Don Budge Advised Mac To Approach Up The Middle.

Raul_SJ

Legend
Is approaching up the middle a good strategy?
:unsure:

"Don Budge advised me to approach up the middle. Take away the passing shot angle."

 
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You Can do this but the approach shot needs to be very deep and with some pace because that gives the other player a bad angle to pass. A short approach to the middle however means a very easy passing shot because if you hit it inside the baseline you can still generate a good angle.

Goal with an approach shot should always be that the passing player has to hit it at least like 7 feet behind the baseline, so you need to push him back before you approach.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Is approaching up the middle a good strategy?
:unsure:

"Don Budge advised me to approach up the middle. Take away the passing shot angle."

Edberg would also use it sometimes.

It can be an effective play, especially against players who like to use sharp angled passing shots.

Give it a try. I will sometimes chip & charge with an "up the middle" approach shot, it can catch the server off-guard and since he doesn't have great angles, it can be hard for him to pass you (if you keep your approach shot deep).
 

Raul_SJ

Legend
Edberg would also use it sometimes.

It can be an effective play, especially against players who like to use sharp angled passing shots.

Give it a try. I will sometimes chip & charge with an "up the middle" approach shot, it can catch the server off-guard and since he doesn't have great angles, it can be hard for him to pass you (if you keep your approach shot deep).
Not sure why practically all coaches say, "approach down the line"... I mostly stay back but notice lot of my opponents approach down the line to my backhand.
I can hit pretty good angles on my BH so I often end up passing them.

Mac approaches down the middle here on return.

 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Not sure why practically all coaches say, "approach down the line"...

Mac does it here on return.

When you approach down the line, you have a shorter distance to cover to get to your net position. You can then cover the passing shot down the line and most of the passing shot cross-court.

If you approach cross-court, you leave yourself vulnerable to a passing shot down the line and also cross-court (unless it's a very short ball and you can still get to your volley position in time). Just watch some old Roddick vs. Federer matches to see what usually happens when Roddick approaches cross-court :)

Up the middle is somewhere in between those two...
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Depends what your opponent is doing to your approaches.
Playing a losing game is not productive.
 

scotus

G.O.A.T.
It works in some cases and not in others.

Carlos Rodriguez had his player Justine Henin use it against Sharapova, and it turned out disastrous for Justine on two occasions.

Sharapova was still able to find angles and overpower Justine. The Belgian's victories came when she moved the tall and relatively clumsy Russian around and all over the court.
 

Chadalina

Hall of Fame
I watched the us open and its amazing how few players understand this simple concept. An inside out approach is bad...

Krajeck did it best, he even approached up the middle with no pace.
 

RyanRF

Professional
Also not as many angles available to Don Budge and his peers using wooden racquets and continental/eastern grips.
 
I watched the us open and its amazing how few players understand this simple concept. An inside out approach is bad...

Krajeck did it best, he even approached up the middle with no pace.
Inside out attack is bad unless it is a winner or so forcing that opponent can only chip it back. If the opponent can hit a controlled passing shot against your I O approach you are toast but those pros try to hit a winner there and only follow it in case the opponent gets his frame on it. So if you attack I O you need to kill it or at least make the opponent scramble.
 

Chadalina

Hall of Fame
Inside out attack is bad unless it is a winner or so forcing that opponent can only chip it back. If the opponent can hit a controlled passing shot against your I O approach you are toast but those pros try to hit a winner there and only follow it in case the opponent gets his frame on it. So if you attack I O you need to kill it or at least make the opponent scramble.
I dont like they guys who want to hit the volley, adds more pressure. Having someone blast in like that isnt as worrisome over the match, its like do or die, exciting. But that guy who makes you hit gets old around 4-4 in the first.

Its like he is calling you out, hard to explain :)
 

Goof

Semi-Pro
A hard, deep approach down the middle can work great. Try to still keep it to their weaker side (and hit hard and deep enough that they can't run around it). Works especially well against most one-handers, as it's hard to come over an inside-out one handed backhand, so you can cheat toward the crosscourt a bit even knowing that you can make up ground if they slice an inside out shot. Depends on the opponent's arsenal though.
 

shamaho

Semi-Pro
You Can do this but the approach shot needs to be very deep and with some pace because that gives the other player a bad angle to pass. A short approach to the middle however means a very easy passing shot because if you hit it inside the baseline you can still generate a good angle.

Goal with an approach shot should always be that the passing player has to hit it at least like 7 feet behind the baseline, so you need to push him back before you approach.
It doesn't necessarily have to be deep... one can do a short and very low approach down the middle if done after a shot that pushed the opponent deep... then he'l be scrambling to catch the short ball and will scoop it up (or play the ball upwards) for easy picking on the volley...

As always it depends on execution and choosing correct time for it.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
What a great podcast by the way. Great to hear how players actually view things like H2H, current state of tennis, the tennis strings and rackets etc. At least, retired ones who are now spectators.
 
The OP video is 43 minutes long. Could someone post the time of the OP quote.

"Don Budge advised me to approach up the middle. Take away the passing shot angle."
 
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rkelley

Hall of Fame
Can be.

I played a guy who had very accurate, well place passing shots. He didn't swing hard though; he used your pace against you. Started approaching up the middle with a slow, deep ball and forced him to generate the pace and the angles. I got to enough volleys to win.
 

