it is still an ADVANTAGE to serve and volley.

If the U.S. picks any other surface than REAL grass, then that is an automatic two points for Spain, because Andy Roddick and John Isner are unlikely to get wins over Nadal on anything other than a surface where they can just serve him off the court. REAL grass could also nullify David Ferrer or Fernando Verdasco or whoever is the Spanish No. 2.

On REAL grass I could see the U.S. sweeping Spain: Roddick beating Nadal, Isner beating Verdasco, and the Bryan brothers beating the pretty-boy team of Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.

This match will be right after Wimbledon, so hopefully Courier and the USTA don’t screw up and choose a fast hard court or indoor surface. Wherever this match is held, if the U.S. can dial back the clock to 1980 and hire someone who did groundskeeping work at Wimbledon 30 years ago, a slick old-school grasscourt will see the U.S. beating Spain.


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30 Comments for Real Grass Calling for U.S. Hosting Spain in Davis Cup Quarterfinals

dari Says:

i know the tie just ended, so there hasn’t been any talks about the next round, but i will be curious to see if things pan out at as you say. who else hosts davis cup on grass recently? anybody?


Gregoire Gentil Says:

“clay-painted-green at Wimbledon”!!! lol.

You seem to be in lack of imagination for this “biased” article:

- what about enlarging the side of the court where Nadal plays and reducing the side of US players? Well, might not be good enough as Nadal could still manage to win!

- perhaps you could add electronics in the balls to generate false bounces on Spain side only?

- or what about forcing Spain players to play with 70s rackets?


bobby Says:

What a joke!


rafafan Says:

nadal is a two time wimbledon champion, the only choice worst then grass would be clay.


M Says:

Ferru is the #2 Spaniard and has been that for sometime.
Anyone calling themselves any kind of tennis-blogging “expert” should either know this or take their time to do a little fact-checking prior to posting.

Congratulations to USA and Spain for their wins!


Anna Says:

So you think this is a sure win for the US Jeremy. If they do this and don’t pull it off they’re going to look pretty silly. I think the
US can do some damage on hard court. The Bryan
bros are the #1 doubles team. Feli & Fer get together for DC only. For Andy it comes down to
any given day, and big John, while not a shoe in,
can get the job done. Have some faith….


q Says:

Trying to negate nadal’s win at wimby huh! What a pathetic loser this guy is.


tennisfansince76 Says:

i love it. they should do it. we will see how Nadal would do on a throwback grass court.


Peter Says:

I’d still give the edge to Spain. Roddick wouldn’t have much of a chance against Nadal and in case you’re not aware, Verdasco’s got a pretty decent serve when he wants to. Sorry you seem to dislike Nadal so much, I mean he’s only one of two people to win a Golden Slam, but what’s that compared to hitting a big serve and being unable to do anything else.


Kimberly Says:

Wow, what a crock. Had I known the article was written by Jeremy Davis I wouldn’t have even bothered reading it. I read it under the erroneous assumption it was Sean Randall and was wondering if he had been partying too hard or something.


skeezerweezer Says:

JD,

Well you raised arm hairs again! lol

I like it that someone has dared to write about the Grass court of old and new. Wish there was more written on the change of 2001. One that wins on all different playing surfaces makes a complete player, one that is deserving of GOAT. There are valid reasons why old schoolers still think Rod Laver still is GOAT as he won on the old grass, clay, and even one GS was played on WOOD back then….go figure. Talk about different! IT made Tennis special, but now it is built after the Video game “Pong”. Playing surfaces play closer than each other than ever before…..sad for this poster, but I am sure many others love it. To each there own.

However, tying this into a Rafa thing is downright trashy. There is no way US is going to play this at Newport, and even though it is there choice to pick a surface you betcha it’s gonna be HC.


Martin Says:

USA beat Spain 3-1 on GRASS in Houston (in 2002 – back when Sampras was still playing Davis Cup, but he lost his match). Roddick won BOTH his matches. That grass was real grass too – the players and the balls were sliding all over the place – wasnt much fun to watch since the points were over too fast. But hey, if that’s what it takes to get a USA win… Just wish the USA had top tennis players in that knew something about playing tennis beyond just bashing a serve.


Lulu Iberica Says:

Hmmm… I would actually be interested in seeing this. By now I am completely inured to the whole “green clay” dig, but as a Nad fan I would be interested in his performance on “old” grass. Andy R would have a fair chance of beating him on that surface, and would have an excellent chance against any other Spaniard. The Bryan Bros certainly should win against any Spanish doubles team. So, overall, yes, this sounds like a good strategy for the US.


sue Says:

For “real” grass, see Queen’s, a tournament with the quickest grass court abywhere by general players’ consent.

A tournament won many times by Roddick. But after that also once by Nadal, who beat Karlovic, Roddick and Djokovic on his way to the title.

And BTW, Ferrer won Nottingham once. Another tournament with “real” grass.

So, unlike the author of the article here, US DC captain will of course be well aware of the above mentioned facts and will NOT chose grass for US-Spain tie.


scineram Says:

Anything other than superfast grass is suicide. Isner or Querrey have no chance against either spaniard on any other surface. But Roddick still has to win both matches, and the Bryans have to deliver too.


margot Says:

You’re forgetting Lopez who is a fine grass court player and beat Rafa at Queens. If US choose grass, Mardy should play.


someone Says:

Nadal fans are so sensitive geez….go cry somewhere else


Swiss Maestro Says:

This is another reason, why Davis Cup sucks. If the americans get the surface right, there is not a whole lot the spannish armada can do. the spannish can only pray that the americans fcuk up the surface selection like they did when the US dream team played croatia in 2005 or so (agassi/a-rod, bryan brothers)

I am not even sure Rafa will play. The QF are after wimbledon, yes? Rafa is generally banged up by then. Until rafa turns up in the US for the davis cup weekend, don’t count on it happening.

Thank God, this weird BS Davis cup weekend is over. Bring on real tennis @ indian wells and miami.


killerc Says:

Old grass would be interesting. Truly I think the USA should stick to the fast hard court. It will be close– Nadal is a gammer and would win his matches. It would be up to our #2 winning, the Bryan bros winning and day 3 Singles. I think that’s where it would come to at the end with Roddick serving for USA VICTORY! The final locations have been mentioned already as Albany, NY – Austin, TX or San Antonio, TX! I can’t wait!


nadalista Says:

Swiss Maestro

Are u ever able to do a post without a swear word in it?

U need to lighten up……..so much tension, yuck!!


dari Says:

Off topic, but I kinda miss Andy Murray! Not a peep about him lately.


Colin Says:

Murray has a wrist problem, I believe.
Nadalista, I don’t like swearing on forums either, but you know what – textspeak (“U need”) is equally annoying, and equally disrespectful to others. Is your time really so valuable that you can’t take a few extra seconds and write proper English?


margot Says:

Colin it’s not disrespectful IMHO (!) it’s just the modern world which we inhabit. On a forum like this, writing is about communication, nothing else. We all understand “u” “gr8″ 2r” etc, come to think of it “etc” was once frowned upon, I xpect. And, although some incorrect spelling drives me insane, I think the fault is mine, not the perpetrator. Especially in English where the only rules r that there r no rules.
However, bad grammar, oh boy now u talking…. hanging is 2 good 4 them ;)


tennismonger Says:

As Martin noted above, Sampras lost his match against Corretja (one of the better players never to win a slam) on real grass in ’02 so we Yanks must be careful about what we wish for. But other than a very slick hard court, there’s really no other way to go.


Wayne Says:

yeah swiss maestro, and if it was a home match for spain they would use the muddiest slowest clay court they could built. works both ways. always has


WTF Says:

Jeremy is an ignorant fool.

1. The game has changed a lot since the “glory days” of Pete Sampras, and the “real” grass courts. It’s the players that have changed, not the courts.

2. Isner is the only serve volleyer the US has.

3. Nadal is unlikely the play the next round anyway. Scheduling is just too bad.

4. Past wins against Spain count for nothing. Different players on both teams.

5. A fast hard court like the US Open is the best bet against Spain.

6. Wimbledon is not clay painted green. If that were the case, look at Roddick’s clay results in Paris. Pitiful. Then compare his results on Wimbledon’s “green clay”. Three finals, all losing to Federer, and a handful of semi finals. He must be doing very well on this slow clay like surface. One has to wonder why his clay skills are so poor when the surfaces are about the same in all but color. Allegedly.

7. It is not an automatic 2 points for spain on any other surface. Roddick has actually beaten Nadal on hard courts. One was quite a thrashing at the US Open. The US Open also happens to be the slam Nadal’s struggled at the most until last year where he was actually gifted a comfortable draw. This is where the US should look, assuming Nadal plays. He didn’t play the QF last year, after winning Wimbledon. If he goes deep at Wimby again, I doubt he will play it this time.

Their record is quite close. All of Nadal’s losses were on hard court, while some of his wins were clay.

There’s a reason they didn’t pick a grass court the last time the US hosted Spain. They hosted on hard. And they won. And Nadal didn’t play because it was a QF… He generally doesn’t. Nor does Federer. Go figure.

8. Bounces at Wimbledon are unpredictable. I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to be an advantage though. Bounces on clay are unpredictable too and Nadal handles them fine. Unpredictable bounces are actually in his favor because he handles them better than most opponents.

9. I think Isner is a bigger threat to Nadal than Roddick.

10. In going back to this “old school” grass court of 30 years ago, there is a danger that the americans themselves will be unaccustomed to it. After all, who plays on that stuff?

