Now, if you lose sight of the ball, it's because you blinked
Few things bring as much joy as the feel and smell of nighttime air on a tennis court. But the perfect game of nighttime tennis cannot be played under poor lighting. You need to see the ball clearly and follow it well in flight-which requires as much light as possible, evenly distributed across the court.
With Har-Tru Advantage Lighting, you can improve the playing experience for as little as $12 per day. Visit hartrulighting.com to find out more.
We're very excited to announce our new TennisOne X system for dramatically improving your game. We've created three FREE training videos, 50 minutes in length, from our upcoming online course, "Groundstrokes Unlimited."
- Stroke Acceleration, Re-Tooling Your Kinetic Chain
- Stroke Foundation, Keeping the Plane the Same
- Holding the Finish
You'll also learn about our new TennisOne X improvement system, featuring the industry's first comprehensive skills rating program. If you're the type of player who wants to become much, much better, you'll want to know more about TennisOne X.
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Tennis Warehouse – New Products – Men's Shoes - KSWISS Tubes 100; Nike Air Court Ballistic 3 (Rafa' s shoe); Nike Lunar Vapor 8, adidas Barricade (Murry's shoe); Lacoste Repel 2 and Gravitate
It's the post match interview of the men's semifinals match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The fans and scribes have just witnessed a most implausible defeat of Federer. Not so implausible that he lost two match points on serve in the fifth set – but because it is so incredibly similar to last year's semifinal match between the two. In that previous battle Djokovic hit two epic forehands on match points down in the fifth set to snatch victory from the jaws of sure defeat. This year, down another two match points in the semifinals in the fifth, Novak hits another monster forehand that Federer can only impotently watch blister the lines for a clean winner.
The tides of a match have never been so suddenly and dramatically reversed as they were with that return of serve. With that return Novak not only erased one match point but he also seized the crowd and soon the match. Roger was left stunned and shattered.
Now facing the press corps, Roger could barely lift his head from the table and meet the writer’s sheepish stares. “Roger?” another writer asks, not to provoke a question but more to see if Roger is even present.
Finally Roger mutters a “yeah?” without even looking up. A communal sigh is released by the press. “Oh good,” they think. “At least he is here with us.” The questions are delicately issued. “How do you feel?” “How disappointing is this loss?" “Are you serious?“ responds Federer to one writer. “You gotta be kidding me.” he says to another, acknowledging the fact that most press conference questions are nothing more than obligatory statements of the obvious – nothing more than pregnant cliches awaiting quotations – and a painful ordeal to a player who has just been unmercifully and cruelly stripped of a deserved prize.
Click photo: Federer appeared shell-shocked at the beginning of his post match press conference.
Roger dutifully trudges on, trying his best to give thoughtful, sincere answers. But the visceral pain makes it too difficult to make sense of what has happened. Losing was hard enough but what galled Federer the most was that he had been beaten by a player who had "given up." It is not so bad to lose to someone, but to lose to someone who had given up was the ultimate cruelty. Roger made it clear to the assemblage that he had "never given up" and that from an early age it had been drilled into him that a player "never gives up." And yet to Roger, he had just been beaten by a player who had made the ultimate transgression a player can make – he had given up. And taking into account the events of the previous year’s semifinal showdown, only added a macabre element to the perverse injustice of it all.
Still I can't help to think that it wasn't Djokovic who had given up, but rather it was Federer. For what does it mean to ”give up?" Did Djokovic really give up? Of course not. He did not walk off the court. He did not put his racquet in his bag and wave to the crowd. He did not stand flat footed and watch the ball sail past him without even a move in its direction.
Fear and Caution
But he did "give up" certain things. He gave up caution. He gave up fear of missing. He gave up his inhibition. But what he didn't give up was his years of hard work that made him the most skillful player on the face of the Earth at that moment in tennis. He in fact became a cornered, desperate, and yet supremely dangerous opponent. An opponent who was at his most desperate moment who had thrown caution to the wind and was ready to swing freely, and yet skillfully. An opponent like this is one to be reckoned with.
Click photo: On match point, Djokovic gave up caution. He gave up fear of missing. He gave up his inhibition.
And so how did that moment unfold. It became the convergence of many interesting forces that produced that most unexpected of events – and yet when looked from a perspective of hindsight, the event can somehow seem inevitable – or perhaps just.
Knowing that Djokovic was going to swing freely surely could not have been a surprise to Federer. He knew that Djokovic was going to go big and his chances of missing were increased. Still this was no average player. This was the hottest player on the planet and certainly someone not to be taken lightly at this juncture.
So what does Federer do? Should he go for a big serve and risk missing only to give Djokovic a look at a second serve. That would not be such a good idea. You wouldn't want to have to dish up a second serve when Djokovic was feeling so aggressive. Anything could happen there. Better to put in a solid first serve and make Djokovic hit a couple of balls. Federer, the ultimate tactician, must be thinking now. Kicker out to the backhand, pull him to the center, make him reach, get a good look on the second ball. Body serve, jam him up and force a weak return. Or wide? Give him the forehand and let him take his chances.
