Friday, December 23, 2016

Tennis Tutorial: Approach shots and volley drills and strategy

This is a strategy and drill based on percentage play for covering the net. This will work in most situations.

Slide One
Excuse the less than perfect artwork. But I will present
a drill and strategy to increase your tennis effectiveness. The idea of approach
shots is influenced by Bill Tilden's How to Play Better Tennis. You need depth, pace, and direction on every approach shot. The first idea is to hit your approach shot within 6 feet of the baseline. If your court has the blue lines that are the baseline of the orange ball court, then aim past that with your approach shot. The blue lines are 9 feet from the baseline. That is the depth part of depth, pace, and direction.What you can also see in the diagram is that You are making your foe run all the way across the court, and hit his shot on the move. So that is the direction part of the equation. You could also approach at a sharp angle instead of the deep shot as long as your opponent is running across the court. Hitting the angle to the same corner where Foe already is won't get the job done.The pace part is to hit the ball as hard and flat as you can.

Slide two
So your faceless foe has run down your approach shot and oh shit!! He's a lefty. You have hit into his strength. The most universally played passing shot is the down the line shot. This is easier to set up for as you can prepare earlier with your footwork. you can set up for the shot before you get to it. Whereas to hit the cross court shot you have to run past where the ball bounces to have a more open stance. Most players, even pros leave the line wide open when approaching the net. You are not yet in a position to go for the kill volley. You must try to get in before the service line and volley deep back behind your foe where the original approach shot was.This is not so much for making the opponent move or to put them in a difficult spot but so that you can continue towards correct positioning at the net. And to set you up to win the largest percentage of your net approaches.

Slide three
As you can see your faceless foe is now a righty! He must be ambidextrous. This deep volley will certainly not be a winner but they are unlikely to stay home and attack it unless they know your game in which case put the burden of the passing shot on him each time. So they will probably either hit a floater that you can spike  into oblivion. But they are more than likely will try to go up the line again. In which case you will be ready to hit the winning cross court drop volley. However, you must be ready to cover a cross court passing shot. But not the sharply angled cross court shot. You can conceded those points for the greater amount of errors they will make attempting it.  Be ready to cover the down the line shot!! And move forward slightly towards the center.

Slide four
I have hidden you to avoid confusion. You're invisible. Your faceless foe is a lefty again. But he is going down you are ready to finish him off with the winning shot. I recommend hitting a cross court drop shot. As short as possible, but don't net it since you have margin if your previous volley pushed him back.

Slide five
Your faceless foe has given up in despair. He has thrown his racquet in futile disgust. Unless you are playing Nadal the point is over. You can always carve the drop shot better and keep this strategy going because it will certainly be more effective in the final set.

For teaching pros looking to turn this into a drill. Simply stand to the side of the court where you want the approach shots and volleys. Be behind the service line. And feed them an approach shot, volley, and closing volley.

You can do this on the other side. So backhand and forehand sides. You can have them chip and charge (slice) or topspin. Although the pace part of depth pace, and direction would indicate a generally flat shot hit hard.

Keep in mind that this is percentage tennis with the aim to win the majority of your points of net.
If you hit the first volley cross court you are not able to cover the net. they can hit cross court behind you. And they can burn you down the line. Also in a best of five set match your opponent may run these volleys down in the first and second sets but start to burn out in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th sets. If you are still getting burned you are putting pressure on this above average opponent who would normally destroy you. And there is a successful strategy against any player.

But keep in mind you can't hit all these shots without the control that comes from years of practicing under good supervision.For anyone who would want such practice email me at to see if we can arrange something.

Also the ideas of this drill are influenced by Bill Tilden's book How To Play Better Tennis. I highly recommend reading this book it will make anyone a better tennis player. How to Play Better Tennis

Monday, September 5, 2016

US Open 2007 Federer vs Roddick Quarter final

ATP WOrld TOur Roger Federer US Open 2015 Best points HD

ATP World Tour Federer vs Agassi US Open 2004 QF ENG Full match

    In 2004, Roger Federer was coachless.  It was exciting to watch him figure out how to play with a fully developing game. And the US open was a major test. In this match, commentated by the dynamic duo of Ted Robinson and John McEnroe, Federer deals with all the tests of the US Open. The night match with a pro Agassi crowd.And the craziest wind I have ever seen the next day.

Andre Agassi was at the top of the game. He had played a brilliant Australian Open Semifinal earlier in 2004 against Marat Safin. He dictates these points making the world number one run and problem solve. 

Federer mainly gets out of trouble with his first serve in the first set. In the second set Agassi uses the crowd to his advantage and Federer shows no emotion. The third set is dead even when it starts to rain at night. Federer suddenly closes out the third set to go up two sets to one. Rain stops proceedings.