The rackets used 30 years ago are different to the ones used today by the way. A point many missed is that while courts are slower today than in the past, they have to be to counteract the much harder hitting done today by stronger players using better tech rackets and strings. To use today’s tech on yesteryear’s courts would be overkill.

Old school courts NEEDED to be fast, because players used to hit like grannies, and they were slow movers. Just go and watch. The game was slow as hell during Laver’s era, in spite of the faster courts.


WTF Says:

Wayne Says:

“yeah swiss maestro, and if it was a home match for spain they would use the muddiest slowest clay court they could built. works both ways. always has”

It would be on clay, but it wouldn’t be the slowest they can find. They hosted the US in Madrid once, at high altitude on a relatively fast court by clay standards. Still won.

Truly, they don’t need that great an advantage to beat the US at home. Any clay court will do, and it’s more to favor their own players than to disfavor their opponents’. Picking the fastest grass court possible would be to disfavor spain, more than favor the US, because the US players have proven themselves very capable on surfaces less extreme than that.

Something worth noting is that the worst career losses Nadal has ever suffered came at the US Open. They were against Blake, Roddick, and Del Potro. Another two bruising losses he took were against Gonzalez and Tsonga at the Aussie Open.


skeezerweezer Says:

WTF,

Just trying to stick my comments to surfaces, not this JD thing about US strategy DC….but one chime in for Rafa;

Hasn’t he proven he is the “great adaptor”? It seems he has learned to play on any surface. The way he had played in 2010, he would win even if the surface was made of water.

“1. The game has changed a lot since the “glory days” of Pete Sampras, and the “real” grass courts. It’s the players that have changed, not the courts.”

Some courts HAVE changed, and the players have also.

“5. A fast hard court like the US Open….”

Actually, the US open is one of medium speed for HC on the tour, with the Indoors being the fastest. But any hard court is faster than Clay, no doubt.

“6. Wimbledon is not clay painted green. If that were the case, look at Roddick’s clay results in Paris. Pitiful. Then compare his results on Wimbledon’s “green clay”. Three finals, all losing to Federer, and a handful of semi finals. He must be doing very well on this slow clay like surface. One has to wonder why his clay skills are so poor when the surfaces are about the same in all but color. Allegedly”

Don’t get this one? Sampras didn’t have a great record on clay also? The green clay thing is just metaphoric, there is no doubt they grow grass on the courts of Wimby…:)

“8. Bounces at Wimbledon are unpredictable. I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to be an advantage though. Bounces on clay are unpredictable too and Nadal handles them fine. Unpredictable bounces are actually in his favor because he handles them better than most opponents.”

The bounces were waaaay worse before 2001. See below, better compaction, tougher grass, and don’t cut it as low as prior 2001.

On surfaces, Wimby changes, the effects as such, may I suggest you take a peek here;

http://www.gemtennis.com/2010/06/19/wimbledon-special-why-rye-the-grass-courts-of-wimbledon/

According to testing done by the ITF ( note the last sentence);

“Court speed is determined primarily by the friction between the ball and the court surface (coefficient of friction or COF) and some what by the liveliness of the court (coefficient of restitution or COR). The more friction, the more the ball slows down. The higher the bounce (large COR) the more the ball slows down.”

Playing on the original stuff the ball bounces lower, softer by nature.


NELTA Says:

Actually the 1st thing Wimbledon did when they realized the points were getting too short because of the onset of the power game is reduce the compression of the ball by 5% in 1995. That may not seem like much, but when you are dealing with a ball travelling over 100 mph it makes a big difference. Would you rather return against Sampras averaging 126 mph on his 1st serve or 120 mph?

They were also researching ways to slow the grass down, but that is a more complicated process that takes years of experimentation. Changing the ball compression is easy and can be tested immediately.

They finally changed the surface in 2001 and hear is what Tim Henman said:
———–
Players have said that the courts of Wimbledon have become slower, heavier, and high bouncing. In 2001, Wimbledon organizers had changed the grass to 100% perennial rye in addition to changing to a harder and denser soil with both providing for a higher bounce to the ball. Grass specialist Tim Henman spoke out against this change in 2002, stating “What on earth is going on here? I’m on a grass court and it’s the slowest court I’ve played on this year”.[4] As a result, serving and volleying has become rare at Wimbledon and dominant baseliners such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams have won the most recent titles.


Rennie Baker Says:

Jeremy Davis is a genius—a real grass court can be built anywhere in the US before the tie with Spain—If we choose indoor or fast outdoor we are toast—but if we choose grass-get with Isner about serving and volleying on first and second serve—he hasn’t done that since his first pro tournament—all he does is hit the big serve and let his opponent float the ball back to the baseline—does his coach ever look at video—serve and volley on both serves—just mix them up—hire pete s. as a coach—Courier does not have a clue about serving and volleying or playing on grass—his game is clay–Jeremy you are right someone like Courier would have been great on the Wimbledon clay-like-grass—Serve and volley to a win over Spain—-Rennie Baker

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