Tag Archives: japanese tennis

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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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: