The Six Playing Styles Described

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Kaptain Karl, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. JaisBane

    JaisBane New User

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    Most people will make tactical adjustments to minimize the damage, but usually only allcourt players can successfully change strategies mid-game. An example of this is Edberg, he came to net on every first serve and chipped every second serve no matter how badly he was using. That sort of mental tenacity combined with a high pressure game can cause an opponent to crack and lose their winning edge and it saved Edberg as many times as it doomed him.
     
  2. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    I know we didnt want this to morph into a Fed/Samps comparison, but tennis has so rapidly changed that it is even hard to compare the natural playing styles of the two. it's almost as though Fed and Samps were from diff eras even though ther careers kind of overlapped. If Fed saw more percentage in it, I think he would be at net more and play serve and volley more <he's certainly good enough to>, but net styles were easier played even when Samps was playing..even fed is at net less than when he was earlier in his career <thats how rapidly things have changed> . if Samps were playing today, I believe he would also be at net less (unless he was at the point in his career when he had to find ways to end the points quickly). to me, they are both all courters.
    Many pro players on tour lack the ablity to change playing styles...Roddick is one of them..all he can do is try and hit it even harder..ditto for the Williamses
    Five0 if you are still in here, i just turned on the signature feature and see you play the Laserfibre XL..that one to me, is the sweetest string in the Lasefibre lineup.far better than the Supreme altho not so durable, but perhaps more so in your denser stringbed. It's a really nice string which rarely gets talked about i think.
     
  3. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    lol, agree with most of your comments but I think you are reaching here.

    Although Sampras could hit a forehand and backhand from the back court, his style was to get to net. That is a S&V style. The same can be said about Rafter. He also was first and foremost a S&V. It was also how Sampras won his last Grand Slam tournament, getting to net. Sampras by far is first and foremost a S&V.

    Federer on the other hand is clearly an all-court player.
     
  4. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

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    Could we classify Federer as an all-courter if he played same style
    in 90's or 80's ? I don't think so. I'm not even sure if Fed goes to
    net as much as Borg did.

    I disagree Sampras' style was to get to net. When Sampras was at the
    net, he simply finishing the point he already won, if you know what I mean.
    His volly was simply block and placement volley.
    He did not really need aggressive or magic volleys of Edberg or McAnroe...
     
  5. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    But Sampras clearly had a S&V style. He didnt serve and stay back!

    He may have played some back court but he was also clearly a S&V first and foremost. One could have a weak argument that he was an all-courter, but Wimbledon would beg to differ!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/wimbledon2000/article/0,2763,336485,00.html

    Should I bring out more? Sampras was clear a server and a volleyer. One of the best ever.
     
  6. Klippy

    Klippy Semi-Pro

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    You could call me an All-courter. :D
     
  7. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    Klippy...you are an All-courter.
     
  8. MoneyBall

    MoneyBall New User

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    I used to be a pusher retriever for the first year I started playing tennis. I rarely lose to my friends who've played all their lives. It insults them especially when I had just picked up tennis a couple of summers ago. I'd try less just to make the score less lopsided.

    After winning two tournaments against guys with way better looking strokes than mine I've started taking lessons in order to compete in open tourneys.

    My style now is all-court and S&V when my 1st sevres are on. Believe it or not I hate playing pushers now. They messes with my smooth strokes with their soft high balls. In order to beat them you must be patient with your attack.
     
  9. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Ver good advice. Patients is key with pushers. Unfortunately, people at the 3.5 to 4.0 level think they are better than they really are. There also is a lack of patience and discipline.
     
