TossAssist - "No one ever had a great serve without a great toss!" - SquareHit Tennis
The SquareHit Tennis TossAssist™ sets the players wrist into the correct angle to create a quiet, stable wrist and hand platform so as to accurately and repeatedly lift your ball toss up to the same spot. The TossAssist is an anatomically designed tennis trainer that comfortably fits all players and ensures accurate ball tosses so you can fully develop a powerful and reliable serve.
Click here for more information on TossAssist.
The Wimbledon Masterpiece -- Lessons Learned
Over the years I have been riveted by the Grand Slam final matches between McEnroe-Borg, McEnroe-Connors, Connors-Lendl, and more. In each case, as the matches drew longer and closer, the outcome hinged on just the slightest shot barely in or out. But the investment on my part, when pulling for one or the other player often left me drained. For me, there is nothing that compares to the engagement that a thrilling tennis match creates and, from the two closely fought opening sets where Federer was unable to convert on nearly one dozen break point opportunities, to the two electric tiebreakers where Federer pulled even, setting the stage for the glorious fifth set, this match achieved a glorious level of brilliance.
Rafa walked off the court with the big trophy but is this truly a
passing of the torch?
Nadal's unbelievable passing shots were countered by Federer’s pinpoint inside out forehand winners. Both men served well, but Roger’s nine aces in the fifth set helped him cruise through some service games, and escape some tricky situations late in the set. At the end of the day, Nadal’s consistent play overcame Roger’s brilliance. Roger misfired on a forehand approach to drop serve at seven all, and lost the match and the championship on yet another forehand error.
As always, match statistics tell the story. In the fifth and final set Roger had 23 winners and 16 unforced errors, a swing of seven to the good, while Rafa stroked 19 winners compared with seven unforced errors, a swing of 12 to the good. Federer simply had to beat Nadal, and with bold serving and aggressive forehands he attempted to do just that. But in the end the amazing defensive foundation of the Nadal game – error free, breathtaking court coverage, and fierce concentration ruled the day. Nadal, ever modest and self effacing was not willing to accept the mantle in the post match interview, but he is truly the new Number One.
Whether at the rarefied air that these champions breathe or something more earth bound for you and I, each and every match presents valuable experience. Some will gain more than others from identical experiences but in the end it will be the “learners,” those willing and able to change and grow from these experiences that ultimately profit. Tiger Woods has shown himself to be such a learner, willing to remake his swing twice in recent years, and at considerable personal and professional risk, not to mention the legions of naysayers who counseled that such a renovation might wreak havoc in his game. And certainly, Nadal, with his steady improvement within all areas of his game, has shown the ability to learn from the many “lessons” he received at the hands of Federer in previous Wimbledon finals. Consider the following lessons from this unforgettable match.
In post match interviews, Nadal repeatedly mentioned his positive attitude. But to be much more precise, he was discussing the championship points lost in the third set tiebreaker. Playing certainly the most dangerous player on the tour, it would be easy for mere mortals to mentally replay those opportunities as the match wore on, leading to distraction, if not despair. A positive attitude simply describes his ability to play each point one at a time, no past, no future, just the power of now. Marvel at Rafa’s ability to stay positive, and now look deep inside yourself to recall previous close matches you may have won or lost, and whether your attitude influenced the result.
As regards Federer, he took the net an amazing 75 times, converting on 42 of those points. With all other opponents, Federer is comfortable in the back court, moving forward for winners more often than approach and volley sequences. But when faced with Nadal’s defensive foundation, he changed tactics accordingly, but not at all convincingly.
To my mind, the lesson for Federer in this instance is that he must use the entire hard court and indoor season to improve his volleying skills so he can return to Wimbledon in 2009 with additional confidence at the net. Even within the recent (and to my mind regrettable) Sampras – Federer exhibition series, many noted the depth, pace, and precision of the Sampras volley, much more so than Roger’s. And certainly a version of those heavy penetrating volleys will be needed in 2009.
