Around this time of the tennis season, many people talk about the ever short grass court season. New Tennis fans who have only followed tennis for maybe 10 years see the grass court season as just another short phase on the ATP World Tour. However, if you look into the past, and into the roots of tennis, you will understand that the grass court season should be extended.
Back in the 1960’s and 70’s, 3 out of the 4 Grand Slams were played on grass. Only the French Open was played on a surface other that grass. Grass courts were elegant, prestigious, and challenging, which made them the most popular surface on tour. As time has gone on, hard courts have taken over as the most popular surface. That is mostly due to the low cost of hard courts, and the little money required to maintain them. Grass courts do need a lot of care and maintenance to keep them in good condition. I’m not suggesting that we go back to having 75% grass courts, but I do think they deserve a bigger portion of the pie that is the ATP World Tour.
When the French Open ends(June 9th), the players get a whopping 2 days to prepare for the grass season. The first two warm up tournaments in Halle and London begin June 10th, giving the players(especially those who go deep at Roland Garros) little to no time to practice on grass. Well, you could then suggest that they just take that week off, and instead practice and enter the next week’s tournament. However, there arises the problem again. Wimbledon starts June 24th, and the second week of warm up tournaments ends June 23rd. So a player could go and play at Eastbourne or Den Bosch, but if you play well then you risk arriving at Wimbledon late and without proper time for preparation.
Wimbledon is the most famous and prestigious tournament in the history of tennis. The first big matches were played there, and its tradition lives on. Ask most players if they could win one tournament, and they would say Wimbledon. So if the biggest tournament of the year is on grass, shouldn’t players have the ability to practice and play enough to perform their best?
Grass is the most different of the 3 surfaces the tour plays on. Grass courts are faster, the ball bounces lower, and long rallies are more rare. This is the opposite of most players game. The majority of today’s top players are baseline grinders. Grass courts are not for baseline grinders. However, if the tour added a couple weeks and a Masters 1000 event into the grass court season, players could work on their front-court game and become better overall players.
So that is my proposition. Add 2 weeks to the grass court season. Give the players a week off after the French Open, and then have the first couple of 250 tournaments played the week after. The next week would be the Masters 1000 event, and then there would be 2 more 250 events the week after that. This would give top players the ability to play 1-2 tournaments in the lead up to Wimbledon.
What do you guys think?