yes they do play a role, actually a big role.
however you cannot use a basic strategy like "everything CC till you get a short ball" or like the "directionals strategy" since their opponent would see the pattern within 2 minutes and "sit" on the balls he expects.
that means you have to mix it up and think along with the opponent.
this is like in poker. against bad players you can just play the good hands and fold the bad ones because the beginner will often overplay his cards and play too loose.
likewise at the lower levels a strategy like directionals (against ball A I will just play CC shots and against ball B I will also play DTL) or playing most CC will work.
however I often said a well executed shot that the opponent expects beats a bad shot that surprises the opponent. this means the lower the level is the more you should orient yourself on what you can execute. knowing yourself and what you can do and what not is very valuable and win you a lot of matches against similar level opponents.
however against the good players in poker you have to think on a higher level (he expects me to do this so I will do this). the same applies to high level tennis.
the better the player is (even in the high levels- fed plays much more "freestyle" then the "normal 10-20 guy) the more shots you have (and the ability to play the low percentage shots you should not do according to directionals) and the more you can mix it up and play the shot the opponent doesn't expect.
this looks like chaotic (and you are right that the modern flexibility of shot making does increase the variety) but in fact it is a constant battle of the minds which is based on a lot of experience in this match, other matches against the same player and also other matches.
Last edited by dominikk1985; 01-09-2013 at 10:16 AM.