Most of us grew up playing on the hard court, so we know what that's all about. But if you're looking to go pro one day, you'll have to fine tune your skills on other surfaces as well, and that includes clay.
As the clay court action continues at the 2013 French Open at Roland Garros, we went to work for you and put together a round-up of the best tennis shoes suited for the red stuff. So if you're ready to step your game up, and aren't afraid to get your sneakers a little dirty, check out the 10 Best Clay Court Tennis Shoes Available Today.
No. 10 - Wilson Rush Pro
Weight: 15 ounces
Wilson’s most advanced tennis shoe to date, the Rush Pro has been on our watch list since it made its debut earlier in the year—and the wait was certainly well worth it. The shoe offers ultimate performance with a low-to-the-ground feel for max efficiency. It features a dynamic fit system that improves agility across all surfaces, including clay.
No. 9 - adidas adiZero CC Feather 2.0
Weight: 13.1 ounces
The choice shoe of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the adiZero Feather 2.0 doesn’t quite get the same hype as the adidas Barricade, but on the clay, the lightweight shoe is just as impressive as its counterpart. Designed to help players move around the court swiftly, the Feather 2.0 features a low-profile adiWear outsole that helps maintain balance and footing. A single-layer Sprintskin upper with Climacool offers all-around cooling—perfect for a place like Roland Garros.
No. 8 - Yonex Power Cushion 308
Weight: 13.9 ounces
Yonex has been around the game for a long time. Naturally, the brand knows what it’s doing when it comes to tennis sneakers. The latest Yonex creation, the Power Cushion 308 comes in a rugged profile designed to take a beating. Taking the requirements of a clay court shoe into account, the Power Cushion 308 is reinforced in all the right places, including the toe box and heel. Along with a TPU heel strap, the shoe uses a 3D Graphite Sheet beneath the overlays to keep the foot in place.
No. 7 - Asics Gel Resolution 5
Weight: 15.5 ouces
The Asics Gel Resolution 5 is all about support. Featuring an improved Flexion Fit upper, the updated GEL-Resolution 5 provides a one-of-a-kind fit for maximum comfort on the tennis court. The shoe also has a re-designed PGuard in the upper for greater flexibility. For the first time, Asics has introduced its Trusstic System technology to the GEL-Resolution series, which reduces the weight of the shoe while still managing to retain its structural integrity.
No. 6 - Nike Air Max Cage
Weight: 14.5 ounces
Nike’s latest tennis shoe, the Air Max Cage performs best on the hard court, but it’s no slouch on the clay either. The all-court shoe features a flexible design that is highlighted by its unique Drag On Cage upper, which consists of a highly breathable mesh construction. The perforated diamond pattern not only looks clean, but it’s designed to enhance flexibility and support during intense matches. A durable outsole, paired with Max Air technology bring it all together.
No. 5 - Head Speed Pro III
Weight: 14.8 ounces
Hailed as the fastest tennis shoe ever created by Head, the Speed Pro III is the perfect shoe for players who like to control the tempo. Featuring Head’s Trinergy technology, the sneaker combines a shock absorption system in the heel with the brand’s CXG Comfort Grid insert underneath the toe box for quick bursts of speed and excellent lateral movement as you chase down balls on the red stuff.
No. 4 - Babolat Propulse 4
Weight: 16.4 ounces
The Babolat Propulse 4 is one of those tennis shoes you don’t realize the full potential of until you actually lace up in a pair and hit the court. In case you’re worried about traction on the clay, don’t be. The Propulse 4 comes with a high-grade Michelin OCS2 rubber outsole for exceptional grip. The shoe also features Babolat’s Side 2 Side technology designed for improved lateral movement, as well as balance.
No. 3 - Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour
Weight: 14.3 ounces
You’ve seen the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour do damage on the hard court on feet of the great Roger Federer, but the shoe can also be personalized to adapt to the clay. The Tinker Hatfield-designed shoe is equipped with a flexible herringbone outsole pattern with flex grooves for a natural feel. The Vapor 9 is extremely responsive on clay. It’s Dynamic Fit system helps lock the foot in place to reduce slippage, while a full-length Phylon midsole offers cushioning that will last all five sets if you need it to.
No. 2 - adidas Barricade 7
Weight: 15.3 ounces
We’ve put the latest version of the adidas Barricade, the Barricade 8, to the test in recent weeks. However, since the shoe has not been released yet, the Barricade 7 will do just fine. Worn by two of the top four players in the world—Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray—the Barricade 7 is a proven winner on every surface, including clay. It has an extended Torsion System for support, as well as an adiWear 6 outsole that allows players to change directions at the drop of a dime.
No. 1 - Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3
Weight: 16.1 ounces
Rafael Nadal is the best clay court player around. And he wears the Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3. Put two and two together, and it’s quite obvious what the best clay court shoe is. On the feet of Nadal, the Air Max Courtballistec series has won the French Open four times. Now in its fourth installment, the Courtballistec 4.3 is better than ever with a more streamlined design for all-around performance on the clay. Featuring an XDR outsole, and Drag-On 2X overlays, the shoe helps players make aggressive cuts and chase down near-impossible balls. To reiterate: if you’re looking for the best, this is it.
Gurvinder Singh Gandu is a New York City-based writer with west coast roots. A resident wear-tester for Sneaker Report, and contributor to Complex Media, follow him @GurvinderSG for the latest in performance footwear and gear.