Is the US Open faster than Wimbledon?

Join us for the men’s U.S. Open final! We’ll be blogging live on Sunday, September 9th at 4pm EST

We answer the question: Is the US Open faster than Wimbledon? And we make a few booty calls.

Wanna know why I love the US Open? That is besides the drama of opening night, the grueling five set matches and performances such as Justin Gimelstob’s stand up comedy act in the last singles match of his career against his good friend Andy Roddick.

I love it because the US Open is the only time US sports media pays any attention to tennis.

Yesterday, for instance, I listened to Patrick McEnroe on the Jim Rome sports talk radio show. In conversation with Rome, McEnroe said that the US Open is now the fastest slam, even faster than Wimbledon. On the USA network, Patrick’s brother John McEnroe said the same thing.

Must be true then, right? Let’s look and see if it is.

When I want statistical information, I head over to gambling sites because that’s where information equals money. Gambling sites gage court speed by looking at the number of games played per set because the faster the court, the easier it is to hold serve and the more games will be played.

In 2006, has Wimbledon in the top 10% of all tournaments ranked by speed. In that same year, it puts the US Open in the top 30%. Twenty percent slower. doesn’t have US Open numbers for this year yet, but it puts this year’s Wimbledon in the top 2% of all tournaments. Blazing fast. ranks the tournaments by the average number of games played per set going back to 1997.

Wimbledon ranks number 9 out of 86 tournaments. The US Open comes in at number 47. Six clay court tournaments rank higher than the US Open though some of those are at altitude. The thinner air makes the ball fly faster. Keep in mind that this is an average over the last ten years so the Open might be faster now than it was ten years ago.

The US Open is not faster than Wimbledon, not even close. So what’s going on?

In both cases, the McEnroes were talking about Rafael Nadal’s chances of winning the US Open. How could Rafa get to the Wimbledon final two years in a row when clay is his best surface by far. And why hasn’t he gone past the quarterfinals at the US Open? One explanation is to blame the slowdown at Wimbledon.

I’ve done it myself. Wimbledon has switched to a bigger ball and a slower, bouncier court which suits Rafa’s game because he’s all about topspin, I said. That may be true but if it is, then all of the other courts have slowed down significantly too because Wimbledon is still faster than 90% of all tournaments.

Rafa doesn’t do well at the US Open because he can’t play extended matches on hard courts. Grass is easier on the body. It’s softer and the weather is usually cooler. Rafa said as much after his four set victory over Alun Jones today:

Well, the hard surface always is tougher, and the tennis is going to have more and more hard surfaces tournament. And in my opinion is a little bit mistake because for the players and for have a longer career is better play in other surfaces. But the tennis is going like this.

In other words, the ATP just got rid of one of the Masters Series clay events and replaced it with a hard court event over my strenuous objections.

Rafa’s hard grinding style of play doesn’t help either. He retired at Cincinnati with a forearm problem and he already had knee tendonitis from Wimbledon. While practicing for the US Open, he developed tendonitis in his other knee. If he wasn’t playing in a slam this week, he’d have already gone home:

Well, maybe if I am in another tournament, I never go to the court today. But is the US Open, so is very important tournament for me.

Rafa was lucky to win today. He looked terrible. He couldn’t cover the court and he had trouble stopping and starting. He pulled himself together to win the fourth set easily but Jones was a wild card. Rafa won’t get past higher ranked players if his knee doesn’t improve.

Serena’s Booty and Larry Craig’s Booty Call

By the way, I missed this video when I was covering the French Open. Watch Serena shake her booty good. Love it! Thanks to the Magic Jewball for bringing this to my attention.

Speaking of videos, in support of my community – all the queers out there – here is a re-enactment of the arrest of the Republican Senator from Idaho, Larry Craig, for soliciting sex in an airport bathroom. Ah, the wonders of modern video. Wide stance indeed!

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Follow the early rounds at the Open, read about opening night, and see our picks.