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View Full Version : Cliff Drysdale says that flat hitting is the reason for Djokovic's success


kiwiconman
08-24-2011, 01:22 PM
http://tennis.com/articles/templates/news.aspx?articleid=13834&zoneid=25

Uh.... seriously?? :confused:

Does flat hitting really have anything to do with his rise to the top? I figured it was his fitness, movement and self-belief more than anything else.

BeHappy
08-24-2011, 01:23 PM
He hits with very heavy topspin.

Moose Malloy
08-24-2011, 01:24 PM
ESPN analyst Cliff Drysdale calls world No. 1 Novak Djokovic the clear favorite to win the U.S. Open and says that one of the primary reasons why the Serbian has dominated Rafael Nadal this season is because he doesn’t play with as much spin as he used to.

"I've been saying all along since Nadal made his move, two or three years ago and dominated the scene, that it was going to be a flat ball hitter, somebody who could hit the ball flat consistently," Drysdale said in a conference call. "And we haven't found that person until Djokovic, because he's a flat ball hitter. He keeps it wide and he can do it consistently now like nobody else has done really that I can identify in history. Nadal has over the years adapted his game to his competition, there's no question about that. But Federer doesn't have the flat ball hit particularly off the backhand side, so that was a vulnerable side for him, and that's how Nadal was able to get the better of him. But he cannot do that against Djokovic. He wants to. He wants to figure him out. But it's going to be very difficult for him to do that as long as Djokovic stays healthy because this kid has got the flat ball."


http://www.tennis.com/articles/templates/news.aspx?articleid=13834&zoneid=25

would love to see some analysis proving Djokovic hits with less spin than he used to. was watching some of Djokovic's '07 wins over Nadal, imo he was a more agressive player then.

I would bet he's hitting less winners per match in '11 than he did in '07 & '08. The game seems to be more & more about grinding than shotmaking every year. Couldn't believe how few winners were hit in the W final.

Pwned
08-24-2011, 01:29 PM
I don't understand that assessment. According to the numbers he uses about as much spin as Federer ~2800rpms avg. His grip looks pretty extreme as well. I would never consider Djokovic a flat hitter.

Power Player
08-24-2011, 01:30 PM
It's true. Djokovic hits a low trajectory deep ball. That is what Drysdale means by flat, as we all know every pro uses a ton of spin on their shots.

When you can hit that consistently deep with pace and a low trajectory, you are going to have advantages.

Tony48
08-24-2011, 01:33 PM
Djokovic plays with PLENTY of spin these days. And I really wish he wouldn't

bluetrain4
08-24-2011, 01:34 PM
He doesn't hit flat at all. Sure, he can flatten out his shots to when he wants, but he generally hits with a lot of spin.

Maybe Cliffy is confusing hitting "flat" with a low ball trajectory that only clears the net by a little. But, even then, Djokovic's trajectory isn't particularly low, though generally lower than Nadal's.

Pwned
08-24-2011, 01:35 PM
It's true. Djokovic hits a low trajectory deep ball. That is what Drysdale means by flat, as we all know every pro uses a ton of spin on their shots.

When you can hit that consistently deep with pace and a low trajectory, you are going to have advantages.

O_o .

fundrazer
08-24-2011, 01:36 PM
O_o .

Was my reaction to that one as well. I've always thought that Djoker puts plenty of spin and air on his forehands.

Pwned
08-24-2011, 01:41 PM
Was my reaction to that one as well. I've always thought that Djoker puts plenty of spin and air on his forehands.

No doubt. I'd think Tomic's forehand is the closest thing to a flat ball. I realize all pros are hitting with spin these days but calling Djokovic's ball flat seems way off to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6Q4G54yURY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtAvemFumWQ

Laurie
08-24-2011, 01:44 PM
I tend to agree with everyone here. I've always disliked when commentators / analysts say hitting a flat ball because it can be misleading to people who don't study these things. Cliff Drysdale is speaking in relative terms to other players perhaps or how Djokovic hits the ball with a certain trajectory. But even so, I would prefer they came up with another phrase.

