World number one Rafa Nadal thinks Melbourne Park’s resurfaced hardcourts are playing faster than ever and may not provide a good show for fans when the Australian Open begins on Monday.
The speed of the blue Plexicushion courts has sparked debate this year, with some players adamant they have picked up in pace, while tournament director Craig Tiley says they were re-laid with exactly the same surface as previous years.
The prospect of slick courts, made even faster by baking heat forecast for the first week at Melbourne Park, has been welcomed by some players, including Roger Federer and Australian Lleyton Hewitt, but Spaniard Nadal made his displeasure clear.
“Completely different conditions than what I remembered of this tournament,” the 27-year-old told reporters on Saturday of his training on the courts. “Fastest conditions that I ever played here in Australia. I really don’t understand very well why they change because the last couple of years, Australian Open had amazing matches, long ones, good ones for the crowd.”
Nadal has thrived on slower surfaces, winning eight of his 13 grand slam titles on the clay courts of Roland Garros, but only one at the Australian Open in 2009.
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Del Potro decimates Tomic
Sydney: Top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro outclassed defending champion Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-3, 6-1 Saturday in a 53-minute final of the Sydney International. Del Potro finished the match with his eighth ace and made only four unforced errors in securing his 18th career title and first in Sydney. He lost only six points on his serve, and Tomic appeared dispirited after being broken to fall behind 4-1 in the second set. Tomic’s next match also won’t be an easy one — he’s drawn Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open.
Isner serves warning
Auckland: John Isner had 23 aces in a match which had no service breaks to beat Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7) in the final of the Heineken Open. Isner, ranked No. 14, won his eighth career singles title and took the title in New Zealand for the second time after his victory in 2010.
The third-seeded Isner, playing with a right ankle injury he picked up at the Hopman Cup the previous week, took a crucial minibreak to open the first set tiebreaker. In the second tiebreaker, he rallied from 3-0 down and closed with an ace on his third championship point.