Tennis is a sport that is kind of special according to the environment and the rules of the game. Tennis is not limited by time so matches can last from 1 hour to more than 5 hours. The player who wins more points doesn’t have to win the match so I am not sure if it is possible in any other sport. Grand Slam tournaments vary according to the score format in the deciding set and tournaments can be played on various surfaces. It all means that players have to adapt to many factors and this skill impacts the chances of being successful.
European players mostly dominate the tournaments on clay because of their patience and ability to play longer rallies. Players from Great Britain have advantage on grass courts because they have possibilities to practice on these challenging courts. Americans always score good results on hard-courts because concrete is present in all the states and players are familiar with high-bouncing balls and powerful shots. However, it doesn’t mean that your birthplace decides about your potential on different surfaces. Understanding the nuances of particular courts and consciousness about the necessary skills required are 2 steps that all players should take to develop various skills but also to quickly adapt while switching from one surface to the other.
Hard-courts are available in more and more countries. (Actually, modern tennis is based on hard-courts. Read about it here). Many indoor courts are created with hard surface but also tennis centers who have good weather all year long, invest in outdoor hard-courts to allow coming players to practice and prepare for tournaments that are played on these specific courts. When you practice on hard-court, you have to make adjustments to all areas of tennis performance. You have to make changes in your technique, make different tactical decisions, use different footwork as also switch your mentality to increase the chance for successful performance. Below you can find 3 areas that are crucial to help you beat solid rivals on hard-court and take the most of every point that you play on concrete.
Your position behind the baseline can help you or can limit your chances for effective play. It is important to understand that number one goal on hard-court is to put pressure on the rival and because the surface is quite fast, this factor should be included in overall plan. Staying closer to the baseline is necessary to be able to counter the power of the rival as also to capitalize on every slower or shorter response. You doń’t have to be afraid of deep balls while keeping this position: the bounce is regular so playing half-volley is not a difficult task and allows you to control the ball.
In defensive situations, many players try to go for safe shots that give them time to recover and fight in the next attempt. On slower surfaces like clay, playing high-topspin ball is a great solution to get out of defense. On grass, using slice shots keeps the ball low and difficult to attack. On hard-court, it is crucial to remember about the speed of the surface while being in defense. Playing high ball is not effective because it is quite easy to respond aggressively while playing on the rise. Top players take more risky approach and they go for flat shots even to the middle of the court because they understand that it is not easy to quickly adjust own positioning to fast coming ball and still hit the shot with significant power. That is why, learning how to put more risk to the shot, but not to the area on the court, is a weapon that can help to win many points in defensive situations.
I know that sliding is more and more common even on hard-court but to do it safely, you have to be at high level with your physical preparation. More important for most of the players is to be able to control the shots while being on the run. Hard-courts are fast so it is not possible to always achieve stable position before the shot. Many times, players have to run at full speed and they have to execute controlled shot without stopping. It means that training this aspect should be included in preparation for hard-court tournament to guarantee that player is able to assess distance to the ball and have proper space for the racket while running and hitting.
There is no doubt that modern tennis is mostly based on hard-courts. When we take a look at the calendar of ATP or WTA events, we can see that most of the year, players have to compete on this surface. If you are a pro, it is priority to be effective on hard-court but if you are playing on lower levels of performance, you should also strive for holistic development and learning how to play on different surfaces is a big factor to achieve successes.