Tricky Opponent & 'One of those days'

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by GoudX, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    Today I lost to an opponent I feel I should have beaten. It was very close, and I feel like I could have walked away victorious, as we only played one set and I lost 7-4 in the tie-break after fighting back from two early breaks which happened before my serve was grooved.

    In fact, I am certain on most days I could have beaten him, but I was having 'one of those days' and his shots stacked up very well against mine. Imagine if you will, a fast player who has no fantastic shots, but who can hit a remarkably consistent very low flat rallying shot off of any ball he can reach. This meant that I almost never had a chance to attack the ball, as I would always be hitting the ball off of my shoestrings. As I am used to stepping inside the court and hitting the ball on the rise with a nice high contact point, this forced me into playing outside of my normal tactics.

    So fellow TTers, I come for advice on a number of small tactical and technical issues.
    What do you suggest when:

    1 - You are having one of those days where your shots are just not working.
    2 - Your main tactics work badly against a particular opponent.
    3 - An opponent never lets you hit a shot above net height.


    For reference, in the set I tried:

    -Slicing and dicing - My go to second tactic is to vary the depth and spins on my shots, but he had no problem tracking down my slices and would often respond in kind, by hitting right at the baseline. This was fairly successful on return, and if I practised playing like this I could probably make it work.

    -Attacking the net - didn't work too well as he had low accurate shots and was never out of position. A doubles specialist or decent S&V player would probably be able to make this work well, but it was too far from my regular play to be able to make it work.

    -Topspin rallying from the baseline - probably worked the best as it is closest to my natural style of play, but as he was very fast and consistent he would rarely miss before hitting a shot so low that I had to chip it up as a sitter. This might have worked if my serve was taking care of itself.

    -Smacking the ball as hard as I could, as early as I could - My forehand was a little off today, so I didn't want to commit to this low margin play, but this method showed promise when I got a chance to attack the ball before he had a chance to play a rallying shot.
     
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  2. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Dunno, what does work against Berdych (who only can hit flat) that could be realistically used at lower, rec levels?
     
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  3. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    My other opponent was less like Berdych, more like Murray without the slicing. Lots of flat consistent shots; very good at running balls down, a decent but not overwhelming put away forehand, a big but inconsistent and unvaried first serve, a reliable second serve, very good at mixing up depth and pace.

    That kind of player is usually not a usually any more of a problem to me, as I can usually attack the entire court consistently from both wings, however I think I have discovered the source of the problem - One of the courts at my club plays, very, very low, now that it is sun has made the astroturf bone dry.

    I noticed this when playing another match against a less experienced friend. Whilst the match was a slaughter (I won 6-1 6-2), I found the same problem, and made a worrying number of mistakes. The ball rarely bounced high or deep enough to hit a winning forehand, so I had to resort to other tactics.

    Anyway, here is what I found works well off of a consistently low bounce.

    What worked very well:
    -A big serve, with varied spin, worked a charm.
    -Committing to long rallies with moderate depth and topspin, and fairly low pace.
    -Surprising the opponent with short angles.

    What worked fairly well:
    -Aggressively slicing the ball
    -Alternating mid paced flat shots down the line and cross court, the court naturally took time away from the opponent so you can sometimes hit a mid paced winner.

    What won as many points as it lost:
    -Aggressively hitting the ball on the rise, half the time you get a clear winner as your opponent has no time, half the time the ball is a foot lower than you expected so you miss.
    -Drop shots, as the opponent is constantly ready to rush the short ball, but the ball drops very low, very quickly.

    What worked badly:
    -Attempting to rush the net, I am 5'7 so I usually rely on a solid approach shot and hope for a badly placed passing shot. This play is next to impossible when the ball is so low that all aggressive shots are low percentage plays. (On the other hand: He had a lot of success attacking the net, as he is very quick and 6'4, so he could cover the entire net much more easily, and fast passing shots are very hard off of low balls)
    -Attempting to crush big winners off of the baseline, with or without topspin.


    Anyone got good advice for the other problems:

    1 - You are having one of those days where your shots are just not working.
    (What do you do when your standard serve and forehand fail you?)
    2 - Your main tactics are working badly against a particular opponent.
    (What do you do when your usual Plan A and Plan B are failing)
     
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  4. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Dude,

    Advices for you would be useless since this instance was only 'one of those days'. On most days you could have beaten him so that would be your strategies, whatever that is.
     
    #4
  5. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    I disagree with this. The match is pointing out areas you are weak - and therefore areas to work on. If you could have executed your alternative strategies better, you could have beaten him despite having a bad day. Being able to win on a bad day is the key to being a consistent winner.
    Serve-Volley and very aggressive hitting seem like a stretch for you - things that would be longer-term projects. Improving your low slices and varying your topspin game some would be short-term improvements that could payoff quickly.
     
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  6. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    High looper to the BH, works every time.
     
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  7. ttwarrior1

    ttwarrior1 Professional

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    How about take some off the 1st serve,then next shot try drop shots or consistent hots down the line with slice
     
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  8. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    I agree completely with your point about being a consistent winner. When I used to lose I would just say "Oh well, he played better on the day", but having gotten fed up of losing too often - I am forcing myself to change. Now I say: "How did I lose, did I beat myself or did he win. If I beat myself I need to be more patient, if he won I needed to pressure him more" Then the question becomes what strategies will work against him that will apply more pressure and or reduce my mistakes.

    I think you are right about the slices and topspin. I've played too much doubles recently, so I can no longer hit angled topspin shots consistently. And I need to get more patient slicing and dicing deep into the centre of the court.
     
    #8
  9. andrewpmast

    andrewpmast New User

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    I know exactly what you went through. I still lose to players who have almost no form or consistency. My initial advice is to put the loss behind you. Compliment them on their win, even if you lost to your own errors. There is a secret to beating them, and you just have to find it patiently, perhaps losing a lot of games before you find it.

    These level of players can quickly learn your typical shots and will return almost anything you throw at them, albeit very strange and inconsistently... Their unusual returns makes you uncomfortable. Sure, top players can end these rally's quickly...good for them! I don't try to play that level of game, because I'm not there yet.

    At my level, if I play someone who has less form and technique, I have to focus even more and not get lazy. I anticipate that nothing will go my way, and focus on keeping the ball in play. I try to enjoy the cat and mouse game for what it is. It might be a long rally (longer than you're used to) of slow play, but your shot will eventually be there. Be patient, wait for it. They don't have that winner so you ultimately have an advantage; just too eager to use it.

    Be extra mobile. You already know not to expect a left and right baseline rally. Expect to move all over the court in circles, remembering the importance of putting your body in the right position to be able to make your shot which means lots more scooting around the entire court until you can get into the ideal position.

    It's my humble advice, take what you'd like from it. Good luck!
     
    #9

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