Tag Archives: bay area tennis

The Simple Truth of the Game of Tennis

People make out tennis to be a very complicated sport. If you think about it, it’s not at all complicated, but rather a simple game. Of course there are many elements pertaining to the sport such as: power, directions, the serve, the return, the groundstrokes, volleys, touch, footwork, mentality, defense, and offense. However, at the end of the day, the person who gets the ball back one more time than his opponent is the winner. All of these elements listed are just products that aid you in accomplishing this objective. The ones who understand this the most are probably defensive players. Their main strategy is to return as many balls back as possible while playing a very safe and consistent game. With incredible fitness, these guys are menacing.

Murray on defense

Andy Murray is a prime example of a defensive player with prodigious fitness. When you watch this guy, notice his tactics against most players; he plays a rather safe game, simply just trying to out-rally his opponent most of the time. The reason why he does this is because he possesses a great deal of stamina – he knows that he can outlast about 95% of the people on tour. Furthermore, take a look at Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. These guys’ defense are also out of this world. Of course the three are aggressive when they can be (especially Federer) but they grew up playing the game defensively. Look at where they are now; they reign at the top of the game because they developed this kind of foundation. They understand that at the end of the day, it is all about the person who gets one more ball back.

Obviously every player knows this but do they actually truly execute it? No, they tend to lean their interests towards hitting winners or looking flashy which makes them prone to making unforced errors. These are the guys who have their good days/streaks and bad days/streaks. The guys who reign at the top are hanging up there because they are the ones who are consistently able to get one more ball back than their opponents can.

Check out this match of Grigor Dimitrov v. Andy Murray at the 2015 Australian Open (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJH0hxrMCCc)

Notice how aggressive Dimitrov chooses to play in the first set. In the beginning he appears to be slaughtering Murray, hitting volleys past him and pummeling winners left and right. However, Murray still comes out on top in the first set because he’s the one getting the ball back one more time than Dimitrov does. In the second set, Dimitrov’s aggressive game varied in success throughout. At the beginning of the set, his aggressive game went against him, producing too many errors that put him down a break. Though, later in the set, his aggressive game began to pay off as he was able to win the set in the tie-break. Then, it began to become clear in the third set that Murray was the more consistent player with better timely controlled aggression compared to Dimitrov, winning the set 6-4. The fourth set was devastating. Dimitrov’s aggression in the beginning was on a roll, taking him up a break 5-2. However, once again Dimitrov was not able to keep this level of play up as Murray breaks back and soon afterwards at 5-5, Dimitrov concedes the break to Murray with a heartbreaking double fault. Up 6-5, Murray ends this match with a 6/4 7/6 6/4 7/5 victory. Watching this match just shows that aggression is only a factor of the answer and that getting one more ball back than your opponent is the answer. If someone is able to get to every ball and return every shot, then that person would be virtually impossible to defeat.

The men who know best right now

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Breakdown of Marcos Baghdatis Forehand (Modern Technique)

Hitting the Inside-Out Forehand

Learn how to properly uncoil on the inside-out forehand!

ANDRE AGASSI SAYS HE PRIMARILY USES HIS RIGHT HAND ON THE TWO-HANDED BACKHAND

From reading through many threads and videos on the two-handed backhand, the majority of people argue that the two-handed backhand is basically a lefty forehand.

However, tennis-legend, Andre Agassi, who possesses one of the best two-handed backhands in the game, says otherwise.

Andre Agassi: “I hit my backhand primarily with my right hand.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcZFVQCfOQg – He states this after the point at the 12 minute mark)

I initially did not believe Andre Agassi knew what he was talking about due to the fact that many people said otherwise, but after experimenting with the technique and observing a lot of slow motion footage, it seems after all, Agassi knows what he’s saying. How could I have ever doubted him?

It’s understandable that his statement will yield different interpretations. People will think that you lead with the right hand throughout the entire shot; however, this is not what he meant by primarily using his right hand.

The right hand is the key to produce leverage. Leverage is achieved when the buttcap of the racket is pointed at the ball and the right hand is what gets you into that position.

The use of the right hand happens during the forward swing phase. From the takeback, notice how the left hand is leveled higher than the right hand.

Left hand leveled higher than right hand

Now in the forward swing, the right hand will be dominant. When beginning the forward swing and uncoiling the body, the positions change; the right hand drops, causing the left hand to fall below it. Here, proper leverage has been achieved.

Right hand drops, left hand falls below the right.

All of this is what Agassi meant by him “primarily using his right hand.”

Though, in the end, as a result of the uncoiling, the left-hand will propel forward naturally and strike through the ball.

It makes sense for people to say that the two-handed backhand is similar to a lefty forehand because the left-hand is what really strikes the ball, but the forward swing phase and use of the right hand is what makes it not exactly like a lefty forehand. The right hand plays a key role in creating leverage and that is why Agassi says that the best backhanders in the world  use their right hand in the shot.

Also check out my video talking about the key to leverage on the two-handed backhand:

Feel free to leave questions and suggestions for future videos and articles!

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:

Nick Crystal (USC) vs Andre Goransson (CAL) | Battle of the Bay 2014 Men’s Open Singles Finals | Full Match

Crystal shows great passion to win after dropping the first set against Goransson. Crystal in this match demonstrates amazing passing shots and raised his consistency after the first set. Goransson, unfortunately, could not bring out his “A” game in the final but nonetheless he did not show signs of giving up. Both were tired; however, the hungrier one, Crystal, takes the Battle of the Bay trophy in a thrilling close match.