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Grass is for Cows! No?

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TENNIS – After the Roland Garros, the grass court season get’s underway and our GPTCA International coach, Mike James, explains the particular training needed to play on grass.

 

Oh yes that famous headline from a former ATP tour player ten years ago.

Since that famous quote things have changed during an interesting month on the ATP Tour.

In this article I shall take you through my findings from working and being around players competing on grass courts in the UK and witnessing first hand differences that make grass such a touch surface for any player in the modern game.

Grass court tennis requires the most short-term concentration because the average rally length is shorter than other surfaces. Players have to be totally focussed to handle the speed of the ball in shorter bursts. A sudden loss of concentration may cause two or three loose errors and result in a service break.

The basic mental approach on grass courts should be to dominate the opponent and dictate the tempo of the points. Being reactive to the opponent’s shots does not get you very far on fast courts.

One of the most difficult challenges for players who for the best part of the season compete and train on slow courts is understanding and accepting that they will make many more errors than normal. There will also be a feeling that it is difficult to establish a consistent rally tempo. Learning to accept these conditions and deal with them is part of playing on grass courts. Remember that both players tolerance level will become lower than normal with more cheap points making a presence.

Overall, the scores of sets are usually considerably closer on grass courts due to the fact that there are less service breaks. As such, the player must be able to play the big point well towards the end of sets and tie-breaks.

Seeing the ball well, and fast reaction and response times are great assets. Combined with good anticipation skills, these elements allow the player to use the fast court to his advantage.

Dynamic balance is at a premium since all the movements must be performed quickly and efficiently. Having an affective explosive strong first step is key with a much lower centre of gravity. Focusing on the bottom half of the body is more important in this physical phase than strength work around the chest and shoulders.

During the grass court season, be sure that players maintain their level of endurance with off-court training since there will be less aerobic benefit from the tennis itself. Players must be ready and accept they will often make fairly jerky and uncomfortable movements .

Having a great serving is an obvious asset on a grass court although with the grass being longer and the balls being lighter you now see far less aces being hit at Wimbledon. Strong servers like Isner and Del Potro often win over 80% of the points on first serve. Good placement, combined with sheer power, will reap many dividends. Slice serves are very effective on grass courts.

The return of serve in men’s tennis on grass courts is vital, the average number of balls per point is less than two in matches involving big servers. The serve and missed returns account for a huge number of points. Returning first serves with reasonable consistency and effectiveness, and taking advantage of second serve opportunities are what set up service breaks.

The ability to load quickly and make compact strokes like Murrey or Djokovic is important with the ball coming quick off the court.

Players standing close to the baseline allows the player to dictate the tempo of the points. Developing the timing to use the opponent’s pace to block the ball back, often offensively, is very beneficial.

Offensive slice backhands can be deadly, while slow defensively hit slice will have little effect and tend to sit up. Driving through the ball, sometimes with even a bit of sidespin, puts more pressure on the opponent

Effective volleyer’s are in their element on grass courts. Serve and volley tends to be used as a surprise tactic compered to 15/20 years ago. In the modern game you tend to see “Hit and Charge” approach or ghosting in after the serve. This is where the serve delays coming in until they see the returner in trouble and often drive volley the approach.

The ability to anticipate and maintain a strong court position is key. Specialty shots such as half volleys, backhand overheads and a variety of emergency volleys are very important and often keep the net-player in the points. Emergency volleys would include situations where the player is stretching or diving for the ball: or handling a ball hit very hard at the body.

Overall having a weapon and fantastic concentration are key in today grass court circuit, this makes for a very open interesting part to the ATP tour.

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David Goffin Out Of Wimbledon Following Halle Accident

It has been reported that the unfortunate injury he suffered is ‘more serious’ than a sprain.

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David Goffin has been forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after suffering an ankle injury during the Noventi Open earlier this week.

 

The former top 10 player was taking on Corentin Moutet in Halle where he slipped on the grass and subsequently hurt his right ankle. Forcing the Belgian to retire from the match at the start of the third set. Providing an update on Goffin’s health, agent Martin Roux said he is unsure how long he will be absent from the Tour for.

“Yes, David has officially withdrawn from Wimbledon following his ankle injury in Halle. For the moment we do not know more about the exact duration of unavailability, ” Roux told lesoir.be. “He is of course disappointed to miss a Grand Slam tournament, especially since he had recovered well on grass before his injury. “

Elaborating further, Roux confirmed Goffin’s injury is ‘more serious’ than a sprain and tests are ongoing to assess the extent of the damage which has been caused to the ankle. It is not the first time he has suffered a freak accident on the court. During the 2018 Rotterdam Open he hurt his eye after a tennis ball rebounded into his face, forcing him to pull out of Marseille and Indian Wells that year.

“David told me that it was more serious than a minor sprain, after exams in Belgium.”Roux added. “The ankle has not yet deflated (stopped swelling). David realizes that ice and bandages won’t be enough to play. The ligaments must be affected in one way or another. The idea is to do new exams at the end of the week in order to then have a healing protocol, especially since after Wimbledon the Olympic Games will arrive quickly. These are now his next goals. “

The 30-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 14-13 so far in 2021 and won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier. He has also reached the semi-finals in Antalya and quarter-finals in Monte Carlo. However, recently Goffin has struggled on the Tour with Halle being the fifth tournament in a row where he has failed to win back-to-back matches.

Goffin is currently ranked 13th in the world.

