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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Cameron Norrie ‘Happy’ With Performance After Extending Winning Run Against Kyrgios

Cameron Norrie spoke about his confidence after reaching the last eight in Atlanta.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Cameron Norrie is satisfied with his recent performances after reaching the Atlanta quarter-finals.

 

The in-form Brit extended his winning streak to five matches after defeating Nick Kyrgios in Atlanta.

Norrie eased to victory with a 6-1 6-4 win in a match which saw three breaks of serve from the Brit to make the last eight.

After winning his maiden title in Los Cabos, Norrie now is starting to feel confident in his game.

In his post-match interview the world number 29 insists that he is happy with his level as he continues his great season, “It’s very nice to be back here in Atlanta,” Norrie explained.

“It’s good to have Nick back… really enjoyed the match and really happy with my level. It’s cool to be playing at this level and [I am] happy and satisfied to be getting some wins. I’m enjoying my tennis.”

Next for Norrie will be Emil Ruusuvuori as he looks to continue his momentum and solidify his status as the man to beat in US hard court swing.

The other quarter-finals will see Los Cabos finalist Brandon Nakashima take on Jordan Thompson, Taylor Fritz will face fellow American Reilly Opelka.

While five-time champion John Isner will face Christopher O’Connell in the last eight with the American serving 49 aces in two matches so far.

Play will begin at 17:00 BST while Norrie’s match will likely take place at 20:00 BST.

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‘Probably Gonna Quit’ – Tennys Sandgren Blasts Performance After missing Out On Olympic Medal

The tennis star described his fourth place finish as ‘dog s**t.”

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Former Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren said he is close to retiring from tennis after missing out on a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Sandgren and doubles partner Austin Krajicek fell in straight sets to the New Zealand pairing of Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell, who are the first tennis players from their country in over 100 years to win a medal. The loss is a frustrating outcome for the American who wasn’t afraid to express how he felt after the match. Tokyo was the ninth doubles tournament Sandgren has played in this year.

“I mean, who f*ing cares you know, what do I have to show for it? We have a good week and fourth place is dog s**t.” He told the Olympic News Service.

Speaking straight after his loss, the highly emotional 30-year-old then cast doubt on his future in the sport. He is currently ranked 82nd in the world and has a win-loss record of 6-14 so far this year. However, he is yet to reach a quarter-final in singles.

I’m probably gonna quit. That might be my last match. I’m close, yeah, I’m close.” He replied when asked about his career.

As for if he would have done anything different in the bronze medal match, Sandgren replied ‘not to have been so bad.’ He also expressed disappointment that the tennis tournament took place behind closed doors. Prior to the Olympics, organisers decided to hold all events in Tokyo without fans due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.

“It would have been a great event with fans,” he via via teamusa.org. “Playing on an outside court without fans, I mean, you might as well be playing in Idaho in the middle of nowhere.”

Sandgren and Krajicek were America’s last chance to win a medal in the tennis competition. It is the first time the country has failed to win any medal since tennis returned as an Olympic event in 1988.

“There’s not much you can say about that except it’s pretty, pretty devastating to lose that one. You know, give yourself a chance to get a medal and then to lose those two (matches – including the men’s doubles semifinal) is tough, but you have to give those guys credit today. They played well.” Krajicek concluded.

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Updated Entry List For Washington

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photo by atptour.com

The US Open Series is ready to get to the heart, with the historic tournament of Washington D.C.

 

The Citi Open in Washington, the only ATP tournament to be contested next week, will follow Atlanta in the American summer tour. The event has been taking place on hard-courts since 1969, when Thomaz Koch from Brazil won the first edition defeating Arthur Ashe in the final.

Rafael Nadal, who has received a Wild-Card, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex De Minaur will be the first three seeded players. Jannik Sinner, Aslan Karatsev, Karen Khachanov and the defending champion Nick Kyrgios are committed to play as well, while Milos Raonic and John Isner have withdrawn. Denis Kudla, Brandon Nakashima and Feliciano Lopez will play with a Wild-Card.

NEWS: Karen Khachanov (who is playing the Olympics) has pulled out from the tournament; Mackenzie McDonald takes his place in the main draw.

NEWS: Aslan Karatsev has withdrawn, he has been replaced by Colombia’s Daniel-Elahi Galan.


ATP 500 Washington (DC, USA), entry list:
OUT Shapovalov, Denis (CAN)
Auger-Aliassime, Felix (CAN)
De Minaur, Alex (AUS)
OUT Hurkacz, Hubert (POL)
Auger-Aliassime, Felix (CAN)
Dimitrov, Grigor (BUL)
OUT Raonic, Milos (CAN)
Sinner, Jannik (ITA)
OUT Karatsev, Aslan (RUS)
Evans, Daniel (GBR)
OUT Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Opelka, Reilly (USA)
OUT Isner, John (USA)
Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
OUT Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)
Fritz, Taylor (USA)
Millman, John (AUS)
Paire, Benoit (FRA)
Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
Korda, Sebastian (USA)
Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
Paul, Tommy (USA)
Nishikori, Kei (JPN)
Querrey, Sam (USA)
Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Nishioka, Yoshihito (JPN)
OUT Pella, Guido (ARG)
Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
OUT Koepfer, Dominik (GER)
Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)
Giron, Marcos (USA)
Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
OUT Munar, Jaume (ESP)
OUT Kwon, Soonwoo (KOR)
OUT (SE)
ALT Uchiyama, Yasutaka (JPN)
WC Nadal, Rafael (ESP)
WC Sock, Jack (USA)
WC Nakashima, Brandon (USA)
WC Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
WC Brooksby, Jenson (USA)
OUT (WC)
Alternates:
IN Gerasimov, Egor (BLR)
IN Johnson, Steve (USA)
IN Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
IN Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
IN Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
IN Berankis, Ricardas (LTU)
OUT Monteiro, Thiago (BRA)
IN Seppi, Andreas (ITA)
IN Duckworth, James (AUS)

IN Anderson, Kevin (RSA)
OUT Daniel, Taro (JPN)
OUT Kukushkin, Mikhail (KAZ)

OUT Martinez, Pedro (ESP)
IN McDonald, Mackenzie (USA)
IN Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
IN Kudla, Denis (USA)

Alt.1 Uchiyama, Yasutaka (JPN)
Alt.2 Bonzi, Benjamin (FRA)
Alt.3 Sousa, Joao (POR)
Alt.4 Zapata Miralles, Bernabe (ESP)
Alt.5 Seyboth Wild, Thiago (BRA)


ATP 500 Washington, qualifying:
OUT Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
OUT Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
OUT Duckworth, James (AUS)

OUT Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
OUT Johnson, Steve (USA)
OUT Berankis, Ricardas (LTU)
OUT Seppi, Andreas (ITA)
OUT Ymer, Mikael (SWE)

OUT McDonald, Mackenzie (USA)
OUT Kudla, Denis (USA)
OUT Daniel, Taro (JPN)

OUT Bonzi, Benjamin (FRA)
OUT Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
OUT Sugita, Yuichi (JPN)
OUT Anderson, Kevin (RSA)

OUT Uchiyama, Yasutaka (JPN)
Wolf, J.J. (PR, USA)
ALT Purcell, Max (AUS)
ALT Eubanks, Christopher (USA)
ALT Torpegaard, Mikael (DEN)
ALT Ebden, Matthew (AUS)
ALT Ramanathan, Ramkumar (IND)
WC Karlovic, Ivo (CRO)
WC Blanch, Ulises (USA)
WC Saville, Luke (AUS)
WC Fenty, Andrew (USA)
Alternates:
OUT O’Connell, Christopher (AUS)
IN Broady, Liam (GBR)
IN Donskoy, Evgeny (RUS)
OUT Brooksby, Jenson (USA)
IN Gunneswaran, Prajnesh (IND)
IN Cressy, Maxime (USA)
IN Marchenko, Illya (UKR)
IN Gomez, Emilio (ECU)
IN Jung, Jason (TPE)
IN Ofner, Sebastian (AUT)
IN Ymer, Elias (SWE)
IN Soeda, Go (JPN)
IN Mmoh, Michael (USA)
OUT Escobedo, Ernesto (USA)
OUT Kokkinakis, Thanasi (AUS)
IN Fratangelo, Bjorn (USA)
IN Krueger, Mitchell (USA)

IN Ito, Tatsuma (PR, JPN)
Alt.1 Eubanks, Christopher (USA)
Alt.2 Ramanathan, Ramkumar (IND)
Alt.3 Torpegaard, Mikael (DEN)
OUT Sock, Jack (USA)
Alt.4 Purcell, Max (AUS)
Alt.5 Ebden, Matthew (AUS)

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