NLBwell

Legend
Also not as many angles available to Don Budge and his peers using wooden racquets and continental/eastern grips.
Inside out attack is bad unless it is a winner or so forcing that opponent can only chip it back. If the opponent can hit a controlled passing shot against your I O approach you are toast but those pros try to hit a winner there and only follow it in case the opponent gets his frame on it. So if you attack I O you need to kill it or at least make the opponent scramble.
Both true in these days of polyester strings making passing shots dive quicker and allowing greater angles for the pass. However, if someone is going to the net, they still need to approach up the line or down the middle to allow the least amount of angle for the pass. I do get frustrated watching even the pros approach cross-court and ending up getting passed with the ball 10 feet or more away from their racket even if they are at full stretch. They're standing in the ad court service box while the pass is going down the deuce court line.
Basically, you want to be at the net standing in front of the opponent to cut off the most angle. (of course, adjust for not having to cover out balls)
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
I do get frustrated watching even the pros approach cross-court and ending up getting passed with the ball 10 feet or more away from their racket even if they are at full stretch. They're standing in the ad court service box while the pass is going down the deuce court line.
With pros, it’s complicated, many are so good with passing shots: have seen multiple times how textbook deep slice DTL approach shots get eaten up easily. I think with CC they are more after put away shots. However, if the other guy anticipates/guesses (what they do a lot when opponent is in good position to put the ball away), he gets to the ball in time and has good look on the pass.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
Both true in these days of polyester strings making passing shots dive quicker and allowing greater angles for the pass. However, if someone is going to the net, they still need to approach up the line or down the middle to allow the least amount of angle for the pass. I do get frustrated watching even the pros approach cross-court and ending up getting passed with the ball 10 feet or more away from their racket even if they are at full stretch. They're standing in the ad court service box while the pass is going down the deuce court line.
Basically, you want to be at the net standing in front of the opponent to cut off the most angle. (of course, adjust for not having to cover out balls)
The 'pros' are idiots who don't know how to play!
 

NLBwell

Legend
The 'pros' are idiots who don't know how to play!
These guys were never taught properly how to go to the net for the first 18 or 19 years of their lives. Then they figure out they need a more complete game. It takes an awful lot of concentrated effort to change habits and add something new to your tennis game, especially when it could result in short-term losses which costs money and points.

What I said above is a law of physics and of geometry and always true:
approach up the line or down the middle to allow the least amount of angle for the pass.

What Dragy said above is true a lot of the time, but I've seen many, many cases where there was no hope of hitting a winner and the player still approached the net behind a cross-court shot that left more than half the court open for a pass.
 
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Raul_SJ

Legend
What I said above is a law of physics and of geometry and always true:
approach up the line or down the middle to allow the least amount of angle for the pass.
Usually my opponents follow that exact strategy. Approach down the line to my backhand side and shade towards protecting my down the line pass.
However, I find it much more difficult to pass down the line. More comfortable with backhand sharp angle and I often end up passing them cross-court sharp angle.
Granted, it is not an easy shot but I still find it easier than down the line backhand pass.
So I am not sure why the conventional advice is to "cover down the line pass". I'd say it depends on the opponent. In some cases, it is better to give them the down the line and cover more of the cross-court pass.
 

NLBwell

Legend
Usually my opponents follow that exact strategy. Approach down the line to my backhand side and shade towards protecting my down the line pass.
However, I find it much more difficult to pass down the line. More comfortable with backhand sharp angle and I often end up passing them cross-court sharp angle.
Granted, it is not an easy shot but I still find it easier than down the line backhand pass.
So I am not sure why the conventional advice is to "cover down the line pass". I'd say it depends on the opponent. In some cases, it is better to give them the down the line and cover more of the cross-court pass.
The case that you, in particular, pass better crosscourt does not mean that all players should run away from the side of the court from where the opponent is hitting the ball. I thought it would go without saying that players should understand their opponents strengths and weaknesses, but I guess I have to say it. Understand your opponents strengths and weaknesses, there may be exceptions.
 

Raul_SJ

Legend
The case that you, in particular, pass better crosscourt does not mean that all players should run away from the side of the court from where the opponent is hitting the ball. I thought it would go without saying that players should understand their opponents strengths and weaknesses, but I guess I have to say it. Understand your opponents strengths and weaknesses, there may be exceptions.
The point is that the conventional advice to "cover down the line" is too general to hold; not convinced that most players pass better DTL. A DTL pass on an opponent's good deep DTL approach is not a particularly easy shot. Must respect both the cross-court pass as well as the DTL pass...A lot of players over-shade to cover DTL and leave themselves open for cross-court pass.

An equally viable alternate to generally following the "cover down the line" advice is to shade over slightly to protect more of the cross-court pass and concede a little passing lane DTL. Make the opponent prove he can make that DTL pass. If he is passing DTL, adjust position accordingly.
 
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Dragy

Hall of Fame
An equally viable strategy is to shade over slightly to protect more of the cross-court pass and concede a little area DTL, and verify that the opponent can make that DTL pass before committing to absolutely covering most of that DTL passing lane .
It’s important to understand where is the actual balanced position to cover both directions.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
And this is EXACTLY the advice Mac must have given Roanic with very little success at Laver, especially in that dogmatic last set and the tie break at the end. Apprach middle and let Zverev pass...way too dogmatic.
 

Raul_SJ

Legend
Did not see the entire match but Raonic got totally destroyed in the final tiebreaker. Raonic Looked awful.
Would like to hear what Mac told him... Mac coached Raonic a few years ago.
Not sure if Raonic was trying to approach up the middle and missed and it ended up as more of a cross-court approach.

Note that Brady says it is possible to approach cross court provided that you pull the opponent off the court.
Can see in the second clip that Zverev did get pulled a bit wide on the cross-court approach, but still easily passed Raonic.





 
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