How Do You Play Guys That Just Crush Winners?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by that_was_just_out, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. that_was_just_out

    that_was_just_out New User

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    I played this guy tonight and he was just treating all my shots with utter disdain.

    My general style is to hit pretty deep and flat off both wings and he just hit them back deeper and flatter.

    I really didn't feel like I played poorly, he was just unconscious.

    Any ideas with what to do with a guy liike that? Is it possible he liked the fact that I was hitting hard and fed off that? Should I have tried some low slice, looping topsin forehands?

    I was trying to get into the net, but couldn't find a good time to do it, usually I like to move the rally along and pick my spots to come in, but before I could get the rally going, he hit a flat shot right in the corner by me.

    He's probably a 4.5, I'm probably about a 4.0, so he's not so far above me that I shouldn't be able to compete with me. It was a ladder match and he won 8-3. (First to 8 wins)

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
     
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  2. that_was_just_out

    that_was_just_out New User

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    On the second to last paragraph it should be "I shouldn't be able to compete with him." Seems like I'm not allowed to edit posts yet.
     
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  3. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Some players prefer lower, faster balls. It was his case, apparently. When that happens, the worst thing you can do is to enter a slug fest with your opponent.

    Of course, if you are a flat hitter, don't pop every ball high in the air, trying to become a player you are not within the course of a match. You have to play smartly and use the tools you best own to avoid digging your own grave. If he does like these balls hard and low, you could slightly increase the frequency of the variations you introduce. Slice a few balls, loop a few ones.

    Don't go ahead and try to either loop or slice half of your shots. It's not your game and you'll pay for that if you try. Your game is to hit big and flat and everything around it serves the purpose of enabling you to exploit your best qualities. Usually, coaches will advise you to use variations to prevent opponents to read into your play patterns. The unusual shots like slicing the ball in a neutral rally, throwing a kick serve as your first ball, etc. should not exceed 20% of your strokes, as the typical tip goes. I'd say you should make them slightly more important in frequency if your game style doesn't fit your opponent all too well. You have to do something so you get the right ball to take on the offensive and win the point... well, without throwing everything out the window, you can increase your variety for one match or even just one set. It might work.
     
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  4. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Looks like he is simply too strong for you.

    So the advice is, train, train, and one other thing, and that is train! :)
     
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  5. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    well, hard and flat is probably the easiest possible ball to return.. certainly the easiest to just 'tee-off' on.

    do you have the skills to mix it up a bit? bring your grip around and loop a few to him, see how he goes?

    I just wish someone would hit hard and flat to me, that'd be great!

    *edit I just read 10isFreak's post and agree 100% with pretty much everything he says (there's a first!)
     
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  6. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    It sounds like you both have similar games, and he is just better than you are.

    Put yourself in his place - wouldn't you expect to win if you played someone with a similar style and you were better than him?

    So don't fret too much and chalk it up to experience.
    Wasn't playing him worth it to see where game needs to go to beat this guy?
    Aren't you hungrier to improve?

    Keep working on your game.

    Men's tennis is often built around holding serve - get in a high percentage of first serves that put pressure on your opponent and keep the pressure up until you have a chance to hit a winner or he is pressured into an error.



    Tennis is very unforgiving. You must see matches on TV between two pros, both with great shots, but the better player wins.
    Most recent example - we would all love to play as well as David Ferrer, but he lost in straight sets to Nadal.
    Does that make Ferrer a loser?
    No way.
    And neither are you.


    [Hopefully this reply is valuable to you, even though 10isfreak gave a reply that more directly answers your question.]
     
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  7. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    While i like the advice here and would agree with it, recently I have been watching fuzzy yellow balls videos and they had an interesting one about matchups.

    The whole point was that rec players rarely think about the matchup or what it is like on the other side of the court. For example, i might hate to hit backhands but hitting my backhand to the opponents backhand might be a favorable matchup, and one I could win. Conversely, If I love to wail on forehands crosscourt but the guy across the net has a better forehand, then my best play is not to hit my forehand crosscourt,

    Also I used to be a pitcher and most players could hit the fastball but some couldnt handle a curve or a slider. You had to figure out what bothered the hitter and pitch it if you could. Tennis is like that in that we all like a certain ball height and pace. Its our job to figure out what the opponent doesnt like and if it is a favorable matchup to play that shot even if its not our best.

    So while I am all for playing "your" game if its not working you have to adapt. And there is some historical precedence ( hey, isnt all precedence historical?) for a player realizing they cant win playing "their" game and adapting to a different game that won.
     
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  8. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    As others have said, on this night, with the tools that you legitimately own, there might not have been a solution.

    But . . .

    I did play a guy like you described years ago in a tournament. Based on the warm-up I thought was going to get killed. He was ripping the racquet out of my hand. His one weakness was his serve. My strength was my serve. So my plan was:

    - Go big on my serve, don't get into rallies, and try to hold
    - See what damage I could do on the returns off his weak serve
    - Hope he can't maintain the flat bullets he was hitting

    The serve was working well so I was holding. This was not making him happy because I could tell he thought he should be killing me. He was winning his service games too however. He tried to get more aggressive in his groundies and errors started creeping in.

    On my third service game I could tell he was just jonesing for a serve that he could murder, especially off his fh. I had served to his fh, but I always made sure that it was either an ace or out. I had not given him anything to hit on that side. So in the middle of the game I give him an 80% flat serve right in his wheel house. He goes huge and tries to rip the cover off the ball, but ends up putting it into the side fence before it ever hits the ground. Now he's totally angry at himself. The balls start going a couple of feet long on almost every shot. I just kept the pressure up on the serve and he did the rest.

    But if he could have maintained the level in the games that he had displayed in the rallies, I don't see how I could have won with the tools I had at the time.
     
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  9. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    did he hit winners off both wings?
     
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  10. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    My default adjustment in any match I am losing is to hit with less pace and more spin. It is amazing how often that gets my opponents to cough up more unforced errors.
     
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  11. looseleftie

    looseleftie Rookie

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    Rkelly, great post mate... Yeah try and have some basic plan.. If hes better than u at baseline, hits heavy and gets them in consistantly, getting winners or forcing errors, then don't get into that..

    Move him around, find his weaknesses.. use angles , vary the pace and spin of the ball.. keep the ball if u are at baseline nice and deep, no floaters, and nothing flat and short.. good luck mate.

    Take his game away from him, as u are the only one who can do that on the court...
     
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  12. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Most players like pace. Don't give it to them.
     
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  13. Vertiz

    Vertiz Rookie

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    At a certain point, everyone can hit hard and has pretty good technique. What separates them is mental more so than physical (assuming you put in the hours in the gym). If he's out blasting you then basically you need to try something different because what you got going on is broke. Try varying spin on your shots, hit 30% power but 70% spin, then 50% spin 50% power, etc. Throw in the off pace slice. If that doesn't work try to bring him in to net and test his net game. Another thing you can try is to change your game plan. Maybe play a forehand,forehand, backhand pattern or the other way around. Try whatever you can until you find something that works well, and if you can't find anything...then he is simply a better player than you at the moment. Time to practice more :). Goodluck with your impending rematch!
     
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  14. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    He was more dangerous off the fh, but he hit hard, flat shots that stayed low off of both sides that really pushed me back. Not a lot of margin in those shots however. I had to hang on to the belief (right or not) that he couldn't keep it up over two or three sets.
     
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  15. that_was_just_out

    that_was_just_out New User

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    Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated. Good people on this site.

    Come to think of it, I might have played a bit too much to his forehand, he was destroying most of them, can't remember too many backhand winners.

    The problem is my forehand is my best shot too and I love hitting it crosscourt to get opponents out wide and then hitting a clean winner deep to the backhand corner. But I never got the chance as he would blast a forehand winner off my setup crosscourt forehand regularly usually down the line to my backhand over the high part of the net, one of the lower percentage shots in tennis, but he had no trouble doing it.
     
