Rafael Nadal: I Don’t Understand Why The Australian Open Made The Courts So Fast
by Tom Gainey | January 12th, 2014, 8:32 am

Rafael Nadal has already taken a shot at the Australian Open management for what he feels is the unnecessary quickening of the courts. While Roger Federer found the courts to be paced “medium, if that”, and Novak Djokovic said Laver was the “same (speed) as last year”, Nadal says they are playing “faster conditions that I ever played here in Australia.”

The World No. 1 is coming off one of his best seasons of his career and he began 2014 with a title in Doha.

In his first match Tuesday night, Nadal will play Australian talent Bernard Tomic.

Here’s Nadal’s full presser from Saturday.

Q. What was your first thought when you heard Bernard Tomic was your first‑round opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, good start (smiling).

No, just is not the best round I know to start a Grand Slam, playing against a player who is local and who is young, who played great in the past here, and who is playing well. He’s in the final of Sydney.

Is a tough start. But what I thought is just I need to be ready and just practice with the great tactics every day, try to do the right things in every moment to arrive in the first round with the competitive. That’s the only way.

Q. Do you think you’ll have much crowd support?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think the crowd here is great. I played against him here in Australia. I played against Lleyton here few times.

Australian crowd is one of the best. I really have fun all the time when I was able to play on this fabulous court, Rod Laver Arena. I think they understand about tennis. They respect always the opponent. I not worried about that. I’m sure the crowd will be great.

Q. What is your memory of playing Bernard Tomic last time you played him at the Australian Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t remember very well. It was in three or four. Was a tough one. During the second or during the third he had advantage on the score.

But always a challenging player, no? He has a big talent. He has a good serve. He’s able to play with very good control from the baseline. He has a very good talent on where you going to hit the ball.

He’s a good player to start the tournament. To be through in that first round is because I’m ready to compete well. If not, I’m going to be ready to be practicing at home. That’s all.

Q. How much a better player do you think he is now than when you played him last time?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. The normal evolution of the young player is that they really improves every year.

Q. Will you be watching the Sydney game?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know what time is it.

Q. How are you feeling physically?
RAFAEL NADAL: Hopefully fine, yeah.

Q. How are you finding the speed of the courts so far? There was a lot of talk they might be faster than in years past.
RAFAEL NADAL: Completely different conditions than what I remembered of this tournament. Faster conditions that I ever played here in Australia.

Well, I really don’t understand very well why they change because the last couple of years, Australian Open had amazing matching, long ones, good ones for the crowd. I don’t know why the people who decide to make the conditions that fast.

I am not sure for the show is the best thing. But they decide and I’m just a player to try to be competitive from the beginning. I am practicing every day as much as I can and with the right intensity, the right attitude.

I arrived one week before. I think that I am practicing better a little bit every day. I hope to adjust my game to these conditions.

Q. You think the difference is very big from when you were here last two years ago?

Q. How do you think that affects your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: I tell you in a couple of days (smiling).

Q. Does that make it harder for you to win the title than in the past?
RAFAEL NADAL: Last year I don’t remember (smiling).

Q. The last time you were here.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I was able to play well in fast conditions in the past. But is true that I need to play my best to really have chances to be very competitive here against everybody because the conditions are a little bit faster than usual.

But we’ll see, no? I think during all my career I was able to play well in any condition: fast, slow, different surfaces. Important thing is try to be ready for the action from the beginning and be fresh mentally ‑ something that I hope I am.

I’m going to try to find the feelings, positive feelings. If that happens, I hope to be competitive.

Q. You’ve won every major except for this one twice or more. In your mind, does that make this one any more important?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not more important. All the tournaments are very important when I play. Every tournament, even if is Grand Slam or Masters 1000 or 500 or 250, I play every match with the same intensity. It’s not because I’m playing a Grand Slam I’m going to play with more focus or more intensity. I try to be always the same, highest level possible.

Is true that is important to give me another chance here in Australia in the next couple of years starting for this one. Win both, every Grand Slam twice, will be something really difficult. I going to try to do it in the next couple of years, but knowing that always is a big challenge.

I was not lucky in this tournament in the past. I think 2006 I couldn’t play the tournament. I get injury twice. Against Murray I have to retire. Against David couple years ago, well, I didn’t retire, but I had broken ‑ I don’t know how to say ‑ a little bit the muscle in the second game of the match.

Q. A tear?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. Last year I didn’t have the chance to play. Is really the Grand Slam I have the more trouble during all my career.

Real opportunity is to play and compete well in this Grand Slam. I have 2005, 2007, 2008. After that, 2009, for sure. 2010 and ’11, I get injury. 2012, I was able to compete at my 100% again. I lost the final against fantastic player with a great match.

But is true that I going to try my best. A tournament I really love so much. I like a lot the people here in Australia. The tournament is easy one for the players. People are very nice with us here.

Q. Physically do you feel as well as you have in other years coming into this tournament now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Important thing is feel yourself well. Physically is not a problem, I think. Important thing is play well. If you get injury, then is a problem.

