Grass is for Cows! No? - UBITENNIS
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Grass is for Cows! No?

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TENNIS – After the Roland Garros, the grass court season get’s underway and our GPTCA International coach, Mike James, explains the particular training needed to play on grass.

 

Oh yes that famous headline from a former ATP tour player ten years ago.

Since that famous quote things have changed during an interesting month on the ATP Tour.

In this article I shall take you through my findings from working and being around players competing on grass courts in the UK and witnessing first hand differences that make grass such a touch surface for any player in the modern game.

Grass court tennis requires the most short-term concentration because the average rally length is shorter than other surfaces. Players have to be totally focussed to handle the speed of the ball in shorter bursts. A sudden loss of concentration may cause two or three loose errors and result in a service break.

The basic mental approach on grass courts should be to dominate the opponent and dictate the tempo of the points. Being reactive to the opponent’s shots does not get you very far on fast courts.

One of the most difficult challenges for players who for the best part of the season compete and train on slow courts is understanding and accepting that they will make many more errors than normal. There will also be a feeling that it is difficult to establish a consistent rally tempo. Learning to accept these conditions and deal with them is part of playing on grass courts. Remember that both players tolerance level will become lower than normal with more cheap points making a presence.

Overall, the scores of sets are usually considerably closer on grass courts due to the fact that there are less service breaks. As such, the player must be able to play the big point well towards the end of sets and tie-breaks.

Seeing the ball well, and fast reaction and response times are great assets. Combined with good anticipation skills, these elements allow the player to use the fast court to his advantage.

Dynamic balance is at a premium since all the movements must be performed quickly and efficiently. Having an affective explosive strong first step is key with a much lower centre of gravity. Focusing on the bottom half of the body is more important in this physical phase than strength work around the chest and shoulders.

During the grass court season, be sure that players maintain their level of endurance with off-court training since there will be less aerobic benefit from the tennis itself. Players must be ready and accept they will often make fairly jerky and uncomfortable movements .

Having a great serving is an obvious asset on a grass court although with the grass being longer and the balls being lighter you now see far less aces being hit at Wimbledon. Strong servers like Isner and Del Potro often win over 80% of the points on first serve. Good placement, combined with sheer power, will reap many dividends. Slice serves are very effective on grass courts.

The return of serve in men’s tennis on grass courts is vital, the average number of balls per point is less than two in matches involving big servers. The serve and missed returns account for a huge number of points. Returning first serves with reasonable consistency and effectiveness, and taking advantage of second serve opportunities are what set up service breaks.

The ability to load quickly and make compact strokes like Murrey or Djokovic is important with the ball coming quick off the court.

Players standing close to the baseline allows the player to dictate the tempo of the points. Developing the timing to use the opponent’s pace to block the ball back, often offensively, is very beneficial.

Offensive slice backhands can be deadly, while slow defensively hit slice will have little effect and tend to sit up. Driving through the ball, sometimes with even a bit of sidespin, puts more pressure on the opponent

Effective volleyer’s are in their element on grass courts. Serve and volley tends to be used as a surprise tactic compered to 15/20 years ago. In the modern game you tend to see “Hit and Charge” approach or ghosting in after the serve. This is where the serve delays coming in until they see the returner in trouble and often drive volley the approach.

The ability to anticipate and maintain a strong court position is key. Specialty shots such as half volleys, backhand overheads and a variety of emergency volleys are very important and often keep the net-player in the points. Emergency volleys would include situations where the player is stretching or diving for the ball: or handling a ball hit very hard at the body.

Overall having a weapon and fantastic concentration are key in today grass court circuit, this makes for a very open interesting part to the ATP tour.

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Daniil Medvedev Eyes Further Improvement Despite Straight Sets Win At Australian Open

The world No.4 rates his performance so far in the grand slam tournament.

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Daniil Medvedev (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev believes he is yet to reach full throttle at the Australian Open after cruising into the third round of the tournament with a straight sets victory.

 

The US Open runner-up eased to a 7-5, 6-1, 6-3, win over Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez Portero. Who was playing in the main draw of a grand slam for only the second time in his career at the age of 22. Dropping serve only one during the match, Medvedev blasted 19 aces and 40 winners past his rival. He also won 74% of his first service points.

Through to the last 32 in Melbourne Park for the second year in a row, the 23-year-old still believes that he could improve further on the court. Earlier in the week he also defeated Frances Tiafoe, who was a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open last year.

“I think there are still some things to improve. I think I could be more aggressive few moments of the match.” Said Medvedev.
“At the same time when you win three sets, you don’t want to discuss too much your level or something.’
“Of course, my next match is going to be completely different, so I’m happy with the win and happy to finally win in three sets without a tiebreak.”

