PARIS: The image of masters on clay and paupers on other surfaces is no longer true of French and Spanish players thanks to talent in these countries being nurtured on hard courts.
“Twenty years ago, 80 % of the courts in France would have been clay, and in Spain it would have been almost 100 %. In France now we have equal number of hard courts as claycourts,” says Jemi Barbarin, who has worked with top French players Arnaud Clement, Michael Llorda and Gael Monfils.
“We aren’t ditching clay, though, it’s a great surface to work and improve your game and technical ability,” says Barbarin, who was the head of physios with the French federation till recently.
Both countries are well represented in the top-100 in the men’s section. Spain has 13 players and France 12. The latter has eight in the top-50..
The writer’s trip is sponsored by Longines