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Dominic Thiem Follows Nadal In Olympic Games Snub

The world No.5 says his decision is related to his performance on the Tour so far this season.

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Dominic Thiem training at the 2021 Lyon Open (photographer Sammy Dancyger - Owned by Sport Plus Conseil - GM Sports Consulting)

Austria’s Dominic Thiem has pulled out of the Olympic Games in order to focus on his title defence at the US Open later this year.

 

The 27-year-old issued a statement on Thursday saying he was ‘not ready’ to play in Tokyo following what has been a roller-coaster start to the season. Thiem enters Wimbledon with a win-loss record of 9-8 and recently lost in the first round of the French Open. His best results so far this year were reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

“Hi everybody, I have some sad news to share with you all. After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics,” the 27-year-old Austrian wrote on Twitter.
“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher.
“However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.
“My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.”

Thiem, who also skipped the 2016 Olympics, had previously said that his views on the multi-sport event have changed over recent time. During one interview with Tennis Deutschland he said it would be a ‘dream’ to play at the Olympics and he would ‘definitely play’ at the event if he had the chance to. Thiem is coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu who won a gold medal back in 2004.

The world No.5 says he hopes to be able to play at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris where the tennis tournament will be held at Roland Garros. The same venue as the French Open.

On the same day as Thiem’s announcement on Thursday, Rafael Nadal was another player to confirm he would not be travelling to Tokyo, as well as Wimbledon, in order to recover from the clay season. The Spaniard said he wants to take a break from the Tour in order to preserve his body and prolong his career on the Tour.

The Olympic tennis event will take place between July 24th – August 1st. Andy Murray is the defending champion in the men’s tournament.

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Updated Entry Lists For Eastbourne, Mallorca

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Photo by mallorca-championships.com

Two ATP 250 events will be played on grass before Wimbledon, with a new tournament taking place in Mallorca (Spain).

 

The third week of the shortened grass-court season will see two ATP 250 events being played in Eastbourne (Great Britain) and Mallorca (Spain) from the 20th to the 26th of June. Eastbourne has been hosting a grass-court tournament since 2009, when it took the place of Nottingham in the ATP Tour’s calendar, while the Mallorca Championships is a new event.

World’s number one Novak Djokovic plans to play doubles in Mallorca, while Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have received a Wild-Card in the singles draw. The defending champion Taylor Fritz has withdrawn from Eastbourne due to injury.


ATP 250 Eastbourne (GBR, Grass), entry list:
Monfils, Gael (FRA)
De Minaur, Alex (AUS)
OUT Wawrinka, Stan (SUI)
Karatsev, Aslan (RUS)
Sonego, Lorenzo (ITA)
Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
OUT Fritz, Taylor (USA)
Opelka, Reilly (USA)
Davidovich Fokina, Alejandro (ESP)
Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
OUT Paire, Benoit (FRA)
OUT Krajinovic, Filip (SRB)

Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Millman, John (AUS)
Fucsovics, Marton (HUN)
OUT Cilic, Marin (CRO)
Djere, Laslo (SRB)
(SE)
(SE)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
IN Bedene, Aljaz (SLO)
IN Koepfer, Dominik (GER)
IN Nishioka, Yoshihito (JPN)
IN Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
IN Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)

Alt.1 Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried (FRA)
Alt.2 Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Alt.3 Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)


ATP 250 Eastbourne (GBR, Grass), qualifying:
Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
Gerasimov, Egor (BLR)
Kwon, Soonwoo (KOR)
Herbert, Pierre-Hugues (FRA)
Gombos, Norbert (SVK)
Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Seppi, Andreas (ITA)
Duckworth, James (AUS)
Bagnis, Facundo (ARG)
Ymer, Mikael (SWE)
Anderson, Kevin (RSA)
Kukushkin, Mikhail (KAZ)
Kuzmanov, Dimitar (BUL)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Mahut, Nicolas (FRA)
Alt.2 Viola, Matteo (ITA)
Alt.3 Klein, Lukas (SVK)



ATP 250 Mallorca (ESP, Grass):
Carreno Busta, Pablo (ESP)
Ruud, Casper (NOR)
Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Humbert, Ugo (FRA)
Lajovic, Dusan (SRB)
Mannarino, Adrian (FRA)
Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)
Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
OUT Delbonis, Federico (ARG)
OUT Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
OUT Chardy, Jeremy (FRA)

Pella, Guido (ARG)
Querrey, Sam (USA)
Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
Andujar, Pablo (ESP)
Simon, Gilles (FRA)
Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
(SE)
(SE)
WC Medvedev, Daniil (RUS)
WC Thiem, Dominic (AUT)
(WC)
Alternates:
IN Vesely, Jiri (CZE)
IN Moutet, Corentin (FRA)
IN Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)

Alt.1 Munar, Jaume (ESP)
Alt.2 Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Alt.3 Giron, Marcos (USA)


ATP 250 Mallorca (ESP, Grass), qualifying:
Munar, Jaume (ESP)
Mager, Gianluca (ITA)
Cuevas, Pablo (URU)
Albot, Radu (MDA)
Pouille, Lucas (FRA)
Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Hanfmann, Yannick (GER)
Carballes Baena, Roberto (ESP)
Martinez, Pedro (ESP)
Sousa, Joao (POR)
Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
Istomin, Denis (UZB)
Bachinger, Matthias (GER)
Kuhn, Nicola (ESP)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Viola, Matteo (ITA)
Alt.2 Watanuki, Yosuke (JPN)
Alt.3 Klein, Lukas (SVK)

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