The speculation from all the postponements, delays and changes of schedules in the US Open are not being hurled at Hurricane Irene or the weather for that matter but at something without which the US Open will not even be possible: the court.
The players, who are still in the running for US Open after the deluge and the postponed play on Tuesday and Wednesday, are not too content with both the weather conditions and the court conditions. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is where the matches are being played this year and the players are not blaming the rain entirely for the change in surface of the courts. There are players who say that the courts this year are beneath the puddles.
Tennis sensation Roger Federer is saying that the ball is coming off much slowly in the court than compared to in the past. His guess for such a thing happening was that maybe the court was painted too roughly.
The United States Tennis Association agreed and said later that the performances on court this year were different [slower] than how they usually were. According to them the weather-limited play and power washings may have been the reasons.
The association also said that not all the courts were made the same way. Stuart Miller, head of the International Tennis Federation technical commission, prefers to use the term acrylic-court as opposed to hard court.
Acrylic courts are made from concrete which were flat and solid. They were then layered with rubber and many times old, crushed tires and/or tennis balls. The last layer was then a mixture of acrylic paint and sand.
There are many factors that affect the speed of the ball on the court such as roughness, type of sand particles as well as their size. The amount of sand that is mixed in the acrylic paint is also an important factor. The amount of “bounce” that the ball makes is also dependent on such issues. Thus it is not the weather alone that decides and determines the ball’s pace on the courts, although it is an important factor.
Overtime, with the friction of the balls, players’ shoes [in accordance to their weight], wear and tear of certain conditions, power washing, skidding and the wax on the floor, all will eventually start to wear out. This is when the pace of the ball is affected.
The players themselves were also a factor. Their shots, skids, strokes and volleys could also be the reason for the alteration overtime.
Over all this, the association gave an assurance that the players took control of the ball and not the other way round.