A List of Court Speeds | Ultimate Tennis Blog


I’ve been wondering for a while now about the different court speeds and the above table pretty much sums it up. In the table the court speed is determined by the percentage of points won on serve, which I think is pretty accurate. As expected Paris is number one and is probably the only event on the list which is still conducive to serve-and-volley play. Interestingly Paris has probably been Roger’s worst Masters Series event. Last year was his best result yet where he made semis and lost to Monfils after having match points. I think it shows that he hasn’t really worked that hard on his attacking game over the years. Last year when he joined up with Annacone he started to work more on coming to the net which could be why he had his best result yet in Paris. I wish Roger gave more attention to his net game over the years.

When Wimbledon was still fast he was right up there with the best serve-and-volley players. Then as the surfaces became slower he became a base liner and his net game basically died. I think that hurt him especially against Nadal. He was too stubborn and wanted to dominate Nadal from the base line. I don’t think it was as much the slowing down of the courts that hurt him against Nadal as his stubbornness to go to the net. Now that Annacone is helping him to be more attacking it is at a pretty late stage and a lot of the damage has already been done. To get back to the table, I’m a bit surprised that Wimbledon is still in second spot. Wimbledon has been slowed down some, but I think it is mostly the height and consistency of the bounce that has changed, which have helped someone like Nadal. The surface itself still seems to be pretty fast.

Cincinnati is high up as expected. Cincy has been one of Roger’s best Masters Series events especially of late, having won it the last two years. This to me shows that he does enjoy the faster surfaces, coupled with the fact that he has done so well at Wimbledon over the years. Canada is also pretty high up, although I’m not sure if the stat is conclusive since they alternate between Toronto and Montreal. Anyway Roger has won it twice and made two finals. It’s also quite interesting to see the US Open having about average speed, but I suppose that’s more or less expected. The US Open have been slowed down along with all the other courts, but is still a surface which Roger loves to play on. Then it’s quite surprising to see a clay court event ahead of Miami, Indian Wells, and the Oz Open.

The altitude in Madrid obviously has a lot to do with it but it also shows how slow some of the hard courts have become. Indian Wells, Miami, and the Oz Open are classified as slow hard court. In Indian Wells and Miami Roger was doing really well earlier in his career, while the results have dropped off a little of late. And this year at the Oz Open he lost in straight sets to Djokovic. In that match it looked like the slower courts really got to him because he was unable to penetrate Djokovic’s defenses. Finally at the bottom of the list we have Roland Garros and Rome, which is to be expected. It is worth noting that Roger beat Djokovic on a slower court than the Oz Open when he beat him at Roland Garros this year. How could he not get through Djokovic’s defenses at the Oz Open but was able to do it at the French?

It’s a hard question to answer. Maybe the clay helped him to vary his game more with drop shots and slices. The crowd also played a role as they were really behind Roger. Roger looked inspired on the day, like he was out to prove something. Finally he played a really good tournament throughout, not dropping a set until that match. At the Oz Open he lost two sets to Simon earlier on and wasn’t exactly full of confidence. It looks like from here on if Roger is going to win a slam he is going to have look really confident from the start. Coming back to the surface speeds, Roger have done well on all surface speeds throughout his career. But as he gets older he seems to favor faster courts. That could have to do with the fact that he is trying to play more attacking these days and the fact that he doesn’t move as well as he used to.

Therefor he needs to play first strike tennis and keep the points short. With guys like Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray around who all have amazing defenses, faster courts will obviously help him. It means he gets involved in less long rallies where there is a better chance of him making unforced errors. So it doesn’t work in his favor that things have been slowed down so much these days, but at the same time he left it pretty late to start working on a more attacking game. If he did so earlier it may have been easier to deal with the rise of the defensive base liners and for him to make up for his lack of foot speed as he grew older. My overall conclusions are that Roger started neglecting his net game as surface speeds slowed down and it cost him, in his prime as well as now.

Agassi Praises Federer in New Book | Ultimate Tennis Blog

“Walking to the net, I’m certain that I’ve lose to the better man, the Everest of the generation. I pity the young players who will have to contend with him. I feel for the man who is fated to play Agassi to his Sampras. Though I don’t mention Pete by name, I have him uppermost in my mind when I tell reports: It’s real simple. Most players have weaknesses. Federer has none.”


Since I was ‘let go’ at my previous job and will start my tennis coaching career only on Monday, it gives me some time to make up to you for the period when I wasn’t blogging much. I found the above excerpt from Andre Agassi’s new and controversial book at Men’s Tennis Forum. It seems like the Agassi book will be a stimulating read, and hopefully I will get my hands on it soon. The quote from Agassi’s book apparently pertains to the 2005 US Open final, where Roger beat Agassi in four sets. If you read the comments of the poster who started the thread, you will see that he also refers to their meeting in 2004, where Roger won in five sets. But of course as a Sampras fan, he conveniently leaves out the fact that there was a gale force wind blowing that day, which is the ultimate equalizer.

