"Extending the Match"

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Brent Abel and Jeff Jacklich over at "Gold Ball Hunting" talk about the concept of "extending the match": when you're losing, when things are not going your way, when things feel "off", the best response is to try and extend the match. Lose more slowly. Switch to Plan B. Whatever you want to call it.

I also happen to think that most rec players ride waves of winning and losing points which mostly isn't in their control [ie I'm winning because my opponent hit a lull, not because I'm playing well]. So by extending the match, I increase the chance that I'll hit one of those good patches. I could end up turning things around and possibly even win not due to some miraculous improvement in my game but merely because I held out long enough.

I think the people who believe in this concept accept that there is a certain amount of randomness in a reasonably close match [it won't matter when the matchup is lopsided]. Extending the match is a way of trying to harness that randomness in some manner.

Thoughts?
 

Slicehand

Professional
yeah i guess that would be like trying to be consistent and make the opponent earn points instead of going for lower percentage shots, so yeah if you make points last longer and dont make mistakes, your opponent level will eventually fluctuate, but thats very general and different matches wil need different adjustments
 

Goof

Professional
I extend matches/points: a) when I haven't been playing much lately and don't quite have my strokes going at their full capacity yet; b) to wear out my opponent; c) to wait for an opponent who is obviously playing above his normal level to come back down to earth.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
For me it is mostly about the fact that it is really easy to lose a match really quickly during a short span of poor concentration

Today I won a really tight deuce game to break my opponent and take the first set. He was so pissed off at himself that I followed it up with 9 points in a row. The match went from very competitive to effectively over in the space of about four minutes.

Losing four points doesn’t take very long, so managing the tempo of the match is pretty important to give yourself time to reset
 

d-quik

Hall of Fame
The way to extend a match is by winning points.
Nono he means even on the points where you are going to lose anyways: make it as hard as it is as possible.

Leave a scar before going down: make them remember how hard it was for them to win and beat you. Make their victory a Pyrrhic one.

Think about all the upsets vs the big 3. Tsonga vs Nadal australian, Raonic vs Federer wimbledon, Nishikori vs Djoko USO, Stachovsky, etc etc. . WHAT HAPPENED IN THE NEXT ROUND: THEY LOST. They expended their entire resevoir of energy taking out the artillery. They couldnt recover from the scar. Chung had to retire 2 rounds after knocking out djoko.

LEAVE A SCAR BEFORE GOING DOWN. Thats what the big 3 do. They make you remember them, even when they lose.

 

jdawgg

Semi-Pro
It’s a good point. Haven’t thought about it much or given it a label. It’s something I’ve developed over playing hundreds of matches.

I think the instinct when losing was to try and hit harder and go for better shots. That rarely works out and the scoreline gets worse. Frustrations can also creep in that never help.

Ive been known as a comeback type player because when I’m losing I still stick to high percentage play and try and make my opponent earn every point. I really make my opponent prove it to me. If they’re up a break I try my best to just hang in, maybe all the way up to 5-4 where there’s more pressure to serve out the match. Make them prove they can maintain a level, make them prove they can close it out when the pressures on, make them prove they can beat you and not vice versa.

By hanging around, when the really important games/points come around, if I can just raise my intensity just a little bit I might mount a comeback. Or if by hanging around I finally develop the rhythm I was looking for, so those bigger shots I’m used to hitting that were landing out before, start landing in, that can make for a massive swing.
 

ichaseballs

Semi-Pro
yea i agree most rec players go for more when losing, which is a bit counter productive.
i don't agree extending a match will necessarily help you, given there are many variables at play...
for me if standard game does not work, plan b is using a lot more variety... slices, high topspin, etc...
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
yea i agree most rec players go for more when losing, which is a bit counter productive.
i don't agree extending a match will necessarily help you, given there are many variables at play...
True, it's no guarantee. You're simply raising the chance; you might end up losing anyway.

for me if standard game does not work, plan b is using a lot more variety... slices, high topspin, etc...
That's fine as along as you are reasonably skilled at those shots. If I add a lot of variety, the most likely outcome is a decline in performance/increase in errors.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I don't get it. The way to extend a match is by winning points. Which is always the goal anyway.
That's one way. Another way is to lose more slowly.

The simplest example would be, instead of going for the hero, all-or-nothing, shot that will likely see me lose more quickly, opt for the high % shot so I'm not giving the match away. I might still lose but I'm giving my opponent the chance to hit a lull.