As well as battling Martinez on the court, Medvedev was also forced to temporarily halt his match due to a nose bleed. Which occurred during the second set when he was leading 5-0. The Russian insisted that his bleed was not tension related and is something he has gotten used to.

“Let’s say it happens maybe two times a year or maybe once.” He said.
“I remember it actually happened last year Australian Open in first round. I think it was the only time last year, so it can happen sometimes but it’s nothing.”

Medvedev is one of a group of players who have been tipped to break the dominance of the Big Three in grand slam tennis this year. A group consisting of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Last year he won 59 matches on the ATP Tour, which was more than anybody else.

Despite the high expectations, the world No.4 is playing down the hype surrounding him. Branding the Australian Open as ‘just another slam.’ It was during the last major at New York, where he reached his first final before losing to Nadal in three sets.

“I don’t know about other people, but for me, it’s just another slam where I have to win round by round again and again, where I had two tough rounds in my opinion in terms of games, especially the first one against Frances.” He stated.
“So I just take it as any new tournament, as an ATP one, any tournament I play. I just take it round by round. I try to win my matches.”

This year, Medvedev is seeking to go beyond the round round in Melbourne for the first time in his career.

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Fabio Fognini wins epic five-set match against Jordan Thompson

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Fabio Fognini battled past local favourite Jordan Thompson 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6 in an epic five set match to score his five-set win at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.

 

The first set went on serve in the first five games. Fognini earned the first game in the sixth game, but Thompson broke back to draw level to 4-4. Fognini won the tie-break 7-4 after saving two set points in the 10th game.

Fognini earned an early break in the second game of the second set with a forehand passing shot. The Italian star went up a double break at 15 to race out to a 4-0 lead and closed out the second set 6-1 on his second set point.

Thompson saved two break points in the first game of the third set before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. The Australian player saved a break point at deuce in the ninth game and held his serve to win the third set 6-3.

Both players went on serve with no break points in the first four games of the fourth set. Thompson converted his only break point in the fifth game and held his serve at 15 to open up a 4-2 lead. The home player did not look back in the next games to win the fourth set 6-4 forcing the match to the fifth set.

Fognini started the fifth set with a hold at love. The fifth set went on serve with no break points until the eighth game when Fognini earned the first break point of the set, but Thompson saved it at deuce to draw level to 4-4. Fognini earned his first match point at 5-4 with a forehand down the line. Thompson saved it with a big ace down the middle.

Thompson fended off another match point with a forehand down the line before holding serve after five deuces to draw level to 5-5. Fognini earned two consecutive match points, but Thompson saved them to force a super tie-break. Thompson made a forehand error at 1-1, but Fognini  double faulted. Fognini took a 7-3 lead after two unforced errors from Thomson. Fognini sealed the fifth set 10-4 with a backhand down the line after 4 hours and 5 minutes. Fognini will face Argentina’s Guido Pella.

“It was a good fight. It was amazing. It’s perfect. I feel good. I am tired for sure. I was two sets to zero in front. He was playing better, he was serving unbelievable. I had 75 match points, and it is more sweat, because it is tood easy winning in three sets”, joked Fognini.

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Marin Cilic takes the Match tie-break to beat Benoit Paire in Melbourne

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Marin Cilic battled past Benoit Paire 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 3-6 6-1 7-6 (10-3) in the match tie-break after 3 hours and 33 minutes in windy conditions to advance to the third round at the Australian Open. Paire won 82 % of his first serve points, but he made 51 unforced errors.

 

Cilic broke three times in a row to seal the opening set 6-2. Paire rallied from 3-5 down to win the tie-break 10-8. Paire earned a break of serve at deuce in the eighth game to win the third set 6-3. Cilic broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the fourth set 6-1.

Each player saved a break point in the fifth set, but they held on their service games en route to reaching the the match tie-break, where Cilic sealed the win 10-3.

Cilic booked his spot in the third-round, where he will face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who came back from one set down to beat Michael Mmoh 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-1 after 2 hours and 44 minutes. The match was moved to the Melbourne Arena after it was interrupted by rain, when Mmoh was leading 2-1 in the fourth set.

Last year’s Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the third round, when Phillip Kohlschreiber pulled out of the match due to a muscle injury. Tsitsipas set up a third round match against Milos Raonic, who converted each of his four break points to beat Cristian Garin 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics beat last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 6-4 6-4 6-3 after 2 hours and 16 minutes. Fucsovics earned his first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Sinner broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3, but Fucsovics earned another break in the next game to take the opening set 6-4. Fucsovics went up an early break in the first game of the second set, but Sinner broke straight back. Sinner dropped his serve at love in the seventh game to lose the second set 6-4. Sinner went up a 2-0 lead with an early break. Fucsovics broke straight back in the third game to claw his way back to 1-2. Fucsovics broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and sealed the win in the ninth game on his first match point.

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