Sometimes in the past I felt right and then I get injured in the tournament. I feel without problems, but you never know what’s going on. Hopefully will be still healthy for the whole year. That’s the most important thing for me.

Q. You had a good finish to 2013. How important is the No. 1 world ranking to you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not much. Something that I’m not worried. Most important thing for me is be able to be competitive in every tournament that I going to play.

When you are getting older, thinking about the No. 1 ranking is tougher. You have to take care a little bit more about your body, your health. For me the main goal is try to be here for a long time, for not only one more or two more years. So my priority is try to play as long as I can in my career.

If that makes me lose maybe some tournament to protect my health, you know, from consequence you will have less chances to be in the top position of the rankings.

Is not something that worry so much for me. I have been in the top two positions in the rankings for a lot of my career, so is not something that is a priority today.

If that happens, like happened last year, because I played fantastic in every tournament, very happy and great. But is something that I will not try to find. If that happens because I am playing great, very happy.

But most important thing for me is keep happy playing tennis, enjoying the tournament, and be competitive in every tournament, especially the important ones.

Q. Which part of South American tour was the most exciting for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Every place was different. I was able to visit places that I didn’t visit for a long time or never. So was a great experience for me. The fans there are so emotional. It’s very intense. Was a very special moment for me there against David, against Novak, against Nalbandian, too, in his last matches.

Having a crowd that speaks my language, too, that makes the relationship closer. I really had a lot of fun. Was be like holidays. I really enjoyed visiting all these kind of places, and for sure visiting Perito Moreno was one of the more spectacular things I visit.

Thank you very much. Happy New Year, everybody.

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114 Comments for Rafael Nadal: I Don’t Understand Why The Australian Open Made The Courts So Fast

Perfect fan Says:

Good luck rafa….i m sure u’ll do well.

Giles Says:

Vamos Champ!

skeezer Says:

“Rafael Nadal: I Don’t Understand Why The Australian Open Made The Courts So Fast.”

Waaaaaaaaaaa! Sniff sniff….waaaa!

Dude, just play.

A Tango Lad Says:

I am a fan of the game and all of its great players especially Roger but I don’t see the need to put down his biggest rival that has made the game so great.

Pity that some do.

Slice Tennis Says:

^^ Fake fed fan.
Another moniker of slice tennis.

madmax Says:

A tango lad,

I agree with you. Problem is, if you head over to where Slice Tennis is, I can assure you, his comnments are twice as bad as Skeezer’s and if you check the time of the postings, you will see that Skeezer’s came after.

Rafa is always going on about his injuries. Time to stop now and just play. Stop the whining about the so called fast courts as well. Rafa loves fast courts, loves the heat and will play exceptionally well. He always does. We all know he has nothing to worry about too with Tomic who is all mouth and no balls.

“No, just is not the best round I know to start a Grand Slam, playing against a player who is local and who is young, who played great in the past here, and who is playing well. He’s in the final of Sydney”.

So what! The guy cannot even compare to Rafa.

madmax Says:

Slice Tennis,

Stick to your beloved rafa threads and then we don’t have to read about you and your goings on and on about irrelevant rubbish.

Hippy Chic Says:

Madmax all mouth and no balls lol.

Slice Tennis Says:

“Madmax all mouth and no balls lol”


Brando Says:

@Madmax: LMFAO with that Tomic reference. Classic!

Brando Says:

Re Rafa: what’s new. He gets asked the same questions, gives same answers and the haters give the same whine about him. Yawn. If you can’t stand it then dont read it. We all know he’s going to be asked about certain things all the time and he’ll answer in the same fashion. The usual. But those complaining about it need to know of a simple solution to what has them jumpy: ignores Rafa’s press. Either that or you love to moan about him. Fair enough. Re court speed: Rafa says the court is faster than he remembers. He last played in 2012. Novak said the court is same as last year when it was quicker than before. That was 2013. Did Rafa play then? No. So him saying as such is no big deal and normal since conditions will feel quicker for him than the rest due to him being absent last year. It’s not a big deal what he’s saying. Just the Rafa police on here make it out to be as such.

Anna Says:

@ Madmax – To bad you don’t take your own advise. This happens to be a Rafa thread and yet here you are for the single purpose of hunting down a Nadal fan to torment. You and skeezer are two peas in a pod, and a miserable pod at that.

Rafa’s attitude regarding the courts is Yeah, they’re faster, don’t know why because there were a lot of good matches played when the courts were a bit slower. Now, of course folks like Max and skeezer wouldn’t agree because their guy probably prefers a faster court. My suggestion is just shut up (M & S) and watch the tennis.

madmax Says:

Anna! Hey! Happy New year to you!

I am so sorry you feel the need to hound my posts. But thanks, I take it as a compliment. If you could perhaps lassu up slice tennis, and take a taste of your own medicine too, then hopefully our paths don’t have to cross.

