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Ask TTI: Favorite Surface

In this off-season series, we ask the hard-working TTI staff some of the most burning questions. In our fourth installment, we go deep on surface.

In an era where where the best must be players for all surfaces, everyone still has their favorites. Charges of homogenization may linger, but everyone from Novak Djokovic to Tsvetana Pironkova will tell you that strategy and adaptation are necessary keys to success as the seasons – and surfaces – change.

For those watching from the sidelines, preference is less life-defining, but be it reasons to do with nostalgia or pure aesthetics, harsh battle lines are drawn by clay court fans, grass court enthusiasts, and every hard court kid in between.

For the TTI crew, the question was simple: What is your favorite surface to watch tennis? Check out their answers:


Man, this is such a tough question. All three surfaces (clay, grass, and hard) facilitate the usage of distinct strategies and allow certain players to succeed and others to struggle. If you had asked me this question in the 1990’s, the answer would have unquestionably been grass.

Today, with the transformation of racket technology, the general trend towards surfaces that yield higher and slower bounces, and the usage of more extreme grips, watching matches on clay is just more fun these days.

I’d rather watch two players like Federer and Djokovic play a match on a grass or hard court, but I think if you were to take any two ATP players and put them on a court, the most entertaining matches would occur on clay.

It’s a complicated question for sure, but if I only had the opportunity to watch one more tennis match in my life, it’d probably would be one on clay.


Before I answer that question let me light a candle for the poor carpet courts. I’m missing you, dude. Rest in peace.

It used to be clay, but over the last few years I’ve enjoyed grass more and more. So I’ll go with that. I’m looking forward to an additional week next year.

Embed from Getty Images

Unlike Jelena Jankovic.


I also love to watch tennis on grass.

The speed, the uniqueness of the surface and the fact that it’s such a small part of the tennis season is exciting to witness.


Growing up surrounded by concrete, I quickly became fascinated by the many variations of tennis that could be played. I sought out clay and grass courts, excited to see how they would play compared to my all-too-familiar decoturf and acrylic.

Clay was too slow. As beautiful as it was to watch, the red dirt put my shots in slo-mo, giving my opponents (read: my kid brother) time to track them.

Grass was too fast. The bounce was low and any technical flaw was magnified on a surface whose novelty quickly felt worn.

I spent my adolescence running from the only courts I truly loved. The durable. The reliable. The hard court.

With that, I conclude with one of the best hard court matches of the last decade, and one of the first thrillers I’d ever watched live.


Odd as this sounds, I think I’d also pick clay. There are times in life when you just need to sit back, and be completely enthralled – for better or for worse – by an old-fashion, dirt-balling war of attrition. You’re guaranteed at least five during every clay court season, of any flavor. It’s like chocolate cake: you know it’s bad for you, but you can’t stop eating it.

If I can have that, then I’m okay with being the ‘Hawkeye on clay’ police for three months. Perhaps I’m the hero that tennis needs, just not the one it deserves right now.

Or something.


Grass is the Madonna of tennis courts: older than everyone else in the game, but still the best by far. When people picture a tennis court, the surface they would imagine is probably going to be grass. Nobody can remember clay, and hard courts are boring compared to Queen Grass. There’s also nothing funnier than watching someone slip on grass.

Plus, grass stains are always chic and in.


My couch, or my computer chair. What?

What’s your favorite tennis flavor? Sound off in the comments!

About David Kane (137 Articles)
Sr. Digital Content Producer, WTA Networks.

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