Saturday School: Fastest to adapt on grass after playing on clay


In tennis, clay and grass have their own distinct characteristics and there are few players who can play their best tennis on both surfaces. On clay, the ball bounces higher and travels at a slower rate after the bounce thereby negating the advantage of powerful hitters and favouring baseline players and especially those who can generate heavy topspin. On grass, the ball skids through the surface quickly and bounces less predictably compared to clay, thereby favouring players with big serves and a sound net game

Once the clay season ends after Roland Garros, players prepare for the grass court slam, Wimbledon. Heading into Wimbledon, it’s important to get some match practice in at the various lead-up grass events in Europe in order to acclimatize to the changing conditions after playing on clay for a couple of months. But not every player has a smooth transition between the two surfaces. Players tend to struggle to adapt in their first match on grass after the clay season ends. This article gives an insight regarding the players’ winning percentage in their first match on grass after playing on clay. The data collected shows the list of players who have played at least seven matches in those conditions since 2010.


The Elite: Novak Djokovic, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Nicolas Mahut, Roger Federer, Fabio Fognini

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Djokovic and Kohlschreiber are 9-0 in matches played on grass immediately after clay season ends. They are followed by Tsonga, Mahut and Federer, who are 8-0 in the transition matches. Fognini comes in next with a 7-0 win-loss record.


The Second Tier: Sam Querrey, Florian Mayer

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Sam Querrey and Florian Mayer are 8-1 and 7-1 respectively in transition matches. Querrey’s lone defeat came against Dimitrov in 2016 at Queen’s where he lost the match after winning the first set. Mayer was 7-0 until 2016 but lost his first transition match to Jeremy Chardy at Stuttgart in 2017.


The Third Tier: Bernard Tomic, Marin Cilic, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Verdasco

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These players also have an impressive win percentage of 77.8%, having won 7 and lost 2 transition matches each.


The Fourth Tier: Ivo Karlovic, Andy Murray, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Julien Benneteau

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Big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic and two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray headline the next group who have a win-loss record of 6-2 in transition matches.


The Fifth Tier: Richard Gasquet, David Ferrer, Kevin Anderson, Kei Nishikori

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These players hold a 6-3 record in transition matches for a serviceable win percentage of 66.7%.

The Bottom of the Barrell: Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Andujar, Federico Delbonis, Andrey Kuznetsov

All sporting a 0.0% win rate these players have struggled to find their feet when switching to the green turf. Schwartzman is 0-4 while Andujar, Kuznetsov and Delbonis are all winless in five attempts.

Other notable players and their record in transition matches:

Rafael Nadal: 5-2 (71.4%)

Grigor Dimitrov: 5-3 (62.5%)

Stan Wawrinka: 4-5 (44.4%)

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