From the Sony Ericsson Open to the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, hundred of hard court tennis tournaments are held around the world every year. But if former number one Rafael Nadal gets his say, there could be fewer hard court tournaments going forward into the future.
Nadal, the seven-time French Open champion who recently made his comeback in Chile following an injury to his knee claims that hard courts are limiting to player’s careers. According to Nadal, ‘Hard courts are aggressive on the knees, back and ankles. Nadal himself has been out of action since June when he developed tendonitis.
He continued on to compare tennis to the sport of football, saying “Can you imagine football players playing on cement?” Many doctors specializing in sports medicine agree with his sentiments. Studies have suggested that hard courts off far higher impact than their clay, grass and carpet counterparts. The high impact that tennis players endure running from one side of the net slowly wears on the joints and tendons of the legs, and increases the likelihood of injury. Players are also more likely to suffer from off-center impact with the ball as the speed on hard courts is much faster, which can lead to injuries throughout the arm.
What are Advocates Saying?
Advocates of the hard courts will note the distinct advantages that a hard court offers over clay, grass and carpet courts. Hard courts are often more flat and even than soft courts, allowing players to move quicker and providing less friction for the ball when it touches down on the court. Games played on hard courts are often faster.
Nadal voiced his opinion on hard courts in the ATP Tour and stated that he things the number of hard court tournaments should be reduced.
Of course, Nadal doesn’t think this is a change that should be made overnight, but it is something he hopes to see in the future. ‘To make a change like that (reduce the amount of hard court events) it won’t be possible in this generation but I think that the ATP has to work to think of how to lengthen tennis players’ careers. Depending on who you ask, he could be right. Some sources state that the average career length for professional players is a mere 10 years, while others more generously state 15 to 20 years. For now, however, hard courts seem to be here to stay, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see a change in the not too distant future.