Have a wonderful day now won’t you? :)

Tennis Fan Says:

Tennis was suppose to be played on a fast surface … The last few years court speed has been slowed down and racquet strength/speed has increased. Sadly, the volley game has all but disappeared. Technology has largely been responsible for the change. I’d still like to see faster tennis rather than turning every Slam into “clay court” conditions … One is enough.

madmax Says:

Brando :)
Hippy chick :)

I really don’t think Rafa has anything to worry about at all. :)

James Says:

And Rafa won’t even be playing Monfils in Rd 3. Monfils’ potential Rd 3 opponent now is gonna be Tsonga.


Steve 27 Says:

Was Rebound Ace faster than plexicushion? I dont think so, besides, clay has much more history than hardcourt, carpet or acrylic surfaces, do not come to complain about the speed now that your favorite player is in decline, plus if you want to see the art of serve and volley (which is not dead), you see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMgXktpnRvY

didi Says:

Can this guy ever quit whining…. maybe they made it faster so we don’t have a boring 5-6 match with all kinds of time periods being disregarded.

Steve 27 Says:

Is this serious, James?

Giles Says:

James. That was the speculation yesterday but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Btw Simon still hasn’t officially pulled out.

SG1 Says:

I don’t know whether or not Rafa is right about the courts being faster than 2 years ago and from a competitive stand point I don’t frankly care. Everyone is playing on the same surface.

If the brain trust at Australian Tennis Federation is looking to speed up the courts a bit then I applaud them for doing so. I don’t know about the rest of the folks at Tennis-X but I know I’m not the least bit interested in seeing another final that lasts 6 hours. A slam final tennis match should be no longer than 4 hours. At least in my opinion.

skeezer Says:

^yep same here

Giles Says:

“Everyone is playing on the same surface”. Doesn’t mean that surface suits all the players. Craig Tiley made a statement that the courts had not been speeded up but it looks as if they have!

mat4 Says:

From my point of view, I have nothing against a match of 6 hours: it can happen.

But I want it to be a competition of craft, art, tennis, not a war of attrition. I want the more gifted player to win, not the one that has more power and stamina.

I think that with the development of new technologies and more powerful racquets, the surfaces had to be slowed down: the serve became too important. But the balance was lost in the process.

Okiegal Says:

Call me crazy, I guess but I love every 5 hr match I have ever watched. I love tennis, the longer the match the better. I don’t think I am by myself on this issue. That’s why crowds cheer for the one losing just so they can see more tennis, especially in the slams. The Wimby final with Roger and Rafa was amazing!! If Rafa hadn’t won, it still would have been a great match…….to each his own…..if we all liked the same thing…….would be a dull world, me thinks!!

I watched highlights of the long long final with Novak and Rafa and I had forgotten how tense that match was…..my guy lost but I still loved every minute of it. Heck, I even watched the 3 day epic between Isner and Mahut!! Oh, well, as I said, call me crazy. My family thinks I am. They hate tennis and can’t seem to understand why I love the sport so much. But they know not to bother me when a slam is going down!

Vamos Rafa………pick butt, kick butt and take names……now that’s what I’m talking about!! LOL

skeezer Says:

“he surfaces had to be slowed down: the serve became too important. But the balance was lost in the process.”
I agree mostly, especially ” the balance was lost in the process.

The courts the past decade are too slow. Don’t forget they are mucking around with different ball construction now more than ever. That has an effect also.

Has anyone seen the new Racket tech coming out? A computer chip of sorts is installed in the racket and can gain important info on your swing, etc.


“Doesn’t mean that surface suits all the players. ”

That is the WHOLE point! Being the better than everyone else on whatever your playing on! IT’s called the “complete” player.

Giles Says:

^^^ NO, it is called player preference.

Slice Tennis Says:

I guess nobody likes to play/watch looooong matches.
But it is foolish to associate the length of the mainly with Rafa and slow courts.

Anyone remember the 3 set match between the all court most aggressive player against the ball bashing giant on grass ?

Okiegal Says:

Rafa is the complete player, it’s just that no one else is when it comes to clay, for the most part. Wow, 8 French opens……..over the top. When I say 8 French opens, it takes my breath away!!

Vamos, Rafael!!

Slice Tennis Says:

I am not really worried about court speed about Rafa. If he plays well he can beat anyone on any surface.
There is a reason why his H2H against Nole, Murray and Federer is 11-7 in slams and none of the other three has a winning record against the others.
The most COMPLETE and DOMINANT player of this era. Has beaten everyone on every surface. This cannot be said about anyone else in this era.

skeezer Says:

^And what is the reason he doesn’t have 17 Slams yet?
After all, he beats everybody according to you, you call him the complete player, He is the most DOMINANT according to you, he owns everyone, according to you, no?

Slice Tennis Says:

“^And what is the reason he doesn’t have 17 Slams yet?”

The same reason why Federer had only 13 slams in the beginning of 2009.

Humble Rafa Says:

Speeding up the Australian open courts is ridiculous. Did they check with top players before they do that?

