The softness and speed-absorbing grab of clay courts slow down shots more than the other surfaces do, dulling speedy serves and groundstrokes.
The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament held on clay courts — which actually aren’t made of clay, but rather the dust from red brick on top of a layer of crushed white limestone.
Wimbledon, which begins this year on 27 June, is famously contested on grass. The U.S. Open, which starts on 29 August, and Australian Open, held in January, each uses a different type of hard court.
The softness and speed-absorbing grab of clay courts slow down shots more than the other surfaces do, dulling speedy serves and groundstrokes. The clay’s grittiness magnifies the effect of heavy spin (think of 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal’s uppercut lefty forehands), creating higher arcs as the balls rebound off the ground.
All surfaces can be effected by the temperature, but clay courts tend to alter more in extreme heat and cold — Nadal’s quarterfinal win over No. 1 seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic in Paris on Tuesday night was contested with the temperature in the 50s Fahrenheit (teens Celsius) — or on a damp or breezy day.
And will all these clay factors, come the new kids on the block who also serve tricks and impress the crowd.
Top 5 Surprises – Roland Garros. Discover Roland Garros’ selection of five biggest surprises of the French Open history starring Robin Soderling, Virginie Razzano, Francesca Schiavone, Mats Wilander and Gustavo Kuerten!
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