The next day the match is continued in extraordinary winds. Agassi is the better wind player and adjusts quickly taking the forth set. Federer battles back to win in the fifth. He lets out all of his pent up emotion. He knew this match was groundbreaking for his career. I invite you to fill in what I left out about this match in the comments below.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Marcelo Rios versus Greg Ruesedski 1998 Indian Wells Final

The winner of this match will get to a career high number 3 in the world.  This is the second title of Rios' three straight Masters or super nine titles! During this run Rios hardly ever double faulted, served with deceptive power, and had a high first serve percentage. As a result he held serve easily. I'd like to highlight some generalities throughout this match. My first topic is:

Marcelo Rios return game
 Reusedski routinely serves over 140 mph. In an interval of a few minutes he has clocked serves of 141 a and 145 mph respectively. Yet Rios is very much alive in these service games. In fact, the amazing thing is that he hasn't broken more often with this short return swing, his perfect lobs, and deadly passing shots.

 Marcelo Rios has an unbelievable return game. Once the point is started his passing shots land effectively short. Throughout the match Rios hit many easy powered well angled return winners. He also muffs a few return opportunities that would have given him a break point.

Still Rios and Reusedski are having a poor returning day. Neither player has had a break point in the second and third sets.

Epic second set tiebreak (not shown)
Greg Reusedski won the second set tie break 17 points to 15. The commentator attributed this result to Rios' nerves. And he mentioned the highest scoring tie break in history occurred in 1979 at Queen's club between Arthur Ashe and Bernard Mitten. The tie break was 31 to 29. A three set match that lasted almost 5 hours. Here is proof of this epic match from 1979.

Reusedski's peculiar volleying

Reusedski makes the difficult waist high angled volley winner look easy. He is really coming alive with these sharply angled volley winners. Reusedski is on right on top of the net and covering each of Rios's shots with explosive movement. He has superb control of his racquet head. Still as close to the net as he is Rios should be lobbing a lot more.

Reusedski demonstrates his variety of control when he hits  a thunderously fast slice serve and then hits a drop volley. And for good measure he hits Rios on the following serve haha.

The one thing wrong with Reusedski's net game, however,  is the high sitter volleys. He is getting over anxious on them and missing. This is due to the tremendous pressure the Rios passing shot game puts on Reusedski's high volleys.

 Rios passing shot game
 Rios stays calm when Reusedski attacks the net. He knows his lefty hook shots will curve to the right every time. This equalizes Reusedski's power. Rios varies his hook shots around the court with widening angles. And he stomps his control on the match by running down every Reusedski drop shot attempt. 

Late in the match Rios starts to hone his lobs. He hits them with perfect trajectory so that Reusedski cannot chase them down or leap up for them. Once Reusedski can't close the net as much, Rios renown rolling passing shots seal Reusedski's fate.

Reusedski lacks a complete game and must compete by coming to net. Even though chipping and charging against Rios is suicide.  

Rios attack
 Rios is giving club players an absolute tutorial on what approach shots to follow to net. The downside for Rios hitting so many angles is that he must be quick to cover all possible angles he is opening up for his opponent.  Rios waits for an opportunity to hit great angled shots. There is a flow to watching him. Streaky players who constantly miss are more painful to watch.

 Rios serves out wide and hits the ball in the opposite deep corner in a devastating one-two-punch. He takes the ball so early and forces his weary opponents into errors after a long point. Rios unpredictably changes direction or pace with the same back swing. You will never see it coming!

Rios hits an unbelievable stop volley around 23:30. Marcelo Rios demonstrates amazing angles and quickness. His off angled forehand forces errors time and again.

In 1998, Rios is the best returner. Rios during this run of winning three masters tournaments in a row hit with a high first serve percentage. He plays an effective kick serve and never double faults. He holds serve easily. In fact Rios has had 9 love service games compared to 2 for Reusedski.

 Lack of Reusedski defense
Engage yourself in this match by listening to the commentary. They talk about how laughable and pathetic Reusedski's topspin backhand is. Yet he is going for down the line winners like he is Wawrinka or Gasquet! The commentators recommend that he slice his backhand to stay in the point and extract a Rios error. He needs to relax and slice his backhand since he is not being hurt by Rios from the back of the court. I think Reusedski just doesn't want to run as much. 

Conclusion of Match

Rios begins his hold for the match with a serve and volley. He is so silky smooth with heavy topspin. Rios arrives easily at triple match point. Rios hits an easy backhand winner to win Indian Wells 1998 over Greg Reusedski.

Marcelo Rios never lost serve the whole match. Reusedski only lost serve twice. Marcelo Rios wins 6-3, 6-7 (15-17), 7-6, 6-4.  Larry Stefanki cheers Rios on. Why does Rios fire Stefanki after winning three straight masters titles and becoming number one in the world? That is truly an Unsolved Mystery.

