What were Sam Querrey and John Isner doing in Acapulco? Why, after reaching the final in Memphis, the two Americans chose to go, and lose, in Mexico and not to Delray Beach? Surely not only because Acapulco is an Atp-500, while Delray Beach is a 250. Evidently not only for the appeal of Mexican girls and beaches.
The answer could come from the approaching Davis Cup. For the first time in his captaincy Patrick McEnroe will be without Andy Roddick and James Blake in the hostile Serbia. And the changing of guard promoted Isner and Querrey. Big serrving Sam lost 76 in the third by Fernando Gonzalez while Isner surrendered 76 75 to Simon Greul from Germany.
Querrey has an outstanding serve and a more consistent baseline game than Isner off the backhand side. But John, who learnt to vary his serve without losing in pace, and confirmed a dangerous inside-out forehand, is no more wary to use his backhand in attacking mood, to force points. But they remain typical stars-and-striped hardcourts players.
The two hasn't great experience and feeling with the red clay: Isner is 5-4 in career, Querrey 6-15, but he reached the quarters in the 2008 Montecarlo Masters defeating Carlos Moya and Richard Gasquet. Isner will debut in Davis, while Sam Querrey played in the 2008 tie against Spain, on the clay, and won a set against Rafa Nadal before losing the dead rubber to Feliciano Lopez.
But their presence in the third, and last, event of the so-called South-American Gira could be linked to the more and more probable change of surface in the immediate future of this tournament, and the others composing the mini-tour: Santiago, Costa do Sauipe and Buenos Aires.
The proposal to abandon clay, now that the 73% of ATP points arrives from a surface different from the clay, started some years ago, but now the theory seems nearer to become true. Martin Jaite, director of the Buenos Aires tournament, last october officially informed Atp of his desire to pass to hardcourts from 2011. And the legend Butch Buchholz, 69, president of Athenis, society who manages the event, and also inventor of the New Haven tournament and above all of the Miami Masters, the first to hypothesize the change now insists in underlining the positive effects of the little big revolution. "Buenos Aires has to pass to hardcourts" said to Maximiliano Boso, correspondent for "La Nacion". "Tennis is in a transition period, like when the grass was gradually abandoned. The tournament, and South America in general, has a great tradition with the clay, but the real matter is the lessening of the number of intriguing players". In effect, only 3500 viewers were on the stands during the recent Buenos Aires final between the Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero, ex Roland Garros champion and ex world n.1, and David Ferrer.
The Gira is embedded between the Australian Open and the Masters 1000 in the Usa, and passing to hardcourts could be an advantage for attracting big players. And Raul Zurutuza, the Acapulco tournament director, waits only the approval of some big name to make the change official from the next edition.
The ATP board will decide within the Us Open. In the affirmative case the calendar would include 43 events on hard courts and 17 on the clay. And the risk of flattening would be more than a far perspective.