Are strategies relevant today in Modern Tennis?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by sureshs, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What I see in the ATP:

    Unreturnable first serve
    Serve which can just be returned weakly
    Weak return is put away with a stroke to which it is humanly impossible to get
    Forehand and backhand winners which are humanly impossible to get
    Very simple strategy - put the ball where the other guy isn't, which covers drop shots, lobs, open court shots, and angled shots.
    Maybe catch him wrong footed once in a while.

    The entire game is based on statistical output of serve and its return, and after that the statistical nature of groundies - meaning you can't do anything with them most of the time if they are hit right.

    The players don't seem to use their brains at all. Perhaps it is not needed? It is about serves, desperate returns, and the ability to run to get to a shot with no guarantee of success. My observation is that trying to "hit one more ball" seems to be a failure most of the time, with the small number of successes touted by commentators.

    To summarize, big serve, a desperate return to hang in there, and devastating winners. Strategy seems to be an afterthought. I think most players are too exhausted with the big play to even think of strategy.

    On the WTA:

    Essentially the above, with the difference that getting the serve is a huge obstacle for the women. The ones with a smooth serve motion can be counted on one hand. Is something seriously screwed up about their serve training? Or is it just that the ATP men are just so much superior? I look at the average WTA service motion and I notice an errant toss and an awkward attempt to correct it, and the body parts moving awkwardly. They have somehow turned this into a high probability success event. Perhaps this is what male club players should aspire to? Just admit that ATP-style serves are not possible and focus on maximizing the returns on a flawed serve like the WTA?
     
  2. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Are strategies relevant in modern tennis...yes.

    next...
     
  3. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    That sounds like the WTA to me for the most part, and even lower ATP to a pt; but top 20-50 ATP?? Not a chance.
    The tactics and strategy are somewhat subtle and easy to miss by most, but
    with insight, you can realize how much goes into being consistent with those
    aggressive rally shots and executing on the opportunities to finish.
    Yes, this is technique to an extent, but also heavy in tactics due to targeting,
    setup and understanding the court.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  4. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I was expecting a snobbish answer with no substance, and you didn't disappoint.
     
  5. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    no, there is no strategy... you might as well just call it the iron man contest while holding tennis rackets.

    what rafa and joker displayed in their US, Aussie, even the Wimby finals, said basically just that.

    let's ban poly strings, speed up the court..... or better yet, let's go back to 65in wood.

    much better for viewing that way.... I may actually sit down and watch a couple of guys in the top 50 playing each other.

    but nowadays, everything looks the same... yawn.
     
  6. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    ^^^Sureshs - some of the things you wrote about in your original post are strategies!
     
  7. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I am not talking about consistency of the strokes. I am saying the opposite - it is the strokes that seem to matter 99%, with 1% for strategy. I don't consider moving forward and finishing off a short ball to be strategy - it is so obvious.

    I am talking about things like Fed has mentioned like how he changed his strategy in the second set to go more after the backhand, or to draw the opponent closer to the net, or decided to go after the more powerful wing of the opponent instead of the weaker one, etc. I think most of the pros do nothing like this. They seem to rely on their strokes and basic instinct only. That is plan A and no plan B.
     
  8. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Is Rafa ripping high bouncing balls to Rog's backhand not a strategy because it is obvious?
     
  9. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You don't see how being amazing aggressive with rally strokes while not missing is
    related to tactics or strategy?
     
  10. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You think hitting the winner off the short ball is just hitting hard with no tactic or
    thought to overall strategy?
     
  11. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No, it seems to be mostly about footwork, endurance and stroke mechanics.

    They routinely violate the directionals and hit winners over the high part of the net. And they also miss a lot.
     
  12. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    ^^^They can "violate the directionals" (which are guidelines based on physics, not rules) because they can position themselves accordingly and have the hand skills the control the racquet face. At club player levels both of these skills may be lacking and hence the guidelines of the directionals are more appropriate.
     
  13. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Just because you don't understand or see it, does not mean it's not there :)
    If you were coaching kids to try and do these things, that experience would help
    you see more into what is going on and what tactics help you get it done.
    I do agree most players in general, never get much past just trying to hit the ball well.
     
  14. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    i say that strategies play a much bigger role at the club level than at the pro level.
     
  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Strategy is employing your best shots against your opponent's weakest shots. So yes, a big serve IS a strategy.
     
  16. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I was about to post that! He and Toni thought about it. It was not obvious because there was no leftie with the ability of Nadal to have played against Federer before that.
     
  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    And who is not using this "strategy" in singles even though he can?
     