One thing Drysdale could be referring to is that Djokovic takes the ball on top of the bounce, which takes time away from Nadal and puts Nadal in a defensive position. Djokovic is able to do that on both wings and something Federer was not able to do on the backhand side consistently against Nadal.

Pacific3000
08-24-2011, 02:02 PM
Flat hitting to match his flat personality :twisted:

(I'll be here all week folks... take real good care of your waitress tonight.)

Tough Gut
08-24-2011, 04:48 PM
Djokovic hits with as much spin as Fed. It's proven.

pjonesy
08-24-2011, 05:15 PM
http://www.tennis.com/articles/templates/news.aspx?articleid=13834&zoneid=25

would love to see some analysis proving Djokovic hits with less spin than he used to. was watching some of Djokovic's '07 wins over Nadal, imo he was a more agressive player then.

I would bet he's hitting less winners per match in '11 than he did in '07 & '08. The game seems to be more & more about grinding than shotmaking every year. Couldn't believe how few winners were hit in the W final.

I think you are correct. If the trajectory of his current ball is a little lower, then I would say he is NOW hitting with more effective spin. Djokovic is certainly driving through the ball at this point, but he is covering the ball so well. It's almost like he cannot miss. No matter how hard he hits the ball, even if the trajectory is lower, he is compensating with the perfect amount of spin to pull the ball down into the court over and over.

But, I agree with you. Djokovic seemed to be more aggressive a couple years ago. I believe he was going for more angled winners and low percentage shots from a defensive position. At this point it seems like he has reigned in his baseline game to the point where he is comfortable playing percentage tennis with consistency, pace and depth. However, that does not mean that he is just bunting the ball back. He is still spanking it. People said the same thing about Agassi. I certainly believe that Agassi had better control of his groundstrokes later in his career. But that did not mean he wasn't hitting the ball hard. He just seemed to cover the ball better during the bulk of his matches.

HiroProtagonist
08-24-2011, 05:23 PM
You can hit a flat ball with plenty of spin, it is more the trajectory that I believe Cliffy is talking about. That being said I think he is exaggerating, I think when Fed is at his best he hits flatter off his FH than Djoko.

I do think, though, that Djoko has been hitting a flatter trajectory than he used to because he is immeasurably more confident and being more aggressive more often in rallies.

But there are certainly players who hit flatter, generally speaking, than Djoko and do not enjoy sustained success against Nadal, so yes Cliffy has missed the target on his analysis.

EDIT: nvm just saw Cliffy specifically sighted "less spin" as the cause so he is just flat out wrong.

Tennis_Monk
08-24-2011, 06:07 PM
Good for Cliff Drysdale ;)

TonyB
08-24-2011, 06:13 PM
The only flat ball Djoker hits is his high backhand. He drives that low and deep both crosscourt and down the line.

Other than that, he hits pretty aggressive topspin, particularly his crosscourt forehand. He has really used that shot effectively this year and picked up a good angle on it as well. His inside out forehand is not nearly as effective and he doesn't hit it as often. He mostly rolls his forehands inside out and down the line just to set up his backhand for a more aggressive shot. But eventually, his opponents will pick up their crosscourt forehand exchange to match Djoker's, then he'll go on the decline.

But I do think he'll win a career Grand Slam within the next 2-3 years. Possibly even next year if he picks up his clay court play and whoop Nadal again in the spring like he did in 2011. I feel he will win the USOpen, regardless of his retirement in the finals at Cincy.

Tennis_Monk
08-24-2011, 06:19 PM
The only flat ball Djoker hits is his high backhand. He drives that low and deep both crosscourt and down the line.

Other than that, he hits pretty aggressive topspin, particularly his crosscourt forehand. He has really used that shot effectively this year and picked up a good angle on it as well. His inside out forehand is not nearly as effective and he doesn't hit it as often. He mostly rolls his forehands inside out and down the line just to set up his backhand for a more aggressive shot. But eventually, his opponents will pick up their crosscourt forehand exchange to match Djoker's, then he'll go on the decline.

But I do think he'll win a career Grand Slam within the next 2-3 years. Possibly even next year if he picks up his clay court play and whoop Nadal again in the spring like he did in 2011. I feel he will win the USOpen, regardless of his retirement in the finals at Cincy.

