A 2014 ATP shot guide: Part 5 (aggression, toughness and completeness with no excellence) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 ATP shot guide: Part 5 (aggression, toughness and completeness with no excellence)

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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. 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

Click here for Part 1: (Serve and Forehand)

Click here for Part 2: (Return of Serve, Backhand and Slice Backhand)

Click here for Part 3: (Volleys and Passing Shots)

Click here for Part 4: (Footwork and Overall Defensive Skills)

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.

http://youtu.be/KqTPzrAGEAA

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.

Feliciano Lopez at Eastbourne by Giulio Gasparin

Feliciano Lopez at Eastbourne by Giulio Gasparin

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.

Jerzy Janowicz

Jerzy Janowicz

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.

Mental Toughness

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.

David Ferrer by Ike Leus

David Ferrer by Ike Leus

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.

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

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.

Roberto Bautista Agut

Roberto Bautista Agut

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.

Gilles Simon

Gilles Simon

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Casper Ruud Set For Career-High Ranking After Clay Court Hat-Trick

The young Norweigan player is closing in on his top-10 debut following his surge in success on the Tour.

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As some of his peers battle it out in Tokyo at the Olympic Games, Norway’s Casper Ruud has become a dominant force on the European clay.

 

The 22-year-old battled his way to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez in the final of Kitzbuhel on Saturday to claim his 12th win in a row on the Tour. It is the third consecutive week where Ruud has won a title after also triumphing at the Nordea Open and Swiss Open Gstaad. The surge in success has made him the first man to have won three ATP titles within as many weeks since Andy Murray did so back in 2011.

“I am shaking all over my body. It feels amazing,” Ruud told atptour.com. “I was very nervous at the end, I knew what I was playing for. Three in a row is something special. What a day to play the final, rain on and off all day.
“I’m just very excited and happy that these three weeks are over, and that I won all of them.”

All three tournaments Ruud has won are ATP 250 events but only once did he play a top 50 player. That was Benoit Paire whom he defeated 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, in the quarter-finals at Gstaad. In Kitzbuhel, he defeated Mario Vilella Martínez (No.167), Mikael Ymer (No.99), Arthur Rinderknech (No.91), and Martinez (No.97).

During his clash with Martinez, the match was interrupted by the rain and it didn’t end until 11:30 PM local time.

“It was tough… we know that the weather was a bit shaky so I was prepared [for the delay],” Ruud said. “It was a bit long there in the end. We came back, only played three games, and then we had to stop again. It was a bit annoying, but we had to keep the focus and try your best. It’s the same for the opponent.”

Ruud has now won four ATP titles this season after also triumphing at the Geneva Open back in May. Since the start of the 2020 season, he has won 45 matches on the clay and has defeated three top 10 players – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini.

The Norweigan is now set to rise to a career-ranking high of 12th when the standings are updated on Monday. He will also go up to eighth place in the ATP Race to Turin.

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