Surfaces set to be a hot topic as the first Grand Slam of the year gets under way.
Rafael Nadal complained Saturday that the Australian Open courts had been sped up and were too fast, but old rival Roger Federer said he didn’t see a problem.
Nadal, seeking his second Australian Open title, missed the tournament last year through injury and said the courts were much faster than he remembered and would hinder long rallies.
“Completely different conditions than what I remembered of this tournament. Faster conditions that I ever played here in Australia,” said the Spanish world number one.
“I really don’t understand very well why they change because the last couple of years Australian Open had amazing matches, long ones, good ones for the crowd. I don’t know why the people who decide make the conditions that fast.
“I am not sure… it is the best thing,” he added. “But they decide and I’m just a player and I will try to be competitive from the beginning.”
Australian Open officials said no changes had been made to the courts, but said exterior factors such as the weather could alter their speed.
While Nadal found fault, Federer said the court speed wasn’t an issue and suggested his long-time rival would adapt.
“I think even these conditions here, we’ll see long rallies,” he said.
“We’re not talking about a lightning-speed court. In Brisbane (last week) it was fast, but it wasn’t lightning either. This is like medium, if that.
“I don’t know what the big problem is,” he added.
“Really (you) can still play from the baseline, no problem. You can stay back, return from the back. You can do all that stuff if you want to. It’s not like it’s impossible.
“(Nadal) even does it on the indoors (courts) where you don’t think that’s possible. That’s how he beat me in London anyway.”
China’s Li Na said some of the outer courts were much faster than the show courts. Maria Sharapova also weighed in, agreeing with Federer that Brisbane was faster than Melbourne.
“I found Brisbane to be much faster than here. It’s one of the fastest courts we’ve played on in a really long time. Here it’s a bit slower,” she said.
“I heard the outside courts are a bit faster than some of the main show courts. I’m not sure why there’s not more consistency in terms of all the events having the same speed.”