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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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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