The Claycourt Season

South American Early Season

There are three distinct claycourt seasons during the tennis year. The South American played in February between the Australian Open and the Indian Wells Masters.

The second is the long Spring clay season that starts in the Americas and Morocco before moving to mainland Europe and finishing with the French Open at Roland Garros.

This season is not shared with simultaneous hard-court tournaments, unlike the Americas.

Spring Clay Season in Europe

The third is the summer clay season that takes place in Europe after Wimbledon. The most important claycourt season is the Spring season which leads up to and includes the French Open at Roland Garros.

French Open History

The French Championships was first held in 1891 in Paris on sand courts and was only open to members of French clubs. In 1925, the organizers opened the French Championships to all international amateur players, and they hosted the tournament at the Stade Francais in Sant-Cloud.

After the four Musketeers (Rene Lacoste, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet and Jacques Brugnon) won the Davis Cup in 1927, France decided to defend the cup in 1928 at a new stadium that they would build at Porte d’Auteuil.

Roland Garros Stadium Upgrades

This was named after the famous pioneering aviator Roland Garros. The French Championships has remained at Stade Roland Garros ever since and become a famous Grand Slam.

Roland Garros, in keeping with all the slams, has moved with the times and expanded recently into the botanical gardens next to the tournament site.

This has provided well-established gardens, planting, more trees and new catering facilities with the opportunity to rebuild the stadium courts. Both the two stadium courts now have a retractable roof to enable play to continue in all weather.

The third stadium court has been named Simone-Mathieu and was completed in 2019.

It is a design of enchantment and is set between 4 greenhouses containing unique botanical collections. Simone-Mathieu was a famous French tennis player and two-times singles winner of Roland Garros she also won the ‘triple’ in 1938  –  singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

She received the honor of being made an Officer of the Legion of Honor in France for her leadership role in the Free French Forces during WW2. The playing surface at Roland Garros, known as “red clay,” consists of layers of fine red brick dust.

Clay Court Properties

The court is laid on sub-layers of various grades of free-draining hard-core to ensure the dispersion of excess rain while preventing rapid drying of the court. Maintaining a fine balance between excess water and insufficient moisture is crucial for clay courts.

Court Suzanne Lenglen has a unique underground irrigation system to control surface moisture. The style of play needed to be successful on clay is very specific and the big server or serve and volleyer is not guaranteed success on clay.

Pete Sampras, with his big serve, won 14 slams but never the French Open. Bjorn Borg, the Swedish former world No1., won 11 slams between 1974 and 1981  –  6 at Roland Garros and 5 at Wimbledon.

A truly remarkable achievement considering the different skills needed on each surface.

Borg’s Clay Court Mastery

Borg, who grew up on Swedish clay, primarily excelled as a clay court player. He effectively utilized heavy topspin by employing a Western grip and, unusually for that era, implemented a two-handed backhand.

He was, however, able to adapt his game to give him success on grass. The one constant that applies to all surfaces is fitness and the ability to move and recover with balance and control.

Rafa Nadal has demonstrated great physicality coupled with extreme use of heavy topspin. This has enabled Rafa to create great angles and take his opponent well off the court. The finishing shot to the open court is then routine.

Rafa uses a full Western grip, an open stance, and a good slide technique on clay. Movement is crucial on clay – slide, hit, and recover to maintain balance. Rafa excels in this technique.

Proposed Spring Claycourt Season 2023

Marrakech, Morocco                –                       2023.04.03 – 2023.04.09

Houston, US                               –                          ”    .04.03 –    ”    .04.09

Monte-Carlo, Monoco             –                          ”    .04.09 –    ”    .04.16

Barcelona, Spain                       –                          ”    .04.17 –    ”    .04.23

Belgrade, Serbia                       –                           ”    .04.17 –    ”    .04.23

Munich, Germany                    –                           ”    .04.24 –    ”    .04.30

Estoril, Portugal                       –                            ”    .04.24 –    ”    .04.30

Madrid, Spain                           –                           ”    .05.01 –    ”    .05.07

Rome, Italy                                –                           ”    .05.07 –    ”    .05.14

Geneva, Switzerland                –                           ”    .05.14 –    ”    .05.21

Lyon, France                              –                           ”    .05.14 –    ”    .05.21

Roland Garros, Paris, France  –                           ”    .05.21 –    ”    .06.04

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