New DVD (2 Disk-Set) – "TennisOne's Stroke Secrets: Keys to Better Groundstrokes"
Here it is! – the secrets to better groundstrokes from some of TennisOne's top writers! We've extracted, re-organized, and re-mastered many of the best TennisOne articles, videos, and newsletters on groundstrokes over the past four years.
We've packed 4.5 hours of stunningly crisp video instruction (typically 4-5 DVDs) into this 2 DVD set you'll want to keep in your tennis library for years to come. When you want a tune-up on your groundstrokes, you'll always have the best minds in the game ready at hand.The topics in this 2-DVD set include:
- Quicktips: Grips & Swing Path
- Quicktips: Using the Body
- Quicktips: Tactics & Strategies
- Balance & Posture
- Rotational Drive
- Stop the Chop
- Orientation & Swing Path
- Compact Swing
- Controlled Power
- Effortless Swing
Members Receive a 20% discount
Public – $99.95; TennisOne Members – $79.95 (login first to access)
Tennis Warehouse – New Products – Victoria Women's Apparel - Panel Tank, Flare Skort, Print Tank, Cap Sleeve, Knit Jacket
It seems to me we've barely wrapped up the 2010 campaign, a campaign once again dominated by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and yet the first major of the new season, the Australian Open, is less than a few days away.
Albert Einstein once said about insanity, it's "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Well these two guys have dominated like nobody before – 21 of the last 23 majors (that's almost six years.). So I had to ask the question, can anyone stop the Roger and Rafa show? Read what three of our editors had to say then tell us what you think.
Are Federer and Nadal Invincible?
For at least five years, the New Year seems to always have one question hanging just over every tennis enthusiast’s head: Who–if anyone–can replace Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the dominant men’s tennis players in Grand Slam events? For the past 23 Majors, these two have won 21 or so of these finals. That is a very dominating statistic, to say the least!
Sure, there have been exceptions like del Potro winning the ’09 U.S. Open and Djokovic winning the ’08 Aussie Open. But, you would have to go all the way back to the ’05 Aussie again to find a champion not named Federer or Nadal. (Safin winning that year.)
In my opinion, we still have yet to see a player who can consistently compete with Fed and Rafa, at least when it comes to winning Grand Slam Titles. Certainly Djokovic, who currently is ranked third in the world has shown some of the potential people saw in him, earlier in his career. But, he still does not strike me as having the mental or physical fortitude to beat Fed or Nadal with any kind of frequency.
In fact, it would appear that both Federer and Nadal have added to their dominance, creating a mental block in the heads of their contemporaries, that if one of these two guys are indeed in a final, they are going to win. In fact, eight of the last ten Grand Slam finals did indeed have a player who was not Federer nor Nadal, yet only del Potro succeeded in breaking through, knocking off Federer in his ’09 U.S. Open win. With only this one exception, it has been the dominance of either Rafa or Roger over all the rest.
But, you know that at some point, both Roger and Rafael will age and move past their prime, certainly something that has been whispered about over the past year and a half about Roger Federer. However, Roger has still “got it” and the respect and authority he possesses still carries enormous weight. And while there have been many who suggest (me included), that Rafael Nadal’s style of play will limit the longevity of his stature, it would seem that he is bucking that suggestion…even to the point that some observers claim that Nadal will surpass Federer’s record number of Grand Slam championships!
Will Tomas Berdych start showing some of that promise? He certainly has had some big wins this past year. Robin Soderling and Andy Murray have been in the hunt. Davydenko has shown some competence against these two, and while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has been more than just a “one-hit” wonder, he has not shown much since his 2008 run at the Australian Open.
U.S. players are even more of an enigma. Roddick, Blake, Fish, Querrey, Isner, and others have failed over and over in establishing any dominating U.S. presence in the top 20 for at least a decade, (with the exception of Roddick reaching a top-5 ranking for many of those years and James Blake staging a respectable comeback after breaking his back during his 2004 season).
My guess is that 2011 will continue to be the Rafa and Roger show. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Federer and Nadal in most, if not all of the finals of the Majors this.
