Short rallies the key to deal with the heat

 In ATP Tour, Sports Science

TENNIS ATLANTA OPEN – The BB&T Atlanta open for even the most avid fan must seem a surprise at first. Set at Atlantic Station, a multi-purpose complex, surrounded by busy interstate roads, shopping malls, restaurants and multi-story car parks the setting is surprising. By Jonny Fraser (Owner Science in Tennis) and Mike James ( ATP  Tour Analyst)

The BB&T Atlanta open for even the most avid fan must seem a surprise at first. Set at Atlantic Station, a multi-purpose complex, surrounded by busy interstate roads, shopping malls, restaurants and multi-story car parks the setting is surprising. However with the awe inspiring Atlanta skyline in the background and passionate fans you can see why an event is such a favourite for players, officials and fans alike. What is obvious though with the tournament being played centrally in the city, heat and particularly humidity will have a decisive factor both physically and tactically how players compete.

 

To deal with the sweltering humidity it was evident on day one players tactically were having to adapt and adjust their games to meet the demands. In today’s first round matches where Sam Querrey (USA) [9] defeated fellow USA compatriot Steve Johnson 7-6 (3), 7-5 and Dudi Sela (ISR) defeated Donald Young 6-3, 6-0 It was clear to see players strategically reducing rally length. With the match between Querrey and Johnson players looked to move up the court at the earliest opportunity, maximising the inside out forehand to be aggressive whilst looking to take control on the return of serve by hitting and charging. It was of no surprise Querrey hit twenty aces in the match whilst winning over 75% of service points, suggesting why he defeated Johnson in a tight match. Despite this positive play the side effects led to an increased error rate in both matches with players generally struggling to get into a rhythm as seen on the hard courts. However with this being the first event of the US Open series acclimatisation is likely to the hot humid environment America offers over the summer months.

 

With players tactically aiming to reduce point length to cope with the humidity it is important to be aware of the physiological reasons for this. With only 1% of dehydration players performance can be impaired drastically with reduced accuracy, velocity on ball strike alongside the mental aspects such as drops in concentration and accurate decision making. Therefore not only will the court surface but also the environment play a massive factor in determining players game style and strategies as seen here today BB&T Atlanta Open. Despite this with the series lasting nearly two months players are likely to become acclimatised and by the US Open at Flushing Meadows it will be of no surprise to see longer, harder fought rallies.

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