Nadal on playing surface for Rio 2016

For the Spaniard, the country would have a better chance in the Olympic Games if the matches were held on clay.

From an article by Felipe de Oliveira in the Folha de S. Paulo (19 February 2015).

Tennis player Rafael Nadal said Wednesday that the surface chosen for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio would hinder Brazilian athletes.

In an interview with Folha, the Spaniard said that he was surprised by the fact that the country opted for hard courts rather than clay, which in theory would be unfavourable for the local players.

“I’m surprised that Brasil wanted that surface [hard court].  Look at history: Guga [Kuerten] was a great champion in clay especially.

It would be logical for it to be on clay.  [Thomaz] Bellucci could even have final hopes; it would be more favourable for him.”

The choice of surface is made by the Organising Committee for Rio 2016 and by the International Tennis Federation.

According to Nadal, the English chose grass for the 2012 London Games to facilitate the performance of their players.

It was a success: the Brit Andy Murray won the Gold Medal.

“The type of surface can have an influence on performances, like at the London Games.  We were in the middle of the clay hard court(1) season at the time and had to play on another surface.  Using logic would be ideal, but there are always other interests involved,” said Nadal.

The Spaniard, who is competing this week in the Rio tournament, is building a training centre named after him in Manacor, his home town.  According to him, Brazil also needs to invest more in talent scouting and youth preparation.

“I don’t believe there’s a lack of talent in such a large country.  That’s hard to imagine.  I think it’s important to have good schools and training centres for the sport to develop more.  We understand there can be highs and lows.  Brazil has Bellucci today, but I think you should aspire to having more players,” said the world number 3, the title defender in Rio.

A fan of new technology, the Spaniard recently announce that he’s using a new racquet that can send information about shots in real time.  “Everything that helps the sport evolve is valid.”

According to Nadal, 2015 will be a year of analysis and recuperation after injuries and the problems encountered last year—he was away from the tour for more than six months.

“I don’t know what I can accomplish.  I’m happy with being at least able to return to the tour.  I don’t know if I can win again and win more titles.”


Translated by Mark Nixon.

(1) Corrected from clay to hard court.  Thank you to all who pointed it out.

Please use the comment section for suggestions about the translation; they’re appreciated.


3 thoughts on “Nadal on playing surface for Rio 2016”

  1. I think the decision to go with Hard Courts at the Rio Olympic Tennis Tournament (OTT) is a mistake for the game of tennis itself and for the status of the OTT. One of the reasons why the number of titles achieved at Grand Slam Tournaments in the Open Era is seen as the judge and jury of how ‘great’ a tennis player is/was is because they are played on 3 different surfaces (4 if you accept the court surface differences between Melbourne Park and Flushing Meadows). This means that preferences of surface can be (more or less) discounted in comparing the overall Grand Slam Tournament performance of different players; this should also be the case with the Olympic Games. The OTT has been played on hard courts many times and was played on grass in 2012; so it was time for the OTT to be played on clay courts in Rio 2016. Given its importance the Olympics should be seen as the 5th Tennis Major but if it becomes a tournament which is almost always played on hard courts then it will be seen more like the ATP Tour Finals – a great achievement for the winner of course but more proof of a preference for hard courts (and indoor hard courts in this case) than a true measure of who is the best player!


  2. London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics (which included Wimbledon as the venue for tennis) began in 2004. Andy Murray was 16. The choice of Wimbledon was not because it would benefit British players but because it was the obvious and best location.


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