This is like blue tennis court with mud at the baseline. Only fool play in it.

skeezer Says:

U assume too much. It hasn’t happened. As of now its 13, not 17. Who do think u are, Nostradomous?
#Years @#1

Giles Says:

When did Fed come on the scene? When did Rafa come on the scene? Who has the handicap? Jan. 13th 2.18 pm

James Says:

Sounds like Rafa came expecting the kind of courts he’s always played on at Melbourne Park and was surprised to see things different. The courts do look fast to me. Like Montreal fast.
Well, he’s had a week or so to get used to the conditions, so I think he’ll do fine.

Good luck, Rafa!

Hippy Chic Says:

Rafa does have a nasty habit of going into his rivals best slams,and taking the trophy away from them ala Roger at Wimbledon 2008,and Novak at the USO 2010 and 2013,interesting that they have never managed to do the same to him at the FO,will he do the same here at the AO who knows?watch this space,but i wouldnt be at all surprised.

Okiegal Says:


I was thinking the exact same thing when the chat went the way of the “complete” player. As I commented in my above post……8 French Open titles blows me away!!


mat4 Says:


I remember also how Rafa improved in Wimbledon: he lost in four, than in five, then he won in five. Novak also lost in four, then in five, and now I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins RG.

Then, we also have to notice that Novak played a notch lower most of last year, the AO excepted. Judging by his form today, he could be at the level he had during most of the fall.

Anyway: the tournament isn’t won by the fans, but on the court, and it would be really premature to write off DelPo, who, for me, is the favourite in a potential QF against Rafa; to dismiss Murray’s chances, who has nothing to lose and can play freely, and who dismissed Rafa 6/0 in the last set they both played on a fast court; to bury Federer who likes the conditions here, and could finally find his range; to forget that Wawrinka, Berdych play very well and could beat anybody on a good day.

For me, Novak is the slight favourite, because all the other contender have to win two big matches before the final, while he could have to win only one; but just a slight favourite.

Slice Tennis Says:

“U assume too much”

What did I assume ?
Or you assumed that I assumed something ?

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 and Okiegal thanks for the feedback,8 FO is amazing,but ive said it before,that i wouldnt be surprised if they actually swapped their favorite GS this year,Delpo is an amazing player dont get me wrong and his form pre open has been good winning a title,but im just thinking of his stamina and consisteny,and Andy i hope will be ok,but he seems rusty,maybe its just a case of lacking in matches,and needs to play himself into form,we will see however.

hawkeye Says:

Slice Tennis
January 13th, 2014 at 2:20 pm


Booyah!!!! NAILED IT!!!

Slice Tennis Says:

“I remember also how Rafa improved in Wimbledon: he lost in four, than in five, then he won in five. Novak also lost in four, then in five, and now I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins RG”

Not quite the same. Rafa got it done in his third attempt when he was just 22 against his 26 yr old opponent.

Nole will be 27 in 2014 FO and he already has 5 failed attempts.

Nothing can match Rafa’s dominance over Federer.

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 JMO no offence but i dont think its fair to say he played at a level below last year,as thats taking away credit from his rivals,he still made 3 finals and had a great year, its just that there were players that were better than he was,although i agree hes still the favorite,and yeah he did have a great period in the fall,but tennis is about the here and the now,not whats been and gone so we will see.

Skeezer Says:

“What did I assume ?”
If u can’t figure that out then maybe U should read a book on what is, and what isn’t.

Slice Tennis Says:

^^^ blah blah blah

Skeezer Says:

^babytalk? Thats all u got?
Lol. Ok.

Maestro Fed Says:

This Roger vs Nadal fights are tiring to say the least.
They both have incredible records and are evenly matched.
We won’t get to see two such titans in tandem in our lifetime. Roger has accumulated some fantastic numbers and even though Nadal has not reached 17 he has his records which puts him on par with Roger. Let us celebrate them instead of fighting over them.

Slice Tennis Says:

Ok then give me a direct answer.
What did I assume ?
I know you cant and you wont.

Slice Tennis Says:

“even though Nadal has not reached 17 he has his records which puts him on par with Roger”

What ???
Putting Rafa and fed at the same level ??

Obviously you are a fake fed fan and a puppet of ST.

Now that self proclaimed tennis expert will come and tell you that he is the only one who knows and plays tennis and advice you to play the game.

Skeezer Says:

“Ok then give me a direct answer”
Excuse me? Wow u truly are still in diapers, no?
The answer is no, u had your chance. Now go rant some more with yourself.

mat4 Says:


“Mat4 JMO no offence but i dont think its fair to say he played at a level below last year,as thats taking away credit from his rivals”

I thought that we don’t always have to be “politically correct”, but just aim to write what we think is the truth. And Novak was far from this top form through the N. A. swing.

Of course that tennis is more about what has been achieved, than about what could have happened. It is sometimes regrettable.

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 fair enough,no harm or foul,lets just say you have your opinion and i have mine,ill agree to disagree.

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 maybe the rest of the field were playing at a level below during the fall,and im not been politically correct either,just writing what i think too,just saying.

mat4 Says:

And, finally, no: Rafa can’t have the same status as Federer, even if he wins 17 slams.