Marcelo Rios has an exciting style to his game, one missing from today's game. 
Marcelo Rios is more exciting to watch than Nadal, Hewitt, and Robredo.  Unlike Nadal and Hewitt he is not content to hit a thousand balls down the middle of to an opponents backhand. Rios tries for far more daring shots than all three players combined. Marcelo Rios put on a show each match. There should be an excitement hall of fame.

Safin who would have been in both hall of fames spoke about how boringly professional today's players are. They don't care about entertaining the fans but are more concerned with career titles and prize money. Which I certainly would be too if I was in that situation. However, they owe fans a little more excitement. Take the excitement test with your favorite player.

Ask yourself if a non tennis friend would enjoy watching your player's first round Slam match. The efficiently-talented Roger Federer and Marcelo Rios could put up a first round masterpiece. You simply don't know what shot they will invent in the course of a 75 minute beat down. But tune into a Hewitt or Nadal first round match, the commentators will talk about history and anything else, because they will win easily in unexciting fashion. They need world class competition to be part of an exciting match.

The cure for your insomnia is to watch Robredo vs Nadal. Nadal may be the greatest of all time but he plays with very little variation and lacks a complete game. Therefore, I find many players such as Roger Federer and Marcelo Rios far more interesting to watch match to match. A player relying more on skill than athleticism is more eye pleasing to the fans who deserve quick top notch entertainment. What's exciting is how much Rios could make an opponent run with his angles, drop shots, and lobs.

Tennis is in the entertainment business and if we want more people to get interested in tennis we need more show men. Personality isn't the answer, we need players with exquisite style and the ability to torture their opponents in a way club players can't. We need variation of speeds, trajectory and angles. World team Tennis is not the answer for adding excitement to tennis. No color shade on the court will make a Nadal vs. Hewitt battle more exciting than watching a caterpillar form.

I hope these players rise to the challenge of adding more exciting shots in the repertoire and employing these shots a much higher percentage of  the time. Sure this adds to a player's pressure but the fans will cheer all the louder and relax the player to play better. My goal is to increase the fun and showmanship of professional tennis without increasing the suicide rate. The way I see it these top players make more money than God. Many of the working poor are under pressure each day and deserve quality entertainment. These players owe it to the fans to have more of a globe trotter attitude.

And please ESPN and Tennis channel stop trying to get me excited about Andy Murray's career ambition. I don't care. Show me shots I never thought were possible. And show me more matches than Djokovic and Serena. Get some people who know tennis choosing the matches to broadcast. Then we can see more matches from Dustin Brown, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios, Richard Gasguet, Gilles Muller, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Dennis Shapovalov, Fabio Fognini, and Dominic Thiem to name a few exciting players currently on tour.

I want you to list in the comments below, your choice of the most stylistic exciting players to watch; whether from the past, present, or future. Also tell me if you think there has been any good matches at the 2016 Olympics besides Del Potro's man handling of Djokovic.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Marcelo Rios vs Andre Agassi Grand Slam Cup 1998 Final Part

       We start this final part at 1:39:00. When Rios uses a basic slice return. Agassi hits an ace. Rios attempts to take the ball early but Agassi beats him to the punch with a shot up the line. Like in the second set, Rios's timing  and game is going off course.
       Marcelo Rios finds his angles with plenty of margin. However, he is almost dry heaving because this is such a physical contest. Agassi charges the net to execute a swinging volley. Not as easy as it looks.
       The point at 1:47:50 is an out wide slice serve from deuce court. Looks like a kick serve but bounces opposite way. Rios opens the court and takes the backhand early up the line. Rios has precise and impeccable timing. He glided away from himself  to hit the ball up the line. He is hitting deep into corners with pace and depth. Marcelo Rios is alive in the set, playing well.

       But Agassi does the same thing. Rios hits a running hook forehand down the line to end the point. Agassi fires back with an ace, and rips the ball up the line.

       Lesson Opportunity: The educational camera angle shows the quick footwork of Marcelo Rios. If you can copy his steps you will be very quick.

   1:55:20  shows Rios hook each shot with tremendous racquet head speed and racquet control. He smoothly puts the ball in each corner. He mixes up his serve for easy holds. He doesn't rely on super pace but mixes in a slice that curves into Agassi's body. He puts away the short ball.

     Like all great champions at 1:55:32 Rios makes opening up the court against pro players look easy. But Rios could miss easily on those shots because he is taking such big risks. One net cord from Agassi is enough to stop Rio's good timing.

     Rios gets so much pop on his serve. This is a result of a technique that has a loose arm that generates tremendous racquet head speed. He doesn't have to use brute strength. He is slight at 5'9 yet has huge serve.