Unless you mean elapsed time. Which I guess is where the 'toilet break' comes into play.
No; score, not time is what I had in mind.
 

ktx

New User
I try to do this, but admittedly am not very good at it. For me it means bigger, rolling groundstrokes down the middle or cross-court, but also if I'm already getting beat quickly this usually means those balls aren't landing deep enough for me as it is. I also suffer from the dreaded lapse in concentration - usually at 2-2 or 3-3, then I give it away. It's frustrating.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
That's one way. Another way is to lose more slowly.
:
The simplest example would be, instead of going for the hero, all-or-nothing, shot that will likely see me lose more quickly, opt for the high % shot so I'm not giving the match away. I might still lose but I'm giving my opponent the chance to hit a lull.
If an aggressive strategy isn't working, then sure, you try a more conservative strategy. Not because of trying to 'extend the match', but because you're trying to find a way to win.

Let me put it this way: let's say your preferred game style is actually very conservative high % tennis, but it isn't working against a particular opponent. Do you go even more conservative, or do you maybe try something more aggressive?
 

socallefty

Legend
If I’m losing to someone, I try to analyze more carefully what they are doing to hurt me, what point patterns I don’t like against them, what point patterns are hurting them etc. and decide on an appropriate plan for the next few games. Against good players, I sometimes have to make adjustments two or three times in a match in terms of serve location/spins, return position, aggression level etc. as what works with new balls doesn’t work as well with old balls and advanced opponents make me adjust to a Plan B as sooner or later, they adjust to my Plan A.

I fight hard for every point whether I’m winning or losing, but my level of risk-taking will increase (higher pace, smaller targets etc.) only if needed against a player who is at least a level higher than me. My general motto is to be a power baseliner against net players, net player against consistent baseliners/junkballers and consistent baseliner against aggressive baseliners.

I am interested in winning matches and not just extending them and so, it takes a more nuanced approach to strategy/tactics than just playing conservatively depending on how the opponent is controlling point patterns on their service games and return games or if the conditions are tough (wind, sun glare, cold etc.). The key is to never get frustrated and ALWAYS keep believing that I deserve to win and can find a path to victory.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
If an aggressive strategy isn't working, then sure, you try a more conservative strategy. Not because of trying to 'extend the match', but because you're trying to find a way to win.

Let me put it this way: let's say your preferred game style is actually very conservative high % tennis, but it isn't working against a particular opponent. Do you go even more conservative, or do you maybe try something more aggressive?
Whichever way helps me extend the match, I will try it. The actual strategy [ie more or less aggressive] is not the point of my post; changing my mindset [how do I delay the loss?] is.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I am interested in winning matches and not just extending them...
There's no guarantee that extending the match will result in victory, only that by doing so, you increase your chances of at least making it to a juncture where your opponent has a lull and/or you lift a bit.

I too would rather win vs just extend but I don't know what the result will be at the outset. I will only know that in hindsight.
 

socallefty

Legend
Whichever way helps me extend the match, I will try it. The actual strategy [ie more or less aggressive] is not the point of my post; changing my mindset [how do I delay the loss?] is.
Ok, I thought you meant to get more conservative when losing and I disagree with that in case a conservative strategy is not working and that’s why I am losing. If all you mean by ‘extend a match’ is to change the losing strategy and try something else, then I do tend to do that.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I’m a believer in changing strategy when you’re losing. This can mean moonballing, hitting shorter, taking off pace, anything you can reliably execute.

I would say the change that most often helps at my level is playing two back. If the net player is a liability for whatever reason, and if the opponents are exploiting the weaknesses of that formation, then play two back.

But yes, slowing down is key. You can play more relaxed, you can think, you can communicate. What’s not to like?
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Also, since only about 15-20% of match time is actually playing the point, how you manage your time when you're NOT playing the point has a much larger effect. So after a point, don't rush to start the next one. Take your legally allotted time and go through your pre-point routine.

Someone posted here about whether "extending the match" involved time and I replied "no" but I was wrong as the above clearly is about time. But it's not about doing something underhanded like multiple bathroom breaks.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
I think you're muddling up two valid but unrelated concepts:

Whichever way helps me extend the match, I will try it. The actual strategy [ie more or less aggressive] is not the point of my post; changing my mindset [how do I delay the loss?] is.
I agree that if Plan A isn't working, you change your mindset and try plan B. And then plan C, and D.
But I think the motivation is to try find a strategy/tactic that wins, rather than one to 'delay the loss' and extend the match.