The big question for Men’s tennis in 2011 is who will challenge the Nadal/Federer monopoly on Grand Slam titles. The obvious answer is, no one. These two men have absolutely owned Grand Slam titles for the past 7 years, winning 24 out of 28 titles from 2004through 2010 (15 titles for Federer and 9 for Nadal). There is no clear indication that this trend is going to change any time soon, certainly nothing posed by any of their competitors.
Of course there are other factors that are less predictable and yet always as potentially dangerous as the most imposing of foes. Age, injury, and burnout are the foremost among these insidious foes.
Age is catching up with Federer. Most pundits would put a tennis player’s career age limit in the early 30’s. The oldest recorded Grand Slam winner in the modern era was Ken Rosewall (37 years, two months) in 1972 (the Australian Open).
In the Modern Era (post 1970) 7 different players have recorded Grand Slam victories before the age of 20 (Chang, Becker, Wilander, Borg, Nadal, Sampras, and Edberg) and 7 players have done the same past the age of 30 (Rosewall, Gimeno, Agassi, Ashe, Laver, Sampras, and Connors).
The pretenders – Robin Soderling, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic.
Federer, at the age of 29, is definitely nearing the twilight of an average pro career. However there is nothing average about this man. His career has been astonishingly injury free. This is in part due to his passion for fitness, his efforts and success at managing his body and scheduling, and to his fluid, almost stressless playing style.
Everything about his tennis career indicates a remarkable awareness of and priority on maximizing his playing years. It was as though at an early age he systematically designed a perfect game and game plan for the long haul.
Nadal, on the other hand, plays like there is no tomorrow. His game is so physically demanding, so emotionally intense, that, at times, it is a wonder that he could play another point let alone another 10 years. It is only due to his supreme physical strength and his indomitable will that he is able to continue. Yet he already has had physical issues with his knees and shoulder. This is definitely a cause for concern.
Andre Agassi won the last of his slams at the age of 32 at the 2002 Australian Open.
Aside from age and injury, Federer faces life changes and challenges that he has naturally encountered. Marriage, children, outside commitments including charitable work, A.T.P. administrative duties, sponsor obligations, and much more, weigh heavily on his schedule andhis focus.
But the motivation of these two players still seems robust. This is primarily due to the fact that they spur each other on. They are not only battling for their place in history but they are also battling something much more immediate and tangible, and that iseach other. It is looming at everyGrand Slam and it is etched in each draw.
Their rivalry hasnow pushed beyond the Sampras/Agassi rivalry in terms of aggregate dominance (23 titles, Sampras/Agassi and 25 titles Federer/Nadal).And, it is such a unique rivalry in that it is almost totally void of animosity, rancor, or intimidation. They are unabashedly fond of each other off of the court, and yet battle with unbridled determination and competitiveness on the court. They are uncharacteristic champions, seemingly at ease with themselves and their surroundings as matured individuals with strong family ties.
We have always been told that it is lonely at the top and many of our champions have been driven and absorbed by internal demons. Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Agassi, and Sampras all suffered from forms of isolation and alienation that are inextricably tied to their exalted station at the top of the game. Nadal and Federer seem to have avoided or risen above some of these debilitating adversities and developed a rivalry based upon respect, admiration – even friendship, and a mutual love for the game of tennis. This bond that Roger and Rafa share may prove to be a force that will push the conventional limits of time and achievement and may be as powerful a weapon as their sizzling groundstrokes or deft volleys in distancing them from the rest of the pack.
Can anyone beat Rafa and Roger at the Slams?
Certainly, and many in the past few years have done just that. Rafa has had losses to Murray, Tsonga, Del Porto and Soderling. Roger has had losses to Djokovic, Del Potro, Soderling, and Berdych.
So it can be done, and it has been done. But somehow there is this magical confidence thing; some call it the “X” factor. In a long, tense, drawn out physical and mental struggle, something occurs in the crunch that always favors the champ.
Expectation, belief from past results, perhaps the slightest physical edge, for certainly Roger and Rafa are the prohibitive favorites.
In fact a look at the ATP rankings shows a huge spread between the top two and the rest. And these numbers result from consistency of play, and titles won in the previous year (which coincidentally Rafa must protect by defending his titles this year).
But back to this unknown thing. It occurred in the 2010 Australian Open. Roger is trailing Nicolay Davydenko 2-6, 1-3, 15-40. I had actually walked away from the television screen, truly, so dispirited watching Roger being so easily handled by the Russian. At that juncture, Davydenko serving again moved forward for a routine short ball, but now he was not along his favorite baseline, but rather in that nether land closer to the service line, and made an inexplicable error into the net. Instead of now 6-2, 4-1, it quickly became 3-2, then 3-all, and then the wheels came off. Fed reeled off the next 11 games.
How does this happen? Expectation on both sides of the net. To beat Fed or Rafa the boys know they must play perfect tennis. And that means just that, flawless error free tennis, in many instances over five grueling sets. There was (I am guessing) just the slightest doubt in Davydeko’s mind, and equally Fed has come to expect that same doubt in the opponent’s mind (all with the exception of Rafa who has never played with any doubts), and this doubt manifested within Davy’s mind as he assessed his awful mistake.
Click photo: At last year's Australian Open, Nicolay Davydenko 6-2, 3-1, 40-15 on his serve before the wheels came off. Perhaps he just didn't really believe.
Further, in a five set match, the length of the games and sets always favors the stronger player. Consider that mathematicians have argued for a new tiebreaker scoring system to reduce the element of luck. The sudden death tiebreaker could decide a match on one point with the score 4-all. Our lingering death tiebreaker decides the match with a margin of 2, and in a longer tie break affair. But were the margin to be 3, which would be eminently more fair, the better player would have more of an advantage and luck would be reduced. Well for better or worse the same is true when comparing best of three set matches with best of five set matches. Example, Murray has beaten Roger and Rafa a number of times in the two of three format, but neither in best of five (if we discount his Australian victory in 2010 when Rafa retired on injury).
Final thoughts about doubt, and this will bring it closer to home. Consider when you have been in a tight match, and a big serve comes in very close to the service line, and bounces maybe ½ inch out. In nearly every instance I (and I think you) have struck that ball cleanly, almost better than a normal shot, and definitely better than had the ball been ½ inch inside the line.
I believe this speaks to unconscious processes (a good read on this is Blink by Malcolm Gladwell). In a millisecond an out ball presents no threat, no problem, piece of cake. Somehow Roger and Rafa have mastered that mindset, and his challengers must work to overcome that expectation of theirs with another one – namely that they might actually lose.
Time will tell. In the meantime put my money on Roger and Rafa to take them all.
These DVDs are in the TennisOne Writer’s Store:
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- New TennisOne DVD – "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin Backhand," by Doug King Public – Members
- Dave Smith's DVD is in the TennisOne Writer’s Store," Building a WorldClass Volley," TennisOne Members – Public
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The Common Threads of the Overhead
At the pro level, the overhead is one of the most dynamic shot in tennis. It's the rally ender, the exclamation point, so to speak, and it's rarely missed. Yet, at the club level, it is one of the least practiced strokes in the game, often filled with idiosyncratic gyrations and all to often balls that fly into the back fence or the bottom of the net. Here, Christophe Delavaut takes you step-by-step through the common sequences that all top players use to hit this definitive shot.
The Two-Handed Topspin Backhand: Parameters of Technique
Coach Dan McCain has taught the two-handed backhand to thousands of students and has seen many idiosyncratic styles. Some are complementary to the foundation of the stroke, and others have components that are so flawed the player has to use almost bizarre movements just to get the ball over the net. While most of the great two-handers on the pro tour have ‘personal embellishments that make their two-handed backhands unique, they also have key foundation elements in their technique that are virtually identical. Coach McCain takes you through them.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Mardy Fish's Backhand
Mardy Fish turned professional in 2000 at the age of 18 as part of the new generation or promising Americans that included James Blake, and his friend Andy Roddick. Fish has won five tournaments on the ATP Tour, and has reached the final of three Masters Series events, but despite an effortless serve and one of the better two-handed backhands in the game, he has not quite lived up to his potential. Last year, however, Mardy rededicated himself, dropped nearly 30 pounds, and had a breakout year. Check out Mardy's stokes in super slow-motion here on TennisOne. New this issue, Fish's backhand.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Underspin Backhand - Weapon," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Doug King Members Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- "Drills for Intermediate Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Drills for Advanced Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
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