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Stuck in clay

Why do Americans struggle on the red clay at Roland Garros? ESPN The Magazine's Shaun Assael says they're just too powerful.

Updated: May 29, 2006, 1:36 PM ET
By Shaun Assael | ESPN The Magazine

The clay courts of Roland Garros may mystify American men, who've won the French Open just four times since 1956, but they're no mystery to Dr. Stuart Miller. The chief technical wizard for the International Tennis Federation has analyzed the earthy mix of clay surfaces (a combination of rocks, pebbles, clay, mud and brick) and has developed an interesting explanation for why big-serving Americans flounder at the only Slam played on clay.

Stuart bases his analysis on something called ...

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