Take me down to drop shot city
Question: if 85% of all shots to my opponent's back-hand result in a drop shot that lands within 4 feet of the net on my side -- every time -- then what can I do to combat this?
1.) I have been attempting to punish his forehand, but if I take off even one iota of pace from my shot, he'll "run around" the forehand to hit a backhand dropshot and end the point
2.) If I'm behind the baseline (like I usually am), I cannot run down his dropshots, they are too good. I can only run them down if I had been in NML accidentally
3.) If I charge the net after I accidentally hit to his backhand side, he'll lob it over my head and it always lands around my baseline, and always in.
I'm all out of ideas. It's very frustrating, I feel like he's playing "keep away" with the ball.
Hit and run to the service line? From there it's close to get the dropper, or to recover back to get the lob.
Drop shot him first.
Slice drive with lots of side spin to decrease his precission.
Hit monster top spin that would jump too high to execute a drop shot.
Read his racquet. If you have to disguise a dropshot, it makes it harder to hit over and over effectively. Most likely he is telegraphing his dropshot, as soon as you see it coming, run towards net.
Attack his backhand. hit deep to his backhand so he does not have time to lob, and follow the shot to net as his first choice will be a dropshot.
Play closer in, you are standing too far back and he is exploiting that. Sounds like there is no reason to stand this far back against this player.
I am skeptical of the 85% number. However if it is accurate you can move toward the net after hitting to his backhand.
Then you should have time to get to the ball, then put the ball away.... hit a drop shot, or hit an approach shot
Counter drop-shot. With chances he'll be running to hit, so he'll have to raise the ball. With that slightly higher ball, punish him. Or if the ball is high enough and he went a bit into the court to hit his dropshot (which is a difficult shot to hit behind the baseline), chip to the forehand corner. He'll have to hit a defensive shot with it if he's out of position/anticipating a counter dropshot. Punish that defensive shot.
That's why you see many pros do this: it's hard to hit a good on-the-rise shot with a dropper, except if it was failed. Either counter dropshot or chip and stay at net. Most likely if it's well struck, counter dropshot. Not very likely you'll be able to do anything else with a ball under your knees...
EDIT: Also, it's harder to dropshot very high balls, very fast or very low balls. Basically, if you hit midcourt, with no particular pace or spin around his chest/shoulder, you deserve your spanking.
Assuming you are of about the same level, there are two major situations where this might occur. My advice varies depending on how he uses the shot.
Situation 1. 'Murray type' Your opponent plays 'normal shots' for most of the rally, but likes to hit a drop shot to finish the rally. In this case the drop shot is being used instead of a put away forehand, and can only be played when the player is already dictating a point. If this is happening consistently, then you are not pressuring your opponent. You need to take charge of the point and bully your opponent with one of the following: pace, spin, variety, depth, all court play or shot placement.
In this case I would try hugging the baseline and pin the opponent back with consistent, deep and spiny, 3/4 pace rallying shots. The court positioning will rob the opponent of time, allows a quick transition into attacking play and leaves less ground to cover for the dropshot. While the described shot will lead to a moderately fast, high ball which bounces half way between the service line and baseline, this shot will neutralise the drop shot and prevent the opponent dictating the rally, unless they also have an effective high flat shot.
Situation 2. 'Santoro type'. This opponent is a trick shot master, who struggles with regular shots. This player can hit incredible touch shots, but struggles hitting topspin shots. These are the players who can hit incredible drop shot winners off of neutral rally shots. In these cases the best play is to use whatever weapons you have to overwhelm them early in the point.
For instance, against this player I would attack the backhand early in the point, switching between very powerful flat forehands and very heavy topspin forehands. Even the ridiculously gifted cannot hit a successful drop shot off of a fast moving ball with a hard to guess spin and trajectory. In this case many of the attempted drop shots will go into the net or sit up on the service line for an easy put away.
Situation 3: Both are true. The opponent can hold their own in deep rallies, and is capable of hitting a ridiculous drop shot off of any shot you hit. In this case you are outclassed in this match up and you will need to develop stronger shots so that you can trouble your opponent.
Thanks for the advice everyone.
Even if I'm unsuccessful at beating him, at least you've given me a lot to think about. What would seem like a hopeless situation during the heat of the moment, can actually be something that can be dealt with by a variety of positions, shot selection and game theory.
I absolutely am too far back against this player, I should move up some. I'm used to heavier, harder forehands and backhands. He does not have these weapons. In fact, in pure forehand to forehand exchanges, I usually win the point that way. He can't keep up with my consistency. In fact, upon further reflection, most of his shots are rather shallow. he rarely gets any depth at all.
I'll play in front of the baseline and make sure that I give him no neutral shots to his backhand: only topspin heavy forehands and backhands. If I have to slice it to his backhand, then I need to increase the spin making it harder to hit an accurate drop shot.
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