Category Archives: Analysis of Pros

SMT Daily Tip #8: A Major 2H-Backhand Key

(This video is derived from Topspin Tennis’s YouTube channel)

There’s a very specific piece in Kei Nishikori’s backhand that I want you to focus on (@ 0:16).

Kei Nishikori backhand

You can see here that Nishikori has dropped his racket head below the ball, to the point where it’s almost touching the ground. Note that he does this by raising his right-hand above his left-hand, which is what you must do too!

Why does he do this right before he swings? It is to get the buttcap of the racket pointing at the ball! When Nishikori points his buttcap at the ball, it allows him to achieve more effortless power out of the shot and make consistent and strong contact with the ball.

Making this small adjustment should improve your two-handed backhand immediately.

Hope you found this quick tip helpful and feel free to ask any questions regarding your game!

For a comprehensive breakdown of the backhand technique, check out: https://simplemoderntennis.wordpress.com/two-handed-backhand/

 

 

 

 

 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S VERSATILE FOREHAND

 

Being able to control topspin and trajectory on the forehand is crucial in today’s game. A great forehand is a versatile forehand!

The amount of spin on the ball is determined by the amount of upward motion you apply with your racket to the ball.

 

 

Which player will impart more spin? The player with the buttcap pointing diagonally upwards to the ball. The straighter the buttcap is to the ball, the flatter the shot will be.

Though, people argue that it is a hassle to constantly think how diagonally they have to point the buttcap so here’s an easier alternative: the type of follow through.

Djokovic is a prime example. He uses three follow-throughs on his forehands: by the shoulder, over the shoulder, and the reverse follow-through. He is probably the player on tour who employs three different follow-throughs on his forehand during a match the most.

By the shoulder

Djokovic’s by the shoulder follow through is normally used for more aggressive flat trajectory shots. He will often use this forehand on sitters, high balls, and balls he deems worth punishing.

Over the shoulder

Djokovic’s over the shoulder follow-through is typically used for a safer and more-spin net clearance shot. He tends to use this follow-through a lot when grinding out points. You will often see him go cross-court with this forehand. He can also create good angles with this shot.

 

Reverse

Djokovic’s reverse follow-through is often used when he is late with the ball and/or when he is going for a lot of spin. This shot is very effective in creating sharp angles/heavy bouncing balls and is a very safe shot. However, this should not be your standard forehand rally ball because this shot is not as penetrating and will tend to give short balls to your opponent.

Each of these follow-throughs produces different effects on the ball. The ability to use all three will give you a variety of options with your forehand, allowing you to better construct points. Djokovic has improved a lot in this aspect of the forehand which is one of the things that has greatly attributed to his success in recent years.

Check out Djokovic’s matches:

ONE THING THAT REALLY MAKES KEI NISHIKORI A DANGEROUS TENNIS PLAYER?

Besides Nishikori’s great mental fortitude, what attributes mostly to his success is the style by which he plays. There are many aspects of his game that are good, but the one that stands out the most is this…

His ability to play close to the baseline

The reason why this style is so effective because tennis is really a game of cutting time away from your opponent.

Say you are hitting your shots at a constant pace and you are five feet behind the baseline. What difference would it make if you were two feet behind the baseline? The amount of time you are cutting away from your opponent: his time to load and time to get to the ball. He will be running from corner to corner more if you were two feet behind the baseline versus five feet behind the baseline.

If you were five feet behind the baseline, the way  to equal the amount of effect you apply when two feet behind the baseline is by upping your pace enough to match that effect. For example, Robin Soderling has crushing ground strokes, but he does not as play close to the baseline as does Novak Djokovic. However, because of his power, he is able to keep up with Djokovic being close to the baseline.

But what if you upped your pace and played closer to the baseline? You will  be adding even more pressure to your opponent now.

One thing to note though; to play close to the baseline, you must be quick on your feet and Kei Nishikori is a perfect example.

Nishikori plays this style remarkably well, which is one of the reasons why he has respectfully earned his way into the top 10.

Nishikori is able to accomplish this ability because of his compact AND powerful strokes on both wings, forehand and backhand. His compact strokes allows him to take less time to load which makes it easier for him to play closer to the baseline. Also, the fact that he can produce firepower in his groundstrokes is a major plus for his style of play. With his power, he is putting tremendous pressure on his opponents, blowing them from corner to corner and greatly taking their precious time away to load properly.

Similar to his ground game, Nishikori will always try to take time away from his opponent when returning his serve, especially the second serve. If the shot is placed with good depth and placement as well, this will put more pressure on your opponent and give you control over the point in the very beginning. With his great returns, he is able to break his opponents more often than most players.

Nishikori, being a specialist at taking time away, is a difficult player to beat. You will see him often times effortlessly hitting winners past you and behind you. In addition, because of the tremendous pressure he applies, you will see him many times following up with a volley to end the point knowing that you will float him one. With his swiftness and aggressive playing style, he is a force to be reckoned with on the ATP world tour.

Check out his style in play by looking him up on youtube! Or check out these links here: