Slice baby slice - only if you can learn it well

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
One thing I haven't tried yet is making it look like I'm going to slice approach DTL but hit a DS instead. Federer did this to Berdych and, even though he hit it quite high, he completely froze Berdych because Berdych was expecting something deep.
I've been experimenting with this after Jolly suggested it a while back.

It is surprisingly effective, and IME, your dropper doesn't even need to be as good as one you don't approach on. i.e. even a mediocre DS works well, as long as your motion is similar to your normal slice shot (which Fed does to perfection!).

There is something about the opponent seeing you moving forward (assuming you also approach on deep slices other times in the match) that keeps him on his back heels a little too long to be able to respond well to the dropper.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Well, I also hit droppers against topspin, but IMHO, that only works if the TS is very weak. If facing a good 4.5 or 5.0 topspin, it can be difficult to stand inside the baseline to hit a DS, except on very short balls. Conversely, those same players (if they don't have a great slice), in response to my low deep slice, will often cough up a weak slice around the service line which I can then hit a DS on with my feet inside the baseline (I try to only hit DS if I'm inside the baseline - higher % that I hit my target, and also less reaction time for my opponent).

Also, a weak slice will generally have no spin on it at all (or very little at least) after it bounces and reaches its apex. This is essentially like hitting a hand feed for a DS - very easy in my book (maybe because I've practiced it a ton!).

Next time you're out, try standing slightly inside the baseline and hitting dropfeeds for a DS - I think with a little practice you'll find that it's a very easy shot, and you don't have to take into account any spin like you do with a TS, plus you'll generally be further inside the court since a weak slice doesn't travel through the court like a topspin does... YMMV....
I have practiced that. Since a drop feed has no spin, I still find it more difficult to get a feel for the DS compared to when there is TS [i suppose I could impart TS on the toss]. But I also find it easier to hit a DS when the incoming ball has some forward motion vs a drop feed which typically has none [only vertical motion].

And yes, I don't usually try it when the incoming has heavy TS: beyond a certain amount, I'm not able to control the backspin.

As long as I don't go overboard and start making errors by being too aggressive and hitting into the net, I find it a great change-up. I've only run into 2 opponents lately who were able to run them down.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
There is something about the opponent seeing you moving forward (assuming you also approach on deep slices other times in the match) that keeps him on his back heels a little too long to be able to respond well to the dropper.
Definitely agree.

What about on the return of serve? I typically only do it on the Ad side on a 2nd serve [unless the 1st is weak]. If I time it just right, I can catch the guy after jumping backwards after landing to get behind the BL; he might not be leaning forwards yet.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
I have practiced that. Since a drop feed has no spin, I still find it more difficult to get a feel for the DS compared to when there is TS [i suppose I could impart TS on the toss]. But I also find it easier to hit a DS when the incoming ball has some forward motion vs a drop feed which typically has none [only vertical motion].

And yes, I don't usually try it when the incoming has heavy TS: beyond a certain amount, I'm not able to control the backspin.

As long as I don't go overboard and start making errors by being too aggressive and hitting into the net, I find it a great change-up. I've only run into 2 opponents lately who were able to run them down.
Those are good points.

It might be a function of what one practices.

I spent many an hour as a kid hitting my own drop feeds since I grew up in a rural area without many hitting partners :)

That could be why I prefer hitting DS against weak slices? Whereas if you're used to practicing your DS against topspin shots, that could explain why you like a little forward motion on a DS.

I still think that there is a strategic advantage to hitting a DS against a weak slice than a weak TS. Let's assume both bounce around the service line (short ball). The slice can easily be hit well within the baseline (since it won't travel as far through the court), where the TS (which travels a little deeper into the court post-bounce) might be hit from around the baseline. The couple of extra steps into the court when hitting a DS against a slice gives your DS a shorter distance to travel (higher %) and also your opponent less reaction time (an equivalent DS is therefore better when hit off a slice than a TS). Anyway, food for thought...
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Definitely agree.

What about on the return of serve? I typically only do it on the Ad side on a 2nd serve [unless the 1st is weak]. If I time it just right, I can catch the guy after jumping backwards after landing to get behind the BL; he might not be leaning forwards yet.
Hmmm, I actually rarely DS off a return of serve.

Probably gets back to the fact that I prefer a relatively "dead" ball to DS on, which I feel increases my %.

I'll usually go ahead and chip & charge the 2nd serve, using the opponent's pace against him. And I prefer to chip & charge on the deuce side against a RH opponent, so that my slice BH goes to his BH. Unless my opponent has a weak FH, I generally only occasionally chip & charge on the ad side to keep him honest, I don't use it regularly throughout a match (I don't like the slice BH CC approach against a good opponent).
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Those are good points.

It might be a function of what one practices.