He also says that in the 2005 final Agassi was 35 years old and that he had played three five set matches to get to the final, and still gave Roger a run for his money. But again he fails to mention that if a player gets through close matches like that, they often become very confident. It just goes to show that people will always change the facts in a subtle way to make the player they support look like the best. I don’t need to change any facts to show that Roger is better than Sampras. Anyone with half a brain can see that. And if you don’t have half a brain, then I’ll point out to you that Roger has won more grand slam titles than Sampras, as well as the career grand slam which Sampras couldn’t manage. And on top of that Roger is not finished with his career.

You will also see that this genius of a poster made the thread title so that it makes Roger look bad again. Now this post of mine is not about debunking some clueless Sampras fanboy, but the things he wrote gives me a good place to start at. Again he conveniently leaves out the fact that more than half of the meetings between Roger and Rafa have been on Rafa’s favorite surface, just because of the fact that Rafa is not good enough to make it far enough outside of clay to meet Roger on a regular basis. We saw it again this year at the US Open, where Rafa was crushed 2, 2 and 2 by Delpo in the semi’s, while Roger kept his end of the bargain again by being in the final for the sixth consecutive year. If Sampras and Agassi had met more then half of the time on clay as well, I guarantee you Agassi would have led the rivalry as well, but only five of their thirty-four matches was on clay.

Again, jealous haters will take things out of proportion and twist the facts to suppress their jealousy, but in the end they can’t deny the facts and it eats them up inside. Roger is the most complete player in history. Sampras was always known as the complete player, but when Roger came along he gave a new meaning to that word. Firstly Roger has a much better backhand than Sampras had, and his return game is better as well. Roger also has more variety to his game, which is why he has done so much better than Sampras on clay. Roger has many different ways to beat an opponent, while Sampras relied heavily on his serve to overpower opponents. Moreover, Roger is in another class than Pete when it comes to base line play, although it must be said that Sampras was a slightly better net player.

To come back to the Federer/Nadal rivalry, I’m not gonna deny that Rafa has gotten under Roger’s skin on several occasions. But again you must take into account the effect of losing many heart breaking matches to a player because it was played on their favorite surface, and it happened to be Roger’s worst surface. That is not exactly going to help your confidence against a player. Add to that the fact that Rafa is left handed, and his game is almost perfectly suited to exploit Roger’s weaker side with the highest bouncing forehand in history, and you can start to understand why the head-to-head is 13-7 in the favor of the Spaniard. Another thing one must take into account, is the fact that many of Rafa’s wins against Roger came during Roger’s slump during 2008.

Now it is Rafa who is in the slump, and we shall see how the head-to-head meetings go now. I have a feeling if they had met recently that Roger may have gotten some more wins back over Rafa. Still, you have to hand it to Rafa for being able to get under Roger’s skin. There is something about the way he never gives up and is not afraid of Roger that made Roger uncomfortable. So in the end my conclusion is that Roger is indeed the most complete player of all time. Physically, mentally and talent wise he pretty much has it all. I don’t know enough about Laver and he played in too much of a different era for me to compare him with Roger. But I think Sampras is an ideal measuring stick for this, and it is clear that Roger has the edge.

Additional Thoughts On the Rome Masters and Upcoming French Open | Ultimate Tennis Blog

The Rome Masters was an interesting event and since I haven’t blogged a lot of late I wanted to make one more post before the French Open draw comes out. There is an exciting time ahead in the tennis world and there is a lot more to be said.

I have already made it clear what I think about Djokovic’s week in Rome as well as the others for that matter. But I want to go into some more detail here because I didn’t say everything I wanted to say. A lot has been made of Djokovic’s ‘bizarre’ week in Rome.

I think there has been a certain amount of overreaction from fans. I admitted in my last post that he had a bizarre week but I also made it clear that he did what needed to be done. He could not have done any better under the circumstances.

This must be clearly understood. Someone commented on my last post that Djokovic not only had a brutal draw but he also had a tough schedule by playing at night and then having to play the final with less than 24 hours of rest during the day.

It was reminiscent of the French Open last yeat where Djokovic had to play the semis and the final over three days after the semis against Murray were delayed due to rain. It proved to be his undoing because he was not fresh enough in the final.

And that was on top of the fact that he had to play Nadal, Murray, and peak Wawrinka in consecutive matches. It was ridiculous but the upside of that is that his draw can only get better this year.

There is simply no way that he can have as tough a draw as that and have no rest day before the final again. I mean the tournament organisers couldn’t make that happen if they tried. Make no mistake about it: this is Djokovic tournament to lose.

If he loses it, it is very likely that he will only have himself to blame. Sure the pressure is huge and the odds have been against Djokovic at the French Open thus far but that can’t be used as an excuse. You may as well say he is due for some good luck there.

It all depends on how he looks at it. If he believes deep down that he is just not meant to win the French then he won’t. But it is hard to believe this is the case. He showed an immense faith in his own abilities when he won the US Open last year.

