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View Full Version : Keys to beating Roger Federer?


War, Safin!
06-05-2007, 02:10 AM
On hardcourts and grass?

Pete Sampras: "I mean, great a player as Nadal is, you put a really good serve-and-volleyer against him and you have got to feel pretty good about it."

Q: So you would fancy your chances against him on grass?
Pete Sampras: "Oh yeah, even today. If I worked at it.... But seeing how everyone's playing, staying back on grass like it's almost like Roland Garros...Roger Federer is a legend in the making, he's such a great mover and can go from defence to attack in an instant. Regardless of whether he stopped tomorrow, he's dominated his generation more than anyone has. Nadal is a great player, but the rest I look at are just really 'good' baseline players.
But even Roger's staying back at Wimbledon. When I played him, he came in on every ball. I have always felt the best tennis was a contrast: Borg and McEnroe, Becker and Edberg, me and Andre, someone stays back, someone comes in. Now it's just guys banging from the back courts. When I watch Roger freewheeling, so confident, it's such a great feeling, but if I was playing him now, I would still try and take his time away, come to the net first and second serve, attack his second serve, same as with Andre. Nobody takes his time away. I'd just come at him and keep coming."


My question to the posters here: of all today's big-servers being able to send down 135-150mph bombs, why can't any of them go to the net or employed any form of serve-n-volley game?
Are today's servers just big on power and speed and not enough on placement?
Example: does Andy Roddick honestly think he's going to get passed time-after-time at the net when he's served a 145mph bomb 'down-the-T'?
Of course he doesn't - but you see him approach the net and his volleying looks terrible - it appears that he, like a good % of the ATP havent been taught how to volley correctly, IMO.

Sampras is right on the money his comments. I also feel that using some form of serve-and-volley game is the main key to knock out Federer out of the comfort-zone, with a first serve average of say, 130mph and second serve of 100-110 mph, which kicks high.

Tactics
1 - A guy who can serve well at this speed has the options of a high kick-serve to the Federer backhand - which Rafael Nadal has consistently shown to be a BIG weakness for Federer cos he employes the one-handed backhand. He'd will block the big one back, hard volleys into the open court is one option, cos Federer is so quick to work your game out, this drop-volley shouldn't be done too often, cause Federer is real fast around the court, too.

2 - With return games, you have to attack the second serve of Federer, cause it dosent have much speed but it can kick - it's usually around 90-100mph.

3 - The trickier option but real key to beat Federer by baseline game is to force him to hit that backhand on the run. Federer has a good running forehand, but I've witnessed many times, that he has a real shaky backhand on the run.

For proof of the above three tactics, just watch what Marat Safin did to Federer in the Australian Open semi-final in 2005. Safin seems to hits the ball flatter, harder and cleaner together than anyone else on tour and employed this tactic over and over again....result was that Federer, playing awesome tennis himself that night, was pegged back on the defense for a lot of the match cos Safin never let up with hitting big 135mph bombs (with a solitary double-fault!), served-n-volleyed at big points and crushed the ball back to Federer's backhand all night.

I think that's the key: constantly attack behind a big serve and force him to hit backhand on the run.

I might be on thin-ice with my thoughts and tactics here ;) , but feel free to chip-in with your own views or correct me if I'm way off target!

Thanks.

David L
06-05-2007, 04:32 AM
Well, Hewitt stays back and used to routinely beat Sampras on grass and hard, leading the head to head 5-4. On the occasions Sampras did win, they were very close matches. Sampras would'nt have it as easy as he thinks against Nadal. Players these days pass opponents at the net, in their sleep. It's easy to say everyone should serve and volley today, try actually doing it and see how well you fair. With the ball not skidding through these days, serve and volleying is a risky strategy, where you are pretty much a sitting duck at net more often than not, even if you have a good serve. Here's what Bjorkman had to say at the French.

Q. When you're a veteran like you are, do you think that helps or hurts you to be playing serve‑and‑volley tennis as opposed to say baseline tennis? What are the things that start to go a little bit soft first, the things that work for the clay court game or fast court game?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I can't play in a serve and volley anymore. It's impossible on the surface we have these days. I stopped. I think, in general, you've seen Henman, myself, most of the guys who have been playing serve and volley before, we all stopped, because, you know, it's just not possible to do that anymore purely because the competition is so good. All of the players are hitting it stronger. But then the strings, racquets, the heavy balls, slow surfaces, obviously making it more or less impossible.