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  16. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    Most rec. players cannot significantly change their games during matches without utter failure (e.g., go from hitting deep and flat to slicing with no pace). Instead, I would suggest varying the pace, spin, location, and height up slightly to keep the opponent off balance. It is really fun too, because you can allow yourself to occasionally hit as hard as you can (mayby 1 out of every 10 shots).
     
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  17. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Reading between the lines of the sparse info in this post, it sounds like this guy's style is the same as yours and he is just better than you. Can you give us any more information as to what was the guy doing?

    As an aside, since losing 0-6, 0-6 is reasonable (according to the USTA) within levels, losing 3-8 to someone 0.5 level ahead of you does not imply anything out of the ordinary.
     
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  18. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I see there are a lot of advices to do this or that, but don't you guys think it all comes down to actual ability? Probably 95% of the sport or any sport is about actual doing. Probably 1% is strategizing. :)

    Couple guys said most players like pace. Certainly not the OP. I don't like dealing with heavy pace either.
     
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  19. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    His opponent was also hitting hard and flat, and deep, and he couldn't return them, so it's not all that easy for everyone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
    #19
  20. The Isomotion31

    The Isomotion31 Semi-Pro

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    Watch Martina Hingis highlights.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Play the low slice, short slice, drop shot/lob game.
    Or hit winners yourself before HE get's to hit the ball.
     
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  22. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    Throw lots of junk at him, get him off his game.
     
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  23. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    If he didn't own those shots, wouldn't he be digging his own grave?
     
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  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    If he couldn't low slice short, didn't have a drop shot/lob combo, he would need to resort to Plan B. Plan be is to hit a winner before your opponent get's his chance to hit his winner.
     
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  25. that_was_just_out

    that_was_just_out New User

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    Wish I could give you more specific info on what he was doing, but I have a really hard time recalling what exactly happens during a match after. I would have to watch a tape of it, in the moment I'm just focusing on seeing the ball and executing shots, I'm not really aware of much else going on. What I most recall was a lot of balls right inside the sidelines deep going by me with no chance to get a racquet on them.

    I guess I was looking for general advice since I only gave a general description of the match, and I appreciate all the good replies, lots of interesting ideas to try to apply in the future.
     
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  26. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    That's part of your issue. You need to better use the changeovers/time between points to mentally process what's going on. During this time, I try to keep it simple by paying particular attention to the type/location of each winner/error. You don't have to keep a running total in your head, but if you stop and think about it, you'll start to see patterns develop early in the match. By the end of the first set, if not sooner, you should be able to know what's working/not working so that you can formulate a Plan B if you're off track.

    Out of curiosity, what do you find yourself thinking about between points/changeovers?
     
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  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Losing strategy.... think about " I have to hit harder, I have to run faster, I have to hit more winners"...
    Better strategy... "where is his weakness, what can I do to hurt him, and where should I position myself.....besides get shoulder turned earlier"....
     
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  28. that_was_just_out

    that_was_just_out New User

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    The thing is, I wish I was able to do that. The problem is, my club is crazy busy, so we're only allotted 40 minutes of court time to finish our match and so the changeovers are a quick sip of water and towel and off to the other side. Like 10 seconds. Often the winner doesn't even get to the 8 games required to win the match, it could end like 5-4 and he would win since we're out of time. (Not ideal, I know, but I still love the competition and meeting lots of different opponents with different styles.)

    As far as between points, I'm just trying to block out any thinking really and just concentrate on seeing the ball. I think I read that in The Inner Game of Tennis or something, about trying to find the zone and peak performance, where there is no analytical thought process, just execution. I've always figured the time for analysis is before and after the match, not during.
     
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  29. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    If your "zone and peak performance" is leading you to a losing set, .......
     
