Finding my serve after 20 years.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Greg G, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Since the original thread has gone into remodelling my forehand:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=430395

    I decided to start a new thread about my serve. After 20 years...I can serve, but there's some weird hitch in the kinetic chain. What I can see is that the right hip/leg comes forward. As always, comments and suggestions are most welcome.

    Video of the motion here:
    http://youtu.be/V0vTXOUkYc8

    It's pretty much good for starting the point, not much more. No pop.
    http://youtu.be/PP9TIcAz5X4

    Please do help me fix it :)
     
    #1
  2. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Not bad. The same upper body rotation needed for groundies also applies to the serve. When you toss the ball, there are two moves you should focus on: (1) sliding your left hip to the target, and (2) turning your back to the target. Sliding your hip will tilt your shoulders. So, your shoulders are turned and tilted and your spin is angled to the left and forward into the court. In the trophy pose, you want your left shoulder to be as high over your right shoulder as comfortably possible. In this turned and tilted position, you drop your racquet behind your back and, at the same time you start your upswing, you roll (aka rotate) your upper body so that your right shoulder turns up to the ball. At contact, your shoulders have reversed their positions so that the right shoulder is as high above the left shoulder as comfortably possible. Think of it like the rotation of a golf swing, except your spine is angled to the left instead of to the right.

    In addition, you need to toss more forward into the court. In your video, if you let your toss bounce, it will bounce behind the baseline. It should bounce at least 1-2 feet into the court which means you have to lean into the court to get under the ball. As it is, you are reaching back for the ball and almost falling back after contact.

    As to the hitch, IMO, there are two ways to approach the timing of a serve, a continuous motion and a hitch. Both are acceptable ways to serve. In a continuous motion, the tossing arm leads the racquet arm which lags behind and gradually accelerates through with a traditional throwing motion through contact. Laver, Lendl, Edgerg and Sampras would be good examples of this motion. In the hitch, both arms come up together and pause in the trophy pose waiting for the ball to reach its apex, and then the racquet arm accelerates abruptly through contact. Borg, Becker, Roddick are good examples of the hitch. Federer is a bit of a hybrid with a small hitch.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
    #2
  3. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    What strikes me as strange is that my right leg kicks forward or to the side a bit, and I land on it. Instead of it kicking backwards and me landing on the left leg. I know it wasn't that way 20 years ago :confused:

    Will work on more rotation as well. Thanks!
     
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  4. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    That's because you are tossing the ball too far back and falling back after contact. If you let it drop, it would land behind the baseline.

    (1) hip slide, (2) shoulder turn, (3) toss 1-2 feet in front of left toe.
     
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  5. Magic of tennis

    Magic of tennis Semi-Pro

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    What do you mean sliding left hip to the target? You mean to make a bow shape pose?
     
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  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    If sliding the left hip to the target puts you in a bow shape pose, then I think the answer is yes. But, it's important to create the bow pushing the hip forward, not just tilting the head backwards.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    There's no pop because you just swing a full motion, never concentrating the rackethead speed anywhere.
    You need to swing fast upwards, slow down your hand to "crack the whip", then followthru after impact. A high hand, high elbow finish, after the ball strike, with your racket pointing straight down at the ground, shows you this.
    Look at vids of pro men's serves. After the ball strike, the hand and elbow is above their head, while the racketHEAD is pointing straight down at the ground.
     
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  8. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    good advice in this thread. Agreed with limpinhitter, the reason you're kicking forwards is because that prevents you from falling backwards. You want to be rotating forwards into the court and have your leg kick backwards to prevent it.
     
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  9. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    *&*&%! You'd think fixing a toss would be easy! It keeps coming back! Here I'm trying to fix it and adjust the contact point.

    http://youtu.be/7sEtbj9NKQU

    Here are a few serves. Sorry the framing is bad, the ball gets lost.

    http://youtu.be/VwF8GnP5Kls

    Better than last time. I'm not falling backwards...as much... :-? I do feel much more balanced. Putting the toss out in front kinda fixed a lot of it, though I'm netting the ball. That's easily fixed with more practice. At least I'm going in the right direction. Still need to crack that whip!
     
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  10. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    When you toss more out in front you have to lean forward a bit more to get under the ball. You still need more hip slide and shoulder turn. But, you are right to focus on the toss first. BTW, how are you holding the ball with your tossing hand, 2 fingers, 3 fingers?
     
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  11. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    3 fingers. :confused:
     
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  12. popsicleian

    popsicleian New User

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    I'm in a similar situation in that I started playing again after a very long layoff. When I first started back up, I had the exact same problem on my serve. I couldn't keep my right hip/leg from rotating forward and coming down first.

    I took a lesson and the instructor had me work on starting my stance with my right leg much further back than normal, almost ridiculously so. As I went up to toss the ball, my right foot would slide forward into a more traditional position, and as I began my serve I'd concentrate on kicking the right leg back instead of following through onto it.

    It felt really awkward at first, but it helped a lot, if for no other reason than it slowed down my whole service motion and made me focus on what I was doing. Now that I'm more comfortable with the proper movement, I don't have to start with such an exaggerated stance anymore.
     
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  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    That's fine. That's how I used to do it when I played a 1hb, I held the tossing ball with 3 fingers and the second ball with 2. When you toss, hold your hand in what is called the icecream cone position. In other words, the position it would be in if you were holding a glass of water, with your palm to the side, not palm up.
     
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  14. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Really? Why? To minimize wrist action?
     
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  15. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Yes, to eliminate unecessary variables and prevent "throwing." You want to push the ball into a box in the air. I like to bring my hand down to my left leg, come to a full stop, and push the ball up from there. But, there are other techniques that work well too.
     
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  16. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Will give it a try. Testing it here, I can see how the palm up can allow the wrist to toss it behind me.

    Popsicleian, will try your suggestion as well. Thanks! :)
     
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  17. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Haven't been working on my serve much while I'm working on the forehand. But it's really getting on my nerves. Right now I'm practically just spinning it in to start the point.

    Warmup
    http://youtu.be/Tx0_5DkRkcM

    Match Play
    http://youtu.be/vVewlxrdJQI

    The thing is, why can I hit a decent overhead with pace, and not have the power on my serve? Is it a mental thing? :confused:
    Net Play
    http://youtu.be/qxwn5Fg389E
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Overheads, you expect less from yourself, and you're standing in front of NML, a much shorter distance to hit the ball. The ball is also falling from up higher, so you get some extra momentum from that. Very few players hit their overheads nearly as hard as their serves. In your case, your overheads are good enough, but if you served at that speed, your opponent will crush it into a corner.
    Once again, your motion on the forward swing is wrong. It's too long after you hit the ball, you never concentrate the rackethead speed anywhere along the swing, instead swinging a long smooth motion, that NEVER cracks the whip.
    Think of what it takes to crack a whip to supersonic speeds. You need, at some time, to slow the hand so the head of the whip can speed past, creating the whipping supersonic speed as you pull back. Dont pull back on the serve, but do the rest.
     
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  19. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Your serve has potential. I would recommend re-reading my posts above. It all still applies. The biggest bang for your buck will come from getting your toss more forward into the court. Most of your tosses would still land behind the baseline if you let them bounce. That's killing your serve. When you practice your serve, start with 10 minutes of toss only practice. Try to get the ball to consistently land at least 1-1.5 feet in front of your left toe. Then practice serving as if you are going to serve and volley. The intent to S&V may help get your toss forward.
     
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  20. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Got it. Will work on that. Here's a new serve series which I think is pretty good. Gonna watch it repeatedly...
    http://www.essentialtennis.com/video/followthrough75/
     
    #20
  21. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    #21
  22. Sky_Boy

    Sky_Boy New User

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    Hi... can u have a video to show?? i dun quite understand
     
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Which part?
     
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  24. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    If you just change your toss, it is not going to help your serve unless you change other aspects of your serve to take advantage of the forward toss location. The key thing I see is that you toss to your right side and your serve currently gets all of the power from body rotation from the right leg stepping forward. So you are hitting weak slice serve. If you try to adjust by only moving the toss forward, you are going to fall over out of balance, if you continue with the current motion (due to a big right step forward to reach the ball).

    Look at pros, and you see that they are pushing the front leg (left for righties) through the service motion so that their whole body weight is going into the ball (and not just the right leg). Because the pro is pushing the front leg forward, they balance by kicking the back leg back for balance.

    You will also have a hard time this this because your shoulders are opening too soon. It is hard to change too many things in a motion at the same time, so it may help to continue with your motion, but rotating more prior to the serve (showing your back to the opponent) and toss way to your left and forward.
     
    #24
  25. Sky_Boy

    Sky_Boy New User

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    When you toss, hold your hand in what is called the icecream cone position. In other words, the position it would be in if you were holding a glass of water, with your palm to the side, not palm up. any video to show this?
     
    #25
  26. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Not too bad, but reminds me of the days when one foot had to stay on the ground!

    Like limp said, need to toss into the court for power first serve.
    Maybe we can do more once you fix the toss, if you are looking for power first serve.
     
    #26
  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Fixing the weak swing is the first problem.
    Then timing WHEN the head speed contacts the ball is another.
    And of course, last and most important, a "power serve" needs more flat and less topspin. It can have topspin, but the swing has to be even faster.
    While the toss more into the court is the obvious (yes, I thought that too) first change, I do notice that Roddick and Raonic don't necessarily land too far into the court when crushing huge fast flat first serves. They want to stay back to give themselves time to react to the possible return. Look at some Soderling and DelPo flat serves. Sometimes, not every time, they end up about 2' inside their own baseline, no more. That means the toss can't be too far inside the baseline.
     
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  28. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Toss is still an issue. I think I got a bit more racquet acceleration before contact. Swing path is a bit better, I think. I guess not much to add until I actually fix the darn toss.

    http://youtu.be/OP0QiYTBOMU
     
    #28
  29. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Man, you do well with coaching.
    Really looking better.

    I think it is all too straight up though.
    It's not much, but needs about 9-14 degr forward tilt to the launch of the body.
    I'm guessing you only get 2-4 degrees, but guess of course.
     
    #29
  30. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks! I really am just finding stuff I lost from 20 years of not playing. But the pointers I get from you guys are really great. I probably would never have improved without you guys, and that goes for all the strokes. Thanks :)

    Now back to the serve. Are my hips too square at contact?
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
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  31. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Your right leg goes forward at contact. You are off balance. The proper look is a ballet kick with the right leg going back to balance the body going forward and up.
    The leg will stop the hip rotation when you are square for a first serve which translates to (if the rest of the form is correct) an increase in racket head speed. The whip from ground up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
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  32. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    2 things:

    From the front view, your right leg was still kicking forward after contact indicating that you are falling back because your toss is too far back. But, from the back view, there were a few serves where your right leg kicked back indicating that you tossed out into the court better and your weight moved forward into contact.

    From the back view it's also easier to see that you are not getting a full racquet drop. Your swing path stops when your hand is behind your head, moves to the left and then you have a semi sidearm swing to the ball. The racquet head never falls much below your head. By comparison, it should drop down to your butt. So, try to be aware of letting the racquet fall straight down behind your head.
     
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  33. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Slo mo, still the same thing.
    Toss would land outside the baseline.
    You finish your swing way too late, indicated by your super long followthru.
    A swing has only so much forward movement. You need to finish the acceleration just as you hit the ball, meaning you need to start EARLIER.
    You need that high hand, high elbow finish AFTER you hit the ball, with the racket facing the ground, not the opponent.
    Yes, you are swinging faster.
     
