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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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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