  10. x Southpaw x

    x Southpaw x Semi-Pro

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    Hm, playstyles I usually classify opponents to:
    1) Allrounder - um, all-court, flexibility-based, advanced, usually has aggressive baseline/counterpunch/netrush alternatives to choose
    2) Aggressive Baseliner - major time spent at baseline, seeks to gain dominance in positioning, attempting winners on opportunity, putting opponent on defense, usually has a forehand and/or backhand weapon
    3) Counterpuncher - huge consistency, major time spent at baseline, seeks to get every return with minimal attackability, pace of returns seldom goes above a limit, often has good return of serve
    4) Netrusher - uses serve&volley and approach&charge as weapons, has superior volleying and overhead skills, often accompanied with good height/reach and superior serve
    5) Spinmeister - uses extraordinary amount of spin as weapon, often has very wristy technique, uses very loopy topspin, backspin that bounces backward, poor footwork and thus sky-high lob recoveries, uses power-based rackets, very rare
    6) Senior - common old man's tennis, good placement, uses mostly flat and slice shots, uses power-based rackets, poor footwork
    7) Pusher - common rookie young man's tennis, often deficient in stroke technique, uses very compact strokes that are often flat or slice, get-ball-back-in-play-based, sometimes can be subclassified as moonballer, some are grinders and extraordinarily good at getting-ball-back-in-play, personally I think those like to self-classify as counterpuncher
    8 ) Bye - free win, double faults a lot, gives lots of free points, blasting returns way out, etc, personally I think certain types of byes like to self-classify as aggressive baseliner

    Just my input.
     
  11. kobun

    kobun New User

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    You are so right about the pusher.
    I can only top out at around 4.0

    I wonder what I should change my style to. I like to serve and volley from time to time if not pushing and it seems other people are S&V with more success against club level people.
    How can I train S&V alone tho? pusher training only requires a wall.
     
  12. tennus

    tennus Rookie

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    Great thread ! When you think about it, so many of the categories just overlap. Eg: Someone like Phillipousis could be construed as a Serve Volley/blaster who sometimes stays back and uses his forehand, yet also chip charges if he's on. Also the style of play may well be dictated by the playing surface and of course the opponent. Also compare some of the legends of the sport in different time frames eg: Early Henman to now. Double handed Sampras as a teenager to Grand Slam winner. Early Agassi to now. Perhaps that's what identifies the greats; being able to adapt to all conditions as necessary. :cool:
     
  13. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Sampras was an all-courter and S&Ver depending on the surface he was playing on. He would S&V at Wimbledon but didn't always S&V on every serve on other surfaces. He didn't always rush to net when returning serve either but would play out some long rallies before moving in.

    Rafter got to net as quick as he could and would place his approaches on the lines in the backhand corner with little pace for his opponent to use against him.
     
  14. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    A debate that will go on forever. Sampras was a S&V. All-court play was secondary.
     
  15. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    I guess I see a true S&Ver going to net on every first and second serve and getting to net very quickly after the return of serve as well. A S&Ver will avoid the baseline game as much as possible. Sampras did not avoid playing baseline and could do it as well as anyone. But of course he was one of the greatest S&Vers as well.

    Watching him recently in that video against Ginepri on clay he often just stayed back and exchanged backhands. He waited for short balls to go to net. I think he stayed back when he was serving too.

    Would a serve and volleyer ever not go to net on his serve?
     
  16. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    http://www.theworldoftennis.com/Sampras.htm

    Read "playing style":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Sampras#Playing_style

    Here is more:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/1999/wimbledon/news/1999/07/04/wimbledon_mens/ , here is a blurb: "The match shaped up as a classic contrast: the best serve-and-volleyer [Sampras] vs. the best returner [Agassi]. But Sampras dominated in all phases."
     
  17. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Yes, at Wimbledon he was a serve and volleyer.

    From your wikipedia link, it says early in his career he was an aggressive baseliner when returning serve and he stayed back on his second serve.

    "His style changed dramatically between the early 1990s and the time he retired. Sampras excelled on hard courts. He served and volleyed on his first serve and frequently stayed back on his second serve. Towards the latter part of his career on hard courts, Sampras played a serve and volley game on both his first and second serves. On grass courts Sampras served and volleyed on both serves throughout his career. When not serving, in the early years of his career, Pete's strategy was to be aggressive from the baseline, put opponents in a defensive position and finish points at the net."
     
  18. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    LOL, my goodness, IT SAYS "SERVE AND VOLLEYER." Quit going into your twisting. He is first and foremost a SERVE AND VOLLEYER. Why would you ever twist that? Is it because you just can't accept things as they are?

    Rafter is first and foremost a serve and volleyer, Edberg is nearly all Serve and Volley. They are considered to be SERVE AND VOLLEYERS!!!!!!! They were of an era. They were of one kind. PERIOD!!!!!!
     
  19. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    OK, Pete Sampras is/was a serve and volleyer. Pretty aggressive baseliner too from what I remember but he I guess doesn't play that style.

    Does everyone have to be so black and white? Can't Pete be a serve and volleyer with an aggressive baseline game? Do some people not see all the shades of gray and other colors that make each player special and unique? I am not twisting anything, just describing Pete in how I saw him.

    His overall strengths were problably first his serve (especially his second), then his forehand, overhead, and volley.
     
  20. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Well that is exactly what I am trying to get through your head. Just because a guy plays back some, does it mean they are no longer a S&V.

    What I mean is, does every player have to rush to the net every single time to be considered a S&V????? Don't be so black and white. If people in the know call Pete an S&V is it really that important to change it??????
     
  21. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    If a guy plays back some then he is more of an all-courter. I will agree that Pete is a S&Ver with an all-court game. Patrick Rafter was a serve and volleyer. Dent is a serve and volleyer. Henman serves and volleys on grass but sometimes stays back on other surfaces. Navritolova was a serve and volleyer. John McEnroe was a serve and volleyer.
     
  22. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    But Patrick played back at times. He would hit is groundies. So all-court? ;)
     
  23. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    NO!!! All-Courters -- by definition -- can play all the styles nearly equally well.

    "If a guy plays back some then he is ..." a S&V who sometimes plays Baseline. There's a big difference between Baseliners and All-Courters.

    kevhen - Tell the truth. You just like "pushing BB's buttons" sometimes, don't you? I think that's what you're doing here....

    - KK
     
  24. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Hehehehe, I know. :) But I do it back to him as well, so we are even. ;) I love it when he says something, you put up something that doesn't agree with him, and his little dancing begins.

    It is Kevhen, that is our Kevhen.
     
  25. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Just testing your ability to control your emotions, which is definitely useful on the tennis court.

    Rafter would chip the ball deep to the backhand corner as soon as he could, so I don't remember him playing that much at the baseline. I did just order the Agassi-Rafter Wimbledon match on DVD so I will get to watch him in action and can give a report...
     
  26. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    You have to watch ALL his matches. The question is, if a player plays the backcourt shouldn't he now be considered an all-courter? Or do you change the rules because you are too stubborn to wake up out of your little 3.0 world?

    My emotions? LOL

    There isn't a chance in hell, that I will show calmness on the court when I really want to play. It is a performance an effect I am after. I consider everyone weak minded and I go after their weak mind. I make them hate me, disgusted with me,

    When I play, I yell, kick, spit, stomp, chomp, cuss, and play as intense as I can. I have been known to get into a fight if I disagree with a call and it is not overturned, win or lose. I don't know, it is like something takes over...lol...its the devil inside...the devil inside...

    I am always thinking I have a knife in my hands and want to ram it into your heart and turn. Win or lose. However, for you, it is a good idea to remain calm out there and focus on the ball. You are too weak minded to handle anything else.
     
  27. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Is that why no one plays matches with you?
     
  28. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    You got it all figured out Kevhen. Your too smart for me. ;)
     
  29. MoneyBall

    MoneyBall New User

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    Work on your serve a lot. Then play a lot of doubles. It forces you to hit volleys and angles. And because you are not constantly using your legs which are your advangtage, you are forced to angles and winners. Playing doubles has helped my overall game, especially volleying. There is no shame about being a good pusher. It just means that you are smarter and mentally & physically stronger than your opponent. Once you get nice strong strokes and serving down, you are automatically a better player than someone with the same stokes and serve.

    I hope to become the first 5.0 pusher in my region and win an USTA open tourney by next summer. However, by everyone's definition, there's no such thing...but hey it's more humorous and self-depricating to be a 5.0 pusher than an all-courter.
     
  30. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Now this is funny. :)
     
  31. kobun

    kobun New User

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    thanks for the advice moneyball.

    I'll see you in the finals:
    5.0 pusher vs 5.0 pusher
     
  32. shojun25

    shojun25 Professional

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    wow this is very helpful

    thanks KK
     
  33. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Nice analysis, KK.

    I like to fancy myself as an all-courter, but often my style is dictated by what racqut setup I am using. If I am using a stiffer frame, I am more apt to attack the net and try to win points with S&V. And I might take more chances with going for winners from the baseline.

    When I use a flexier frame that gives me more spin and margin for error, but less precision and penetration, I prefer to let the action come to me and play either a counterpunching style, or if my game is a little off and I'm playing against someone who is tentative about coming in, I like to employ a moonballing retrieving style from deep behind the baseline.
     
  34. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Wow, that is something I have never heard of, namely: changing your style of play by what stick you happen to be playing with that day.

    The more important question is: do you bring multiple racquets to each match and change depending on what style the other guy has? Or do you decide ahead of time what stick you want to play with and just suck it up?

    Any issues with never playing exclusively with one stick and getting into a groove (Jack of all trades, master of none)?
     
  35. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I can definately optimize different styles of play with different racquets. When I started playing more singles again last year, my ability to rally took a huge leap forward when I tried flexible sticks, but they give me nowhere near the S&V performance of my Prostaff 6.1's. Trying to settle in with one frame that gives me all-courter comfort, but it's a tricky trade-off and I like having a few different frames around to noodle with.

    Happy to declare myself a master of none, but I'm definately still learning.

    Fun thread - my theory on Santoro's tennis DNA: cross between a mad spin doctor and a mean retriever who knows magic tricks!
     
  36. 10ispro

    10ispro Rookie

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    Tennis Magazine recently added a new category primarily for one player---so add to the list " Server".

    Category was added b/c of players like Ivo Karlovic who essentially do nothing but Serve.

    They have a big enough serve and hold percentage that their entire "game plan" relies on holding serve and hoping for a mini break in a Tie Break to win matches.
     
  37. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Actually, I do switch frames during matches, depending on court conditions, my opponent, and how well I am hitting certain strokes that day. For example, one match I was just not hitting my groundies well with my normal racquet, but I was serving big and getting service winners. The court was fast and indoors, and I could tell early that the match was going to be a serving duel. So I reached into my bag a brought out a stiffer frame that was better for serving huge, and it made a big difference.

    Sometimes I get into a groove with one setup. But lately, I'm enjoying the process of perfecting my racquet setup, which means I am constantly tweaking in my effort to find something that works better than what I have. So now I usually bring frames with not only different tensions, but also slightly different stiffnesses. Another example was a match that was being played on somewhat slow court that made attacking the net difficult, and my opponent was super consistent and never made an unforced error. So I switched to a tweener frame that is perfect for hitting flat penetrating groundies (compared to my normally safer and spinnier shots). The faster pace was enough to take away my opponent's time and he started making errors.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2007
  38. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    How do you keep track of what tensions / weights / mods are currently in-place with each frame? (I had a friend who put a Sticky Dot on the butt of each frame with string, tension, weight and points HL. It seemed like he got carried-away with it though. He had about ten frames in his bag all the time ... all with different setups....)

    I used to keep one stick especially for S&V play ... and the other frame for all other play. But when I noticed I had gotten "sloppy" about the Gear Head "thing" -- three different frames in my bag, all with different setups -- it bugged me. I'd rather learn all the nuances of one frame (with a few variations in setup....)

    "That's why they make chocolate AND vanilla...."


    10ispro - "Server" as a category certainly has some arguments for validity. (But it is a mighty tiny group of players, don't you think?)

    - KK
     
  39. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Oh, I see. It seems like you are doing what a lot of Pros do. Namely, have a default stick and a cluster of others that are a bit different (slightly stiffer, more flexible, strung differently etc) then switch from the "regular" to the "custom" one for particular issues that day.

    Carry on...
     