Now that was the perfect preparation for must be done in Paris this year. As a champion, you are always looking for the next challenge. This is it for Djokovic. This is the ultimate challenge. And I bet he relishes it.

But make no mistake about it either: there is no bigger challenge in tennis at this point. Neither Federer nor Nadal has been able to win four consecutive slams and Djokovic’s opportunity to do so comes at his cursed slam as well.

It is a seemingly impossible task and of course, he can fail. But just the fact that he is in this situation is exciting and great for tennis. If he does win the French he would gain tennis immortality.

He would finally have completed the career slam but he would also have done something Federer or Nadal could not do. It would be the greatest achievement is tennis since Laver won the calendar slam in ’69.

Djokovic would be well on his way to becoming the GOAT. The ruins among Fedal fans would reach unprecedented levels. That only adds to the intrigue of the upcoming French Open.

If Djokovic fails it will be tough on his fans too but since neither Federer nor Nadal won four slams in a row their fans will have nothing to gloat about.

  • Was Rome A Sign That Djokovic Will Choke At The French Open?

Something else that is worth looking at again is the irritation Djokovic showed on the court in Rome. It that a sign of what is to come in Paris? Not necessarily in my opinion. Clearly it is was a result of the pressure he is feeling to win the French this year but it doesn’t all of a sudden mean he is doomed to fail again this year.

He may as well show up in Paris and look very comfortable. Of course, there is a big mental barrier for him to overcome but like I said he has already faced the worst conditions there. It can only get easier than last year.

At the same time with every passing year that he does not win the French, it seems a little further out of reach. I’m not saying it will be easy. Everyone knows it won’t be. Will he choke when the moment of truth arises?

That is the question on everyone’s mind. The way I see it he didn’t necessarily choke at the French until now. A lot of it was just pure bad luck. And then that bad luck seems to gain a momentum of its own.

For this reason, it is very important that Djokovic keeps the faith and keeps visualizing himself lifting the trophy. Your luck is bound to turn if you keep believing. He must realize he is currently by far the best player in the world and the clear favorite for the title.

Nevermind the past. The only obstacle is the one you set up in your mind. And I think Djokovic is very much aware of the power of his mind which is why I have faith that he can get the job done.

Judging by what happened in Rome you might be inclined to believe he is getting ready for another ‘choke’ at the French but maybe that was just a way of releasing some of the tension. I’m not going to assume anything.

Djokovic is an extremely experienced player with immense faith in his own abilities. The more people say he can’t do something the more he wants to prove them wrong. He faced astonishingly difficult circumstances at the US Open last year and got the job done.

He was not only playing against a red hot Federer but also a fanatical crowd and his history at the US Open. I have been over it all before. If he can come through that situation he sure as hell can come through the French Open as well.

Yes, it is probably an even tougher challenge in terms of his history at the French but it is hard to believe he will have to deal with a crowd like that again. As far as the opponent goes if he plays Nadal in the final that would be about on par with Federer at the US Open.

But at least he destroyed him last year in the quarters and just defeated him in straight sets again. I don’t think he would fear Nadal much. I don’t think he will fear anyone much. What he would fear is another draw like last year. But what are the odds?

For one thing, it would have to rain again in the semis so that the match gets postponed to the next day. I don’t think the odds of that happening are too good. And then he would have to get a draw like Nadal, Murray, and peak Wawrinka in succession too which is highly unlikely.

The only way in which he does not win the title this year is if he gets another ridiculous draw or chokes. In the first instance, it would be fair to conclude that there is some conspiracy against him.

As for the second instance, I don’t think there is really a reason for him to choke. Yes, he is trying to do something incredibly difficult and you can’t really blame him if he fails, but I think he relishes the opportunity and has the champions mentality that it takes to get the job done.

Can’t wait for the draw!

About | Ultimate Tennis Blog

OK so it’s time to update this page since this it’s not Ru-an’s Federer Blog anymore but Ultimate Tennis Blog. Tennis has always been a big passion of mine. I started watching tennis at a young age. The first match I remember watching was the 1985 Wimbledon final when Becker had that historic win. I remember watching Edberg, Lendl, Wilander, Mcenroe and all those legends too. The first time I picked up an old wooden racquet was around the age of 8 years and it was love at first shot. I spent hours just hitting against the wall and acting out imaginary matches in my head. Strangely enough, I started out with a one-handed backhand. That’s right. I never had a two-handed backhand! And, in general, I tend to be a fan of one-handers

Anyway, to skip ahead a few years I tried playing some professional tournaments for a while, beat some players with ATP points, but that was as far as it went. I never had an ATP ranking myself. I don’t think I reached anything close to my full potential, but then again I probably wasn’t talented enough to make it anyway. I’ve tried some tennis coaching since but for me that love was always in playing and competing. I have however found something which I enjoy quite a lot which is writing about tennis. In the past it was more like a hobby I did on the side while I did other full-time jobs. But I didn’t find anything I was really passionate about so I want to try and make writing into something more full time.

I love following the very best in the men’s game, writing about it, and interacting with my readers. I hope you join us!