Court Surfaces

HAMBURG, GERMANY - MAY 17: A tennis racket lays on the clay during day four of the Tennis Masters Series Hamburg at Rothenbaum Tennis Centre on May 17, 2007 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
For the 2009 US Men’s Clay Court Championships, the tournament will be held at River Oaks Country Club which has a red clay surface.

Since 1910 the US Men’s Clay Court Championships tennis courts have been at different venues throughout the United States and all these venues have had the same type of clay surface – green clay or Har-Tru “American” clay, also referred to as ‘rubico’ surfaces.

Of the four different types of tennis court surface, clay is cheaper to construct but needs more maintenance than other court surfaces. It constantly has to be rolled to preserve flatness and green clay courts, in particular, have to be sloped to allow for water run-off.

Traditionally clay and grass are viewed as the original tennis court surfaces and in Europe and South America most clay surfaces will be of the red clay variety. In fact all tournaments contested in Europe and South America, including the French Open, have red clay surfaces.

Red clay is made from crushed brick that is packed together to make the court surface. This is then laid with a topping also made of red brick particles. Red clay does not absorb water easily, and consequently dries quickly, unlike natural clay surfaces that can take up to three days to dry off.

Green clay is similar to red clay. The green clay is packed to make a subsurface and it is then covered with a layer, or topping. The major difference with a green clay surface is that it is markedly harder and faster than the red.

Clay courts are considerably slower than other court surfaces. Balls bounce higher and slower, making it extremely difficult to hit a ‘winner’. The US Men’s Clay Court Championships court surfaces benefit baseline players who use a lot of drop shots and are generally more defensive.

Successful clay court players have learnt how to move around the court to their advantage. Instead of running and stopping at the ball as on grass and hard court, it is imperative to slide into the ball.

Spaniard, Rafael Nadal has won 18 of his 23 singles wins on clay, including three French Open Tennis Tournaments and three Monte Carlo Masters titles. He is clearly one of the foremost clay court tennis players of the modern era. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Gustavo Kuerten, Jusine Henin and Chris Evert are others who have excelled on clay.

Punters and sports bookmakers have for years acknowledged that it is not only the form of the players that counts when placing bets. The US Men’s Clay court Championship tennis courts surfaces, daytime temperatures, pollution levels and equipment will all play a part in a loss or victory.

For more information on the players who we think may lift the 2009 US Men’s Clay Court Championships please go to our betting tips page.