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Which ATP player do you think has the potential to go from mediocre clay courter to dominating the clay courts?
 

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I feel like Sharapova's improved performance on clay has a lot to do with the changes in her techniques through the years, due to various injuries and surgeries. She didn't just magically get the results.


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I feel like Sharapova's improved performance on clay has a lot to do with the changes in her techniques through the years, due to various injuries and surgeries. She didn't just magically get the results.


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Better mentality, sliding, better return. Saw the beginnings in the match against Henin RG2010, great results ever since 2011, especially since 2012.

I'm actually thinking Raonic :eek:
 

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Which ATP player do you think has the potential to go from mediocre clay courter to dominating the clay courts?
It already happened on the men's side. Primarily through Soderling, but with guys like Del Potro and Berdych in some smaller capacity as well. Clay court tennis, or dirt-balling, used to be defined by things like stamina, defense, margin, and consistency. But then you have hitters like these, and on the woman's side, Sharapova. Players who can penetrate the court in a way their competition can't. As a result, they get that bit of extra time to set up behind the ball that clay court tennis typically offers, but they can hit players off the court all the same with the right point construction.

Movement isn't even really an issue when they're constantly in command. It's not like Sharapova suddenly became a great defender, or Soderling dug his way into b2b finals with a classic "dirtball" style. They just did what they do more effectively. And that's not to discredit Ferrero and his academy who clearly improved Sharapova's comfort on the surface, nor to take away Norman's effect on Soderling, but to say that these players didn't change player DNA to start winning.
 

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We've seen this with Federer, Djokovic, who aren't traditional clay courters but have adapted to have their game work on the surface. I think currently, Nishikori is doing this quite well since 2013. He still isn't as comfortable on the surface compared to hard courts, by his own admission, but his aggressive play on both wings, mixed with solid defense and impeccable timing on the ball gives him many options on clay.
So that said, I think you do need to be fairly aggressive to make clay work. That's why counterpunchers like Murray or Hewitt often have trouble on this surface. Raonic is not bad either, but that's mainly because of the serve and perhaps the extra time he gets to run around the forehand.

Another candidate could be Jack Sock, who won his first title on clay this year (and says it's his favourite) but yet to see what he can do on European clay.
 

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Disregarding the WTA has no good clay players, I see no reason Cilic can't do as well as Soderling on clay.
 

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You do realize RG has always been Maria's strongest slam? She has never lost before the third round, and only failed to reach the fourth round once, when she lost to Justine in 2010.
 

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I think Nishikori pulled a Sharapova. He was an average clay courter from 2008-2013. His best results were indoor or on fast hardcourts. Since last year, he transitionned to a world class clay courter. I think it's now his best surface.
 

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Sharapova has always been good on clay - long arms, big swings and the perfect preparation for her shots. Her first breakthrough was in RG 2004 - 1/4!!! The problem - she couldn't last on the surface due to her fragile physics at the time. She improved her fitness hence the result. But nowadays there are no natural clay courters on the women's side. After the retirement of Henin, Dementvieva, Myskina and a bunch of other girls there are no more specialists on clay. Most of the girls don't know even how to slide. Neither Li Na, neither Serena, neither Maria are natural on the surface, they are just better than the others overall.
 

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Disregarding the WTA has no good clay players, I see no reason Cilic can't do as well as Soderling on clay.
I think he can do alright, of course overall he's not as good as Soderling was.
 

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Stepanek?

Oh wait, don't think that's what you're talking about.
:D
Besides it would Sharapova who pulled a Radek, but the resemblance doesn't apply because of the attractiveness
 

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I think Nishikori pulled a Sharapova. He was an average clay courter from 2008-2013. His best results were indoor or on fast hardcourts. Since last year, he transitionned to a world class clay courter. I think it's now his best surface.
Exactly! I have always thought of Nishikori as a fast/indoors hardcourt specialist. He's more average (but still very good) or medium to slow courts, but they don't augment his game as much as fast hard courts because opponents can grind pts out and outlast him. Pity for the slowing of surfaces these days. I imagine that's why he's had decent to good results at Brisbane, Memphis and Tokyo, both of which are reasonably fast courts and even USO last year.

Recently, with his improved baseline play, the 'slower bouncier' clay has the advantage in that he has more time to set his points up and do so on top of the bounce so he can be even more aggressive and open up the court in many different ways. I do find his game more exciting to watch on clay and fast hard court indoors/outdoors compared to slower hardcourts for sure.
 
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