Because tennis is not only a matter of results, but of craft and art. And Rafa represents clearly the dark side of this sport, and, unfortunately, has influenced in a negative way tennis tremendously: gamesmanship, emphasized physicality (and the inevitable doping suspicions that go with it); his popularity and a search for a Federer foe has led to an overdose of slowing of courts and balls, and denatured the game.

mat4 Says:


Fine with me. I always respect what you write, and think it is fair to disagree.

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 thanks and DITTO ;))..

mat4 Says:


And, who knows: perhaps we will be fans of the same player in a few years. Imagine us rooting for Jordan Thompson, e.g., against the big, ugly JJ.

mat4 Says:


Just don’t tell me you could root for JJ…

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 im a big Nishikori fan,theres something about him and his game i really enjoy,not the biggest serve,but hes a pretty good mover especially on HCs,i cannot seem to warm to JJ,im not a fan of big booming serves.

mat4 Says:

@alison – about the fall and the rest of the field (I didn’t understand at first, sorry):

First, Murray didn’t play, and he didn’t well at the USO. On the other side, DelPo was at his top, Federer improved slowly, and Wawrinka maintained a high level. Ferrer went up and down, with an excellent performance at Bercy and a let down in London. I am not quite sure about Rafa: it is clear that he didn’t play very well in his two matches against Novak, especially in Beijing, while I think he was just overpowered against DelPo in Shanghai.

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 thanks but theres no need to say sorry really,its me i sometimes vent my splean when its not necassary,anyway its all good.

Okiegal Says:

Now Rafa clearly represents the dark side of the sport………as per Mat4. Just when I thought you could make some interesting tennis comments that I would enjoy reading you had to say something very rude and unkind about an amazing tennis player. I wish I could have the good sense to not waste my time responding to such rubbish…….CLEARLY RUBBISH!!

Vamos Rafa!!

Anna Says:

Matt4 – Rafa represents the “Dark side” of tennis”????? Oh brother, you just lost every inch of credibility you might have had prior to that post. Were talking tennis here, not Star Wars. Everything you wrote in that post is pure poppycock and downright laughable. Might want to pull your head out of your latest x-box. Your talking to adults here, at least mostly.

A Tango Lad Says:

All of these fine champions – Roger, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray are to be admired for the incredible skill and different talents that they display.

Agassi recently said we are lucky to witness such a golden era and that we won’t have it forever.

Pity we have to read such tripe from certain “fans” of the game. Unfortunately, it says more about them I’m afraid.

Now onto better topic.

I believe Roger can do some real damage on this quicker surface and can navigate this loaded half. I think he can make it to the semis where there could be a classic matchup between Roger and Nadal.

Now who would not like to see them meet in a major again.

It takes two to Tango well.

James Says:

Well, Novak at Wimbledon said he was playing better than he did in 2011. But then he was no match for Murray in the final.

Then in Montreal, after thrashing Gasquet in 52 minutes, Novak said that he was playing “close to perfection”. Then he played against Nadal and lost.

So as far as I’m concerned, Djokovic was in good form but got outplayed by Murray at SW19 and at Montreal and USO by Nadal.

And finally, if Rafa equals Federer’s slam count, he’d be considered greater than the Swiss. Tennis isn’t a dance competition. It’s a competitive sport. And unlike the Swiss great, Nadal has not only dominated the field but also all his top rivals, including Federer.

mat4 Says:


I stick to my opinion, although I understand that some don’t appreciate the beauty of the metaphor I used.

Now, you could argue: Rafa didn’t introduce such an unprecedented level of physicality in the game, or, he doesn’t use gamesmanship, at least not more than others, or something of the kind.

That’s what adults do, you know. At least most of them.

mat4 Says:

@A Tango Lad:

In a way, I agree with you.

But I feel that a kind of “modernization” of the game happened, a kind I don’t like: it happened in football, athletics, baseball, cyclisme… And Rafa was a prototype, the standard bearer of this changes.

But it is not only him, of course. He is just the epitome of those changes.

mat4 Says:


Novak often says that he plays his best. Rafa never forgets to mention that he is injured. But it doesn’t mean that they tell the truth.

But… Novak indeed played an excellent Wimbledon, the final excepted, where he was comprehensively beaten. I played most of the season on hard under his usual level: IW, Miami, Montreal, Cincy. He lost to Haas, to DelPo (although DelPo was in great form, Novak just melted after 3/0 in the third), to Isner. He played meekly in the final against Rafa, without FH.

Then, there are also those surprising defeats against Dimitrov and Berdych.

Don’t tell me that he was in good form.

mat4 Says:

Sorry: He played…

volley Says:

“his popularity and a search for a Federer foe has led to an overdose of slowing of courts”

i have to disagree with this. steve tignor addressed the surface issues with regard to Federer recently and he put up the following (and very succinct) argument-

“”The Australian Open went to a medium-slow surface, Rebound Ace, in 1988, a decade before he joined the tour; Wimbledon went to firmer, high-bouncing rye grass in 2001, two years before he won his first title there; and we’ve been talking about the effects of slow hard courts at U.S. tournaments since at least 2006, his best season. You don’t get to five French Open finals, as Federer has, without knowing your way around the baseline.”

mat4 Says:


I read Tignor’s excellent article, and I am well aware of his opinion.

