Great athletes adjust: Iga Swiatek backed to transition to grass
Nine-time Wimbledon Martina Navratilova says that the difference between modern clay and grass courts isn’t as vast as it was when she played and Iga Swiatek is champion for all surfaces.
Navratilova cited improved speed on modern clay courts and a reduction in speed on the less slippery modern grass courts as the reason for the narrowed gap.
She conceded that there were still adjustments players would have to make as the tour transitions to grass for the next month.
However, Navratilova believes that Swiatek will still be a force on grass.
“The problem on clay is when you get to the net. Because you can’t recover after the volley, you can’t maneuver and get to the ball fast enough,” Navratilova told WTAtennis.com.
“There’s not as much difference between clay and grass as there used to be,” she said. “The clay is playing faster, with the use of lighter balls, and the grass is playing slower.”
Navratilova believes the secret to success on grass courts is knowing when to get forward and pounce on short balls.
“Ultimately, you really need to be better at moving north and south, from the baseline to the net. The ball doesn’t bounce as high on grass, so you really need to be taking advantage of those shorter balls. You can’t wait for the ball to come to you.”
Navratilova played in 12 Wimbledon Women’s Singles finals and feels that training on indoor wooden courts helped prepare her for zippy grass.
“Talk about a contrast,” she said.
“The ball shoots through the court like crazy. So that teaches you to make those adjustments. That made it easier for me to get used to playing on grass.”
Navratilova isn’t convinced that a transition to grass will halt the impressive run of the World No 1.
“She’s a great athlete, and great athletes adjust to things like this,” Navratilova opined.
“And I think she’ll be able to shorten up that swing. It’s not that big a swing. Pretty compact, her forehand. So it should translate nicely. Maybe the big topspin forehand won’t pay off as much but maybe she’ll flatten it up a little bit, quicker.
“I’m sure she’s been working on the transition game. On the grass, it really pays to move forward and take the ball in the air. Technically, she should be fine.”
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