Federer must be thinking of last year. Nothing escapes him. He remembers those forehands that took him down on match point last year – those lucky shots that Novak pulled off out of desperation. Wouldn’t it be sweet justice to let him try that again and fail and show everyone just how lucky those shots were last year. It is too much too resist. And besides, if he does pull it off I’ve got another match point to work with.
Federer throws in a medium pace first serve with a bit of spin…out to the forehand, giving Djokovic the perfect ball to tee off on. He could use Federer's pace and angle to produce a perfect winning reply. In fact Djokovic hit the ball flat and hard but also played it relatively safe by going cross court and deep. He didn't try a risky return up the line or sharply but instead plays the safest shot under those circumstances of hitting a big, booming, flat return.
Then things get interesting. Upon hitting the winner Djokovic rises up from the ashes. He roars like a beast and seizes the moment – not because of some script or some calculated move (Serena and Maria take note) – but simply because he was loving the moment. He was rapturous not because he was still in the match, or that he sensed that he had turned the match around, but purely because of what he did and felt in that moment. And the crowd felt it too. They instantly swung on his side and now Roger was really feeling the pressure. On the next match point Roger hits a good body serve (exactly what he should have done on the first match point) and Novak puts back a neutral reply – the exact ball that Roger had been swatting away for winners with absolute regularity in the first two sets.
But it isn’t the first or second set. It is the fifth set and things don’t react the same way. Roger tightens up, he can't get under the ball and he tapes the easy forehand. Now things are almost irreversibly lost for Roger. He feels he has lost his moment - and the crowd as well. Last year's semifinal debacle is now searing in his mind and he feels the noose of fate tightening its grip. It is over and Novak does not miss his chance.
In the moment with things happening so fast it is easy to think that this was another case of Novak mysteriously and magically pulling another miraculous win out of his hat. Was it, as Federer described in the post match press conference, a case of someone who didn’t believe anymore in winning and “just got lucky” and another that “just got unlucky.”
The great Rod Laver used to say that he would “hit through his nerves.”
Did Novak really give up – or did he give up just exactly what he needed to give up. The great Rod Laver used to say that he would “hit through his nerves.” Was that what Laver would have done? Or Pete? And did Roger get the match stolen from him? Or perhaps he was holding onto something a little too tightly. Why couldn't he see a better service option, a serve that wouldn't provide Novak with the ideal ball to tee off on? And on the second match point was Roger holding onto the hope of winning a little too tightly, so tightly that he couldn't bend enough or wind enough to get under that relatively easy forehand? Roger holds on hard to things. He has been accused of being stubborn in his style of play against Nadal, constantly trying to pound topspin backhands from above his shoulder down the line. He has held onto tactics and has stubbornly refused coaching in many cases. He has never been that fond of Novak, his brash style and his unabashedly ambitious entourage. Were there subtle “points” that Roger was trying to make?
What we hold onto and what we give up are interesting questions and themes. Every time we walk onto the court we learn to give up certain things and hold onto other things. How and when this plays out is a fascinating dynamic and not one that is always so easy to decipher. It is the play within the play and it is often the most intriguing part of the drama - one that Greek mythology is built upon. And yes, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
See Doug King's Acceleration Tennis Program at the Meadowood Resort, Napa, CA.
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The Pros Jump…Should I?
Whenever one watches professional tennis we can't help but marvel at the athleticism and, let's face it, we all want to emulate these great players – in other words, play like the pros. It might seem logical that if I emulate the pros every nuance and idiosyncratic movement, I can “Be like Mike,” (or, in tennis lingo, “Be like Fed, Serena, Djokovic, or Woz!”). So should one jump when hitting groundstrokes like the pros so often do? Well, according to Dave Smith, the answer is a definite maybe.
Communicate to Win
Watching the Bryan's play doubles (or any great team for that matter) one can't help but admire the great skills, the quick hands, or the beauty of their symmetry. Most of us will never learn to volley like the Bryan's or crack overheads the way they do, but their is a lot we can learn from watching them play. One of the things we can learn is how well they communicate before during and after every point. As in any relationship, communication is the key to success. – Greg Moran
ProStrokes 2.0 – Agnieszka Radwanska Serve and Net Game
Agnieszka Radwanska turned pro in 2005, resides in Krakow, Poland, she holds 5 WTA singles titles, and as a junior, captured titles at Wimbledon in 2005 and Roland Garros in 2006. She is ranked 13th on the WTA tour, having held a career high ranking of 10th in 2008 and 2009. Agnieszka is a steady player with a simple game, nothing over powerful, no crazy toss and erratic serves, and her consistent rankings over the past 4 years speaks to just that. This year she lost to Clijsters in Australia, beat Bartoli in Dubai, beat Schiavone in Miami and again in Stuffgart, lost to Sharapova at Roland Garros, and beat Petkovic and Zvonareva to capture the title at Carlsbad. Enjoy the videos, and note the simplicity of style. She will be around for a long time. New this issue, Rawanska's serve and net game.
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):
- "All-Court Game and the Volley: Keys to Modern Tennis Technique," by Doug King Public – Members
- "TennisOne's Stroke Secrets: Keys to Better Groundstrokes," Public; Members
- "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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