|ESPN.com: Tennis||[Print without images]|
|Longest clay-court win streaks (Open era)|
|Guillermo Vilas||53||May-Sept. 1977|
|Rafael Nadal||47||April 2005-current|
|Bjorn Borg||46||Oct. 1977-May 1979|
|Thomas Muster||40||Feb.-June 1995|
Andre Agassi, the last U.S. player to win the French Open (1999), won nearly three-quarters of his matches on clay over a 20-year span (152-57), but had announced he would sit out the clay-court season even before his back problems made that moot.
|The last player to beat Rafael Nadal on clay was Igor Andreev in April 2005.|
"We never changed our shoes,'' he said. "We just went out and played tennis, and I was never intimidated by switching surfaces.
"There's a slight change of mentality required, an extra dash of patience. A player has to be prepared to hit one or two extra points to conclude a rally. If you think you've hit a winner, you better not be wiping your brow with your sweatband."
He reasons that as string technology makes the "faster" surfaces slower and ball control from the baseline easier, the gap between clay and hardcourt specialists might shrink. Attacking on a point is still tougher, but "there's no reason why the Americans can't perform better," Courier said. "They're not serve-and-volley players anyway. It's all about executing and playing smart tennis." "Andy has underachieved in Europe on clay, and it's not because he doesn't have the ability," Courier added. "But his brother [John, Roddick's coach] has his bag now, and hopefully he'll be a good caddy." The notable exception to the current U.S. trend is the doubles tandem of Bob and Mike Bryan, who are 77-34 on clay and have won four titles, including the 2003 French Open. News and notes
Part of the justification for the gap is that the men play best-of-five sets while women are still skipping their way through that dainty Victorian best-of-three format.
Maybe there's something in this rationale -- call it Whim Bull -- for us girls, or ladies, as we are known at The Championships. An advantage we might pick up here and there. A few ideas: • Lower clothing costs. Skirts and dresses require fewer yards of material than slacks and suits. Women's shoes? Not as much leather. Let's structure prices accordingly.
• Minutes equal money: Female marathoners put in a little more time than men when they run those 26-plus miles. How about more prize money for that extra time pounding the asphalt? Or for all track events, for that matter? Freelance writer Bonnie DeSimone is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.