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Why isn't Ferrero better on Hard Courts?

2064 Views 45 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Chloe le Bopper
I've seen him play on tv everytime they show him, and seen him live on hard 4 times...

And I don't get it.

His groundies are good, and he doesn't need THAT much time to set up his forehand - his serve is quite good now that he has worked on it, he's fast...

I dont' get why he doesn't do better :(
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I think it's a mental thing. He doesn't feel confident. He needs to believe he can win matches on surfaces other than clay (ok, he did win in Dubai). The less results he has, the worse he will feel about it.

Or maybe he focuses too much on the claycourt season, and when it's over, some of the adrenaline and excitement is lost, especially after losing at yet another Roland Garros. He probably feels that most of his chances of winning a title are gone by the time the hardcourt season kicks in, which of course isn't true.

The injuries also play a part. As far as I know, the hard courts are harder on the body than clay (hence the name ;)), so he tends to be more careful and also more tense.

But most of all he needs to overcome his dread of the second round match and think of it as just another match. It seems when he makes it past the second round, he is so relieved that he makes it all the way to the final.

Or maybe everything I've said is just BS.
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But I mean game wise, everything is there that he should at least be contending more than he is. :confused:
I agree, game wise everything is there (in buckets) but the mental aspect is all important. Just look at Marat!
OK so i have no credibility with you two but what the heck, i'll answer anyway..:p :p

i don't think it's mental at all Layla. i think Ferrero is menatally quite strong and confident -- almost arrogant. but my analysis is quite peculiar. bear with me... ;) ;)

Ferrero grew up playing on hard courts but among dirtballers -- and his game reflects this bizarre combination of influences. indeed, his game is perfect for a semi-hard surface -- if there was such a thing as a combo between clay and hard courts, he would dominate for sure. he opens up the court beautifully and is excellent at going down the line. he serves well and can even venture in to volley. but the timing has to be just so.

once the surface is too soft -- like traditional clay -- it throws off his timing, he has to slow down, he loses traction and doesn't play as well. this is in part also bec he runs out of steam after having to chase so many ballls -- he is NOT good at pacing himself but tends to start off with a bang and then slowly runs out of steam. while this is not a surface-specific reaction, it has consequences on slow clay. also, on slow clay, he cannot score points easily with his big serve. he does better when the clay is hard and compact (almost like a clay-concrete combo).

but if the surface is too hard -- as in pure concrete -- he has a hard time remaining in control of the point. he is not that fast -- certainly he doesn't have the leg speed of a Hewitt or Canas to name just two. Ferrero only wins when he is in control. he is not a good defensive player (again like Hewitt or Canas) and you need to also have a good defensive game to win on hardcourts.

so Sushi oops! i mean Ferrero doesn't do well on hard courts bec his game is also not suited to that surface. he is best on hardish clay. that's why he hasn't won Roland Garros (when it rains, he is lost) and will not win the USO. but he has scored wins on surfaces where the clay is more compact.

finally, his condition is suspect, especially in the heat of summer. he actually plays better tennis during the fall and winter. no that's not just bec he's a Cold Fish :p but also bec he tends to wilt in the heat. and runs out of steam after exerting himself in the early rounds.
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When it rains he is lost? Didn't he almost spank Agassi during the rain? :confused:

I say *almost* because if he could close out matches better it'd have been three sets, and bye bye Andre.

Are you saying you don't think he will every win Roland Garros?
Just to add -

I thought that he hadn't won Roland Garros because he choked in 2000 when he had Guga dead to his rights, got killed by Guga the next year, and choked in the finals this year.

he didn't win in 2001 b/c Miichael Russel CHOKED when he was up 2 sets, a break, and match point over Guga!:(

back to the topic, i'm absolutely clueless. i mean he grew up on hard courts, he knows how to play on faster surfaces, his serve is decent. i think only Juanqui knows why his hard court results are so lackluster. maybe it's all in his head. hopefully he can change that going into the USO!

i thought he was gonna start playing better on the hard courts when he reached the Semis of the Masters Cup last year, beating Goran and Kafelnikov along the way. but it hasn't happened. yet...
he needs more muscles and he gets swatted like a mosquito on the hard courts sadly

he gets turned into a little boy lost.
his shots have less penetration and his serve isn't as effective.
For the most part, I completely agree with Layla's first explanation. I think it's a mental thing. Not saying he's a delicate flower or anything, but everyone needs match confidence, especially when the surfaces change.

I've seen it quoted (and even quoted it myself) that Juan Carlos has always said his dream is to win Roland Garros. So, I think he has concentrated more on the clay court style, incorporating slides and getting used to a slower, longer pace. This year, I believe the rain in his first service game frustrated him and he wasn't ready at all when Costa came right out of the blocks, and basically it took him too long to compensate for nerves (he was so close to his dream, but with that extra pressure of being the favorite) and Costa's amazing play.

This year, he has also been injury prone, so I'm sure he's overcompensating for that as well. I think he's just out of sorts right now, and let's face it. Last year was really his breakout year on tour and it's hard to follow-up successfully on that.
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Ive been thinking about that a lot too. My only conclusion brings the following points, the two first ones were already brought up:
1. He has a mental block for fast courts, he looks like he is not feeling well at all over there.
2. He runs out of power on the second part of the season (from RG on).
3. All that combined with some little details on his play like the ones I will point makes his confidence very thick when he plays on hard courts. It is easy to put him under pressure and make him kill himself on a match in that surface. If the opponent is smart enough to MAKE HIM PLAY and put him under pressure, his chance of losing is enormous.

