Actually, no one caught this. I don't think Jimmy Arias had even put 1 and 1 together when he said something that sounded like, "Oh by the way, they're using women's balls. Yeah, it should give these guys a chance to shorten the rallies." They had similar ideas in Melbourne and that, too, was kind of under the radar. Blue Madrid was so lightning fast that Nadal and Djokovic threatened to boycott. But Roger said, "Hey, these courts are really fast! I have to S&V and C&C." Did anyone notice his fans complain that he was playing much more aggressive tennis? I was at Blue Madrid, so I can't answer that question. So as far as this discussion goes, Nadal is the ATP tour resident barometer. How often has he complained about courts being too fast...
OK, in the past 18 months, in particular? Even RG introduced the Babolat ball and that freaked Rafa out! Too fast!
As for Isner, completely unpredictable. We think he should be better on grass, but he's actually better suited for clay. He reached the final of Houston the past two years and was the defending champ. But this year, with the new balls, he lost his first match to Dustin Brown, a very aggressive, attacking player. I never fuss over big servers because there's not a single one of them that doesn't have gaping holes in their game. Their serve only takes them so far, then the top players look at those holes and drive trucks through them.
Each tournament will have to tinker with court speed and balls to get the desired results. Fortunately, all the hard court tournaments resurface their courts each year. And different tournaments use different balls. The Aussie Open switched to the lighter Wilson ball and sped the courts...for obvious reasons.
Yeah, Federer should definitely stick around. No doubt he's had trouble with the guys who can afford to give up court position because they're fast and athletic enough to retrieve a relatively slow ball on a slow court. Like Houston, give a guy a little more zip on his ground strokes and he's going to take his chances because he'll be able to hit past these guys.