U.S. Open: The Clay Courts of New York City

This is a part of the sport that many will never understand. What tournament organizers (ATP/majors), in some kind of collective mission, have done to the grass and the hard courts is fraudulent.

Remember Federer’s comment after Cincy, putting Djokovic’s Masters set into perspective. Great achievement for the Serb, but this was never possible in the past, partly because the tournaments and schedule and ethos of competing and winning every fucking tournament weren’t around; guys never had such an achievement on their radar — this achievement of winning all 9 Masters didn’t even exist.

But the more disturbing part of Fed’s qualification of Novak’s Masters set is the issue with court surfaces. Another reason guys never really thought about doing this sort of thing, like winning all four majors, concerns the speed of the courts. There was, believe it or not, a real difference in the way the sport was played on different surfaces. Guys were, in effect, specialists of different surfaces.

That’s all gone now. Federer above from that Tweet is talking about how to construct points on these HC as if they are clay courts.

The courts will speed-up as the tournament progresses, but who knows. The organization probably has a way to keep them slow and high bouncing, which is simply the antithesis of these legendary hard courts.


I watched a bit of the Novak match yesterday. The heat is absurd; making him play in the day like that seems odd. Fedal play at night. That’s a bad look, especially with this kind of heat.

He looked gassed and ill, as did many players throughout the day yesterday. But he fought through. Go watch the third set SP on Fucsovics’ serve, the defense that Novak plays to secure that crucial set before the boys got a ten-minute break, due to the new heat rules at the USO.

Novak then bageled in the fourth. A solid win for the Serb only evidencing that this guy can fight through just about anything. He is playing a B-level game right now, which is what you want to do, by the way, in the early rounds. He should rise accordingly.

Federer, on the other hand, looked pretty sharp in his 1R match against a very beatable opponent. The FH, early, looked actually heavy and dangerous.

This takes exception to the comment made by Caligula, I mean “Veronica Lee,” a few days ago. Federer’s injury is an unknown quantity. He’s 37 and can’t move very well. He looked great early in that match, but the Japanese fella wasn’t moving him very well. The real test will be in the next couple of rounds.

He gets the nut Paire next. That guy can play and he can fold into the fetal position.

If he gets through that, he gets a bigger nut.

We’ll track Federer’s form obviously, but what it looks like is he can play some brilliant tennis for a few sets probably against anyone. Does he have enough to beat the big boys? The 37 year-old body will probably say, “No.”

Last night would have been a lot better for him had he broken Nishioka at 4-0, with a BP to make it 5-0 and then serve to close-out the third 6-0. That third set was a mess, in the end. Tennis like that does makes you wonder about his health.

We’re in that exhibition style of tennis for Federer. He can dazzle for a set or two, but the winning form, for a major, against the likes of Djokodal’s hunger for majors seems quite a stretch.

The speed of the courts doesn’t help the old man, either.

Enjoy the tennis.

4 thoughts on “U.S. Open: The Clay Courts of New York City

  1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    I belong to those, who will never understand (your point). It’s not only surface, which is changing (slowing down). At the same time racket technology makes the game still faster. Imagine tennis played with current racket technology on old fast hard courts. No point construction at all. Serve+0. Serve+return+0 Maybe sometimes first stroke after serve. I would not watch this kind of tennis. And even Federer means, slow courts are favoring top guys. And I would add this – slower courts give more chance for all-courters to emerge. Like Federer. Like Rafa. Like Djoker (forgett grass, grass is so special, only few can play it well, if its slow or fast).


      1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        Well, Matt, I started with Kramer Circus, featuring Rod Laver – so before the Open Era.Then I followed it so long it was possible in my country and available broadcasting media. Then everyone. Björn Borg, John McEnroe et. al, Agassi, Boris Becker, Pistol Pete, Gustavo Kuerten. I didn’t realize young Federer until he started to win slams and than Rafa starting to beat Federer. I was never a FedFan (I mean On-yL-Fed-Fan). I have an article about bouncing on different surfaces and with different hitting techniques. High bounce is not a<n isolated value. Every topspin player generates high bounces, whatever the surface. Since Golden Era started, I'm fan of different tennis styles, now my favorite being Thiem, as you know. And late Federer, since Edberg until 2017. Rafa still but only some aspects. The same Djokovic, even if he turns last years to be a more aggressive player.
        Among classic clay specialists Thiem is a bit specific. He likes and performs the best on fast clay or not-very-fast harc court. Next years I see him leaving the status of clay-only-performer. I expect, his HC game will bring him more success than clay or he is will be able to implant his rising HC game to clay. In this case, he can turn regular deep-run-maker in all slams, maybe not (yet) on grass.


  2. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Thiem update. 5 long and hard fought sets at 34°C, both not showing fitness problems. Respect!
    I was impressed by Thiem’s game. He was playing very aggressive game all over the match. Two lost sets is old Thiem’s issue – he can quite often not serve out the match or set or gets rebroken after breaking a.so. Pressure points. I have some older article about this problem but it’s going to improve. Still it cost him 2 sets more today. Well, he needed more match practice, didn’t he?
    Short highlights video is available on the blog right now and the full match record plus comment are being prepared and should be ready before you awake 🙂
    You may want first to take a look into match stats. 15 aces, 67 winners, net points won 41/53 – does not look like a baseline grinder?
    He played two kinds of aggressive returns. Backhand returns stepping into the court and forehand returns from 1-2 m behind the baseline. Played occasionally even half-volleys ;), many good points at the net, improved better placed volleys (maybe an input from McEnroe – Dominic had preparation in BigMac’s Academy). Of course BDTL and big forehands were there in abuse. Steve is very athletic and has only one real weakness – the backhand, mostly slicing. Obvious tactic well implemented by Thiem was to attack his backhand and approach the net. – not always successful but successful enough. Big confidence boost for him after some painful 5-set losses in 2017, including crazy Delpo loss here.
    If his health and fitness hold, he seems to be ready for bigger challenges.


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