So I wouldn't say that has something to do with age. I feel if I have a quick court, I can still play a great serve and volley. But it's just you've got to have some benefits. Especially when you hit a volley, you need to see that the ball takes off and not just sits up.

Q. Do you think the courts ought to be speeded up? Do you think it's unfair now toward the slow court players?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No, I wouldn't say it's unfair, really. It's part of the game to have ‑‑ you know, I think, what was it, midnight is when we had this lightning courts. It was not so much fun to watch Becker, Ivanisevic hitting 45 bombs each. But sometimes we can look for what is the medium. I think like on clay, we have really heavy balls in Hamburg, but it makes no sense. It's only going to be 7, 8 every day. So maybe we can have a quicker ball in Hamburg, a little bit slower one in Monte Carlo. So you're just finding a better balance sometimes. Or if you have a slow court, you can have a quicker ball.

That's more that you can work on. Because I think it's good to have a variety of different type of player styles.

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/news/interviews/2007-06-04/200706041180968201484.html

tennishead93
06-05-2007, 05:19 PM
roddicks wimby game plan

kingdaddy41788
06-05-2007, 05:28 PM
The faster a serve is the harder it is to get to the net. The better placed it is, the easier it is, savvy?

Zets147
06-05-2007, 05:40 PM
The faster a serve is the harder it is to get to the net. The better placed it is, the easier it is, savvy?

aye captain, but you want those high floaters back from the fast serve, no?

kingdaddy41788
06-05-2007, 05:43 PM
Yeah but you don't get many on the pro tour. You're still more likely to get a high floater from a well-placed serve.

Defcon
06-05-2007, 05:45 PM
you must have an uncle named Toni, no?

kingdaddy41788
06-05-2007, 05:47 PM
not sure what you mean by that...

Mr. Sean
06-05-2007, 05:48 PM
We'll find out how good sampras' tactics will be against fed this fall. Cant wait. I guarantee sampras will win a set. Should be exciting. As for Roddick I dont think he has the discipline to serve and volley at wimbie. Chances are he will go back to his 8 feet behind the baseline game if conners doesnt fix him up again.

kingdaddy41788
06-05-2007, 05:52 PM
Well those are exhibition matches, which are always pretty close for some odd reason... Maybe because the players take them less seriously and they are for the crowd's enjoyment?

Zets147
06-05-2007, 05:52 PM
We'll find out how good sampras' tactics will be against fed this fall. Cant wait. I guarantee sampras will win a set. Should be exciting. As for Roddick I dont think he has the discipline to serve and volley at wimbie. Chances are he will go back to his 8 feet behind the baseline game if conners doesnt fix him up again.

Exhibition = Entertainment. Of course they are going to give the crowd a show. The main goal of the exhibitions taking place in Asia is to try to appeal to Asian countries.

J-man
06-05-2007, 05:55 PM
On hardcourts and grass?

Pete Sampras: "I mean, great a player as Nadal is, you put a really good serve-and-volleyer against him and you have got to feel pretty good about it."

Q: So you would fancy your chances against him on grass?
Pete Sampras: "Oh yeah, even today. If I worked at it.... But seeing how everyone's playing, staying back on grass like it's almost like Roland Garros...Roger Federer is a legend in the making, he's such a great mover and can go from defence to attack in an instant. Regardless of whether he stopped tomorrow, he's dominated his generation more than anyone has. Nadal is a great player, but the rest I look at are just really 'good' baseline players.
But even Roger's staying back at Wimbledon. When I played him, he came in on every ball. I have always felt the best tennis was a contrast: Borg and McEnroe, Becker and Edberg, me and Andre, someone stays back, someone comes in. Now it's just guys banging from the back courts. When I watch Roger freewheeling, so confident, it's such a great feeling, but if I was playing him now, I would still try and take his time away, come to the net first and second serve, attack his second serve, same as with Andre. Nobody takes his time away. I'd just come at him and keep coming."