Also, since only about 15-20% of match time is actually playing the point, how you manage your time when you're NOT playing the point has a much larger effect. So after a point, don't rush to start the next one. Take your legally allotted time and go through your pre-point routine.

Someone posted here about whether "extending the match" involved time and I replied "no" but I was wrong as the above clearly is about time. But it's not about doing something underhanded like multiple bathroom breaks.
Managing elapsed time (within the rules) is absolutely legitimate, and can have the effect of cooling off a hot opponent by disrupting their momentum and/or by giving them some time to reflect on the situation and then get tight.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I had a situation in my usta 8.0 mixed league match yesterday.

My partner and I were winning easily, up 6-2, 3-1. To that point in the match, we had lost all 3 games on the opponent guy’s serve, but won all 9 of the other games.

At 0-15 in the next game, our female opponent needed a medical timeout for an undisclosed reason, while she stood in the corner near the curtains.

I believe it might have been a sudden-onset anxiety attack, but in the moment, several of my teammates were wondering if it was a tactical ploy to disrupt our rhythm. The match was important to the team, as they were on the cusp of playoffs, this was the last match of the year, and she was a captain.

It did end up disrupting our momentum and giving them a better chance, as the next 3 games went against the previous pattern, bringing them back to 4-3 and within reach of coming back.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I think you're muddling up two valid but unrelated concepts:

I agree that if Plan A isn't working, you change your mindset and try plan B. And then plan C, and D.
But I think the motivation is to try find a strategy/tactic that wins, rather than one to 'delay the loss' and extend the match.
I don't think they are unrelated: I think changing strategy could be a subset of extending the match.

Changing strategy is a way of extending the match but it's not the only way.

The motivation of changing strategy could be to find a way to win but it doesn't have to be. It could also be an attempt to lose more slowly, thus extending the match.

Whether changing strategy allows me to win or it merely extends the match, I've accomplished at least one goal. Someone else could say my change was a failure because I lost but there are other things to be gained besides the W, like insight into how the change affected my opponent, how well I could execute it, etc. - feedback that will be useful in the future.

If I had to choose between switching plans from A to B to C, etc and extending the match, I might choose to extend the match. For one thing, Plan x isn't going to be my strength so the further I have to dig in my toolbox, the less likely it's going to work whereas I might have a better shot at extending the match and getting to that opponent lull. Or not.

I don't think there's an analytical way of deciding which one is better. I would make that decision intuitively.

Interesting point, though.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
The motivation of changing strategy could be to find a way to win but it doesn't have to be. It could also be an attempt to lose more slowly, thus extending the match.
I can't imagine ever thinking to myself "Chalkie, you're losing and looks like you're gonna lose no matter what. Try another plan so at least you might lose more slowly."
My thought process is more "Chalkie, this isn't working; gotta find another plan that has a better chance of winning."
Let's agree to disagree. Perhaps it's just semantics anyway.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I can't imagine ever thinking to myself "Chalkie, you're losing and looks like you're gonna lose no matter what. Try another plan so at least you might lose more slowly."
My thought process is more "Chalkie, this isn't working; gotta find another plan that has a better chance of winning."
Let's agree to disagree. Perhaps it's just semantics anyway.
But maybe losing more slowly can give you more time to think about alternative strategies?
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I can't imagine ever thinking to myself "Chalkie, you're losing and looks like you're gonna lose no matter what. Try another plan so at least you might lose more slowly."
My thought process is more "Chalkie, this isn't working; gotta find another plan that has a better chance of winning."
Let's agree to disagree. Perhaps it's just semantics anyway.
I'll modify your statement to reflect my thoughts:

"S&V, you're losing and looks like you're gonna lose if you continue doing the same thing. Try another plan which will extend the match which gives me time for my opponent to hit a lull or for my level to improve which gives me a better chance."

Maybe I'm combining your two statements into one because I see them as being related whereas you do not. Losing more slowly leads to a better chance of winning, IMO. Vive la diference.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
But maybe losing more slowly can give you more time to think about alternative strategies?
I'll modify your statement to reflect my thoughts:

"S&V, you're losing and looks like you're gonna lose if you continue doing the same thing. Try another plan which will extend the match which gives me time for my opponent to hit a lull or for my level to improve which gives me a better chance."

Maybe I'm combining your two statements into one because I see them as being related whereas you do not. Losing more slowly leads to a better chance of winning, IMO. Vive la diference.
The point I'm trying to make (obviously badly), is that:
1. The way you lose more slowly is by winning a higher percentage of points (than before), but still not enough to win the match.
2. The way you win is by winning a higher percentage of points, enough to win the match.
If I'm losing, I need to change plan / strategy.
I am always going to try find a strategy that leads to 2. (Of course, not always successfully)
I can't imagine 'settling' for a strategy that I think would lead to 1 but not to 2.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
The point I'm trying to make (obviously badly), is that:
1. The way you lose more slowly is by winning a higher percentage of points (than before), but still not enough to win the match.
That's the point I'm trying to make [obviously not successfully]: there isn't only one way to lose more slowly. There is the way you described but I can think of others:

- Win the same % of points but via longer rallies: maybe that tires out the opponent. Maybe it tests his patience and shot tolerance? Instead of "Fortune favors the prepared mind", it's "Fortune favors the persistent."
- Use your fully allotted time in between points; don't rush to play the next point, especially after losing the prior on.

2. The way you win is by winning a higher percentage of points, enough to win the match.
If I'm losing, I need to change plan / strategy.
I am always going to try find a strategy that leads to 2. (Of course, not always successfully)
I can't imagine 'settling' for a strategy that I think would lead to 1 but not to 2.
That's where we differ: I can imagine "settling" for a "lose more slowly" strategy instead of your #2 if I think the % is higher in extending the match and getting to an opponent lull or my levelling up than me suddenly winning more points. Of course I'd prefer your #2 but if it isn't working, I'll take "extend the match" over accepting defeat.

I don't think this is a semantic difference; it's a difference in philosophy
 

Ace of Aces

Semi-Pro
If you’re fit enough trying to turn around a match by making it a contest of feet rather than hands can be smart. Even pro tennis is often a game of avoiding errors more than hitting winners. The main change is that the safe, smart ball of a pro is a lot different than the 4.0s conservative shot, but the principle is similar.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
That's where we differ: I can imagine "settling" for a "lose more slowly" strategy instead of your #2 if I think the % is higher in extending the match and getting to an opponent lull or my levelling up than me suddenly winning more points. Of course I'd prefer your #2 but if it isn't working, I'll take "extend the match" over accepting defeat.

I don't think this is a semantic difference; it's a difference in philosophy
Definitely a difference in philosophy then!

And ironically, whereas you would take "extend the match" over accepting defeat, I view that as defeatist, since I don't accept a "lose but extend strategy". Rather I will keep trying different things until I find a way to win.

Perhaps it has to do with control. I generally don't like to cede control of the outcome to my opponent, which is basically what the extend strategy does (you're hoping that your opponent's level will come down). I would rather be in control of the outcome myself to the extent possible, so I would never count on my opponent's level dropping, but instead would look to raise my level or improve my tactics/strategy. And since there are infinite ways to tweak tactics/strategy, you can never run out of different things to try until the match is actually over.

On which note, it's also too simplistic to just think of a blanket aggressive plan and a blanket conservative plan. There is way more nuance. First step is to find a way to hold serve. Go for more pace on first serves, or go for placement. Aggressive seconds, or make sure no DFs. Attack your opponent's return of serve, or work the point. Wide serves to open the court or T serves to cut down opponent's return angles. Throw in more S&V - or less. Etc etc, with all the permutations. And then repeat for return games, to find a way to break, where perhaps the winning plan is completely different. Point is, there are always different things to try.
 
Yes! When I'm losing, I take time to get ready. When I'm winning, I get ready as quickly as possible not to give my opponent the time to think.
 
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1HBHfanatic

Legend
-i like the strategy, slowing it down and/or changing the strategy
-the goal being that more options/opportunities present themselves along the way to take advantage of, whit out risking too much
-moonballs, slices, tempo, all of which would slow down play for a safer shot
-but even if you lose, youll leave the court saying to yourself that you tried this, that and the other, and it simply did not work for you that day!!
 
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J_R_B

Hall of Fame
The "extending the match" strategy I use most is akin to Brad Gilbert's "turtle time". I was in an 8.0 mixed match recently where we employed this and came back from a set down and won. We noticed that the man was a very rhythmic server, so when we needed a big point against his serve to my female partner, we had a short 30 second conference beforehand where we pretty much discussed nothing and occasionally pointed at random spots on the court for no reason just to make him stand there for a bit. We got him to double fault at least 3 or 4 times like this by slowing the match pace and breaking his rhythm and came back to win 4-6 6-4 6-1.
 

