NEW YORK (Reuters) - The hard courts at the U.S. Open may provide thrills for tennis fans but they leave players in more physical pain than clay or grass courts, world number one Rafa Nadal said on Monday.
While the speedy Wimbledon grass can be taxing, the Spaniard with a history of knee problems said the hard courts are more punishing overall.
“To be honest with you, I feel that this surface is much more aggressive than grass or clay in all aspects,” Nadal said following his fourth round victory at Flushing Meadows.
“For the hip, for the knees, for the ankles, for the back,” he said.
The 31-year-old twice U.S. Open champion, who is considered the best claycourt player ever after winning a record 10 French Open titles, said he worries that hard courts will lead to health issues for younger players down the road.
“Is true that the players are playing longer, but at the same time, young players are playing a lot on hard (surfaces) and I don’t know if that is going to be very healthy for the future,” Nadal said.
Perhaps to lessen the impact of the hard court on the body, players such as two-time U.S. Open champion Novak Djokovic and Frenchman Gael Monfils often slide along the baseline to get to shots as opposed to stopping hard with their feet.
But Nadal does not see the trend of playing a considerable chunk of the season on hard courts changing as they are more practical to maintain than other surfaces.
“It’s something that is difficult to change because it is true that the tournaments on this surface are probably easier to maintain and probably less expensive for the organisation,” he said.
“But at the same time it is the most aggressive surface for the body.”
Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Gene Cherry and Pritha Sarkar