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. In this last article for this series we will examine the aggression on court, the mental toughness and the category of completeness with no excellence
Aggressiveness on Court
This category is about the search for winners. It isn’t about violence or about how much power a player can transmit to the ball when looking for a winner. It is about the attitude on court and how often does the player look to end the rallies at the first opportunity.
1) Tomas Berdych: the Czech is constantly looking to let his excellent ground strokes loose. His forehand and backhand are some of the best shots around. Berdych generally like to control rallies as his defensive skills are not the best, but with such clean, precise and powerful groundstrokes why should he defend?
2) Milos Raonic: such a tall man has no other option but to be aggressive on court. At 196cm tall, Raonic is aggressive with both serves and when the ball does come back over the net he is almost certainly going to look for the winner, preferably with the forehand. Even when defending the Canadian tries to avoid long rallies and will let his arm loose as soon as an opportunity arises.
3) Feliciano Lopez: the difference between him and the other four in this category is that his aggression does not express itself in terms of power, but in terms of net approaches and volleys. Lopez is a former serve & volley player who has toned down his tendency to go to the net to try and be more competitive and looking at the results it’s mission accomplished. The Spaniard will take any half opportunity to get to the net and end the points with a volley or a smash.
4) Fernando Verdasco: the left hander has in his forehand his weapon of choice and he isn’t shy in using it. Give him half an opportunity and he will go for the winner, but it’s also been a limit for him as he might sometimes think twice before falling into traps set by his opponents.
5) Jerzy Janowicz: considering the bad results he has had this season I probably should not have included him, but when talking about aggression I just couldn’t bring myself to let him out. He is possibly the most aggressive player on tour, but it’s also the Pole’s limit as he does not have a plan B. Every part of his game is aggressive, from his posture to his celebrations. If only he would learn to control his instincts applying a bit of patience he would be up there amongst the top players and and not in 43rd.
This category is self explanatory and there are many players to select from. With modern tennis being defensive, staying in the match and never giving up is paramount for the pros.
1) Rafael Nadal: with the Spaniard the match is never over until the last point is over and done with. Nadal seems to absolutely reject the concept of defeat to the point where a victory seems to give him more relief to have avoided a loss rather than joy for the win. Nadal rarely switch off in a match even at 0-6, 0-5, 0-40 and his opponents have often paid the price.
2) Novak Djokovic: the Serb wasn’t as tough in his earlier years, but over the last 3 or 4 years this has changed as the nearly six hour final in Melbourne shows. Unlike Nadal, he will have the odd pause during a match and during the season, but just like the Majorcan he is never beaten until the last point is played.
3) David Ferrer: his toughness comes from humility. Ferrer knows that he has to fight for every victory as he has done throughout his career. When he enters an arena he is fully aware that he will have to run for miles and miles and he won’t stop until the match is done and dusted. I suspect that he runs also after the matches are over…
4) Roger Federer: the Swiss has a different mental toughness than the other in this list, his is more applied to the career than a single match. Too often he has been considered on his way out, yet he is still number 2 in the world and playing some exquisite tennis. For example, very few believed that he could recapture the number one spot after he vacated it in 2010, yet in 2012 he was back on the throne and he came close this season. In a single match Federer isn’t the toughest of the lot, but over a season or a career he is.
5) Kei Nishikori: the Japanese player is extremely disciplined and concentrated on court clinging to every game and every point to try and bring home a win. His record in deciding sets (3rd or 5th) is very good in 2014 with 21 wins and just 3 defeats (69-19 in his career) that came by the hand of Hewitt and Nadal in Australia at the beginning of the year and in the Masters semifinal against Djokovic.
All good, but no excellence
Having no outstanding shot with which to end rallies isn’t necessarily a negative characteristic for a player. Solid players that have no real weakness are difficult to face as the opponent can only focus on using his weapons and not on the weaknesses on the other side of the net. Not every player is gifted with heigh for a big serve or an arm capable of producing stunning forehand after another, some have to focus on being complete players choosing the correct shot in each situation.
1) David Goffin: the Belgian has blossomed this season winning the “comeback of the year” award. Goffin isn’t very powerful or tall so cannot boss his opponents on court, but he knows how to hit each shot, from the serve to the volleys, and he is very quick with his legs and his mind. The Belgian wins by making the right choices when it matters most.
2) Roberto Bautista Agut: the winner of the “Most Improved” player of the year award went from 59th to 14th in the rankings during the last 12 months. He managed this improvement by maintaining a good level in all aspects of the game and by adapting tactically to different opponents and surfaces winning 2 titles, on grass at s-Hertogenbosch and on clay in Stuttgart. Hard work and a tennis brain are his weapons.
3) Tommy Robredo: this Spanish player does actually have a weapon of choice, his forehand, but he does not rely solely on this shot to win matches. Robredo is a complete player with a fine tactical mind and he does not have real weaknesses that the opponents can take advantage of. To beat Robredo an opponent must either out-smart or over power him and the former is easier to achieve.
4) Gilles Simon: the Frenchman’s best shot depends on where his opponent puts the ball. Simon is the best example of counter-puncher on tour. He is solid on both sides, capable of defending until the right time to try and take over. Breaking down Simon with power isn’t a good idea as he is a master in using the opponents power to his advantage. His lack of power is the reason he has to play like this, but his overall solidity makes it a good tactic for him to employ.
5) Leonardo Mayer: like the others on this list, the Argentine is a prime example of hard worker, and all the effort he has put in over the years have paid off in this season that saw him win his first title, Hamburg on clay, as well as allowing him to reach his best ranking of 25th in September. His forehand comes close to being his weapon, but it’s not quite good enough to be classified that way.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment
Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.
One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.
Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.
“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”
A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.
Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.
Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.
“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”
Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.
Dominic Thiem signs up to defend his Barcelona title
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