Unfortunately i decided to give the USO11 to someone else than Djoker. Havent exactly made up my mind on which person yet ---planning to resolve that by this friday.

As far as Career slam for Djoker, yes...i will make it happen due to popular demand

corners
08-24-2011, 06:29 PM
I also don't agree with Cliff. Djokovic tends to hit with lots of spin on the forehand, less on the backhand - but then again everyone hits with less spin if they have a two handed backhand. Nadal does too.

What sets Djokovic apart right now is that his forehand and backhand both are top-5 quality. I think Fed and Nadal have better forehands than Djokovic, and Federer can flatten that shot out as well as anyone, but the relative weakness of their backhands make them want to run around and hit forehands. Djokovic doesn't have to do that, he can hold the middle. And his superior backhand - down the line against Fed and cross-court angle from a high contact point against Nadal - is the perfect weapon to hurt those guys when they do run around.

Being able to flatten the ball out is important for hitting winners, as it's always been, but IMHO nobody can be as consistent from the baseline as Djokovic is without hitting lots of spin on most balls.

Djoker's serve is better than Nadal's and nearly as good as Fed's. His forehand is a notch below Fed and Nadal's, but clearly a top-5 shot. His backhand is better than both of theirs. His movement and defense are probably just a bit better than Nadal right now. That's why he's so tough to beat. He's a baseline machine who's learned his lessons from Fed and Nadal for the past six years and is playing like a younger combination of them both. His game might be the perfect one to exploit the slow, medium-slow surfaces that are ubiquitous on tour.

TonyB
08-24-2011, 07:05 PM
What sets Djokovic apart right now is that his forehand and backhand both are top-5 quality. I think Fed and Nadal have better forehands than Djokovic, and Federer can flatten that shot out as well as anyone, but the relative weakness of their backhands make them want to run around and hit forehands.


I disagree. Federer *CAN* hit a better forehand than Djoker, but he doesn't do it very often, and he shanks more balls than Djoker. Djokovic's consistency and reliability from the forehand wing put his forehand above Federer's overall, in my opinion.

It's not just about movement, it's also about objective. Federer tends to try to hit forcing shots with his forehand every chance he gets, while Djokovic tends to force his opponent into poor court positioning where he can get ahead in the rally. He puts away easier balls, for the most part, because he sets up his putaways more carefully than either Federer or Nadal.

Anyway, he'll manage to hold it together for the USOpen and win 3 majors this year. Whether he grabs next year's French Open is a crap shoot at the moment, because we don't know how his game will respond to a potential career slam so quickly after becoming #1. He may have to take 2-3 more shots at the FO before he bags it.

Power Player
08-24-2011, 07:52 PM
Was my reaction to that one as well. I've always thought that Djoker puts plenty of spin and air on his forehands.

He hits with a lower trajectory, that's what he should have said.

He also hits deeper and through the court.

We all know he hits with a ton of spin. That's a given.

TennisCoachFLA
08-24-2011, 08:24 PM
He hits with a lower trajectory, that's what he should have said.

He also hits deeper and through the court.

We all know he hits with a ton of spin. That's a given.

Exactly, thats what CD meant, some think when he says 'flat' he is only talking about less spin where as he is also talking trajectory. Like others have said, lots of reasons for Djoker's rise, fitness, getting to balls and taking them on the rise, improved serve, more penetrating shots, etc.

Fugazi
08-24-2011, 08:29 PM
He does flatten the ball better than Fed and Nadal, but there is plenty of spin when needed.

Clay lover
08-24-2011, 08:33 PM
He can flatten the ball out pretty well when needed but he can hit loopy ones too depending on the situation. That's why he is so good.

RCizzle65
08-24-2011, 10:39 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNlyrcsUDBw

Djokovic was certainly more aggressive a few years ago. He still is, relative to Nadal, but not like before. Also, he came to net more, and seems more comfortable than he does now.

slice bh compliment
08-24-2011, 10:43 PM
Cliffy, in his struggle to remain relevant, falls flat.

