Growing support for speeding up surfaces

by: Matt Cronin | November 02, 2013

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Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley and Shanghai tournament director Charles Smith come out in favor of faster surfaces. Tiley told The New York Times that in general courts have become too slow.

“I think it has gone too much one way and the tournaments need to correct it,” he said. “But I think it’s dangerous when you correct it and go too far too quickly.”

Smith, who is also on the ATP board of directors, said that his tournament quickened its courts this year and that fans responded favorably.

“We set it up faster than we’ve ever done before,” he told the newspaper. “We were medium fast last year and fast this year, and I think it was a negative historically for people if you had a fast court. And this is part of the narrative people are coming to grips with. Even with fast courts, you still get 20-shot rallies and beautiful points. These guys are just such good defenders. Novak [Djokovic] is as fast as any guy I’ve seen, side to side, so part of this is trying to keep up with the players and their evolution.”

Coach and analyst Brad Gilbert added that returning to the days of serve-and-volley should not be encouraged.

“I’m not living in the stone age, wanting to see guys go back to serve-and-volley and play one-shot tennis. Boring,” Gilbert said. “We’re seeing guys now playing well into their 30s, and I think it’s because of the slower courts. And because guys are playing more rallies and not sprinting forward all the time. I tell every kid who asks me, ‘Don’t do it. You’ll ruin your body.' "


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