8 June 2018

Grass is (not) for cows

They say there is no greater challenge in tennis than beating Rafa in five sets on clay (look out Dominic Thiem for your match on Sunday) unless it is switching from playing on clay to playing on grass.  As the clay court season comes to a close and the grass court season gets underway, we look at what makes lawn tennis so special.

According to Judy Murray, the toughest test in tennis is the summer switch from clay to grass. Instead of the slow red stuff, which has bite and friction, players face a surface which is fast and slippery. It means the balls that bounced so high in Paris will bounce low in Wimbledon and Rafa’s trademark lasso forehand, which serves him so well at Roland Garros, will be much more difficult to achieve at Wimbledon.  No wonder Rafa’s fellow Spaniard and former world number one Manolo Sanata complained “Grass is for cows”.

As you can see below, the surface the ball hits, really effects its subsequent speed.

Percentage of original ball speed retained after bounce. Hard 68%, Clay 59%, Grass 70%


Grass, however, is a lovely surface to play on and even Manolo Santana went on to win Wimbledon. Make the right adjustments, and you will have a great game. Top tips:

  • Keep focus –grass is fast, and points tend to be short, so it’s great for your concentration.
  • Shorten your swing – there is less time for a big take back than there is on a hard court.
  • Bend your knees – you have to get down to those low balls. This was something Muguruza really struggled with when she lost her French Open semi-final against Halep, so get bending.

Where to see how the pros do it...

Treat yourself to the fantastic ITF Pro-Circuit women’s event at Canoe Lake Leisure in Portsmouth the week before Wimbledon
FUZION 100 Southsea Trophy, 26th – 29th June
Click here to buy tickets

MAIN PIC: Cow on tennis court: Pic credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/LTL. Montage