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)




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)


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.


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.


Auger Aliassime overcomes slow start to beat Seppi in Washington

The Canadian looked down and out early in the match but bounced back to avenge a loss he suffered at the French Open in June.




Second seed Felix Auger Aliassime survived a huge scare in his opening match at the Citi Open in Washington.

The Canadian was on the verge of being upset by the Italian Andreas Seppi but battled back to beat him 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 59 minutes. Blasting a total of 25 winners and nine aces in the win.


“In my mind, I wanted to find a way to come back. To get that early break in the second really helped me a lot and I think I served a little bit better and I put more volume and height on my shot,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I was more patient and in the first set I was missing too quickly in the rallies so digging deep physically and mentally allowed me to come back nicely in the match and to finish strong in the third set. I am happy with the way things turned around for me today”.

It was the world number 88 with the better start to the match and after both players held their opening service games he had two chances to get the early break and took a 2-1 lead. After consolidating the break, the Italian set up another breakpoint with a stunning forehand winner, broke again for a 4-1 lead, and served out the first set.

Auger-Aliassime was keen on getting back into the match and wanted to avoid a second straight upset loss to the Italian. After holding serve in the first game of the second set he had two chances to take an early lead and broke for the 2-0 lead with a forehand up the line of his very own on breakpoint. That was enough for him to serve out the second set and send the match into a decisive third set to decide the winner.

It was the Canadian who repeated what he did in the second set holding the opening service game and breaking Seppi’s serve with a sublime passing shot. The Italian responded the next game by breaking right back but failed to consolidate the break as the world number 15 broke again with his powerful backhand winner.

At 5-2, the Auger-Aliassime found himself at match point and it took him five attempts before being able to convert and seal the match. Avenging a loss he suffered at Roland Garros.

After the match in his post-match press conference, the Canadian was asked if he had the loss to Seppi at the French Open in the back of his mind during the match.

” In a way yes of course because we played once and he beat me and as a player, you never want to go down twice in a row against a player but it happens but in my case, I really wanted to find a way to win that match and get revenge just for myself to try and get the win”. he said.

Auger Aliassime will now face the winner of the second-round match between Jenson Brooksby or Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

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Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.




Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.


” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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John Isner Wins 16th ATP Title In Atlanta

The 6ft 10 American got revenge on his American opponent for the loss he suffered last week in Los Cabos.




John Isner has continued his love affair with the Atlanta Open by ousting Brandon Nakashima to win the tournament for a record sixth time.


The sixth seed beat the American teenager 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes. Firing a total of 21 aces and winning 81% of his first-serve points en route to the victory.

“I think if you count the last two weeks playing singles and doubles I played 12 matches in about 10 or 11 days so I have played a lot which is exactly what I need,” Isner said following his win. “Hopefully I can take this and go forward and build some momentum for tournaments ahead.’
This tournament has meant everything to my career it’s amazing”. He added.

The first set was extremely tight and neither player gave an inch in their respective service games. The opener was decided by a tiebreaker which Isner is accustomed to. Whilst the first set was tight, the tiebreaker was an even tighter affair Isner squeezing out a 10-8 win to take the first set 7-6.

Again the second set was competitive and again neither player got an edge on their return game. It was only at 5-4 that the Dallas, Texas native found himself at triple match point but the world number 115 saved all three.

Nakashima would save a fourth before holding serve and at 6-5, the world number 35 earned a fifth match point. That’s where he closed out the match and sealed the win and the title.

After the match, Isner was asked about his history of playing numerous tiebreakers throughout his career.

” I play a lot of those and it’s a situation I am comfortable in since I have been on tour forever,” he explained. “Honestly I think today (Sunday) I was just a little bit luckier and that’s what It really came down to. It’s amazing to be out here again playing on a Sunday and it was awesome”.

Isner confirmed that he will not be making the trip to Washington, DC for the Citi Open and instead he will take a week off after playing back-to-back tournaments in Los Cabos and Atlanta. He is next scheduled to be in Toronto for the National Bank Open.

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