From The Age...
Twenty years after moving the Australian Open tennis tournament off grass, administrators are poised to switch surfaces again — with rubberised Rebound Ace expected to be replaced with a hard court.
Despite a cost in millions of dollars to dump the playing surface — most famously criticised by Australian former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt — it is believed Tennis Australia is poised to make the switch, as early as 2008, in a quest to find a "national surface" embraced by all levels of the game.
"There's an excellent chance they will get rid of Rebound Ace; it's just whether they can do something for 2008," a source told The Age yesterday. "They will be putting a hard-court surface in and they are looking at a couple of different ones."
Cost and playing characteristics have been factors behind Rebound Ace's failure to gain universal acceptance in Australia since it was used as the Melbourne Park surface when the Open moved there from Kooyong's grass in 1988.
Asked if a decision had been made to scrap Rebound Ace, Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said: "Not that I know of."
"We are going through an evaluation of our court surfaces and that's under way as we speak, but that's not the situation.
"We've got tenders looking at what they might be able to offer, but Rebound Ace were the original supplier, so they're certainly involved."
Mr Woods said the Open surface was reviewed annually but the review was "a little bit deeper this year", because of the courts' age.
A Rebound Ace spokesman said the Brisbane-based company was "certainly still in (the tender process) as much as anybody else".
Any switch would have widespread implications, as Rebound Ace — laid in the backyards of the likes of Hewitt and former champion Tony Roche — is used at every major Australian tournament. One important timing issue is the building of a new $77 million centre in Brisbane to host an international-tour tournament from 2009.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the surface decision was about "surfaces across Australia, not just Melbourne Park".
Rebound Ace has been criticised for holding heat and being sticky — perhaps injuriously so — underfoot, and for being slow and producing a high bounce.
Partly due to drought, local clubs and centres increasingly are installing synthetic surfaces. But at $70,000 to 75,000 for a new court, Rebound Ace has been laid sparingly. So-called hard courts cost about half as much.
A surface similar to the Decoturf II hard court of the United States Open is believed to be favoured, although cushioning will be needed to distinguish Australia's surface.
A single flow'r he sent me, since we met./All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet - One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;/'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.'
Love long has taken for his amulet/One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet/One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get/One perfect rose.
i hope they change the surface. i dont like rebound ace.
Sharapova, Jankovic, Zvonareva !
Kirilenko, Vesnina, Dokic, Bacsinszky, Jovanovski, Pironkova Official Greek Guardian of the Maria Mafia & Don't Knock the Dok Official Masseur of the Jelena Clinic
Djokovic, Davydenko, Tipsarevic, Wawrinka, Baghdatis, Gulbis, Troicki, Kyrgios