My question to the posters here: of all today's big-servers being able to send down 135-150mph bombs, why can't any of them go to the net or employed any form of serve-n-volley game?
Are today's servers just big on power and speed and not enough on placement?
Example: does Andy Roddick honestly think he's going to get passed time-after-time at the net when he's served a 145mph bomb 'down-the-T'?
Of course he doesn't - but you see him approach the net and his volleying looks terrible - it appears that he, like a good % of the ATP havent been taught how to volley correctly, IMO.

Sampras is right on the money his comments. I also feel that using some form of serve-and-volley game is the main key to knock out Federer out of the comfort-zone, with a first serve average of say, 130mph and second serve of 100-110 mph, which kicks high.

Tactics
1 - A guy who can serve well at this speed has the options of a high kick-serve to the Federer backhand - which Rafael Nadal has consistently shown to be a BIG weakness for Federer cos he employes the one-handed backhand. He'd will block the big one back, hard volleys into the open court is one option, cos Federer is so quick to work your game out, this drop-volley shouldn't be done too often, cause Federer is real fast around the court, too.

2 - With return games, you have to attack the second serve of Federer, cause it dosent have much speed but it can kick - it's usually around 90-100mph.

3 - The trickier option but real key to beat Federer by baseline game is to force him to hit that backhand on the run. Federer has a good running forehand, but I've witnessed many times, that he has a real shaky backhand on the run.

For proof of the above three tactics, just watch what Marat Safin did to Federer in the Australian Open semi-final in 2005. Safin seems to hits the ball flatter, harder and cleaner together than anyone else on tour and employed this tactic over and over again....result was that Federer, playing awesome tennis himself that night, was pegged back on the defense for a lot of the match cos Safin never let up with hitting big 135mph bombs (with a solitary double-fault!), served-n-volleyed at big points and crushed the ball back to Federer's backhand all night.

I think that's the key: constantly attack behind a big serve and force him to hit backhand on the run.

I might be on thin-ice with my thoughts and tactics here ;) , but feel free to chip-in with your own views or correct me if I'm way off target!

Thanks.I've only followed the game for about 2 years so tatics are probably not my biggest forte so to speak. But from what I've seen of players the only consistant tatic you can use against Federer is to serve and Volley. If you stay at the baseline you can only do so much, unless you're Nadal. Even if you try to approach the net off an approach shot you in trouble (it's got to be a damn good approach shot). To take time away you need to have something bigger, like a serve. If you can serve big and have good volleys (listen up Roddick) you can take loads of time away from him.

jmsx521
06-05-2007, 06:30 PM
A tennis player I know told me he had a dream just a few days ago beating Roger Federer on the US Open's final.... I've got to ask him how he did it!

He also said he beat Nadal in the semis and other top players en route to his US Open title.... And at the end, for some strange reason -- that only belongs in a dream -- he just got the check, didn't take the trophy and walked-off the stadium, and never played tennis again.

Mr. Sean
06-05-2007, 06:30 PM
I've only followed the game for about 2 years so tatics are probably not my biggest forte so to speak. But from what I've seen of players the only consistant tatic you can use against Federer is to serve and Volley. If you stay at the baseline you can only do so much, unless you're Nadal. Even if you try to approach the net off an approach shot you in trouble (it's got to be a damn good approach shot). To take time away you need to have something bigger, like a serve. If you can serve big and have good volleys (listen up Roddick) you can take loads of time away from him.


Can anyone say Wimbledon 04 final. Roddick was doing exactly this for a good set before the damn rain delay. Then he relied on his forehand too much and lost the match.

djsiva
06-05-2007, 06:44 PM
The game has definitely changed. It's really naive for people to say serve and volley is the way to beat Federer.

Let's look at this scientifically. Who has beaten Federer? Nadal and Canas. How did they do it? Serve and volley? Nope. They did it by doing nothing spectacular. They just kept the ball in play. Lendl, Wilander, and Mecir would easily beat Federer.

Guys are just intimidated and so they lose their nerve or try to hit winners too quickly.

If you watch carefully, Federer gives guys lots of chances to attack, for christsake he routinely slices the ball back without even coming in. He learned this tactic from Roche. Roche made Lendl do it. And Wilander starting doing with his three grand slam run in 87 or 88. Graf did it on the women's tour. Guys don't have to do anything special, all they have to do is keep the ball in play. Make Federer hit winners. He'll miss. Everyone misses.