  40. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Unfortunately, my cluster keeps growing. I should probably start selling some of my inventory off on ****...
     
  41. Amone

    Amone Hall of Fame

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    I dunno about Trav, but I know that if I were to have the resources to put into carrying multiple setups at different times, I know I'd probably be able to just remember-- for instance, I can recite at least a line of almost (~80%) every song I have on my computer, including the ones that are in foreign languages I do not speak...

    Basically, even if I carried three of the same racquet (As it happens, I carry three different racquets; two I might use, and one I wouldn't unless I had to) I would do one of two things. One, I would just look at the lead in the hoop, or two I'd use a labelled string bag. Not necessarily labelled in detail, just a '1' '2' and '3,' to trigger my memory.
     
  42. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Amone - But when you get as elderly as me you, um. You....

    What are we discussing, again...?

    - KK
     
  43. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    I'm trying to cut down on the number of frames to choose from. But now that I've gotten pretty experienced at the customization thing, I have every frame I own feeling really sweet regardless of tension. It gives me more choices and makes it harder to part with frames since each one has its pluses and minuses.
     
  44. hyperwarrior

    hyperwarrior Professional

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    I think Mr. Vezeau is a chop-shoter...
     
  45. Ghosting

    Ghosting New User

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    Andy Murray is a great counter-puncher. You must change spin, depth and pace to beat him. Another typical counter-puncher is Hewitt or Robredo. These players also have great passing shot.

    There are no typical serve and volleyers these days. Attacking style is seen especially on grass. Karlovic probably.

    All court players wait for every possible chance to go forward to hit a winner at the net. Henman is a typical example.

    Baseline players like Davydenko or Nadal play aggressively from the baseline. Sometimes pretty boring though.
     
  46. andymac1

    andymac1 Rookie

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    This should be put in tennis magazine. Very entertaining to read.
     
  47. amcgula

    amcgula New User

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    Very good!!! the only thing I disagree is that for me, "pushers" are a kind of "low level baseliners".. the other thing is tha for me, those are not so "separated categories".. many players can swich form one tactic to other, and it's good to try different styles.. even to became a pusher some times..
     
  48. bluegrasser

    bluegrasser Hall of Fame

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    IMO:
    1) S&V

    2) Baseliner ( includes spinmeisters, pushers, etc..)

    3) All Courter

    4) Agressive baseliner ( ala ARod - you know, wait for the short ball - boom !)
     
  49. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

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    Tennis Magazine did do something like this in a past issue but they only broke it into 4 categories: Counter-Puncher, Serve-And-Volleyer, All-Courter, Aggressive Baseliner. So..bluegrasser is pretty much spot on.

    1.) S&V (Henman is the closest thing left)
    Definitely shows a high level of proficiency at the net. Has a proficient serve which is often used to set up the volley. Will chip and charge most of the time on the return of serve.

    2.) Counter-Puncher (Hewitt is a prime example)
    Has a balanced attack from the baseline. Serve, forehand and backhand are usually on par with each in terms of strength but no obvious weapons in terms of strokes and is generally not that "explosive" in the pace department. Usually has phenomenal "wheels".

    3.) All-Courter (Federer is the perfect example)
    Does just about everything well (movement, groundstrokes, volleys, serve) but can produce a superior level of quality in terms of pace/angles. Often is a shot-maker. Has a ton of options in terms of strokes and it comfortable technically in all areas of the court.

    4.) Aggresive Baseliner (Nadal is a good example)
    Probably as solid as a Counter-Puncher from the baseline but usually has a weapon in his/her groundstroke arsenal (serve, forehand, backhand). Generally will look to work and end the point from the baseline and almost exclusively by punishing the ball with his/her biggest weapon.
     
  50. rafael nadal isn't an aggresive baseliner, he is a counter-puncher. An aggressive baseliner is a style of player that dictates from the baseline, more specifically right on top of the baseline taking the ball on the rise. Agassi is the stereotypical aggressive baseliner. Nadal if you have been watching the French has been standing about 5 feet behind the baseline when in the rally.
     

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