1. What about the women in all this.
2. Why should this man keep harping on the Spanish players?
Pace the ace factor
By Linda Pearce
AS WE brace for the next Australian tennis Open withdrawal, Peter McNamara has attributed the high ratio of men's injuries to slower conditions internationally.
He also claimed the Melbourne Park courts were defying the trend by playing 10 per cent faster this year than last.
Out of, or in doubt for, next month's Open are Tommy Haas, title-holder Thomas Johansson, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Goran Ivanisevic, Arnaud Clement, Wayne Arthurs and Greg Rusedski.
In addition, Pete Sampras is taking a break before resuming in February.
McNamara, the former world No. 7 and current coach of Mark Philippoussis, believes the quicker version of Rebound Ace in Melbourne will suit not only his own charge but also three-times champion Andre Agassi and title favourite Lleyton Hewitt at the expense of the more grinding baseliners raised on clay.
"The Spaniards will say 'it's not like last year, it's a little quicker' and so it should be," he said. "This is much better for Lleyton Hewitt.
"I mean, who are we looking after here? Carlos Moya or Lleyton Hewitt? Carlos gets looked after enough.
"But the thing is that it's not too fast, so the ball comes on to the racquet. It's not that you have to generate (all the pace) like last year and the year before when it got a bit slow here.
"The year before that was a bit too fast and you've got to get a happy medium and I think this is the perfect court speed. The guys that like the ball to come on to the racquet are, I would think, going to do fairly well."
McNamara said the balls were also superior this year, if not necessarily faster. "They just don't fluff up as much and they don't go bald like before, either," he said. "They're fast enough, they're slow enough for everyone. There's no excuses."
McNamara said injury problems could be attributed to heavier balls and slower courts, particularly in the late-season indoor stretch in Europe.
"The end-of-year tournaments are played in the slowest possible conditions and they wonder why these guys are breaking down?" he said.
"You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure it out: everything's gone slow motion.
"The balls have got bigger and fluff up and the courts have got slower. It's catering for who? The South Americans, Spaniards. Who else?
"The guys like Tommy Haas and Tim Henman, who have big serves and can play on all courts, they're the ones that are getting hurt.
"I think we need to be very careful. The season's very long, the points are getting longer and the courts have slowed down so much in Europe it's ridiculous."
Philippoussis, who has recovered from his latest knee injury, will leave for Madras on Boxing Day to play his first tournament in three months. He returns to Kooyong for the Commonwealth Bank International.
December 24, 2002