A 2014 ATP shot guide: Part 2 (Return of Serve, Backhand and Slice Backhand) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 ATP shot guide: Part 2 (Return of Serve, Backhand and Slice Backhand)

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TENNIS ATP SHOT GUIDE – With Novak Djokovic winning the ATP Finals and Switzerland clinching their first Davis Cup the men’s season is over for 2014. Before the new season starts, at Ubitennis.com we decided to look back and select the best shots and other fundamentals of the 2014 season.

 

With Novak Djokovic winning the ATP Finals and Switzerland clinching their first Davis Cup the men’s season is over for 2014. For the start of the 2015 season tennis fans will have to wait a bit more than a month as the players first rest and then they train for the new year.

Before the new season starts, at Ubitennis.com we decided to look back and select the best shots and other fundamentals of the 2014 season. We will look at the serve, forehand, backhand, slice, volleys, passing shots, footwork, mental toughness, overall aggressiveness, overall defence and all good but no excellence. This week we will examine the backhand, the slice backhand and the return of serve

Click here for Part 1: (Serve and Forehand)

Return of Serve

1) Novak Djokovic: the world number one has cat like reflexes and he also seems to be able to read the opponents serve. Combine those qualities with his shot making qualities and you get the best returner on tour. In 2014 he has won 33% of 1st serve returns, 58% of 2nd serve returns and in the entire season he has won 33% of return games (287 out of 862).

2) Rafael Nadal: the Majorcan has an excellent return. Unlike Djokovic, most of his returns are not winners, but they enable Nadal to take control of the following rally. Stats wise he has performed even better than Djokovic, 35% of 1st serve points won, 56% of 2nd serve points won and 35% of return games won, but the Spaniard missed the entire summer swing on hard courts and most of the indoor season, which are favourable to servers unlike clay.

3) Andy Murray: this has not been an easy season for the British player, but one aspect of Murray’s game that hasn’t suffered too much from the back operation is the return of serve. The 2013 Wimbledon Champion has struggled with his serve, but he has been able to recover thanks to his excellent returning skills. In the year Murray has won 33% of 1st serve return points, 55% of 2nd serve return points and he has won 32% of return games played (303 out of 951 games).

Kei Nishikori by Art Seitz

Kei Nishikori by Art Seitz

4) Kei Nishikori: the US Open finalist is one of the best returners on tour and he has to be to compensate for his weakness on serve. Nishikori is capable of producing winners on return even with his feet close or on to the base line. He continuously tries to anticipate the shot, a tactic that pays off especially when returning the second serve. On 1st serve returns he 15th on the ATP Match Facts list with 30% of points won whilst on the 2nd serve returns he is 6th with 53%. Nishikori has won 28% of return games played in 2014 (232 out of 842).

5) David Ferrer: hard working David is in this list in 5th place because of the stats more than technique or overall quality of his return. Ferrer does not have a deadly return of serve and he does not get too many winners when facing a serve, but he gets breaks. In 2014 he is 2nd in the ATP Match Fact list of 1st serve returns (34%), 3rd with his 2nd serve return (56%) and he has broken serve 309 times out of 941 return games (33%) placing him third on the list behind Nadal and Djokovic.

Backhand

1) Novak Djokovic: the World Number One has the best backhand around. As an offensive weapon it isn’t as deadly as Wawrinka’s backhand, but unlike the Swiss, Djokovic can also defend effectively on his left side. The Serb can play any type of backhand, including a one-handed slice, and he can defend and attack equally with this shot. He is also more consistent on his left side than his right.

WAWRINKA_GREAT_BACKHAND_SCOREBOARD_WIMB2014_ART_SEITZ2) Stan Wawrinka: as an offensive weapon and as far as style goes, the Swiss has the best backhand on tour. The angles and the speed that he is able to find with his backhand have been unmatched this year on tour. The only reason why I can’t consider his backhand the best around is that Wawrinka struggles when defending with his backhand and he lacks the variety of shots that Djokovic can produce.

3) Kei Nishikori: this season the Japanese player had a fantastic year reaching his first finals in a Slam and a Master 1000 as well as qualifying for the ATP Finals. A large part of his success comes down to his backhand, particularly when played down-the-line. Playing with his feet firmly on the baseline, Nishikori is able to take control or end rallies with his backhand and he can pass effectively as well when attacked.

4) Andy Murray: even if the Scot has struggled to find his best form this year, we have seen glimpses of his formidable backhand, particularly after the US Open. It remains his most solid shot that he rarely makes mistakes with. He can play it top spin, slice, whilst defending or attacking, even when he reverts to playing a couple of meters behind the base line.

