All Roads Lead to Rome – An insight from ATP Physiotherapist Ben Herde


May 13, 2016

The ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Event at the Rome Open is a must-stop for the world’s most elite tennis players. Unlike most tourists who visit Rome, it isn’t the food, fashion and historic architecture that bring these guys here.

The Rome tournament is the last major tournament before the second Grand Slam of the year – The French Open. It is pivotal to gain as much match practice as possible prior to an often elusive slam. The clay court slam is often more difficult to win as the speed of the court is slower and bouncier than the other surfaces of grass and hard-court.

I find clay-court tennis some of the most exciting tennis to watch as the rallies are longer and there is often more gut-busting running and heavy ground strokes. Players such as Rafael Nadal have forged tenacious ‘bull-like’ comparisons on this surface as they able to utilize their athletic attributes.

The role of an ATP World Tour Physiotherapist takes us to tennis stadiums all over the world where the athletes play on the different surfaces of clay, grass and hard-court. The job requires preparing the athletes for practice and matches as well as looking after their general maintenance and rehabilitation plans. Additionally there is the role of offering on-court treatment should they need it.

When the athletes play on clay with the longer points there are also different stresses on the body. Typically the players have more lower- limb soft-tissue over-use injuries due to the increase in running in the matches. As an ATP World Tour Physiotherapists we also see an increase in forearm and shoulder overuse injuries due to the higher ball bounce, hitting more shots in a rally and players often having to generate their own pace on the ball. On the contrary, we don’t see the same rate of patella tendinopathy injuries as hard-courts as the courts are more forgiving with shock-absorption and allow the athlete to slide.

ATP Masters 1000

Common Tennis Injuries

Once Roland Garros has ended the tennis athletes need to rapidly prepare their bodies for the short grass-court season, concluding at Wimbledon. Grass courts have a lower skidding ball, requiring more eccentric strength in their lower extremity and quick movement to get to the ball during shorter rallies. The travelling tennis athlete therefore needs to be constantly fine-tuning their fitness training and game to suit the surface and conditions.

Ben treats part-time on the ATP World Tour and is the Owner/Operator of Grand Slam Physiotherapy in North Geelong. His vision is to bring the experience he has gained on tour to his daily practice at Grand Slam Physiotherapy where his clients can also receive world-class treatment.


Clay Court Injuries