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Djokovic: US Open Courts Playing "20 to 30 Percent Faster"

The US Open felt the need for speed, and players are noticing just how fast the courts are while playing at the Western and Southern Open this year.

After his victory over Ricardas Berankis on Monday, Novak Djokovic said the pace is significantly faster in New York, thanks to the recently resurfaced courts. “I don't know what happened, whether they resurfaced it, repainted it in such a way that it's at least 20, 30 percent quicker than last year's,” said Djokovic.

His peers agree. 2016 Cincinnati champion Karolina Pliskova said: “I think it's the fastest [they have] ever been, these courts,” while her Czech mate Petra Kvitova says the fast surface has her attention. “Definitely in all the ways the courts are a little bit faster,” she said.

A group called Laykold has been hired by the US Open to install the courts, so it makes sense that they are different than in previous years.

“At the conclusion of the complete transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, we felt it was time to explore all new approaches and technologies to court surfacing,” said Danny Zausner, chief operating officer of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in a statement. “During this exploration, Laykold quickly rose to the top, and working with them, we are confident we will have the best-playing and best-performing courts in the world.

Laykold also provides court surfaces for many professional tennis events and professional tennis exhibitions around the world, including the Miami Open and New York Open. The USTA has previously utilized Laykold at three Fed Cup ties held in the United States.

Rumor has it that the outer courts are playing faster than the surface on Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium, so it will be interesting to hear what players say when they start playing matches on those two courts at the Open (Cincinnati is using Grandstand as its main show court).

It will be important for players to get practice time on the big stadium, especially those players who play all their matches in Cincinnati and early in the US Open on the faster outside courts. Both courts should play even faster as the grit on the surface wears down after a full week of tournament play prior to the US Open.