  18. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Only thing odd about that is everyone was blown away that VERY common Jr
    strategy would work on the ATP against maybe the best player of all time!
    And yes...that is strategy and takes a ton of dedication to employ.
     
  19. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Have you ever wondered why there are players that seem to come out of nowhere and have an amazing tournament but can never follow it up?

    The answer is, once a player "matters", they get analyzed and their weaknesses are discovered. Next time out (or very soon), all their opponents know how to play them (ie; what strategy or tactic to use).

    To get to be a top player is to have very few weaknesses or to have such strengths that your weaknesses don't get exposed.

    What sort of tactics or strategies do you expect players to employ?
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think one of the only strategies left today (assuming the serve and groundies have still allowed the 1% to happen) is whether/when to come to the net or not.

    It is interesting that people say how long the rallies have become with the slower courts. Sometimes I have rewound my DVR trying hard to find the last forehand or backhand they hit, and I have to go back many points. Commentators applaud 25 shot rallies, but we forget how many points ended with a service ace, or a weakly returned serve and put away, or an unreturnable groundie. Add in the unforced errors which are a result of mental impatience/exhaustion/boredom, then not that many strategy opportunities left. Unless just being focused on every point (like Nadal) is a strategy (I don't think so).
     
  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Exactly true in EVERY sport.
    Now with video, even more so.
    Everyone studies his opponent's.
    Everyone who is smart anyways.
     
  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It also pitted a forehand against a backhand, the best topspin against the second best one, and (as the next shot), an ambidextrous backhand which was really another forehand. "Lesser Nadals" like Verdaco and Lopez could not succeed against Federer.
     
  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Not really. Guys like Rosol die just like that on their own, without anybody analyzing their videos.
     
  24. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    fed has never lost to a leftie besides rafa
     
  25. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    rosol died? still in top 100
     
  26. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    So they have to employ a different strategy? :D
     
  27. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    yes they do play a role, actually a big role.

    however you cannot use a basic strategy like "everything CC till you get a short ball" or like the "directionals strategy" since their opponent would see the pattern within 2 minutes and "sit" on the balls he expects.

    that means you have to mix it up and think along with the opponent.

    this is like in poker. against bad players you can just play the good hands and fold the bad ones because the beginner will often overplay his cards and play too loose.

    likewise at the lower levels a strategy like directionals (against ball A I will just play CC shots and against ball B I will also play DTL) or playing most CC will work.

    however I often said a well executed shot that the opponent expects beats a bad shot that surprises the opponent. this means the lower the level is the more you should orient yourself on what you can execute. knowing yourself and what you can do and what not is very valuable and win you a lot of matches against similar level opponents.

    however against the good players in poker you have to think on a higher level (he expects me to do this so I will do this). the same applies to high level tennis.

    the better the player is (even in the high levels- fed plays much more "freestyle" then the "normal 10-20 guy) the more shots you have (and the ability to play the low percentage shots you should not do according to directionals) and the more you can mix it up and play the shot the opponent doesn't expect.

    this looks like chaotic (and you are right that the modern flexibility of shot making does increase the variety) but in fact it is a constant battle of the minds which is based on a lot of experience in this match, other matches against the same player and also other matches.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  28. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    is there more strategy in this match

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8IJ0F01IiU

    or in rafa v. joke aussie final 2012.

    what is the strategy factor vs. the brutal force factor in 2012 vs. 50 years ago.

    i think the answer is black and white.
     
  29. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    lots of strategy on ATP and WTA.

    Watch Fed hit short, low slice to Djoko and Del Po because they don't like and their reply usually let's him run around and hit FH.

    Fed will also use a lot more drop shots against Del Po and Berdych than quicker better movers.

    Watch Fed hit BH up the line against Rafa to tempt Rafa to go CC into the open court which is Fed's FH. Watch Rafa not take the bait and go back the line BH to BH to stay on Fed's BH. A couple of years ago when Fed beat Rafa in Madrid, Fed used this almost to perfection as he hit a ton of very deep BHs up the line to Rafa BH and then took control off Rafa's reply.

    Rafa will take pace off the 1st serve to get more in and avoid laying in his weaker 2nd serve.

    Rafa tries to step in and take the ball earlier at Wimby, but when Rafa lost to Djoko a couple of years ago, Rafa dropped back in the 3rd set and played that set like a clay court match. He was well back behind the baseline and it took Djoko a long time to figure it out. Way too long in my view.

    Almost all the ATP pros will occasionally hit a 1st serve kick wide in the ad court to open up the FH side.

    Also, strategy is not always go to the BH. Soderling had pretty good success going flat and hard to Rafa's FH which resulted in a short loopy ball fairly frequently.

