Where to hit the Drop Shot
Now that we've discussed when to hit the drop shot, this next installment in our video series for techniques used to play on clay discusses where to hit the drop shot. Did you know that there are two basic target areas to aim for when hitting the drop shot? Learn more about where those target areas are and continue developing your drop shot. Har-Tru - Developing Champions Around The World.
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Wimbledon '11: From the Iron Curtain with Game
That a woman from the Czech Republic and a man from Serbia have won Wimbledon validates a premise: The Godfather of tennis player development in the last 40 years is Joseph Stalin. Terror, oppression, economic woe – these are the factors that trigger the desire and work ethic required for success in an individual sport; a sport, after all, where unlike the finite cartels of team sports, opportunity is utterly deregulated and left in the hands of those ravenous enough to devote exceptional quality and quantity.
Joseph Stalin – the Godfather of tennis player development?
Certainly Novak Djokovic’s win is a testimony to hard work and exquisite craftsmanship. He will see soon enough that life as number one carries ten times more exposure and conjecture than even life as number two. Perhaps in the coming months we will come to better understand the many aspects of Djokovic that are at once compelling and beguiling. He is a devout patriot, a national icon like none Serbia has ever seen – but like many tennis players, expediently claims residency in Monte Carlo to avoid paying taxes. Entertaining as his impersonations of other pros were for fans, to his credit Djokovic saw that mimicry hardly endeared him with his peers and that it would best for him to let his own strokes do the talking.
They have spoken loudly. On a par with the likes of such groundstroking greats as Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall and Don Budge, Djokovic this year has commanded the court in a way you would gladly show any aspiring tennis player as exemplary. Balance, footwork, shot selection – all have been impeccable. At Wimbledon Djokovic scratched for form early on, evidenced clearly in getting down 4-2 in the first set versus fire-breathing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis. Disciplined as Djokovic is, when nervous he can get tentative, decelerating on his forehand, misfiring with first serves, in many ways giving his opponent the chance to take the match to him. But Tsonga, having played offense brilliantly to dispatch Roger Federer (fancy that), was unable to summon up enough leg and body strength to keep that up versus Djokovic. It was impressive to see Djokovic tighten the noose versus the French man.
Click photo: Entertaining as his impersonations of other pros were for fans, to his credit Djokovic saw that mimicry hardly endeared him with his peers and that it would best for him to let his own strokes do the talking.
Even more admirable was Djokovic’s cool in his first Wimbledon final. To be sure, there was likely more to Nadal’s left foot injury than the Spaniard let on. But at every level, tennis is a game of matchups. Consider the bread-and-butter crosscourt forehand Nadal strikes that erodes Federer’s backhand. Alas, with today’s slow courts, my belief right now is that the one-handed backhand is a liability, perhaps even obsolete other than a companion to a forceful two-hander. So what for Nadal yields results versus Federer comes right to Djokovic’s wheelhouse – the best backhand in contemporary tennis. And as Federer has seen versus Nadal, once one macro pattern tips into one man’s corner, the other parts and pieces get out of kilter. On this day at least – and four other times this year – Djokovic was better at the art of court management. How Nadal adjusts will be fascinating (even if it’s tempting to think that Djokovic is impregnable).
On the Women's Side
Caroline Wozniacki is a great competitor, a happy warrior, a nice person – all of which do little to overcome the deeply-defensive nature of her game.
But while Djokovic’s win was a logical extension of one man’s incredible season, what took place on the women’s side was surprising – but delightful. For months there has been a void on the WTA. Caroline Wozniacki is a great competitor, a happy warrior, a nice person – all of which do little to overcome the deeply-defensive nature of her game. It not her fault she has risen to the top. But while at all levels of tennis, defense is the short-term success strategy, in the long run, on the grand stages – as no less a competitor than Nadal has shown – to win big the upside is offense. The gold is on the table. Who will take it?
All four women’s semifinalists showed moxie. Start with the resurgent Maria Sharapova. As recently as January, when she was drummed out of the Australian Open by Andrea Petkovic, Sharapova seemed stuck at a crossroads. There had been a time when her career seemed akin to grand actress Meryl Streep, a procession of one great triumph after another. More recently, though, as she struggled with injuries, problems with her serve and the attendant ways bad serving strained her lack of movement, Sharapova was more on the way to becoming Kathleen Turner: a once-great beauty, still chugging along, but not in the elite she’d once occupied. But in 2011 Sharapova has demonstrated exceptional grit – semis in Indian Wells, finals of Miami and, even more significant, superb claycourt results (won Rome, semis Roland Garros). All of that boosted her confidence at Wimbledon. How it plays out in the coming months on slower, less opportunistic-favorable surfaces will be one of the fascinating tales of the next two years.
Ditto for Sabine Lisicki, who has long had a serve only topped by Serena Williams (and perhaps not for long, as no one can say what Williams’ motivation will continue to be). Lisicki’s strong serve, groundstrokes and energy should take her far.
Click photo: Kvitova had already won three tournaments this year, devastating opponents with her blistering forehand.
As for Victoria Azarenka, it was pleasing to see her reach her first Grand Slam semifinal. She is in many ways a Sharapova with greater movement, a better serve – but still lacking that X factor of passion under pressure that Sharapova has always possessed.
Then, finally, Petra Kvitova. As Sharapova had seven years ago, she walked on to Centre Court for the final and was able to tune out all of what that meant – and instead merely played the ball. Since she’d reached the Wimbledon semis a year ago, Kvitova was hardly unfamiliar. She’d already won three tournaments this year, devastating opponents with her blistering forehand. Just as her fellow Czechs Miloslav Mecir and Martina Hingis were so able to hold their bodies and racquets in place an extra second prior to contact, so is Kvitova able to time her forehand. Time and time again, she repelled Sharapova with big drives struck crosscourt and down-the-line. Her serve also paid frequent dividends, a curling lefty slice – coupled with a few flat ones such as the ace down the T Kvitova served on her first championship point – that opened up the court. It may all seem instinctive, but consider this: instinct is trained knowledge.
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Racquet Speed and Driving Through the Ball
We hear a lot of phrases bandied about regarding the tennis stroke, one of them is driving through the ball. Another thing we hear about when referring to the modern game is racquet speed. Doug King takes a closer look at these terms – he defines what they are and, how they fit into the stroke, the part they play in the stroke, and how this can make you a better player.
Smart and Not-So-Smart Shots at Wimbledon
The great Jack Kramer once said, "The difference between a great player and a good one is that the great player misses fewer easy shots." In high level tennis matches between two great players, the winners and losers are often determined by who makes better decisions. Paul Fein looks at some of the smart and stupid shots from the memorable Wimbledon Championships and what we can all learn from them.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Marcos Baghdatis' Serve & Net Game
The right-handed Marcos Baghdatis began playing at the age of five and turned professional in 2003 after a sensational junior career winning the World Junior Championships along with the Australian Open Junior title in 2002. While Baghdatis’ current ranking of 30 on the ATP tour is far below his career high of 8 in mid 2006, the likable Cypriot is seldom taken lightly even by those in the elite cast of players currently competing in the top-ten. A baseliner with very conventional, modern strokes, Baghdatis' forehand and serve are considered his best shots. New this issue, Baghdatis' serve and net game.
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