How much impact does the surface of a tennis court really have? The answer, in short, is big.
You only have to look at the fact that just one of Roger Federer’s eighteen Grand Slam titles has come on the red dirt of Roland Garros. His game is much more suited to the grass of Wimbledon.
So why does this happen? Well, courts are often divided into two categories, fast and slow. Fast courts include indoor carpet, grass and artificial grass. Playing on these surfaces means that you are going to have to deal with the ball coming at you quickly - shorter backswings are often required. Meanwhile, slow courts such as clay and the majority of park courts have much more friction. Lots of the pace generated on these surfaces comes out when the ball lands, meaning that you have to work harder to achieve pace on your shots.
The clay court season is just around the corner, so it's time to perfect your drop shot and kick serve! Clay courts slow the ball down, as well as producing a higher bounce in comparison to others. For those of you whose game revolves around a strong first serve and quick points, coming to terms with this can be difficult.
Your fitness and patience will certainly be tested on a clay court because rallies can be more drawn out. While on grass and hard courts, your movement will generally be lateral, on clay it will be much more medial as the number of short balls increases.
Keeping the ball deep will ensure that you stay on the front-foot, with the pace of ground strokes not as important. Hitting the ball high over the net with plenty of topspin is the most common tactic to utilise on a clay court, forcing your opponents to play the ball from deep behind the baseline. As one of the most forgiving surfaces, you do not need to aim for the lines as much. Stamina and tactics much more important.
As the fastest type of court, grass surfaces are suited to players with a strong serve. Low bounces make for short rallies, and points regularly lasting just two or three shots. Despite grass courts becoming increasingly rare, if you're lucky enough to play on this surface then working on your service action, attacking play and volleys are quick-fire methods to improve your win rate.
We've all grown up watching our favourite players at Wimbledon, such as Pete Sampras and Serena Williams. We can agree that the speed of their strokes something for us all to aspire to.
Grass court tennis is all about playing in front of you, making full use of slices and the continental grip. Utilising these shots will help you to regularly put your opponent under pressure as you keep the ball shooting low through the court. Although you can still take advantage of topspin strokes, remember that shots will not kick off the surface as much as they do on other surfaces.
Hard courts are made up of a variety of materials, including concrete, asphalt and acrylic. The speed of your local courts will vary depending on the materials used. Despite not being as fast as a grass court, those of you who enjoy a hard-hitting baseline game are likely to achieve more success on a hard court.
With that in mind, it makes sense that players like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have achieved success at both the Australian and US Open in recent years - the duo have some of the best ground strokes in the game.
Positioning yourself close to the baseline will enable you to take advantage of any short balls from your opponent. Doing so will also allow you to play low, aggressive tennis, which is ideal considering that hard courts aren't an ideal surface to be constantly chasing down balls on.
The slice isn't something often associated with hard courts, but it can come in handy. Either on the forehand or backhand wing, you can play still play these shots to give yourself time to get back into the centre of the court, or as an attacking tool in order to get into the net.
On a hard court your serve also plays a crucial role; fast and accurate shots are likely to, more often than not, win you the point.
Especially throughout the winter months, indoor courts are popular. But they come with different challenges. The materials used make for a cushioned feel on the court, and the result is a medium to fast surface.
There are no excuses to make regarding weather conditions when you're playing indoors, and the best players work hard to play aggressive, attacking tennis. Why? It is just a more efficient way of playing indoors. Many players find it easier to go for shot when playing indoors. There's more consistency with the way the ball bounces, and weather isn't a factor.
With that in mind, why not try hitting a big first serve, quickly going for an accurate approach shot and hitting a (half) volley when you next play indoors?
The most important thing to think about when playing indoors is your timing, but once you find your rhythm, many quickly fall in love with playing away from the elements.