    Also, Li Na and Sharapova have relative FH weaknesses and many will play their FH side.

    Murray hit lots of slices in the USO final against Djoko because Djoko was handling the pace better than the soft stuff in the wind.

    These are just a few things I see but I am sure there are a lot more.

    Tons of strategy and tactics at pro level.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  30. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Of course there is strategy and percentage play. It is more important the better you get. Your complete lack of tennis knowledge is shown again. At the rec level all it takes is to get the ball back one more time. Which is why you cannot imagine the pros need it. At the pros they need to create the opening. And that takes strategy.
     
  31. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    Incorrect.
     
  32. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    think consistent shot execution trumps strategy.
     
  33. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Hope everybody realizes that thread title is an exaggeration and responds accordingly
     
  34. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    If you blast fhs to an atp pro he will rarely miss. So they use strategy to move the other guy out of position. So they create the point. Why do you think they all say defend the center of the court?
     
  35. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    too late for that. people take you literally because you are so literal in other threads. :)
     
  36. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    I'd give suresh the benefit of doubt on this one... certainly strategies are relevant to a degree.

    but that degree is less than 50 years ago. or 20 years ago.
     
  37. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Exactly.

    And tennis instruction needs to catch up. We cannot teach the way it was done before. A new form of instruction based on what the pros do (actually don't do) is needed.
     
  38. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Please kill me. Your saying its not happening now? I hear junior coaches trying to teach strategy against big huge pace and spin. You can bet fed and all the rest of atp is thinking about this and not just blastinf balls. Please some coach set this guy straight. Balla? Anyone? Yandel? I'm sure jy has strategy in his coaching.
     
  39. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    who is the we you talk about? you´re the one who relies on tips over the internet and now you´ve mutated to a coach yourself?:confused:
     
  40. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    if we think about the degree (instead of the existence) of the influence of strategy in deciding matches..

    courts are getting smaller because -

    1) athletes are getting faster
    2) surface is slower
    3) diminishing net play.

    therefore not only the north-south dimension has been taken away for the most part, the east-west dimension has been made smaller.

    therefore the less degree of strategy influence.

    no doubt strategy is still a big factor today... survival of the fittest... I'd be curious to hear from coaches, on the time devoted in training, to the ball striking part vs. the strategic execution part..... today vs. many years ago.
     
  41. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    I'd say the east-west dimension has become much larger than in the past despite faster athletes.
     
  42. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    incorrect.
     
  43. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Arche - you have to remember that Sureshs opinions are coloured by his version of reality, he has acknowledged that his tennis skills and knowledge have been built up by reading internet sites and watching tennis on TV. Sadly watching tennis on TV gives you no idea of the intention of the shot you are watching, so unless you have either experience of playing at that level yourself, or teaching to that level, or taking lessons from somebody who has your version of reality is rather skewed.

    As a general rule I have stopped trying to debate with Sureshs, his posts generally illustrate that his mind is closed :(
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  44. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    why?

    During the era of serve and volley tennis was the game not played "straighter" - less width on the ball?
     
  45. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    'straighter' as in more influence from north-south, or less influence from east-west?

    you meant the latter? why does it have to be less width... doesn't a position closer to the net open up more angles east-west?

    i think the only argument for more width today, is more spin on the ball today opening up angles, but I think that part is canceled by the faster foot speed of todays players.
     
  46. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Oh my god thank you. I apologize profusely for not asking for you by name as I never thought you would reply to a post such as mine. I thougt my best chances was asking for balla to comment. My faith in this forum is restored briefly by your simple act of kindness. So I am not subject to only the baseless postings of internet self help tennis gurus.
     
  47. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    Yes it was.
    You can see in virtually any pro match today where there is much more east west court coverage than in past, top spin angles landing at the service line moving opponents well out of the court. Didn't happen in a jimmy connor / kevin curren match.
     
  48. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    as in my previous post, whether this factor is canceled out by the faster footspeed of the players is debatable.

    on the other hand, I don't see WTA playing any wider, Sabatini, Martinez, small number of spin players just not too long ago don't even exist today... some even 'strategically' play narrower by blasting down the middle to take away angles and turn the match into a ball striking battle, trying to beat each other with pace, and pace only.
     
  49. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Yes, a position at net opens up potential angles - but the game played to get there is generally played with less angles - approach shots are more effective and more common down the line for example, first volleys generally hit deep and back behind (little angle). Only the finishing volley would generally be hit with more extreme angles.

    Spin rates today mean the east-west dimension is potentially bigger than ever and arguably has more influence.
     
  50. Ash_Smith

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    Yep, that I cannot deny!
     

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