Originally Posted by sureshs
Well, I think it was Chrissie's comment, from the voice. She was talking about how Sloane has more variety then Azzy, but how more variety means more things can go wrong (and how Azzy does a few things only and does it very well).
If you look at Djokovic/Nadal vs Federer, do you think Fed's so-called variety is a liability or a strength?
Variety is not a weapon in itself. It rather serves a purpose: that of preventing your opponent to be grooved into a pattern. In essence, it's useful to vary your game plan in order to support your game plan, not in order to make variety your primary tool.
Using it to try and out-trick your opponent at every point would be pretty dumb, but doing it 10 to 20% of the time is smart.
At the core of a game plan lays a principle: that of earning a statistical edge over your opponent. You do not want to win battles and loose the way; you want to win the war, rather. So, what do you do? Smart players design their strategy so that they put themselves in situations where in they are at least slightly likelier than their opponent to win many rallies and that's how you should be working: play the odds.
Of course, Federer's ability to vary his play patterns and strokes plays in his favor... SO LONG AS HE DOESN'T EXAGGERATE.
The point is that you can think of it like casino. You can "outsmart" a casino by playing only very few times.
They always present games with a winning expected value for themselves... over an infinite number of attempts, gains registered by players will be negative and normally distributed around the average which is the expected value. However, if you do not play a lot (say, less than 20 games), you can get out without loosing... the more you play, the likelier it is that you will loose money.
If you always do this at casino's, you have greater odds of presenting gains than someone who played a lot. Same with risky shots in tennis. You can be the odd statistic that is located far away from the expected value... it's possible. However, the more you take the bet of making that shot, the more you tend toward the average. Variety is a good thing. You can try this down the line return or go for a better angle during a rally... it's not dumb. You could also hit a few drop shots, vary your slice target to bring your opponent forward, etc. They all can work, but they're also all risky under certain circumstances.
But remember the expected value: you may tempt the Devil at times, but do not make it an habit. Some of these strokes are easy winners, but their efficiency falls as their frequency increase: as the drop shot is used, the opponent learns to read it and starts to move earlier. Same idea here: limit their use.