RyanRF

Professional
Doesn't "Extending the Match" just mean to stop making unforced errors?
  • Plan A - play the way you like to play using your favorite shots/patterns to win points
  • Plan B - stop giving points away due to unforced errors; make your opponent prove they can beat you (instead of you beating yourself)
  • Plan C - all bets are off; the ship is going down so time for some YOLO strats (nuked forehands, SABR, wild net charging, two first serves, etc.)
  • Plan D - the match is long over. time to crack open a cold one
Shenanigans between points like Djokovic bounces or Tsitsipas breaks have never really appealed to me.
 

DCNJ

New User
The "extending the match" strategy I use most is akin to Brad Gilbert's "turtle time". I was in an 8.0 mixed match recently where we employed this and came back from a set down and won. We noticed that the man was a very rhythmic server, so when we needed a big point against his serve to my female partner, we had a short 30 second conference beforehand where we pretty much discussed nothing and occasionally pointed at random spots on the court for no reason just to make him stand there for a bit. We got him to double fault at least 3 or 4 times like this by slowing the match pace and breaking his rhythm and came back to win 4-6 6-4 6-1.
I don't think breaking the rules was intended to be included in 'extending the match'
 

jdawgg

Semi-Pro
And ironically, whereas you would take "extend the match" over accepting defeat, I view that as defeatist, since I don't accept a "lose but extend strategy". Rather I will keep trying different things until I find a way to win.
Extending the match isn't accepting defeat, it's the opposite. It buys more time to find better execution or a working strategy. Extending the match and trying different strategies are not mutually exclusive.

Also another common scenario:

A lot of times I will know what my winning strategy is against a certain opponent. That doesn't mean I can execute it well enough to win. For example, if I'm playing a defensive player who has higher shot tolerance but lower pace on his shots, then I know what my winning strategy is. It involves dictating with my FH until I find a way to force an error or hit a winner at the net. What if I'm duffing all my vollies that day? What if my forehand angle keeps spraying wide? Does my strategy change? No, but my targets probably do. I'll adjust more conservative (extend the match) until finding my rhythm and execution. I will get down and dirty and scrap in any way I can to extend and eventually execute my strategy.

Perhaps it has to do with control. I generally don't like to cede control of the outcome to my opponent, which is basically what the extend strategy does (you're hoping that your opponent's level will come down). I would rather be in control of the outcome myself to the extent possible, so I would never count on my opponent's level dropping, but instead would look to raise my level or improve my tactics/strategy. And since there are infinite ways to tweak tactics/strategy, you can never run out of different things to try until the match is actually over.
You don't like to cede control of the outcome to your opponent? Wow, then you won't like tennis much. In tennis you can only control what happens on your side of the net. If you're a 3.5 going up against a 4.0 the numbers say the outcome is overwhelmingly in favor of the 4.0. Even worse against a 4.5.

You also made the assumption that extending the match is only hoping that your opponents level will come down. Well, it's not only that, a lot of times it's about waiting until your level comes up.

On which note, it's also too simplistic to just think of a blanket aggressive plan and a blanket conservative plan. There is way more nuance. First step is to find a way to hold serve. Go for more pace on first serves, or go for placement. Aggressive seconds, or make sure no DFs. Attack your opponent's return of serve, or work the point. Wide serves to open the court or T serves to cut down opponent's return angles. Throw in more S&V - or less. Etc etc, with all the permutations. And then repeat for return games, to find a way to break, where perhaps the winning plan is completely different. Point is, there are always different things to try.
Sure, there is way more nuance. I don't think that's in the scope of this post. It just falls under the trying different strategies bucket (in order to extend the match). There are many different ways to extend a match. Mostly I'm concerned with finding ways to force more errors from my opponent. There's a ton of nuance to that. But I can't forget that a strategy will fail without good execution.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
OK, fine, guidelines, whatever. Unsportsmanlike conduct at the minimum.
It's unsportsmanlike for a doubles team to have a 30 second convo between points? LOL, I take it you haven't either played or watched much tennis?
 

DCNJ

New User
It's unsportsmanlike for a doubles team to have a 30 second convo between points? LOL, I take it you haven't either played or watched much tennis?
Play at the pace of the server is a somewhat debatable metric, but I am not sure that anyone would defend making a server wait 30 seconds and being in compliance with that guideline.

