For the average recreational tennis player, a tennis court and a hard court are one and the same. The ubiquitous red and green paint, the fading white lines, and the rough, concrete-like playing surface are all characteristics of the court that dominates both the ATP World Tour and the vast majority of recreational and club tennis courts the world over.
Of the 65 professional events on the ATP World Tour, including Grand Slams, the ATP World Tour Finals, Masters 1000 events, ATP 500 events and ATP 250 events, 37 of these are held on some variation of hard court, made of either acrylic or synthetic material. Comparatively, only 22 events are held on clay, and a mere six are held on grass. Since 2009, no professional events have been held on carpet courts.
Over the years, some players have complained of the seemingly unequal distribution of tournaments and surface types. Some have bemoaned the fact that many injuries on the Tour occur because of the damage that hard courts often cause on players’ knees. Others have stated that the Tour panders to those players who perform best on the medium speed surface.
Wimbledon and the Big Four
If Wimbledon 2014 has proven anything, it has shown that the Big Four are still a powerful entity in tennis. Though none have doubted the impact that these players have had upon the sport, some critics have prophesied that their end may be close at hand. Federer had his unsuccessful 2013 season, Djokovic had his 17 month Grand Slam drought, Nadal battled injuries and Murray’s mental consistency often faltered.
However, though the four men aren’t getting any younger, they continue to dominate the sport. In fact, Stan Wawrinka’s unprecedented victory over Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open was the first time a player outside of the Big Four had won a major since Juan Martín del Potro’s victory over Federer in the 2009 US Open.
The Gentlemen’s Singles final at Wimbledon further reinforced the notion that these men are the top athletes in the sport. Djokovic and Federer, meeting head-to-head in a Grand Slam singles final for the first time since the 2007 US Open, battled it out upon the grass of Centre Court for five sets in spectacular fashion.
Second week in review
The Wimbledon ryegrass has been the stomping ground of a number of dark horse contenders this week at the Championships, as the venue has played host to a variety of upsets and unexpected appearances by players outside of the ubiquitous “Big Four.” While many usual suspects booked their spots in the quarterfinals lineup without much of an issue, the crowds were stunned by the unexpected upset of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, courtesy of 19-year-old Australian wonder boy, Nick Krygios. Seeded into the tournament as a wild card entry, the World No. 144 made ripples earlier in the Championships with a brilliant performance against Richard Gasquet in the second round, defeating the Frenchman in five sets despite dropping the first two sets. Against Nadal in the fourth round, Krygios worked magic, defeating his beleaguered opponent in four brutal sets. Continue reading