Tennis is not about hitting winners, its about commiting less errors.

kingdaddy41788
06-05-2007, 06:48 PM
too bad Federer's winners quite often outnumber his errors. Kind of shoots your theory in the foot.

David L
06-05-2007, 08:30 PM
The game has definitely changed. It's really naive for people to say serve and volley is the way to beat Federer.

Let's look at this scientifically. Who has beaten Federer? Nadal and Canas. How did they do it? Serve and volley? Nope. They did it by doing nothing spectacular. They just kept the ball in play. Lendl, Wilander, and Mecir would easily beat Federer.

Guys are just intimidated and so they lose their nerve or try to hit winners too quickly.

If you watch carefully, Federer gives guys lots of chances to attack, for christsake he routinely slices the ball back without even coming in. He learned this tactic from Roche. Roche made Lendl do it. And Wilander starting doing with his three grand slam run in 87 or 88. Graf did it on the women's tour. Guys don't have to do anything special, all they have to do is keep the ball in play. Make Federer hit winners. He'll miss. Everyone misses.

Tennis is not about hitting winners, its about commiting less errors.Trying to keep the ball in play against Federer is the problem. He forces people into error with the pace, spin and trajectory of his ball. If you are just interested in getting the ball back and do too little with it, he's going to run all over you, so you have to do a little more. Maybe play with pace or keep the ball deep, all of which reduce your margin for error. It's not only Federer's errors they have to worry about, it's their own as well. If they just hack back sitters, Federer is going to kill them.

Fries-N-Gravy
06-05-2007, 09:49 PM
these massives serves these days are mostly flat and aren't hit on the lines, aren't disguised as well as pete in his prime. his serves may have been almost as powerful probably read slower by older guns, but they were deceptive and had lots of torque and spin.

rafter used to go to the net even if his opponent wasn't off balance and did you really think they weren't going to have time to pass him? he had to do so much extra sprinting to the net just because he went to net even when it was a bad idea. its a high risk game, with today's players being better returners and more consistent with their groundstrokes, theres so little opporunity to go the net and be in an offensive position.

also, have you seen everyone's volleys these days?


regarding nadal, has anyone noticed how often he grinds until his opponent is pushed off the court and then he goes to the net to end it with a drop shot? its great, they know he's going to do it but they can't do a thing about it. I seriously think if his serve was much better he'd serve and volley.

crazylevity
06-05-2007, 10:32 PM
A good returner such as Federer will be able to place even the blocked serves back fairly low, and because of the big serve it will be very quick. It's not easy to volley off those balls.

War, Safin!
06-06-2007, 01:30 AM
Thing is, I re-watched a couple of sets of the Safin - Federer match and when Safin employed a combination of all these tactics:
* big-serve
* deep, powerful shots on either flanks
* coming to the net (especially his S&V-ing)

Federer was troubled with Safin's 1st-serve to the body or the heavy kicking 2nd-serve - he just chipped it back as deep as possible and waitied for the basleine exchange to commence.

Where he did get into trouble was trying to match Federer, shot-for-shot on the baseline exchanges...

Awesome match though!

David L
06-06-2007, 02:08 AM
Thing is, I re-watched a couple of sets of the Safin - Federer match and when Safin employed a combination of all these tactics:
* big-serve
* deep, powerful shots on either flanks
* coming to the net (especially his S&V-ing)

Federer was troubled with Safin's 1st-serve to the body or the heavy kicking 2nd-serve - he just chipped it back as deep as possible and waitied for the basleine exchange to commence.

Where he did get into trouble was trying to match Federer, shot-for-shot on the baseline exchanges...

Awesome match though!If you're looking for a reliable formula for beating Federer, you're not going to find it. This is how it works, to beat Federer on a good or normal day, you have to at least match his level throughout the match, the style you play is almost incidental. If you're a baseliner, you have to produce Agassi type groundstrokes and consistency or some other really great baseliner. If you're a serve and volleyer, you have to play at prime Sampras type level. Either this, or catch him on a bad day.

