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

Roland Garros 2024: Rafael Nadal Faces Alexander Zverev In Blockbuster Opening Round

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev will meet at Roland Garros in the first round with Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in the opening round.

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Rafael Nadal has been drawn against Rome champion Alexander Zverev in the opening round of Roland Garros.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion will most likely be making his last appearance at the event where he has such a great history at.

It’s been a mixed clay court season for Nadal who built gradual momentum in Madrid but suffered an early exit in Rome to Hubert Hurkacz.

Now the Spaniard has been drawn to take on the champion of Rome, Alexander Zverev, in the opening round.

The match is a repeat of the 2022 semi-final where Zverev broke his ankle losing almost a year of his career.

This contest headlines the second quarter of the draw which also features Karen Khachanov, Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev.

In the other quarter of the top half of the draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic will begin his Roland Garros campaign against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

There is also a potential third round clash with either Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Musetti for Djokovic, who is currently in Geneva gaining extra match practice ahead of the second Grand Slam of the season.

The Serb could have a repeat of last year’s final in the quarter-finals with Casper Ruud as the Norwegian begins his campaign against Jakub Mensik.

In the bottom half of the draw Jannik Sinner plays his first tournament since suffering a hip injury in Rome as he takes on Christopher Eubanks in the opening round.

Sinner could face Cameron Norrie in the third round with the Brit taking on Pavel Kotov in his opening round before playing the winner of the battle of the Grand Slam champions between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Murray and Wawrinka will clash for the fourth time at Roland Garros with Wawrinka leading their head-to-head 2-1 in Paris.

This section also includes in-form players such as Hubert Hurkacz, Alejandro Tabilo and Rome finalist Nicolas Jarry.

Finally Carlos Alcaraz will begin his Roland Garros campaign against a qualifier before potentially playing Jack Draper in the second round.

Another exciting clash awaits Alcaraz in the third round in the form of Sebastian Korda with Andrey Rublev or Stefanos Tsitsipas being potential quarter-final opponents.

This is the full draw with Roland Garros beginning on Sunday.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Return To Top Four After Winning Italian Open

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Alexander Zverev has clinched his first Masters title since 2021 after downing Nicolas Jarry in straight sets at the Italian Open.

The world No.5 surged to a 6-4,7-5, victory at the Faro Italico to become the 10th player in the Open Era to win the Rome trophy on multiple occasions. He also won the tournament in 2017. Zverev’s latest win was aided by an impressive service display from the 27-year-old who also hit 15 winners against eight unforced errors. He is now 22-1 against players ranked outside the top five at the tournament with his only loss being to Matteo Berrettini five years ago.

“It means a lot. Winning my first (Masters) title and winning my first after my injury in Rome. Rome is a very special place for me,” the new champion said afterwards. 
“I said at the beginning of the week if Rome is the place of firsts for me I’m extremely happy about it. It’s a very special week.” 

Playing in his first Masters 1000 final since 2022, Zverev produced a serving masterclass throughout the opening set with the German winning 20 out of 21 points. In contrast, Jarry experienced more difficult but valiantly fought back with the Chilean saving two straight break points at 4-4. Eventually, the third seed sealed the opener two games later with the help of some costly shots coming from across the court. A deep shot towards the baseline was unsuccessfully returned by Jarry, handing Zverev a set point which he converted.

Continuing to pile the pressure on in the second set, Zverev had a double chance to break for a 3-1 lead but failed to capitalise on that opportunity. The opportunities continued to come and go. Back-to-back double faults from Jarry at 4-5 handed Zverev two championship points but once again he failed to take advantage. Eventually, he sealed victory two games later with the help of a forehand shot that Jarry returned out. Prompting Zverev to raise his hands in delight before later paying tribute to his rival. 

“He’s playing huge. You can see that by the opponents he beat and how he beat them,” he said of Jarry. 
“I told him if he continues playing like that he is going to have many more chances. I’m happy to be the winner.”

As a result of his Rome triumph, Zverev has secured a top-four seeding for the French Open. On Monday he will rise in the PIF ATP rankings to No.4 which will be his highest position since August 2022. During that same year, he sustained a serious ankle injury which sidelined him for months. 

“The focus is on Paris, that’s for sure. but let me enjoy this one for a day or so and then I will have my full focus on Paris,” said Zverev.

Zverev has now won six Masters 1000 titles which places him in joint-ninth on the all-time list along with Daniil Medvedev. 

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Novak Djokovic Accepts Geneva Wildcard Ahead Of Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic has accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva as he looks to improve his form ahead of Roland Garros.

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Novak Djokovic has shockingly accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva.

The world number one hasn’t had the best season so far having yet to reach a final at any of his events this season.

There was hope for Djokovic that his fortunes would change on clay and the Serb started his clay court season by reaching the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo before losing to Casper Ruud.

However Djokovic’s clay court hopes were dashed in Rome as he lost in the third round to in-form Chilean Alejandro Tabilo.

This has meant that Djokovic risks being undercooked for the second Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros.

Therefore the Serb has had no option but to take a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 in Geneva.

Djokovic will join Casper Ruud, Andy Murray, Denis Shapovalov and Taylor Fritz in next week’s event.

Next week’s appearance will be the first appearance in Geneva in Djokovic who will be the top seed in Switzerland.

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