      Agassi hits an ace out wide parallel to line. This conservative angle shows Agassi's percentage serving. Even on the run Agassi hits a great backhand that has Rios pressing. If you can play well you can also bring your opponent down. You can dominate the match.

        But Rios fires back with a solid inside-out forehand. Rios continues his fine play by hanging in a point he should have lost by hitting a brilliant shot from outside the doubles sidelines. Rios on the run hits a down the line forehand that just misses. Thereby keeping the threat inside Agassi's head.

       Rios is trying to wear Agassi down.Return winner up the line is easy enough for Rios. It's never a problem with Rios' topspin and net clearance.

      2:08:00 What a Rios Angle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Juniors can learn about the art of brushing the side of the ball in addition to brushing over the ball.  2:08:30 is how you hit a deep approach shot. Rios does it creatively with an angled inside out backhand.
       Juniors can also learn from Agassi's passing shot method. He sees the opening and exploits it.He is hitting hard to safe places knowing he can hit a winner.
       Rios breaks a string and stays competitive. He hits the slice in the general style of the his point structure. Rios hits the ball so close to the lines yet Agassi is always there. Agassi gives some words of advice and encouragement to the line judge. lmao.

        I wish I understood German so I could understand what the hell the commentators are saying. As long as Rios can keep the ball in front he can make these outrageous angles. Since he can hit the ball so short he has more margin that most players.

         Man! Agassi can run anybody radically around the court.

        Agassi strategically hit its short so he  can pounce on the ball down the line. Agassi quickly ends the 4th set. It's over in a flash. Although Rios almost got the ball back.

        German broadcasted world news we don't care about.

        2:22:40 Rios hits a second serve from the deuce court. His serve lands on the middle line and spins away from the outstretched Agassi. Then another ace out wide. Both guys are yo-yoing each other with so much control. Trying to keep the ball short so when it goes deeper it lands in. Both players are close to hitting winners from defensive spots. Rios catches the ball so early by having the non-dominant hand in front.

This helps him hit down the line winners from both his forehand and backhand return of serves.

        2:28:10 is a lovely point from Rios. He hits his angles with so much margin. How can he hit such miraculous shots with such consistency?  The key is recognizing when to gain court position. He rushes in to net to hit the flatly hard hit sharply angled cross court volley winner.  We constantly feel that a point is only good depending on how it ends. Although the point just shy of 2:29:00 doesn't end with a winner; it features both players with amazing racquet control and movement. What a  Rios winner to close off the game! So sharply hit on the backhand side. Rios is all in.

     Rios hits the ball softly enough over the long angles of the court so he can't miss the shot. His high margin of error keeps his confidence high and his opponent running. He doesn't restrict his body but lets his swing flow.

        Agassi is mad at Rios for not being ready?
       Agassi uses heavier slow topspin shots to mess up Rios' timing. Rios's has a long swing with precise topspin. Agassi should have stayed with the strategy of keeping Rios's rhythm and talents down.

         Rios's topspin makes even balls that look like they are going out land in. And his foots peed keeps him in the match. Rios keeps the ball out in front! Therefore dominating rallies by keeping the ball deep, staying in position and punishing short balls when he is controlling the action.

       But Agassi is tiring Rios by hitting measured angles. That's a solid volley from Agassi. These guys refuse to feel tired  because of their will power and conditioning. They don't want to waste their mastery of the game. Rios curls the ball furiously and astonishingly makes his shots dive down on the lines.

       Great play from Agassi to put the ball away at net. Rios has sneaked a 4 games to 3 lead in the fifth set. Rios fails going for the down the line winner. Topspin seems to win. But Rios is misfiring like the cylinders in my old Rav 4.

         Agassi doesn't apply scoreboard pressure by making a safe topsin forehand return. He missed by being too safe and having no racquet head speed. Rios plays great defense and takes the net from an approaching Agassi. Brad Gilbert looks dejected.

     It is now 5 to 3 Rios in the fifth set. He scorches a winner up the line. he's feeling it!
You gotta want it.

     Agassi hits an awesome kick serve but Agassi catches the intense Rios return late.
Agassi misses a kick serve and is in major trouble. 0-40 Three match points for Rios. He hits too weak a return. Second tournament point for Rios. You gotta win it  and not expect Agassi to give it to you.
Agassi gives the match away with an unforced error.

Final score of the match favors Rios

Agassi        4      6      6     7    3
Rios           6      2      7     5    6

Rios wins. I wish I heard Becker's thoughts on Rios.

Now we have unstable footage of Henman and Agassi. Great net point from Agassi. Great racquet head work on Henman's groundstrokes.  Henman is firing up his serves. Don't try Henman's service motion unless you want a strained back. I can teach you the Sampras serve if you take private lessons with me.

Thanks for watching leave any comments regarding this match.

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