The Safin match cannot create or support any theories on the matter because it is an anomaly. Firstly, Federer was playing injured. Secondly, Federer was 2 sets to 1 up with match points in the fourth. Safin barely won, playing inspired tennis. Thirdly, Federer only chips the ball back deep if his opponent is not coming to net. If they start serve and volleying, he adapts and blocks or hits back returns, as you will see from the Sampras match or the the Mahut and Ancic matches at Wimbledon last year.

War, Safin!
06-08-2007, 12:48 AM
Well, Hewitt stays back and used to routinely beat Sampras on grass and hard, leading the head to head 5-4. On the occasions Sampras did win, they were very close matches. Sampras would'nt have it as easy as he thinks against Nadal. Players these days pass opponents at the net, in their sleep. It's easy to say everyone should serve and volley today, try actually doing it and see how well you fair. With the ball not skidding through these days, serve and volleying is a risky strategy, where you are pretty much a sitting duck at net more often than not, even if you have a good serve. Here's what Bjorkman had to say at the French.

Q. When you're a veteran like you are, do you think that helps or hurts you to be playing serve‑and‑volley tennis as opposed to say baseline tennis? What are the things that start to go a little bit soft first, the things that work for the clay court game or fast court game?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I can't play in a serve and volley anymore. It's impossible on the surface we have these days. I stopped. I think, in general, you've seen Henman, myself, most of the guys who have been playing serve and volley before, we all stopped, because, you know, it's just not possible to do that anymore purely because the competition is so good. All of the players are hitting it stronger. But then the strings, racquets, the heavy balls, slow surfaces, obviously making it more or less impossible.

So I wouldn't say that has something to do with age. I feel if I have a quick court, I can still play a great serve and volley. But it's just you've got to have some benefits. Especially when you hit a volley, you need to see that the ball takes off and not just sits up.

Q. Do you think the courts ought to be speeded up? Do you think it's unfair now toward the slow court players?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No, I wouldn't say it's unfair, really. It's part of the game to have ‑‑ you know, I think, what was it, midnight is when we had this lightning courts. It was not so much fun to watch Becker, Ivanisevic hitting 45 bombs each. But sometimes we can look for what is the medium. I think like on clay, we have really heavy balls in Hamburg, but it makes no sense. It's only going to be 7, 8° every day. So maybe we can have a quicker ball in Hamburg, a little bit slower one in Monte Carlo. So you're just finding a better balance sometimes. Or if you have a slow court, you can have a quicker ball.

That's more that you can work on. Because I think it's good to have a variety of different type of player styles.

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/news/interviews/2007-06-04/200706041180968201484.html
Not to cause any issue here but:
1 - Hewitt is a far more aggressive returner than Federer and one of the best in the game.
2 - Bjorkman....isn't what I'd call 'stellar opposition'

David L
06-08-2007, 01:03 AM
Not to cause any issue here but:
1 - Hewitt is a far more aggressive returner than Federer and one of the best in the game.
2 - Bjorkman....isn't what I'd call 'stellar opposition'Yes, Hewitt is more aggressive on the return generally. However, if Federer is playing a serve and volleyer, he can adapt and be aggressive as well. He certainly would'nt be chipping it back, as he does when people stay on the baseline. We have seen this time and time again.

Bjorkman was talking more generally and not only about himself. I mean, the guy should know what he's talking about, he's a current touring pro. No one on these boards can say this and Sampras has'nt played on the tour for 4 years. Things change. Also, he's not the only pro currently on the tour who has said this. Henman and others have repeated similar things.

Kobble
06-08-2007, 09:47 AM
Rafter has never lost to him on all surfaces. Serve and volley can work.

Agassi was able to push him around the court. However, his declining speed didn't allow him to stay in points he should have kept neutral. Agassi could keep pressure on his backhand.

Nadal bombards the backhand of Federer, and he cracks.

Safin also hammers away at his backhand, and he has beaten him in addition to playing many close sets.

GO TO THE BACKHAND TILL HE QUAKES!

bluetrain4
06-08-2007, 10:06 AM
I think Fed does remarkable things against Nadal all things considered. His normal hitting patterns are reversed and somewhat weakened b/c Nadal is a lefty. So, his incredible inside out forehand is going to Nadal's forehand.

On the opposite end his backhand has to take Nadal's forehand, which is his more powerful shot.

It must be hell. He could hit more down the line, but this is easier said than done.