One of the fascinating aspects of tennis at the highest level is that tournaments are played on different surfaces across the year. The calendar consists of events on hard courts, clay, and grass in both men’s and women’s games.
Here is a look at these in more detail, specifically at the Grand Slam tournaments in the sport and why they favour certain players.
Hard Courts – Australian Open and US Open
The most common surface used in tennis is hard courts. Two of the four Grand Slam events (Australian Open and US Open) are played on this surface. These are made from synthetics, with the Australian Open using Plex cushion, while at the US Open, it is DecoTurf.
Big servers often enjoy playing on hard courts as they can get a big bounce from the ball when they make their serve. This makes it very difficult for the returning player to get their racquet to the ball.
In recent years, Novak Djokovic has dominated the hard-court events on the ATP Tour, particularly the Grand Slam events. He has won the Australian Open a record nine times, while he has lifted the US Open trophy on three occasions.
Clay – French Open
The French Open at Roland-Garros in Paris uses clay courts for their tournament. The surface is made of crushed bricks and stone. Compared to hard and grass courts, these are much slower. You will find rallies go on for longer and the big serves are not as effective as they would be elsewhere.
Most shots played on clay courts are done from the baseline, rather than closer to the net. With extra time to decide which shot to make, the world’s best players will look to generate some topspin on the ball and find the best angle.
Grass – Wimbledon
Many tennis fans look forward to Wimbledon more than any other tennis tournament in the world. It is the only Grand Slam played on grass. It also has a lot of history and tradition, the most notable being the dress code. Those taking part must wear all white, which is strictly enforced.
At the start of Wimbledon, the lawn courts are in prestige condition. As the event progresses, they become worn away, particularly at the baseline. The ground staff does an excellent job of ensuring as little moisture gets into the surface as possible, otherwise, footing becomes difficult for the players.
Like hard courts, big servers have an advantage on grass as the ball zips up on the firm surface. It also suits players who are comfortable playing at the net as they can control the court.