But the slowing down of the game continued in those years he mentions; a few examples: at RG, Babolat changed his balls for slower ones after the first season, when it was discovered that they were quite fast; IW was slowed down further when Ellison bought the tournament; the USO was gradually slowed down since 2006 (I think that Tignor himself mentions it; although it is still rated as “fast”, it seems to be about 20% slower than Shanghai, e.g., conf.



mat4 Says:

From the same link, about Miami and IW — here is the ranking and the type of surface: we see that IW is slower than Umag, Hamburg and BA, played on clay, in fact, IW is about the same speed as RG.

Miami H
Umag C
Hamburg C
Buenos Aires C
Indian Wells H
Roland Garros C

volley Says:

ok. those are still only 3 tournaments. i agree IW (and Miami) are slow. the uso might be slower than 2006 but federer still won 2 further titles there but it’s still faster than the ao (and fed won there last in 2010). he even won wimbledon in 2012. my point is roger still thrived despite the so called overdose of slowing of courts.

James Says:


Novak doesn’t dominate the hard courts like Rafa does on clay. And I wasn’t talking about the clay season or IW-Miami. I was talking about Wimbledon and NA hard court swing.

Novak was in good form in Montreal and NY. He would have won both those titles if it weren’t for Nadal.

Novak said Rafa’s serve troubled him a lot in Montreal and US Open. They both were in good form but Rafa played the big points much better than Novak.

At US Open, Novak was bageling his opponents before the semi final against a red hot Wawrinka.
In the final, Novak played great in 2nd set and 3rd set. But when Nadal took the 3rd set, Novak simply gave up mentally. Nadal bread-sticked him in the final set.

If you think that Novak in good form is invincible, then I have nothing to say to you.

A Tango Lad Says:

Well mat4 if that is your position then what is your opinion on the style of play that Djokovic arguably had the most impressive year in the history of the game in 2011.

I am a big fan of Novak’s game but it was largely very baseline dominated with not much dimension. A lot of power and defence eventually turned to offense at an opportune time. I would suggest that Nadal has developed into a superior net player for example compared to Novak and in other ways made the changes necessary in his game after 2011 to beat him in three consecutive majors.

Novak has himself turned the tide at the end of the year.

Another fine rivalry we are lucky to see but it is short sighted and a bit self serving to over simplify Nadal’s game. Two amazing players who are to be enjoyed.

Anyone can oversimplify a player’s game to feel better about personal favourite.

I prefer to enjoy the differences these greats bring. That is what made Federer Nadal meetings so memorable.

Tell me mat4, prior to Djokovic, who was your favourite player? I am curious.

James Says:

@volley, Roger has very much benefitted from the slowing down of courts like his contemporaries, if not more.

skeezer Says:

Btw, volley brings up a good point, but so does mat4. Courts in fact have slowed. And not only that, but the bounced has changed to higher bounce (via Wimby redo and rebound ace via HC). More sand in the HC surfaces. Not all surfaces, but more than not. Regardless, as volley pointed out, Fed has still gotten plenty of Slams with these changes. What is fun conjecture of course, his Fed would have probably many more Slams if these surfaces didn’t change to being so slow.

mat4 Says:


Why don’t we have a look at Jeff Sackman’s data?

Despite the official rating of surfaces and courts (here:

http://www.perfect-tennis.co.uk/tennis-court-surfaces-and-court-speeds/ )

we can see that:

– of the 8+1 masters, only 1 is played in a fast playing environment, 2 are medium fast, 2 are medium, and 5 are PROPORTIONALLY slow;

– of the Slams, RG is the slowest, the USO and the AO are about the same speed, and Wimbledon still feels as the fastest. The USO seems to have been slowed down since 2010 again, while the AO speed up in 2013. (Once again, the data are here:

http://heavytopspin.com/2013/11/19/the-speed-of-every-2013-surface/ ).

It is not question here only about objective velocity of the ball — the rebound, the ability to control that ball are also in question.

I remember that JJ wrote that the surfance in London didn’t affect the serve, but, on the other side, slowed down balls with spin, something that was compensated by the low rebound of the ball.

So, it is not only, I repeat, about ball and surface speed, but about the ability to finish points quickly, to make winners, to hit aces.

mat4 Says:


I don’t simplify, although I sometimes lack words and time to explain myself thoroughly.

I also wrote about Rafa’s improvements in 2013, in a more detailed way. I think it still can be found somewhere here.

I don’t know if Novak is superior at the net to Rafa, but I never, never saw Rafa play more than one difficult volley in a match (although I saw him play very difficult smashes, where he excels).

My first favourite player was Connors, as everybody here knows, the newcomers excepted. I liked Wilander too, because he won despite the odds, without any big shot. I liked Sampras for his calm demeanour and running forehand, and Safin, because he wasn’t calm at all, and had a great backhand. I liked Federer also, before he became “the beast”, and once again when he became again human. That’s it.

