Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay - MensTennisForums.com

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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Americans hurt by perception

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By MaliVai Washington
Special to ESPN.com

PARIS -- It's hard to explain with the number of American men in the draw how a single one could not advance past the second round of the French Open. You could have gotten some tremendous Las Vegas odds against that happening.

Logic cannot explain why Andre Agassi loses to an ATP qualifier who had never won an ATP match in his life before. Nor how Andy Roddick could be up two sets to one, only to lose the match.

I talked to Vince Spadea after his loss, and he appeared to be in disbelief that he had lost his match to a qualifier. With the draw rapidly opening up in front of him, Spadea recognized this as his opportunity to advance to the second week of the French Open for the first time. He seemed just as disappointed about the missed opportunity as the lost match.

This year, more than previous years, it was very evident how vulnerable the U.S. players are on Europe's red clay. So although no one came into this tournament feeling that the Americans were the favorite, nobody thought they'd make history by being out of it on Day 3.

Success on the men's tour has a lot to do with confidence. If you genuinely believe that you're good on a certain surface and bad on another surface that will most likely prove to be the case. Additionally, many non-Americans feel they should not lose to the U.S. players on clay.

There came a point in Pete Sampras' career when players, who knew they didn't stand a chance on grass against him, felt like they could beat Sampras on clay. He didn't have that air of invincibility on the dirt. So players took the court against Sampras thinking, "this is my opportunity to beat the great Pete Sampras."

Players today feel the same way about Andy Roddick, Robby Ginepri, Jan-Michael Gambill, Mardy Fish, James Blake and others. It's almost as if once a player draws an American player on red clay, he feels like he was given a good draw. The only way that perception will ever change is if the American players commit to playing on red clay and improving their clay-court style.

They can't just look at the clay-court season as a time of year just to get through. There has to be a concerted effort to succeed on red clay. And that might mean sacrificing parts of the hard-court season or the indoor season. And it will be a sacrifice. But that's the only way for the Americans to make any in-roads into this perception.

The Spaniards learned to succeed on hard courts, and they sacrificed to do it. That's what the Americans have to be willing to do.

MaliVai Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 10:40 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

...or the Americans just plain suck and can't do anything about it. Of course they can change their schedules and make those sacrifices, but I don't see any of them making such sacrifices any time soon.

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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 10:43 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Malivai is so insightful!

RAH!

----------------------


A question to americans

is it true that a lot of the american players like Roddick grew up playing tournaments on green clay? shouldnt they be better on the red stuff?

Do you think that having again in the usa tournaments like atlanta or boston would be good to improve the clay game of the american players?

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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 10:52 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

I totally agree. There's no reason why the American women can play on clay and the men can not. They need to think about their weaknesses and how to improve them because the claycourters seem to bring their weaknesses out on this suface. For instance Gambill, not the quickest guy on the tour, relys on power. And Roddicks inability to be patient really cost him in the 5th set today. They need to learn how to construct points better and be patient (except Spadea). I agree that devoting a little more time to play on clay is a good idea for most if not all of them.
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 10:52 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

TRUE! Vamos Spain! hehehe
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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 11:07 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Quote:
Originally Posted by TennisLurker
Malivai is so insightful!

RAH!

----------------------


A question to americans

is it true that a lot of the american players like Roddick grew up playing tournaments on green clay? shouldnt they be better on the red stuff?

Do you think that having again in the usa tournaments like atlanta or boston would be good to improve the clay game of the american players?

Most commentators I've heard on television have said that green clay plays differently from red clay, and differently enough so that it's not a good training surface for red. Supposedly, green clay doesn't play as slow as red clay.

IMO, the most important factor in improving American players' record on red clay is to have the players grow up playing on it. Having a few red clay tournaments at the senior level won't be as helpful, because by then, it's too late, and the players won't think they can win (I don't think that Roddick believes he can win on red clay a major). Chang and Agassi played on red clay when they were juniors, so they had confidence on the surface.
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Evert, the French Open Queen, grew up playing on clay, but was it red or green?
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 11:31 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennis Fool
Evert, the French Open Queen, grew up playing on clay, but was it red or green?
That's a very good question ... I don't know for sure. There aren't many red clay courts in Florida (although Nick Bollettieri's academy has them), so I'm going to guess green. Her dad taught her to play on public courts, which would have been green clay. But I don't think that Chris wasn't competing against a lot of Spanish or South American players who grew up on red clay, either . . .
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 11:44 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Stay tuned for the next insightful article "Why Spanish players should make an effort to turn up to Wimbledon every year (even though they never win it)". So true and yet so obvious!

Seriously though, I do think that the "hardcourt" countries, and I include Australia in that, need to expose their kids to more clay. It's as big an oversight in training well-rounded tennis players as, say, just not bothering to teach them to volley.
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 11:49 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Most of them don't even slide on the clay ...
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post #11 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 11:51 PM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

If Safin and Kafelnikov and Federer can play on all surfaces, then why can't the American men do the same?
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post #12 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-26-2004, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

The Russians were trained on red clay in Spain...Not sure about Fed's training...
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post #13 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-27-2004, 12:01 AM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbpgbp02
If Safin and Kafelnikov and Federer can play on all surfaces, then why can't the American men do the same?
Good question. Didn't Safin spent several years in Spain as a junior, playing on red clay at a big academy there?
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post #14 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-27-2004, 12:01 AM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

There's a suggestion around that it's easier to learn on clay and move to other surfaces than the other way round. Hewitt said something like this recently but I've heard it before. I think sliding is one of the keys, but obviously there must be more to it than just that.

Of course, Agassi is a very decent clay player, this year aside! So it is possible.
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post #15 of 48 (permalink) Old 05-27-2004, 12:26 AM
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Re: Mal: Americans need to make effort to learn to play on red clay

I think every1 knows the Americans, Australias ectra need to improve on the red stuff. Mal points out the obvious yet again.

I think its really important that more kids grow up playing more on clay because not only will they develop their clay court skills, its also alot less harder on the body compared to hardcourts. I mean im not sure about this but I think Lleyton Hewitt said once he didnt play on clay till he was 15 or 16! I mean they go on about clay court specialists but i think plenty of so called 'claycourters' have proven themselves on hardcourt and now its a matter of the 'hardcourters' doing the same on clay.

However, me thinks that European players will continue to dominate the clay season because no1 really can be bothered making the scheduling sacrifices.
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