I can hear Tom Stow on this one when asking (though not really ever wanting to hear the answer for the question was couched to convey there would only be one answer), “How do you want to be playing one year from now? Then play that way today, and from each day forward! The winning will ultimately take care of itself.”
Aside from the disparity within unforced errors, Federer 52 and Nadal 27, I believe the match hinged on simply serve and return. Federer served at 65% and Nadal 73% first serves in play. That speaks to the break point chances, where Roger converted just 1 of 13, compared to 4 of 13 converted by Rafa.
To turn the tables on Rafa, Roger must simply serve better. He had amazing streaks of aces, but in many games struggled with successive points played on his second serve, and with Rafa’s backcourt tenacity, second serve points hold little advantage for Roger. Consider perhaps the greatest server of all time, no not Sampras but rather Pancho Gonzalez, who routinely averaged 72% first serve percentage year in and year out. Three out of every four first serves – Nadal gets it, Fed it’s your turn.
Return of serve
Nearly all of Federer’s break point chances occurred in the ad court, where Nadal’s heavy sidespin delivery pushed Federer well out of court. Nearly half of these opportunities were squandered by outright return errors. Against lesser opponents, Fed’s stinging, heavily under spinning crosscourt backhand produces tentative replies from opponents lured inside the baseline. Rafa has learned this lesson well, and is now comfortable playing this skidding shot.
From Fed’s perspective, he must be able to do much more with this ball. Somewhat reminiscent of the Lendl-McEnroe rivalry, where initially Mac had too much game for Ivan, but as the tables of this rivalry ultimately turned, Mac noted he simply could not keep his floating return away from Lendl’s massive forehand.
Tactics come into play here as well. For in the ad court, if Fed steps into the alley for a forehand, he gives up much too much court unless he hits an outright winner (which didn’t occur). If he plays the ball up the line Rafa counters with a wicked backhand crosscourt, and if he plays crosscourt then he faces yet another forehand and another long and scampering baseline exchange. In this instance, Roger must develop a deadly accurate and disguised backhand return, so much so that it becomes perhaps even better than his signature forehand.
A good friend suggested Roger resort to the a two-fisted backhand return. At first blush I didn’t really get it, and can not ever remember a player moving from a one-hander to a two-hander as their career progressed. But consider Andre Agassi, and the pinpoint down the line backhand, Andre’s father called his son’s best shot. And with a pinpoint down the line backhand (whether one or two-handed) the Nadal out-wide serve to the ad court on break point presents more an opportunity than a problem. I don't really expect Roger would go that route, but it is interesting conjecture.
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Emergencies and Reversing the Grip
During a lesson your pro often feeds balls into your comfort zone, however, in match play your opponent is trying to do just the opposite creating "emergency situations." In this article, Doug Eng discusses emergencies situations and the art of reversing the grip. It’s an advanced skill that many touring pros use and worthwhile for the aspiring 4.0 or higher player to try. It may allow you to stay in a point in the most difficult of circumstances.
Seven Reasons for Underspin in Match Play
Everyone is in love with topspin, and for good reason, it is the heart of the modern game. Topspin allow you to drive the ball hard and literally force your opponent off the court. Yet in match play, it is not always the right choice. In this video, Ken Dehart presents seven situations where underspin is the better option. In addition, Ken presents two bonus videos in T1 Super Slow-Mo™ where he hits a high slice and a low ball approach shot.
TennisOne Video Network HD Channel -- Tomas Berdych
This 23 year old Czech turned pro in 2002 at the tender age of 17 and has amassed an impressive record. With a career high ranking of 9th in August of 2007, he has won over $4 million dollars in prize money, and collected many “big” wins along the way, perhaps none bigger than his 2004 victory over Roger Federer at the Olympics. His game is versatile enough to play comfortably on clay, hard courts, or indoors. But the standout shot in his game is a massive, whip like topspin forehand. Flowing, fearless, effortless, this is as classy a stroke as we see on the tour.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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