    #33
  34. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Slow motion video here:

    http://youtu.be/E5idrq4MgeI

    I think I get a good racquet drop- still think it needs to be deeper Limp? The overlay shows me falling to the right a bit, and tracking my left foot confirms it.
     
    #34
  35. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    your newer severs definitely have more pop to them.
     
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  36. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    Didn't read the whole thread but...

    drop is not deep enough.
    this is because you are arming it right after the trophy pose. you can see it in the slowmo. the racquet should drop because you are pushing off from the legs and uncoiling the torso. that will cause the racquet to drop on it's own. in you slow mo you can see after the trophy your arm goes to the left right after trophy. this is because you are 'winding up' to arm it. from the trophy if you are relaxed you should just push off w/ the legs, uncoil and it will drop right below the right shoulder and it will be lined up w/ the ball, unlike now where it semi-drops over to the left and you have to bring the racquet back over to the right.. you shouldnt feel/try any arm action until quite a bit later in the stroke.

    maybe someone mentioned already but grip looks a little too eastern imo. more towards continental will give you better rhs and pronation.

    and... you are hitting on the way down!
    you have to be striking the ball on the way up. up the mountain as they say.
    left arm goes down too soon. gotta keep it up longer.
     
    #36
  37. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    When you say Eastern, you mean Eastern backhand right? My service grip is between Conti and Eastern backhand. Will try more Conti and see what happens.

    WRT hitting on the way down- am I firing the legs too early then?

    Will try not to arm it. Just like the forehand eh? >.<
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
    #37
  38. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    How are you putting all the tech stuff over your videos? Looks awesome.
     
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  39. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Cool right? Kinovea software...free! :D

    http://www.kinovea.org/en/

    Back on topic- slow motion from the side, the issues are more apparent here. I added annotation to show what I think the corrections should be. Toss about 26 inches further in front, body angle about 14 degrees forward. Look about right?

    http://youtu.be/PtQ-4kgt_E8

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
    #39
  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You racquet drop barely extends to your shoulder blades. It should extend to your behind.
     
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  41. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    That captures what I'm talking about. Your toss would land on or behind the baseline. However, for you, 26" further in front would be too far in front, IMO. You'll have difficulty getting the ball over the net. At your height, I would recommend from 12-18" max.
     
    #41
  42. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Today's session.

    I could swear the toss was better! Here I get the toss landing inside the court. Needs to be even further out, in retrospect.
    http://youtu.be/Bd02Jym-i7c


    But video of the full swing shows otherwise. Darn! But I do get more snap at contact. Something is better. At least my right leg is going in the correct direction!

    http://youtu.be/nO3pBFFvMrU
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
    #42
  43. Wuppy

    Wuppy Professional

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    Jump, mother*******! My grandma can jump higher than that.

    Oh and toss the ball out forward more.
     
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  44. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
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  45. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Your swing is much better, you prep trophy earlier, but your toss still lands just behind the baseline, and you body only lands 18" inside the court, which is OK, if you stay back on your serves reacting to your oppoenent's returns.
     
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  46. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    From the time your foot leaves the ground until contact is how many frames?

    And from contact until your feet hit the ground is how many frames?

    I'll bet the 1st number is greater than the 2nd number.
     
    #46
  47. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Yup. I leave the ground 11 frames before contact, touch down 7 frames after. Is it a matter of firing the legs a split second earlier? Will try to fix that. And for the umpteenth time, the toss. :mad:
     
    #47
  48. Wuppy

    Wuppy Professional

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    This is why it's best to fix your form before you've been playing for 20 years
     
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  49. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    No, it's because your timing isn't right yet and you are hitting on the way down instead of on the way up like I mentioned before.
     
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  50. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think he meant he took 20 years away from tennis.
     
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