Ruud, Tsitsipas, Zverev… These members of the top 10 allergic to grass

Ruud, Tsitsipas, Zverev… These members of the top 10 allergic to grass
Ruud, Tsitsipas, Zverev… These members of the top 10 allergic to grass

Unsuitable play, psychological blockage, some of the best players on the tennis planet don’t have a green thumb. To the point of never shining at Wimbledon (July 1 to 14).

There was a time when some excellent players like Thomas Muster, Alex Corretja, Marcelo Rios or even Yannick Noah simply skipped Wimbledon. Why bother traveling to London when they had no chance? The best players in the world now travel there systematically, but they don’t all have a green thumb. Thus Casper Ruud (25 years old), Stefanos Tsitsipas (25 years old) and Alexander Zverev (27 years old).

With a game more or less unsuitable for grass, these three players never shone during this part of the year and should not represent a big threat at the London Grand Slam (July 1-14).

Casper Ruud: “It’s for golf players”

«I think grass is for golfers. My preparation for Wimbledon is mainly about playing golf.“, the Norwegian said in Miami in 2022. That has the merit of being clear. Casper Ruud has never hidden his allergy to the surface. ” My eyes are already itchy, I might have to take some pills », he affirmed even before his entry into the running last year, at the microphone ofEurosport. His best result at the All England Club? A second round (2022, 2023).

So the world number 8 stopped hurting himself and taking part in preparation tournaments. In 2022, he played the Queen’s tournament as the number 1 seed and fell at the start against the British guest Ryan Peniston, 123e world player at his peak. The period which opens after Roland-Garros is an opportunity for him to take a rest after an intense season on clay, the surface of choice which has brought him 11 of his 12 career titles. However, there is no question of ignoring Wimbledon: that would mean giving up on a check for at least 70,000 euros, the winnings of a player eliminated in the first round.

Stefanos Tsitsipas: “The volley, my natural habitat”

Unlike Casper Ruud, the Greek has often sung about his love of grass. “My game is designed for grass courts, I am 100% confident that I can achieve good results on this surface“, he assured two years ago at a press conference in Stuttgart. Just last year, after his victory in the first round in Halle, the world number 11 saw in his serve “a lethal weapon on these courts” And to add: “The grass gives me more opportunities to play aggressively and get on the fly, where I feel in my natural habitat.

Except that in reality, the surface does not suit Stefanos Tsitsipas. His winning percentage (60%) on grass is much lower than that on clay (75%) and hard (65%). He has only reached the second week at Wimbledon twice, with a round of 16 in 2018 and 2023. In Halle this year, he got through a round against the German Henri Squire before suffering the law of Jan-Lennard Struff.

With a good serve, an effective forehand and a good presence at the net, the Greek has assets to assert on grass. But some structural weaknesses complicate his task, such as his backhand slice. He who receives many winning serves cannot count on sufficiently solid return qualities either. A reason for hope: he has already won a tournament on grass, the ATP 250 in Mallorca in 2022.

Alexander Zverev: “I’m too big”

At a press conference during the 2023 edition of Roland-Garros, the German spoke about his chances of one day winning a Grand Slam: “Yes, I feel like I can do it now. Maybe not at Wimbledon, because… well, it’s played on grass and therefore it’s more difficult for me.” A few days later, in the columns of the German daily Bildhe had estimated himself “too big» for this surface.

At 1.98m, the recent Roland-Garros finalist has a hard time bringing back the balls that fly and bounce low. He plays far behind his baseline and takes time to prepare his shots, so he can’t defend as well as he does on clay. Against hitters, he quickly gets caught out. Not to mention his very average volleying game. A reality confirmed by the numbers: none of his 22 titles have been won on grass, despite two finals in Halle (2016, 2017). At Wimbledon, he has never gone beyond the round of 16, while he has reached at least the last four of the other three Grand Slam tournaments.

If he comes off a good run in Halle with a semi-final, it is difficult to see Alexander Zverev as a real outsider in London at the start of July. “I think he hasn’t found his style of play yet and that’s the reason for his difficulties. He feels uncomfortable on grass, and that has something to do with his footwork and his style of play.», Recently affirmed Boris Becker at the microphone of Eurosport Germany. The three-time winner of Wimbledon (1985, 1986, 1989), however, refuses to raise the argument of large size: “If that were the case, Raonic would never have won anything on grass, and let’s not talk about Ivanisevic, Krajicek and all the players over 1.95m.

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