A Tango Lad Says:

Well skeezer I am more than happy with Roger’s record 17 slams.

I believe some poster pointed out that ‘ifs’ don’t cut it amongst the greats of the game.

For example, if Roger’s competition was a bit stiffer during his most successful years, we wouldn’t have to listen to weak era arguments. This is not Roger’s fault. He beat the players across the net and that is all he could

Go Roger!

A Tango Lad Says:

As I thought mat4.

I agree that Nadal also has a better OH form.

Enjoy the tennis and keep positive thoughts.

James Says:

“Fed would have probably many more Slams if these surfaces didn’t change to being so slow.”

Or maybe ended up with 8-9 slams if the courts were as fast as they were in the 90s. Fed had a mediocre record at Wimbledon before the slowing down of courts.

mat4 Says:


“I agree that Nadal also has a better OH form.”

What does it mean?

BTW… I still enjoy tennis, although I don’t like the changes induced by modern racquet technology.

mat4 Says:

Meanwhile, Volandri rushes at the net against Tsonga…

skeezer Says:

“Or maybe ended up with 8-9 slams if the courts were as fast as they were in the 90s. Fed had a mediocre record at Wimbledon before the slowing down of courts.”
Don’t agree there. Consistently he owned one of the fastest courts on tour (wtf) against the top 8 players in the world. He can play on anything, and proven he can. But a fast court doesn’t bother Fed. In fact, his skills excel on it.

Okiegal Says:

In Feds on court interview he just said he got his back issues straightened out. That’s good to know.

Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal both Roger and Andy looked pretty good in their 1st matches,Andy served really well,Delpo had a 1st set blip,but cruised after that,now im looking forward to watching Rafa eek.

Hippy Chic Says:

A Tango Lad a nice set of posts very balanced,fair and honest,indeed no need to belittle one player to make another look good.

Okiegal Says:


Me too. It’s 3:00 am for me….had a 45 minute nap and waiting for Rafa. The Hewett match went way over time. They clear the arena…..guess it will get started one of these days!! Lol. Andy got his over with in a hurry…..good for him. I don’t know how the players manage to play in the heat like they do.

I’m sad that the guy we support represents the “Dark Side of Tennis” as per Mat4′ s comment. I couldn’t believe he would post something so sinister sounding about an amazing athlete as Rafa is. I’ve heard it all……sad really.

Vamos Rafa and Chic have a good day!!

Okiegal Says:


Well, weekend at Bernies didn’t last too long. I stayed up all night for this! LOL The bad thing is Rafa needed court time. Hope it doesn’t affect the next match. Brad Gilbert thought Bernie should have played on…..but I would think you could hurt yourself worse. Oh, well I will do this all over again his next match. I’m going to bed!!

Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal it was the exact oposite for me,i didnt have to stay up to watch Rafa,i was able to get some sleep and get up early to watch him and Andy,Andy looked very good,and served very well,although i might have to stay up for Rafas next match,sorry for Bernie i just hope this does not effect Rafa too much for his next match,about Mat4 hes a poster who i respect very much,but i am also puzzled by that statement,im just wondering if he was irritated by my post @3.26pm yesterday hmmm.

Giles Says:

Okiegal. Just in case you didn’t know that nasty poster mat zero or whatever he calls himself is a Rafa hater. He said so himself . His words were “I hate Rafa”. Regarding his vicious comment, well that plainly shows the Dark Side of mat zero!
Vamos Rafa!

mat4 Says:


No, I wasn’t, be sure of that; lately, I even don’t get irritated by personal attacks.

But sometimes I have really, really bad days, and choose my words hastily and poorly.

Anyway, why not see in my posts an incentive for a debate? I am also ready to retract and make excuses when I am wrong. About the physicality of tennis, e.g.: did I forget Muster, Agassi, Bruguera? About gamesmanship: were all the Novak’s MTOs planned scripts to destabilize his opponents?

I am not always right, of course.

mat4 Says:


Yes, Giles, you’re right, indeed I am…

skeezer Says:

No worries mat4, that 8:16 post just read like a child telling his mommy on you. Hilariously childish. Funniest thing I read all week.

mat4 Says:


I don’t worry about it. Just like I wrote to alison, I can’t be provoked any more.

But the fact that no one answers the questions I rose is telling.

Okiegal Says:

The Nisikori-Matesovic match had some gamesmanship going on today. It was rather amusing……players pushing the envelope a bit. How would you like to be the guy whose only claim to fame regarding Rafa Nadal is….”I can’t beat Rafa…but I’m the only player ever to knock over his water bottles”…..funny! Every time I see this guy I think of the bottle incident and have a chuckle.


“But the fact that no one answers the questions I rose is telling”…….yeah, it’s telling me people are sick and tired of that same old tireless, endless debate that has become redundant and obnoxious.


Yes it’s obvious he doesn’t like Rafa and I don’t have a problem with that…..to each his own, but the dark side of tennis remark was a poor choice of words imho. He’s demeaning a great sport because of a particular player that he doesn’t like……sad, really.


hawkeye Says:

Q: “Anyway, why not see in my posts an incentive for a debate? ”

A: Because they are so obviously transparent.

