Exclusive advice & insights for racket sport experts

EN chevron bas

PARTNERSHIP 03.07.2018

From clay to grass, the art of transition

After the grueling rallies and sliding across the red Parisian clay, the tour champions transition quickly to the perfectly manicured green grass. Inevitably, this surface change leads to some adjustments in a player’s equipment and approach to the game.

Now a week longer, the grass court season is always a special moment on the tennis circuit. This extra week allows players to perfect their preparation for one of the most prestigious events in tennis: The Championships, Wimbledon. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament held at a private club. This uniqueness means, for example, that the official stringer is not an equipment manufacturer. However, Babolat is the official equipment supplier of the event offering a complete range from rackets to shoes, bags, clothes and accessories. Benoit Paire will play the tournament wearing the Babolat Wimbledon Propulse FURY, customized for the occasion in All England Club colors. And all the ball kids will be wearing Babolat Wimbledon Jet Team shoes, equipped with the famous white outsole with 3mm grass specific dimples.

Babolat, official equipment supplier of Wimbledon

Outsole dimples should not exceed 3mm in diameter. As with the rest of the dress code, the tournament management makes no concessions in this area. The objective is, to protect the courts so they hold up during all the fortnight and guarantee safe conditions for players. Without these dimples, there’d be no traction, and the quality of the on-court play would suffer. As we know, grass means shorter rallies than on clay or hard courts, increased use of slice, and more aggressive tactics like coming to the net.

The famous 3mm dimpled shoes

Because Babolat is the official equipment supplier of Wimbledon, we will see Austria’s Dominic Thiem, recent Roland-Garros finalist, with a Pure Strike in London green instead of its usual orange cosmetics. His coach, Gunter Bresnik reveals a little secret about his player when playing on grass: “The bounce is lower on grass courts, rallies are also shorter. To achieve better performance with this type of game, we lighten his racket a bit and adapt the string tension. These adjustments must be made daily, because the conditions change very quickly on grass courts.” Lucien Noguès, Competition stringer at Babolat adds, Any changes will ultimately depend more on the weather than the surface itself. In fact, while grass generates a weaker bounce, there’s also the effect of humidity and temperature. If it rains, we know the bounce will be lower because of the lower air temperature and the ball will be heavier. To have more speed, players can lower their tension to accentuate the trampoline effect. This technique also helps with slice. However, players do not change their gauge when it could be a solution: “It is very rare that a player changes string gauge when switching to grass. It’s more common to see the heavy spin players, who use 100% polyester string all season, switch to a hybrid,” notes Lucien Nogues.

Wimbledon and Babolat is a real love story – the French brand has already won more than 100 singles titles on the London grass!

More articles