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  30. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    Well, assuming you've seen your opponent play in advance, that's not an entirely horrible strategy. However, even if you have, you still need to be processing what is working and what isn't during the match. Your pre-match plan maybe to bust the guy with inside out forehands to his backhand, but if on that day his backhand is better than usual or your inside out forehand is poor, then you're going to be eating a lot of bagels simply from your mental game.

    I haven't read the Inner Game of Tennis, so I can't comment on what it says in there. But I would have serious doubts about anything that tells you to completely abandon any mental or analytical approach to the game. To be sure, I think that worrying about stroke technique during the match is largely a losing battle. So, too, is being overly concerned about the result of a match.

    Your mind can only process so much information on the fly and I think you gain far more from thinking about match strategy than whether you're getting a big enough loop in your forehand backswing. And "seeing the ball," as you put it, should be a subconscious thing anyway.

    IMO, and maybe others may disagree, you should be thinking about favorable patterns before each point begins, and especially when you're serving. Can i take this guy out wide with my serve and then rally CC to the open court? Can i return his serve CC and get in a favorable backhand to backhand rally? In between points/games, you should be thinking about why certain patterns aren't working for you (you cant hit the wide serve or youre struggling with your backhand) and what you can do to fix it.

    Tennis is a game of probing your opponent with whatever technical skill you have that day and then repeating what works. If you're completely unaware of the evidence coming from that probing, then you're doing yourself a tremendous disservice.
     
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  31. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Well in that case, this thread can be incredibly useful for you. Not to beat this random guy, but to clue you into the fact that winning is different from playing well, in the sense that in matches against better players (4.0 vs 4.5) the rare wins will come more from making him play poorly rather than you playing well.
     
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  32. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    Short-angle slice and follow it in.

    Dropshot and lob.

    Don't hit the same spin twice in a row so he can't groove on you.

    Make him run to all four corners of his court, up and back as well as side to side.
     
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  33. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    well, he was initiating the exchange, it seems. Opponent doesn't have to be a lot better than OP to be able to pin his ears back and hit the first winner...
     
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  34. that_was_just_out

    that_was_just_out New User

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    Thanks for the great response. I guess one of my main problems in tennis is that I'm too sort of pumped up during the match, that I'm just so involved in the struggle and each point that I can't step back and ask myself "What's really going on here? What's working or not working? until after the match is over, win or lose.

    Maybe I should take some yoga or something, hahaha.
     
    #34
  35. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    I don't buy this. hard and flat can be difficult to handle even to very good players. the key is the control of the placement so the opponent is not just waiting for that hard and flat ball to tee off. hard and flat balls usually are placed pretty deep and if the lateral control is good and can move around the opponent at will, hard and flat balls are still very competitive even in this mega topspin age. but I admit that's not an easy skill to come by. most pros of the foregone era will play this way and can still jerk around most topspin juniors.
     
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  36. cork_screw

    cork_screw Hall of Fame

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    That is a very good point.

    Some guys feed of flat balls. I think you should try to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible. And especially if he is more skilled than you. It doesn't mean you can't beat him. Also, if you pressure him and come into net and just prep for overheads, lobs, that's another strategy to pressure him. Some guys just don't like players rushing to the net. Guys who crush the ball usually like pace and depth. If you loop the ball, give him off balls with some slices that tail away from him anything to make him feel uncomfortable would probably help. I can't imagine some guy who just hits clean winners when a ball is ankle high with skidding action. Don't play your game necessarily for everyone you play, play against their strengths and find their weaknesses. Every warrior has some type of chink in his armor. You just need to find it.
     
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  37. aTOMIC

    aTOMIC New User

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    Hy!!!

    if someone is hitting deep and flat try to use alot of topspin and this will produce timing errors. try to outlast,not out hit!!!:)
     
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  38. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    That's why Ellsworth Vines, Don Budge, and Jack Kramer were such push-overs.
     
    #38
  39. Metalica

    Metalica New User

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    Sounds like he has better groundies than you. If that's the case I think you should try everything other than getting in a slugfest with him. Drop shot, slice, S&V, vary the depth and spin of your shot, what ever works.
     
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