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.

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Andy Murray Outlines ‘Big Concern’ About His Current Fitness Ahead Of US Open

The 35-year-old is looking to see if he can find a reason behind his latest problem on the Tour.

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Andy Murray (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Britain’s Andy Murray has admitted that he is alarmed about the frequency of cramping he is experiencing during matches played in North America this season.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion crashed out of the Western and Southern Open on Wednesday after losing in three sets to compatriot Cameron Norrie. During the closing stages of their encounter, it was visible that Murray was once again struggling with cramps. A condition that occurs when a muscle shortens and causes a sudden pain that can make it hard to move.

It is usual for athletes to experience cramps but for Murray the issue is a ‘big concern’ for him. Saying that this year is the first time in his career he has suffered from the issue on a regular basis.

“I think pretty much every tennis player in their career has cramped usually in these sorts of conditions,” Murray said during his press conference.
“But the consistency of it for me is a big concern. It’s not something that I have really experienced. I have experienced cramping but not consistently like over a number of tournaments.
“It’s a big concern for me because it’s not easy to play when it gets bad like it was at the end (of his match against Norrie). I feel like it had an impact on the end of the match.”

Murray says his cramping occurs ‘predominantly’ in his legs but different parts. The former world No.1 is now looking into seeing if he can find a possible explanation as to what might be triggering the cramps. The issue comes less than two weeks before the start of the US Open.

“It’s a big concern for me that and something that I need to address and find a solution for,” he said. “No one knows exactly why cramps happen. There are many reasons, whether its hydration, whether it’s the food that you have taken in, whether it’s fatigue and lack of conditioning, stress.’
“I need to try and understand what’s going on there.”

Since Wimbledon, Murray has achieved a win-loss record of 3-4 on the Tour with his best run being to the quarter-finals in Newport. He is currently ranked 47th in the world.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: A Loaded Schedule Features All Third Round Matches

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Emma Raducanu on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Thursday’s schedule in Cincinnati is overflowing with appealing contests.  ATP third round singles action is especially stacked, featuring 11 of the world’s top 20, including world No.1 Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz.  WTA action features top names such as world No.1 Iga Swiatek and reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

It’s been a tough season for Raducanu, but she seems to be peaking just in time for her US Open title defense.  The 19-year-old followed up her comfortable victory over Serena Williams by dominating Victoria Azarenka 6-0, 6-2.  She is currently in a trial coaching relationship with Dmitry Tursunov, who in recent years guided the careers of two other WTA players to new heights (Sabalenka, Kontaveit).  That partnership appears to be paying immediate dividends for Emma, much like Tursunov’s coaching did for Aryna and Anett.  Pegula has become the American No.1, and since last August, has reached the semifinals at three WTA 1000 events in North America, including just last week in Toronto.  But in their first career meeting, Raducanu’s blistering form this week makes her the favorite.


Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Grand Stand

This is a rematch from three months ago at the Madrid Masters 1000 event, where Auger-Aliassime crushed Sinner 6-1, 6-2.  That was an especially surprising result on clay, which is not Felix’s best surface.  The 22-year-old Canadian is now 35-19 on the year, and defeated Alex de Minaur in straight sets on Wednesday.  Sinner has a slightly better record of 38-10, and on Tuesday, outlasted Thanasi Kokkinakis in an over three-hour match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Over the last few months, Sinner has been the more in-form player.  Jannik has won nine of his last 11 matches, while Felix has only managed five of his last 10.  With not much separating their abilities, confidence may be key, and that’s to Sinner’s advantage.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Andrey Rublev (6) – Fritz easily dismissed of an obviously-hampered Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday.  Rublev came back from a set down to take out Fabio Fognini.  Taylor is 3-2 against Andrey, which includes a straight set victory earlier this year at Indian Wells.

Petra Kvitova vs. Ons Jabeur (5) – Jabeur saved three match points on Wednesday against Ohio native Katy McNally.  A round earlier, Kvitova saved match point against last year’s runner-up, Jil Teichmann.  Petra leads their head-to-head 3-1, though Ons earned her first win in their friendly rivalry this season.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Madison Keys – On Wednesday, Swiatek outlasted the other finalist from the 2017 US Open, Sloane Stephens.  On the same day, Keys ousted another French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko. 

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Denis Shapovalov – This week, Shapovalov has earned his first back-to-back wins since May.  He has split four previous meetings with Medvedev, though Daniil has claimed their most recent two. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Diego Schwartzman (13) – Schwartzman already survived two three-setters this week.  He’s 2-2 overall against Tsitsipas, though Diego has taken both of their matches on hard courts. 

Marin Cilic (14) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Cilic won this event in 2016.  He’s 1-1 against Alcaraz, who is now 43-8 in 2022.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round

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A look at Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (twitter.com/cincytennis)

On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller.  In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.

 

WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek.  Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court

Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka.  He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began.  But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months.  Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year.  Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours.  But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor.  While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand

Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July.  But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play.  Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year.  On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0.  Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019.  These two Major champs have never played before.  Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year.  Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ.  Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.

Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ.  Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year.  They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington.  This will be their first career meeting.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts.  Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning.  Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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