Monthly Archives: September 2015

SMT Quick Tip #4: Playing Closer to the Baseline

 

Kei Nishikori, known for being an aggressive baseliner, hugs the baseline as much as possible throughout this point. Here, Nishikori perfectly displays the advantages of playing close to the baseline: cutting time away from the opponent, being able to hit winners easily, and overall having more control over the point.  It literally appeared like Nishikori was bossing Nadal around on the court. In fact, Nishikori won this match.

Keep in mind that you should not be hugging the baseline 24/7. You can probably get away with this on your serve but when on your opponent’s serve, come up to the baseline only when the opportunity presents itself. This is for obvious reasons. Say your opponent hits a serve nearly out of your reach and you float it back. Is it really smart to hug the baseline then? No, you should get farther behind the baseline and defend. Though, if you are able to hit a damaging return, be prepared to capitalize on the next set of shots by coming up closer to the baseline. You can also creep up to the baseline on your opponent’s second serve. Or even during a rally, if you know you just hit a damaging shot, step into the court.

It all comes down to being strategic and having good instinct about this when you play. Knowing when to defend and especially step in is something that should be emphasized in practices. When you can constantly step into the court and hug the baseline when the time presents itself, your game will improve significantly – all of a sudden, you are raking in more winners, wearing down your opponent side to side, and winning more points (especially against troublesome defenders) as a result.

Hope this information was helpful! If you have any questions or if you need help on your game leave a comment below, or email me – simplemoderntennis@gmail.com

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SMT Quick Tip #3: Wrong-Footing Your Opponent

A very effective tactic used to wrong-foot your opponent is aiming the ball behind him. What does aiming the ball behind your opponent mean? It is when you aim the ball back to the same place where your opponent struck right before.

Remember that in tennis that after you strike the ball you have to recover and be ready to cover the higher percentage shot. This usually means you have to side-shuffle away from the place you just struck the ball at unless you hit the ball cross-court (since if you aim it CC, the return would be a CC back to you). So when is the most effective time to execute this tactic? The best time would be when your opponent hits a down-the-line shot because now he has to go and recover to the higher percentage shot leaning towards the other side.

When executed correctly, your opponent will be in trouble having to immediately change directions and cover more space. There will also be many cases where your opponent will be completely thrown off balance by your shot that he won’t be able to reach the ball in time, if executed perfectly. Maybe your opponent could be completely wrong-footed and stumble.

This tactic does not only apply to groundstroke exchanges. You can most definitely apply this to your net game as well – hit an approach shot and hit your first volley towards the same spot. This tactic is a must-add to your arsenal!

Check out this video (At 7:13) of Kei Nishikori incredibly displaying this tactic against Rafael Nadal!:

Also check out this video (At 1:53) of Tommy Haas demonstrate hitting the ball behind Roger Federer: