A 2014 ATP shot guide: Part 3 (Volleys and Passing Shots) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 ATP shot guide: Part 3 (Volleys and Passing Shots)

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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 volleys and the passing shots

Click here for Part 1: (Serve and Forehand)

Click here for Part 2: (Volleys and Passing Shots)

Volleys

For the past ten years, probably even more, the volleys have become more rare, but over the past couple of seasons they are making a comeback. Attacking players have realised that they need to end points at the net because of the improved defensive capabilities of their opponents and going forwards to end the rally with a volley is the best way to break down their opponent’s resistance. There are no serve & volley players left on tour, some like Federer do go to the net after their serve, but it’s a tactic used to mix things up, it isn’t the rule that Edberg, Becker or McEnroe followed.

1) Roger Federer: The Swiss is the best natural net player on tour. At the start of his career Roger Federer used to get to the net very often, but as he collected Grand Slam title after Grand Slam title, he realised he could win from the base line so the need to approach the net and take risks diminished. In the last year or so Federer has started to attack the net more often showing us his quality at the net. His major defect in this area of play is that his approach shots are not necessarily good enough.

2) Feliciano Lopez: the left-handed Spaniard is, like Federer, a player that often employs the serve & volley tactics. In the earlier part of his career running to the net as soon as possible used to be a mantra, but in this second part of his career he descends to the net with less of a frenzy making his shots easier and therefore more effective. In terms of style he is up there with Roger Federer, but his approach play from the baseline isn’t as good as the Swiss’ so he is passed more often.

3) Grigor Dimitrov: the Bulgarian is known more for his forehand and backhand that are stylish and bare close resemblance to Federer’s shots. This season Dimitrov has work hard on his volleys giving him confidence to descend more often and to close rallies he controls with his ground strokes. There is room for improvement.

Andy Murray by Art Seitz

Andy Murray by Art Seitz

4) Andy Murray: this was far from a good season for the British player. Andy Murray has struggled to find his best form causing him to drop in confidence and as a consequence he has returned to his defensive style of play. Yet when he is confident and on the offensive, Murray does get to the net often to end rallies to great effect. He has one of the best touches at the net on tour, it’s a shame we don’t get to see his volleys more often.

5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: just like Murray, also Tsonga had a disappointing season except for the Master 1000 title he collected in Toronto. Tsonga used to go to the net as often as possible and often without a proper plan or approach by his own admission. Now he has tried to get some consistency by reducing his runs to the net, but it is not working out. When the Frenchman is at the net he is very difficult to pass, he is tall, he covers most of the net and he has fast reflexes with a good touch. To win the Rogers Cup Tsonga showed that at the net he is one of the best players around.

Passing Shots

As players are starting to attack the net more often, passing shots are becoming important once again. This particular type of shot is different from a ground stroke as they don’t need to be deep, but they have to pass close to the net and dip right afterward. Also power is relatively important, what is key for this shot is precision, quick thinking and great footwork to get to the position to make the passing shot.

1) Novak Djokovic: the best defensive player on tour is also the best passer of the game. Djokovic gets to any approach shot thrown his way and even in precarious conditions he manages to pull off some stunning passing shots finding incredible angles. The key to the Serb’s passing shots is his incredible coordination and his speed that allows him to produce some outstanding passing shots leaving his opponents stranded or incredulous.

2) Andy Murray: also for the 2013 Wimbledon Champion the success in this particular aspect of the game is due mainly to his excellent defensive skills as well as his technique. Murray moves well and he is also capable of finding unlikely angles with his shots, particularly his backhand. His opponents need to attack well and on his forehand if they want to succeed at the net.

3) Rafael Nadal: the best player ever on clay is very good at passing players who attempt to defeat him by going to the net. Just like Nole and Murray also Nadal has quick feet and some excellent defensive skills. The reason he is behind the other two is because getting to the net is the best way to try and defeat Rafa, but it’s risky. Nadal’s passing shots made Federer more wary of getting to the net, but the alternative is lose long rallies that cost a lot of energy. Unlike Murray, Nadal’s weaker side is the backhand when producing passing shots.

http://youtu.be/4wB5g84zM3A

4) Kei Nishikori: the US Open finalist is a classic Bollettieri player, nearly useless when going to the net but deadly with his passing shots. Unlike the previous three Nishikori does not slip back behind the baseline, but he stands on it looking to hit the ball early. His timing allows the Japanese player to hit the passing shots early meaning that he often catches the volleyer unprepared.

David Ferrer by Ike Leus

David Ferrer by Ike Leus

5) David Ferrer: also this Spanish player can produce some excellent passing shots and also he depends on his fast legs to pass his opponents. Ferrer will chase down any ball coming over the net and he often reaches where the majority of other players never even try to go and this means that he can surprise his opponent. Ferrer rarely produces incredible angles, but if the player at the net leaves the slightest gap in his net coverage, he will find it with pinpoint precision.

ATP

‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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