Tag Archives: tennis tactics

SMT Daily Tip #7: Benefits of the Swinging Volley

(Note that these are not my videos, but videos that I found)

The swinging volley is a very aggressive shot where you are hitting the ball out of the air with a normal groundstroke. Players commonly use this shot to capitalize on high-floating returns. The benefits that you can reap from using the swinging volley is cutting time away from your opponent. Being able to hit this shot will ,without a doubt, give you an offensive advantage over your opponent.

However, why can’t you just put the high-floating ball away with a volley? Of course you can, and that is up to you. If you think that hitting a volley will surely put the ball away and is a safer route, then go for it. Though, the potent upside of the swinging volley compared to the regular punch volley is that it is much easier to put the ball away due to the high pace you would be imparting on the ball since you are practically hitting a groundstroke.

Also, being able to hit a swinging volley is an indicator of good technique; it demonstrates that you are able to drive through the ball well. In fact, practicing swinging volleys is commonly used for developing groundstroke technique and power.

The swinging volley is definitely a specialty shot that should be a part of your arsenal. Being able to hit the shot will give you more confidence in your offensive game and you will find yourself being able to absolutely dominate the high balls that pushers often hit to you. Although the swinging volley is a great tool and is flashy, it should be used wisely. If you can certainly put the ball away with a volley then do that instead. If you are confident enough that you can hit the swinging volley, then by all means do it, for it is a message to your opponent that floating balls back is not the answer to winning against you.

Employ the swinging volley today and notice a notable improvement in your offensive game. Hope you found this information helpful and feel free to ask any questions regarding your game!

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SMT Daily Tip #5: Work on Your Sharp-Angled Shots!

If you want to take your defensive game – and even offensive game – to the next level, learning how to hit sharp angles is very valuable.

Being able to hit sharp-angled cross-court forehands and backhands gives you a major advantage against net players. With such a shot in your arsenal, you can pass them with ease and shatter their net-approach tactic.

(This video example may be a little extreme but gets the point across)

(Also check out the point starting at 2:00)


On top of that, being able to hit this shot enables you to hit winners that you’ve never been able to really hit before. Even if you end up not hitting a winner with this shot, you can pull your opponent way off the court which will give you absolute dominance over the point from then on.

(Check out the point at 1:36)

As you can see, being able to hit sharp angles will definitely up your whole game, so I highly encourage that everyone makes an effort to practice this shot and eventually have it be a part of your arsenal. Go out on the court and give it a go!

Feel free to leave any questions; I will be glad to answer them!

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

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:

How did Stanislas Wawrinka Beat Djokovic in the French Open Final of 2015?

The atmosphere at the French Open this year was definitely peculiar, with Rafael Nadal falling to Novak Djokovic in the Quarter Finals. Literally, this is only the second time that Nadal has ever been defeated at this grand slam, so for the first time in six dominating years this tournament has crowned a new champion. That man is Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss player with arguably the best one-handed backhand in the game.

This championship match was a thrilling four-set match with both players displaying transcending tennis; however, how did Stanislas Wawrinka take the win over Novak Djokovic? His consistent and menacing power was a major key factor in defeating Djokovic. When one can produce blistering power from both wings, no doubt it will inflict an enormous amount of pressure upon his opponent. The fact that they were both playing on clay was only more advantageous for Wawrinka because the surface slows down the ball, allowing his groundstrokes to be fully setup.  This automatically put Djokovic at a disadvantage because it is apparent that Wawrinka yields more power in all of his strokes than Djokovic does. Not only did it help Wawrinka to properly setup for his shots, but due to the slow surface, he was better able to keep up with Djokovic’s phenomenal placement. So basically for Wawrinka to defeat Djokovic, he had to consistently apply pressure with his powerful strokes, especially off the one-handed backhand like he did at this year’s Australian Open in order to break down Djokovic’s incredible defense.

No one else can strike a backhand as consistently powerful as Wawrinka can.  Although he only hit eleven backhand winners, his backhand was an integral asset in debunking Djokovic’s rhythm – unlike most players, he can also comfortably and willingly change directions with this stroke. The down-the-line (DTL) backhand proved to be extremely effective, especially during set/ break point in the second set. On Wawrinka’s second-to-last shot, he pounded his backhand DTL which in turn yielded an unbalanced shot by Djokovic, almost stumbling. Totally thrown off rhythm by Wawrinka’s powerful DTL backhand, Djokovic’s focus diminishes and hits the next ball out.

Overall, Wawrinka’s ability to execute his vicious power this match is what led him to victory over the best player in the game right now. Djokovic practically has no weaknesses. Although this is true, he is no superhuman who can swiftly get to every ball on the court. All one has to do in order to put Djokovic in a troubling plight (all players in fact), albeit difficult to execute on a daily basis, is to hit face-paced shots. This along with his accurate placement, is what Wawrinka was able to successfully carry out in the whole match, which ultimately earned him the win. Remember that Wawrinka is not really consistent in his level of play throughout the year, but it is absolutely conspicuous that Stan the Man strives on slow surfaces. Congratulations to Stanislas Wawrinka for winning the 2015 French Open and his second grand slam.

Power On Our Groundstrokes

In today’s professional game, power in players’ strokes have become a paramount factor in determining their success/potential. Players are unable to apply pressure to their opponents without enough power. In fact, people who do not have enough power are the ones who are most likely to get pushed around. Being unable to produce power, hitting winners become more difficult and thus you end up having to rely only on your opponent’s errors in order to win points.

Power really adds another dimension to your game: being able to hit winners at will and applying enormous amounts of pressure onto your opponent at even unpredictable times – it just profoundly enhances your game and makes tennis less of a grind. However, of course, using power tends to strongly correlate with making errors but the benefits of possessing power greatly outweighs this con.

Take a look at Ferrer’s match with Djokovic at the Australian Open 2013 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN4Q2zu4oyY). Compared to Djokovic, Ferrer has no real fire power. What makes things worse is that his ball speed never really changes and that is the reason why having power is so important. With power comes a larger range of gauging your ball speed. What makes gauging ball speed so advantageous is that your play becomes more unpredictable and the opponent will always be on his/her toes. Ferrer is a clear example of how damaging it is not changing ball speeds. Just look at Djokovic! Producing winners left and right, Djokovic throughout the whole match was in such a smooth balance and a fantastic rhythm. What makes it an even worse of a nightmare for Ferrer is that Djokovic can willingly power up his shots. It is just clear that Ferrer is always at a huge disadvantage going up against Djokovic, and the rest of the top guys.

On the other hand, Djokovic masterfully demonstrates why power is an important asset to be at the very top of the game. With power – whenever he sees an opening during the rally – he can end the point right then and there. Many instances during this match Djokovic would be hitting his typical rally-ball and then out of nowhere he will inject a lot of pace into the ball. As a result,  Ferrer will be caught completely off-guard and be put on the defensive. This is something Ferrer can not do as well as others. However, his fitness and machine-like consistency makes up for it – enough to keep him in the top 10 for many years now.

Although having power is not absolutely necessary, it’s an important dimension that can make points less physically burdening instead of having to grind out points continuously.

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.

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