Originally Posted by WildVolley
I haven't seen Fed or Djokovic play a real match from court level, but I have watched both play practice sets from court level on the hard courts at Indian Wells. Neither was hitting an average rally ball between 3 to 6 feet over the net. The shots 6 feet over the net or close to that were almost always defensive shots designed to get the player back in the point. I'd say the usually rally ball has less than 3 feet of net clearance.
Last week I was out at Indian Wells watching again (didn't see either Fed or Djok on the practice courts). However, I watched a number of professional players at court level on the outer courts and in practice sets. Low net clearance was standard. The average rally ball in a match was hit between the net cord to 3' over the net, with probably as many in the lower half as in the upper half.
The players do hit higher heavier topspin balls, but those are definitely not the standard balls in my experience watching hard court tennis.
I can't dispute your perception of net clearance. I'm just saying that Vic Braden claims to have done studies on net clearance by pros and asserts that it is much higher than it appears to be by most observers. I agree that it looks like 3 feet is a typical high clearance. But, that's a perception. On the other hand, I've spent a lot of time hitting on a backboard and I like to put a strip of blue painter's tape on the wall as a target. I place the tape as high as I can reach, which is about 7 1/2 feet (4 1/2 feet over the net). But, when I step back and start hitting, that tape seems like it's 4-5 feet high (1-2 feet over the net). All this to say that perceptions from a distance can be deceiving, even at ground level.