Why does that happen? His play on hard has a couple of problems, very little ones, but that make him lose some points and his confidence sinks fast.
a. his between-points movimentation. He takes a lot of time to get back to position when he is being attacked on hard courts. A lot of players who prefer clay (I do feel that myself), has a hard time when they cant slide. You just get unballanced and everything takes longer. So, when the opponent is attacking him, he is usually NOT in the right position.
b. that point above makes his game suffer in some aspects:
first, he has to run a lot more. That seems to be the reason why he gets out of gas fast on hard.
second, he cant make the counterpunching game work off-balance.
third, he loses confidence when he cant feel the ball well enough.
fourth, his balls start to fall short.
fifth, he cant attack anymore.

Those are some points I can remember when I think of watching him play on hard court. It can help that Ive seen him lose many times in it, and most of them the matches were close and he just lacked A LITTLE BIT to win. Thats why those points seem to be so detailed. They are very small things, but they just crash his confidence.
Thats my opinion I guess. :p I hope it makes sense. lol :eek:
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Well I was thinking that after his good win over Thomas in the first round, that could have gone either way, that he might have a good tournement, so that is what got me thinking about it. :(

He doesn't play well when he isn't dictating I think we can all agree on that - but I still don't see why he has such a hard time even making the quarters at these tournaments.

I mean come one - he beats Enqvist in a hard fought battle, then losing in two to Koubek?
I'm impressed by your analysis hitman, but what is the solution? I apologize if the answer should be obvious, but I don't play tennis, so I'm clueless.

That was a very interesting point TC, even if I don't agree with all of it. He decidedly does not play better than in the later stages of the year. His last fall/winter season was downright appalling. And what do you mean he's arrogant :confused: The thought never crossed my mind. In every interview during the claycourtseason he repeatedly mentoned confidence - this gives me confidence, that gives me confidence... When a player has to talk about his confidence so much, it's a dead giveaway sign that he needs to convince himself he has it. Also, his body language often gives him away when he feels he can't win and the other player can pick up on that and attack him.
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OK i concede your point Layla about confidence but i don't think he starts out lacklustre or lacking in confidence, but becomes progressively so over the course of the season. Ferrero's tendency to wane down doesn't only happen over the course of a season but during the course of a tournament. he starts off zinging winners left and right and then his legs run out of power and he loses stamina and starts to fade. as he fades physically, the mental confidence starts to erode as well. but i honestly don't think it starts out as a mental thing.

and Rebecca sure he has a chance of winning Roland Garros if it is guaranteed not to rain and if he gets lucky and doesn't have too many five-setters. and *almost* isn't good enuf i'm afraid. :p
Layla said:
I'm impressed by your analysis hitman, but what is the solution? I apologize if the answer should be obvious, but I don't play tennis, so I'm clueless.
Let me try to explain what I meant. He needs just some adjustments. Its easier to do then changing your forehand from a western to a continetal grip, for example. He lacks some little details that can even go without being noticed if you are not looking for them.
First, the confidence problem: He needs to believe in himself. Thats something that no coach, or friend or family in the world can do for you. It should come from inside. You have to feel like "I will do this now..." instead of "If I do that, will it work?" It seems to me like Juanqui asks himself too many questions when hes gonna do something out there. And sometimes some of his shots are a mix of a spin and a slice... Its just a matter of focusing more and DO. Thinking sometimes can be bad...
The fact that he is often off ballance and out of place is a matter of practicing. But it depends a lot on his confidence as well. He moves extremely well, but sometimes it looks like his feet got glued to the court when hes being attacked. To picture it, try to remember Cañas playing this week. He was floating, wherever the opponent would hit the ball, he was already there. Ferrero does the opposite. He just needs to have a faster REACTION. Maybe that can be obtained with a practicing section: feed fast balls right-left deep-short and make him run before they come. Maybe that can help building confidence in him. :)

So, everything is around his confidence. Whenever it clicks, he is gonna win. It is a matter of little details, but for him to change its not that easy. He will need perseverance (sp?) and determination. If so, he definitely has what it takes. :)
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Thanks hitman! Great explanation. :)
Hitman i agree that Ferrero isn't fast enuf. Cañas is the perfect comparison for how fast players currently are. but that's a separate issue from the confidence issue don't you think?
TC, it would be if it was a matter of fastness alone. It is not. Juanqui is fast when he is running to the ball. Cañas is fast ALL the time: he THINKS fast, he REACTS fast and he RUNS fast. Ferrero does only the last one. So, he is fast.

Thinking and reacting have a lot to do with confidence, yes, at least in my opinion. Try playing defense when you have confidence and when you dont. You will be in place when your confidence is high, you will be chasing the balls, late swinging and mis-hitting when you´re not.
I hope it´s clear now. :)
yes it does except that as fast as he is in his movement, he is not as fast as Hewitt or Cañas. he is in the second-tier of speed IMO -- he is fast but not as fast as the Top 10 players. and yes he doesn't think or react as quickly either, but his footspeed has to improve considerably as well. that's why he has not done as well on hardcourts IMO -- he has to be ready for play much sooner than is his natural style. the slight off-beat doesn't hurt him as much on clay.

also his serves do not have the penetrance as Egg said.
I believe he is faster than all the top 10 players except Hewitt in terms of his footwork. But I'm not gonna claim that I can't be wrong about this. :eek:
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