5) Ernests Gulbis: there were many candidates for this fifth spot, from Kohlschreiber to Federer, but I opted for the Latvian who had an excellent season. Gulbis has found a way to improve his forehand with the “unlikely” left arm movement, but his shot of choice remains the backhand. With his double-handed left side shot the Latvian has won many of his points, only his serve has been more prolific.

Slice backhand

1) Roger Federer: the Swiss’ backhand can be considered his weakness, but when he is able, and willing, to play the slice it is a different story. When he is defending this shot allows Federer to gain some time and and when attacking he can surprise his opponents with drop-shots or with long gliding shots that give him the time to get to the net comfortably. As he is able to mask this shot, his opponents are always unsure whether to sprint forwards for the short ball or hang back for the “chip & charge” movement.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

2) Andy Murray: the 2013 Wimbledon Champion has an excellent two-handed backhand and an amazing one-handed slice. Murray uses this shot to defend and to vary the rhythm of the rallies to good effect. Probably only Federer uses the slice more productively on tour.

3) Novak Djokovic: like all two-handed backhand players, also the world number one does not hit this shot very often, but when he does it is to great effect. Djokovic is, probably, the best defender on tour and when he is chasing down the ball on his left side he often uses the back-spin to gain some time and keep the ball in play. He uses this shot also to make some drop-shots that are difficult to read for the opponent and often hardly bounce.

Grigor Dimitrov by Fabrizio Maccani

Grigor Dimitrov by Fabrizio Maccani

4) Grigor Dimitrov: not to insist on the misplaced nickname of “baby Fed”, but it is true that the one-handed backhand of the Bulgarian has a lot of similarities with Federer’s backhand. It isn’t as effective as the Swiss’ shot, but the slice has been a saviour for him to get out trouble on several occasions this year.

5) Alexandr Dolgopolov: the Ukrainian is easily the most unpredictable player on tour to the point the often he does not even know what he is going to do next. A lot of his “madness” is enabled by the ease with which he spins the ball with his backhand. What makes this shot so difficult to handle for his opponents is the amount of side-spin that Dolgopolov is able to give the ball.

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Wimbledon: Quarter-Finalist Cristian Garin loves The Event But Not So much The Surface

The South American reacts to reaching his first major quarter-final.

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Cristian Garin (CHI) - Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Just over a week ago, Cristian Gain admitted that he was ‘upset’ when he saw his draw for Wimbledon this year. 

 

The world No.43 was set to take on the formidable Matteo Berrettini in the first round who has won two grass-court titles in a row in recent weeks. However, the Italian was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Instead, his opponent was the much lower-ranked Elias Ymer from Sweden who he defeated in straight sets. Since then, Garin hasn’t looked back.

On Monday at The All England Club, he staged an audacious comeback to defeat Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(10-6). Not only did Garin bounce back from two sets down, he also saved two match points in the process. Becoming the first player from his country to reach the last eight of the tournament since Fernando Gonzalez in 2005 and only the fourth in history to do so. 

“It is something very special for me. Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. Every time that I play this tournament is something special I feel,” said Garin.
“To be in the quarterfinals is a dream. I will try to enjoy it. I will try to give my best in the next round.”

Ironically Garin comes from a country where there are no grass courts. This year is his fifth appearance at Wimbledon and it was at the event where he made his Grand Slam debut back in 2017. However, like many other South Americans, clay is still his preferred surface.

“I said Wimbledon is my favorite tournament, not my favorite surface,” he jokes. 
“I think the grass is very fun for me. I have to change a little bit the way that I play. I think here on this surface you have to be aggressive.

Garin is one of only five ATP players from Chile currently ranked in the world’s top 500. Since April he has been coached by Pepe Vendrell who previously worked as a mentor to Roberto Bautista Agut and served as Spain’s captain in the ATP Cup. 

The next test for Garin will be a showdown against the formidable Nick Kyrgios who defeated Brandon Nakashima in his fourth round match.

“He is for me one of the guys that I like to watch. He’s very good for tennis,” he said of Kyrgios.
“In these rounds, you play the best. For me, Nick is obviously one of the best on grass.”

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Last Brit Standing Cameron Norrie Urges Fans ‘To Get Behind Him’ At Wimbledon

The Brit says he is feeling more comfortable on the Tour.

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Cameron Norrie (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Cameron Norrie had the pressure of being the British No.1 at Wimbledon this year and now even more eyes will be on him following his milestone win. 

 

The world No.12 defeated Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, in his fourth round match on Sunday to reach the last eight of a major for the first time at the age of 26. In doing so he remains the only home player left in the singles draw of either men’s or women’s draws. Heather Watson lost her last 16 match earlier in the day to Jule Niemeier 6-2, 6-4.

“To play the way I did and to handle the occasion, I felt really comfortable the way I was hitting the ball this morning. Definitely more comfortable than my other matches.” Said Norrie.
“It was good to get through that one in the fashion that I did. I was up the whole match, which definitely helped.”

Norrie’s run is the best by a British man at The All England Club since Andy Murray back in 2017. He is coached on the Tour by Facundo Lugones who first got acquainted with him at college in America. The two were teammates with Lugones being a senior and Norrie a freshman. Last year he achieved a win-loss record of 52-25 and won the biggest title of his career in Indian Wells.

A solid top 20 player on the Tour, Norrie’s popularity back home is steadily increasing. Even more so in recent days due to Wimbledon. Now he is the last Brit standing there is added pressure but he is taking it all in his stride.

“I’m the last one standing. But I think it’s even more reason for everyone to get behind me,” he said. “Even the atmosphere was great today and definitely helped me get over the line there. Especially on that last game, I was obviously pretty nervous. I was serving for my first quarterfinal of a slam. I wanted to get it done there. They definitely helped me a lot.”

Norrie will be hoping the crowd will out in full force for his upcoming clash with former top 10 player David Goffin who defeated Francis Tiafoe in five sets. Goffin has reached the quarter-finals of a major on three previous occasions, including Wimbledon three years ago.

“He’s a very experienced player. He really likes the grass. He’s played a lot of big matches. It’s going to be tough,” Norrie previewed.
“He’s a great competitor, a really good athlete. He’s got a very complete game. He must be playing very well, so it’s going to be a tricky one.’
“One thing for sure, I know that I’m going to get into a lot of rallies with him. He’s not going to come and serve me off the court, which is good. It’s going to be another physical match, which is great for me.”
“I’m looking forward to competing. It’s going to be another huge challenge.”

The only time Norrie played Goffin was last year in Barcelona when Goffin was forced to retire from their match in the second set. 

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Roger Federer Hopes To Play One Last Wimbledon As Icons Mark Center Court Anniversary

The Swiss Maestro said it is ‘great to be back’ after attending a special centenary event alongside other greats of the sport.

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/

On the 100th anniversary of Center Court, a special celebration took place on Sunday that saw the return of Roger Federer.

Past and present champions congregated on the premier court during a special 30-minute presentation with a couple of notable absences. Nine-time winner Martina Navratilova and Pete Sampras were absent. Each walking on one by one, the biggest cheer occurred when it was Federer’s turn to take to the stage.

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a professional match since his quarter-final loss at SW19 12 months ago due to knee surgery. He has already outlined his plans to return to action later this season at the Laver Cup and Swiss indoors. Speaking on court, Federer said he hopes to play at Wimbledon again as he unexpectedly hints at retiring in the near future. 

 

“I’ve been lucky to play a lot of matches here. Different type of role, but it’s great to be here. This court has given me my biggest moments,” said Federer.
“I hope I can come back one more time.”
“I’ve missed it here. I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead. I maybe didn’t think it was going to take this long to come back – the knee has been rough on me.
“It’s been a good year regardless of tennis. We’re happy at home. I didn’t know if I should make the trip but I’m happy standing here right now.”


Federer is the only man in history to have ever won the Wimbledon title eight times and was undefeated between 2003-2007. 

One player closing in on that record is Novak Djokovic who is seeking to win his seventh title this year. Speaking about Center Court, the Serbian said the venue has a special place in his heart that dates back to his childhood.

“This court has been truly special from my childhood and the first image of tennis I’ve seen when I was four or five-years-old I saw Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon,” said Djokovic.
“This is where dreams come true and I was blessed in 2011, probably the highlight of my career, to win the tournament and so when I step out on this court I relive these memories. Truly an honor.”

As for the female champions of the tournament, Venus Williams, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Margaret Court were all in attendance. So was Billie Jean King who is the co-founder of the WTA Tour and has won all three Wimbledon events on multiple occasions (singles – 6, doubles – 10, and mixed doubles – 4). 

“I played my very first match at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old. We started late so I had two days on this court. It was magical and wonderful and I knew I belonged here,” said King.
“I love history and I love the fact we have so many people here. Martina [Navratilova] could not be with us and she won nine women’s singles so I’d just like to say I’m sorry she can’t be here.”

In 1922 Center court was officially opened for the first time after taking just nine months to construct. At the time it was the largest-ever reinforced concrete structure. The addition of a roof didn’t occur until 2009.

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