Asked. Answered. Hilarious. Moderated.

Maybe Ben will respond.

hawkeye Says:

Q. Were you able to play pain‑free?
GILLES SIMON: Oh, no, I’m not playing pain‑free. Far from that. No, it’s really painful.

Wow. No one complaining Simon is whining here?

Guess he needs a winning h2h against Fed to garner such negativity, no?

Says a lot.

skeezer Says:

^why don’t you just post a link to the “whole ” interview instead of makin up sh!t by singling out an answer out of context?

the question before to Simon…..

“Q. Can you talk through your decision whether to play today or not play today given your injury from Kooyong.
GILLES SIMON: Well, I just try my best to be ready for the match. Was in really bad shape after Kooyong on Saturday. I think I just got lucky that the recovery was that fast for the ankle.

Still, it was very limit to go on court today. It’s always a tough decision to make. Like you go, and I think this time I got pretty lucky. Maybe you can just lose 2‑1‑1, and have a different feeling at the end. Would prefer to go full for sure.

And then you try to pull Fed into it….LMAO. Who’s the haters?

hawkeye Says:

Like that would make any difference.

Ever notice how you leave out the question before Rafa answers about his knees or the court speed?

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Friendly Tip: Wait until my post appears before answering (or better yet don’t answer at all).

You’re so easy skeezer. Keep being you.


skeezer Says:

to add after Kooyong…

“You know, I just have a call to make. I say, Okay, it’s not easy that everybody saw me with the crutches”.

A Tango Lad Says:

As a Roger fan, I don’t like to criticize other players especially Nadal. I prefer to celebrate their rivalry and contrasting styles both equally impressive.

Their respective career achievements are legendary.

True champions.

It is a shame that some of their fans don’t live up to the high standards they set in terms of class.

mat4 Says:


It seems that you are new on this blog, so you deserve perhaps some explanations.

This blog was a much healthier place until recently. You could give your opinion, debate, or just chat with one of the many nice posters writing here. Yes, of course, there were a lot of heated discussions, insults, but it was enough to avoid one or two posters to live in peace.

Those times are gone, most of those posters were bullied, or just left, and now it is a Rafa blog. You have to start every of your post with “ave, Rafa, morituri (aka fedfans) te salutant” if you want to avoid verbal mistreatment.

But you don’t have to believe me. See for yourself. Don’t judge with at the first impression.

A Tango Lad Says:

Mat4 yes indeed I am new to posting.

As a quick experiment to test your statement, I reviewed the posts on this thread and the first negative statement was against Nadal and quite a childish one at that.

Curious though. Out of interest, I will keep an eye on new threads to see if your statement is accurate.

I don’t like to get into these petulant fights about what one player said. Tennis should not be a soap opera. i would rather stick to what happens on the court.

To each his or her own I suppose.

mat4 Says:


You’ll see for yourself. Especially as a fedfan.

BTW, did you watch a bit of yesterday’s Fed match?

Bad Knee Rules Says:

Curious though. Out of interest, I will keep an eye on new threads to see if your statement is accurate.

I don’t like to get into these petulant fights about what one player said. Tennis should not be a soap opera. i would rather stick to what happens on the court.
How about you “keep an eye” on the court and “stick to what happens on the court”? Instead of lecturing others on how to post.
Are you sure you’re a “new” poster?

mat4 Says:


I think he is. Don’t overreact. And he seems nice.

A Tango Lad Says:

I will choose to ignore the personal attack above. Truly, what is the purpose? I do not understand the motivation but I will not participate.

mat4, of course I did! For the first round except for a few errors, I was impressed with how well he played.

The next round should be straight forward for him but Verdasco could be a better barometer to see where his game sits.

Okiegal Says:


It’s nice to have a poster that loves tennis and sees the positives of all players. I am a Rafa fan but do so appreciate the talents of Novak, Roger, Andy, Del Po etc. They all have entertained us beyond measure!! I don’t get into putting down other players…….but I will take up for my guy in a pinch. I do enjoy your fair minded posts…..very refreshing!

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 i didnt actually reply to your post @8.21am January 14th,as unfortunatly real life got in the way work and stuff,anyway suffice to say no i dont agree with some of the things Rafa says/does,the MTOs although he hasnt done one of them in a long time to the best of my knowledge although you can be free to correct me if im wrong,the time he takes between points i do have an issue with simply because like Okiegal once said i would be gutted if he were to lose an important big point at a crucial time,the doping has been dicussed ad nauseum,and as i have said many times before i would be dissapointed but not completely surprised as its the world we live in,and i actually dont think any of them are above suspicion for very different reasons,Rafas injuries,Novaks amazing 2011,Rogers amazing career,Andys back surgery,Delpos wrist surgery??????i could go on but i dont think i need to,however i think to say an amazing champion and athlete like Rafa represents the dark side of the sport is unfair and uncalled for but your entitled to your opinion i suppose,but you wanted a debate,well you got one.

Margot Says:

Perhaps Mat4 could explain what he meant?

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