And for "watching" tennis, you do know that there's a 25 second serve clock that starts shortly after the completion of the point (I know, it's when the score is announced, which usually occurs immediately after the point) in which time the server must serve. And I hope you also realize that 30 > 25, making it impossible for the server to comply, if a doubles team were to try to have that 30 second conversation.

But I guess just typing LOL is a good counterargument.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Doesn't "Extending the Match" just mean to stop making unforced errors?
No. It can include that but isn't exclusive to that. If I make the same # of UEs but spread them out over longer rallies, I'm extending the match, right?

The whole point, as outlined by Abel & Jacklich, is to reach a point where perhaps your opponent has a lull [which he is bound to do, just not necessarily soon enough for you to benefit] and/or for your level to rise [again, may not be timely enough].

  • Plan A - play the way you like to play using your favorite shots/patterns to win points
  • Plan B - stop giving points away due to unforced errors; make your opponent prove they can beat you (instead of you beating yourself)
  • Plan C - all bets are off; the ship is going down so time for some YOLO strats (nuked forehands, SABR, wild net charging, two first serves, etc.)
  • Plan D - the match is long over. time to crack open a cold one
Shenanigans between points like Djokovic bounces or Tsitsipas breaks have never really appealed to me.
Agreed. And I wasn't meaning those tactics and neither, I don't think, were Abel and Jacklich.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Definitely a difference in philosophy then!

And ironically, whereas you would take "extend the match" over accepting defeat, I view that as defeatist, since I don't accept a "lose but extend strategy". Rather I will keep trying different things until I find a way to win.

Perhaps it has to do with control. I generally don't like to cede control of the outcome to my opponent, which is basically what the extend strategy does (you're hoping that your opponent's level will come down). I would rather be in control of the outcome myself to the extent possible, so I would never count on my opponent's level dropping, but instead would look to raise my level or improve my tactics/strategy. And since there are infinite ways to tweak tactics/strategy, you can never run out of different things to try until the match is actually over.
I don't disagree with most of what you wrote. I just happen to believe that despite my best effort, I still may end up with the short end of the stick. The final option, which I'm willing to explore, is to "extend the match". I don't think that's defeatist although you are correct that it's a passive strategy, in the same sense that a pusher relies on the errors of his opponents. It can work, though. But only if you're willing to give it a try.

Yes, there are an infinite # of ways to tweak your game but I would argue they are increasingly less likely to work since you don't *own* those particular tweaks [a hardcore BLer is not going to suddenly become adept at S&V or vice versa]. A higher % play would be to extend the match.

But I see where our philosophies diverge; both are valid.

On which note, it's also too simplistic to just think of a blanket aggressive plan and a blanket conservative plan. There is way more nuance. First step is to find a way to hold serve. Go for more pace on first serves, or go for placement. Aggressive seconds, or make sure no DFs. Attack your opponent's return of serve, or work the point. Wide serves to open the court or T serves to cut down opponent's return angles. Throw in more S&V - or less. Etc etc, with all the permutations. And then repeat for return games, to find a way to break, where perhaps the winning plan is completely different. Point is, there are always different things to try.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I sometimes ‘go into pusher mode’ when I get behind.

This works well against some opponents, but can backfire against others. Some players gain confidence and play better when you stop rushing them and give them more time to execute. Others implode if you force them to hit more than a few shots in a row to win the point.

It’s good to figure out quickly which type of player you are facing.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I'll use one example, which I think is a perfect representation of what I [Abel and Jacklich, rather] mean to convey; you may disagree with my conclusion.

Read the below quotes and decide whether they represent actively seeking an alternate winning strategy or extending the match.


“I needed to fight a little bit just to keep the ball in play and maybe not try and go and do too much shotmaking.”

“It was tough for me to accept and move on and say ‘OK, I’m happy to just stay in the game. I’m happy to just stay in the rally.’”

“Honestly, I was happy just not making too many mistakes. At some point, you’re happy with very little.”

Who said the above? None other than the Maestro himself.

Federer v Coric, Indian Wells, 2018

Coric won the first set and was up a break in the second.

Federer was off; shots he normally made were not going in. His error rate was high.

He made a deliberate change in strategy that Gilbert noticed and asked him about afterward.

His answers indicate to me that he was trying just to extend the match, not necessarily because he thought it would turn things around and lead to victory but merely because it allowed him time to possibly recover or for Coric's level to drop. It was a passive strategy, IMO. Of course, I'm biased in my conclusion.

 
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