'Faster' Melbourne Park courts not to Rafa's taste

Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:04am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number one Rafa Nadal thinks Melbourne Park's resurfaced hardcourts are playing faster than ever and may not provide a good show for fans when the Australian Open begins on Monday.

The speed of the blue Plexicushion courts has sparked debate this year, with some players adamant they have picked up in pace, while tournament director Craig Tiley says they were re-laid with exactly the same surface as previous years.

The prospect of slick courts, made even faster by baking heat forecast for the first week at Melbourne Park, has been welcomed by some players, including Roger Federer and Australian Lleyton Hewitt, but Spaniard Nadal made his displeasure clear.

"Completely different conditions than what I remembered of this tournament," the 27-year-old told reporters on Saturday of his training on the courts.

"Faster conditions that I ever played here in Australia.

"Well, I really don't understand very well why they change because the last couple of years, Australian Open had amazing matches, long ones, good ones for the crowd.

"I don't know why the people who decide to make the conditions that fast.

"I am not sure for the show that it's the best thing. But they decide and I'm just a player to try to be competitive from the beginning.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain signs autographs for fans during the Kids Tennis Day before the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 11, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray