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Old 11-02-2009, 04:32 PM   #42
naylor
Semi-Pro
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 686
Default As BB said, the serve is very important for this formation to work...

... and you need a partner that can place their service well (and change the placement if needed, when the netperson is switched to Aussie).

I have used the formation occasionally in mixed doubles, from the deuce side. My partner kept serving to the receiver's forehand, and she got into a good groove hitting solid crosscourt returns. This pinned my serving partner at the back, as she was not comfortable attempting to volley the returns, but this made us more vulnerable:- the returner now had a choice, 1) shorter, more acute crosscourt returns to stop me from attempting to intercept, and also force my partner to rush up and lift the ball (an easy putaway for her partner), or 2) a normal deeper crosscourt to force a weak shot by my partner (and another putaway by her partner at the net). So, we tried Aussie a couple of times. But of course, the serve still kept going to the returner's forehand, who now simply had to push it down the line and then the ladies started rallying down the line - but from my partner's weakness (backhand) to the receiver's forehand strength, so it didn't take long for the opponent at the net to pick up an interception and put the volley away.

The lesson from this is, for this formation to work it's not just about cutting out the obvious crosscourt return (by playing Aussie), but crucially it's also about the server taking the receiver out of his/her comfort groove and placing the serve somewhere other than the forehand wheelhouse (so, a lot wider, or a jammer, or down the T to the backhand). Of course, if my partner had been able to do this in the first instance - when we were in the normal formation - the returner would not have got into her groove, which would have avoided the problem altogether.

I've only been at the receiving end of the Aussie formation once, recently, in a men's doubles match. I got into a good groove returning from the backhand side, stepping in for topspin backhand crosscourts on first serves, and running around for forehand inside-out crosscourts on second serves, so the opponents switched to Aussie. And the server also changed first serve placement, going for a jammer. What he didn't realise is that the movement for stepping in for a topspin backhand also unjams the forehand, which gave me enough room to take the ball at the top of the bounce and drive it deep down the singles service line. With hindsight, the server should only have posed one challenge (given me the same wide serve, but asked that I changed the direction of the backhand return to down-the-line); instead, he also challenged that I play an early forehand return, but of course with the Aussie position he was also giving me a huge target to punish him with.

I guess the key is that the switch to Aussie can work if the server is already "doing the right things" (decent serves, well placed to the backhand) but they're not working as expected (I was grooved) - then, the challenge is to ask me to play the same shot, but to a completely different target, immediately. But if the starting point is the server is not doing his/her work properly so the pressure is caused by the weak serve, then going Aussie is not the answer because it's a worse defensive formation than the normal one.
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Last edited by naylor : 11-02-2009 at 04:39 PM.
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