New Blog Post: Clay and I - not the greatest love story:
Well, Roland Garros is here already and you've probably noticed there are no Israeli players in the men singles competition , not even in qualies. The real reason? A little unpleasant to admit, but clay just isn't for us. Dudi decided to skip the entire clay season, and clay and I aren't exactly a love story, either.
Before you 'judge' us for escaping from the clay and ask how this is possible, then there are a couple of things you must understand. First of all, the success I'm now experiencing with the rise in my ranking is accompanied mostly by the pressure to chase after points. Although I earned 64 points since the beginning of the year, which is more than three times what I earned last year in the same period - it is really nothing, because for three months I didn't do any points, which makes me really nervous knowing that really soon I'm going to have to start defending the points I made last year.
Defending points on clay? Fat chance, it's not worth the travel. This is how I've found myself since the beginning of the clay season playing very few competitions and mostly sitting on my ass, looking for places to travel to. To my great regret, when we grew up there were only two clay courts in Israel at a very low level, and we always found ourselves training on hard-courts. Today we play the price. It's hard to explain those differences, and how little you can change them in such a short period, to those who do not play the game. The surface is slow, the balls bounce high and the points are longer. And that's not the least of it, the problem is that the movement on clay is totally different than it is on hardcourt. If I wanted to compete decently on the clay, I'd have to practice in Europe for at least two months without any competitions, only to get used to the right movement on the court, get used to the height of the bounce and to the physical fitness this surface requires. No way do I have two months to leave everything and train for the clay season.
So, what does the 'escape from clay' means, numbers wise? Till today I played on clay, in my entire career (main draws of futures and challengers) – 6 matches, in comparison to the 281 matches I playd on hardcourts.
At least it's not just me. During my time with Dudi in south Korea I have discovered he can't stand the bloody clay either. Dudi has experienced the same thing as I do, he's already out of the top 100, and as he's unable to get into the main draw of big tournaments he had to play some challengers, and there aren't too many of those this year because of the global economics and the fact the amount of tournaments had been severely decreased. The lack of tournaments and the big demand has also caused the cut-off to become much higher. For example in Paris the cut for qualies is 222. 10 years ago it was 287, so I'm definitely out. So, I returned to Israel to play some futures trying to scrape some points. Dudi also decided it is better to take safe points in small tournaments over running to Paris, where he had to play qualies.
As strange as it may sounds, as I get higher up the ranking I find myself play less. Chasing after points and the inability to get into tournaments made me play maybe half of the tournaments I played during the equivalent period in 2010. Defending points is not a simple task at all and it always haunts you, no matter what your ranking is and how many points you have to defend.
I have dinner with Dudi and we immediately start talking 'math'. I tell him that my situation stinks, as I have 25 points to defend next month, otherwise I'd slide down the ranking. He looks at me and smiles. "Your situation is good, I have 80 points to defend next week, and 20 the week after and 40 the week after that". I look at him and say nothing.
And then I think that relatively speaking, he's not doing too bad. How is Djokovic going to defend next year all of the points he's making now?
Good question. Honestly the ranking system is really hard on the players, and not only those on the top as it seems.
I really love reading this blog since it gives a true and realistic account of the life of an average tennis player. It is as tough as it gets. Respect.