The guy took one look at some RPM stats and decided to form an opinion. Impressed fellow talking heads in the booth and decided to use that as a platform for pontificating. Shock value.

Now, club players who read his piece will try to hit flat. Problem is, when average Joes try to hit flat, it's 40 rpm. When Djokr flattens out a shot, it's 400 to 800 rpm (can we please call this semi-flat rather than the misleading flat?), and he does it from an attacking position and does not make many errors.

Like Djokr re-invented the semi-flat drive. Cracka Pleeease.

BreakPoint
08-25-2011, 12:44 AM
He does flatten the ball better than Fed and Nadal, but there is plenty of spin when needed.
Nope, Djokovic cannot flatten his forehand better than Federer. Even Djokovic's putaway forehand has more spin on it than Federer's. It's because Federer uses an Eastern grip while Djokovic uses a Western grip.

slice bh compliment
08-25-2011, 03:39 AM
Nope, Djokovic cannot flatten his forehand better than Federer. Even Djokovic's putaway forehand has more spin on it than Federer's. It's because Federer uses an Eastern grip while Djokovic uses a Western grip.

Truth.
Much like the rap feuds of the late 1990s, this comes down to an E/SW thing.

Anyway, yes, Cliffy meant trajectory, and spin, too. He did not really mention positioning and taking the ball early, but I'm guessing he implied it. Just an experienced, old man trying to stay hip.

15_ounce
08-25-2011, 04:18 AM
He needs to watch John McEnroe live in a match... then he can redefine what flat hitting is.

marcub
08-25-2011, 04:48 AM
Drysdale is as flat in writing as he is on TV. He's wrong on all accounts.

It's misleading to say Djoker hits flat because of low trajectory strokes, but he is actually referring to less spin. He may be hitting deeper, but by no means flat, as the spin is there in bundles.

Also, hitting deeper is by far not the factor in his recent success. It's his never-say-die attitude (well, ignore the latest match) and his fitness/execution... i.e., his gluten-free thing, whatever that may be :)

He's not doing anything different from before, he's just doing all things better. he doesn't have any obvious weaknesses right now.

Drysdale should cover curling.

djokovic2008
08-25-2011, 04:51 AM
Nope, Djokovic cannot flatten his forehand better than Federer. Even Djokovic's putaway forehand has more spin on it than Federer's. It's because Federer uses an Eastern grip while Djokovic uses a Western grip.

Djoker actually hits with an extreme semi-western grip thats why he can flatten shots out and hit heavy topspin. Its a big misconception he hits with a standard western grip then he would not to able to hit so many flat shots when needed.

ttbrowne
08-25-2011, 08:59 AM
There was a youtube video of Novak talking briefly about his FH where he said something to the effect, "....IF I want to produce more spin, I try to get it with this back foot....".
I do believe he has a great flat ball and just hits it more often against Nadal.

slice bh compliment
08-25-2011, 09:42 AM
I think we've got to look to how confident his BH is, too. He takes a nice whack at it when others spin it in.

BreakPoint
08-25-2011, 12:26 PM
Djoker actually hits with an extreme semi-western grip thats why he can flatten shots out and hit heavy topspin. Its a big misconception he hits with a standard western grip then he would not to able to hit so many flat shots when needed.
You cannot flatten out your shots with an extreme semi-western grip like you can with an eastern grip. Just ask Nadal. Djokovic's grip is more western than even Nadal's.

Watch Federer hit his putaway forehands. It's significantly flatter and faster than Djokovic's.

BTW, this certainly looks like a western grip to me:

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/06_02/djokovicDM1506_468x343.jpg

http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2008/100_olympics/novak_djokovic.jpg

http://wdoubleo.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/wilson_djokovic.jpg

FuriousYellow
08-25-2011, 01:02 PM
I think we've got to look to how confident his BH is, too. He takes a nice whack at it when others spin it in.

Agreed. The guy is strong from both sides and can change the direction of the ball from either wing beautifully. The guy's so confident in his strokes right now, he doesn't even appear to need a short ball to do it either. He's looking to take control of points as quickly as he can. When you watch his matches, it always seems his opponent is doing a lot more running than he is.