I spent many an hour as a kid hitting my own drop feeds since I grew up in a rural area without many hitting partners :)

That could be why I prefer hitting DS against weak slices? Whereas if you're used to practicing your DS against topspin shots, that could explain why you like a little forward motion on a DS.

I still think that there is a strategic advantage to hitting a DS against a weak slice than a weak TS. Let's assume both bounce around the service line (short ball). The slice can easily be hit well within the baseline (since it won't travel as far through the court), where the TS (which travels a little deeper into the court post-bounce) might be hit from around the baseline. The couple of extra steps into the court when hitting a DS against a slice gives your DS a shorter distance to travel (higher %) and also your opponent less reaction time (an equivalent DS is therefore better when hit off a slice than a TS). Anyway, food for thought...
Yeah, good point. It's not that I choose to hit the DS against that deeper TS shot; I'll probably decide not to hit it at all.

One more point about incoming spin: my dominant error on the DS is hitting it into the net. When I do that with an incoming TS, it's simply because I was too aggressive and tried to cut it too fine. But when the incoming has slice, part of the reason [I'm not sure how much] is also due to counteracting the spin.

I rarely practice DSs with a partner; most of it is either drop feeds or against the wall. I guess I need more drop feeds!
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Hmmm, I actually rarely DS off a return of serve.

Probably gets back to the fact that I prefer a relatively "dead" ball to DS on, which I feel increases my %.
If I'm going to try the DS off of a slice, you have to try it on the return. :)

I'll usually go ahead and chip & charge the 2nd serve, using the opponent's pace against him. And I prefer to chip & charge on the deuce side against a RH opponent, so that my slice BH goes to his BH. Unless my opponent has a weak FH, I generally only occasionally chip & charge on the ad side to keep him honest, I don't use it regularly throughout a match (I don't like the slice BH CC approach against a good opponent).
I [righty] C&C also, off both wings and both Deuce and Ad, although most commonly on Ad:
- Deuce FH: DTL or DTM
- Deuce BH: towards opponent Ad court [assuming he's righty also]
- Ad FH: I might risk going Inside Out CC to his BH if his BH is weak enough to justify the extra ground I have to cover to reach a neutral position
- Ad BH: DTL

I use this regularly in match play because I like creating instant pressure.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
If I'm going to try the DS off of a slice, you have to try it on the return. :)
OK, that sounds fair :)

I [righty] C&C also, off both wings and both Deuce and Ad, although most commonly on Ad:
- Deuce FH: DTL or DTM
- Deuce BH: towards opponent Ad court [assuming he's righty also]
- Ad FH: I might risk going Inside Out CC to his BH if his BH is weak enough to justify the extra ground I have to cover to reach a neutral position
- Ad BH: DTL

I use this regularly in match play because I like creating instant pressure.
When you know you're going to C&C, do you use conti grip on return and just decide you're coming in no matter what? Do you try to catch the 2nd serve on the rise to take extra time away from the opponent?

I don't usually C&C with conti FH, but it's definitely something I should experiment with more, against certain opponents.

When I was playing HS tennis singles on fast hardcourts (late 80's/early 90's), C&C was very common as everyone was watching/emulating Edberg/Sampras/Becker, etc. Against some opponents it literally seemed like a race to the net!

Now, I very rarely see C&C, and I think it might actually be an even better strategy now, since opponents aren't used to dealing with the instant pressure you describe, and also aren't used to hitting good passing shots/lobs off of low slices.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
OK, that sounds fair :)



When you know you're going to C&C, do you use conti grip on return and just decide you're coming in no matter what?
No, I stay in my normal grip, which is FH.

Also, because I have an eastern FH, I can easily slice without changing to Conti.

I don't commit to coming in until i see the serve: it's possible, for example, that he'll hit a very deep serve which, because of my forward positioning, makes it difficult to time correctly with my chip. In those cases, I'll probably elect to stay back.

Do you try to catch the 2nd serve on the rise to take extra time away from the opponent?
It depends on how good my touch is that day: some days, that shot just isn't working [ie I catch it late and my chip goes long]. But it's certainly the ideal.

I don't usually C&C with conti FH, but it's definitely something I should experiment with more, against certain opponents.

When I was playing HS tennis singles on fast hardcourts (late 80's/early 90's), C&C was very common as everyone was watching/emulating Edberg/Sampras/Becker, etc. Against some opponents it literally seemed like a race to the net!

Now, I very rarely see C&C, and I think it might actually be an even better strategy now, since opponents aren't used to dealing with the instant pressure you describe, and also aren't used to hitting good passing shots/lobs off of low slices.
I think the same way. In fact, I liken attacking the net to a disease against which most have lost immunity: the disease was eradicated [so they thought] so long ago that the body has lost knowledge of how to deal with it. So when it makes another appearance, some will be overwhelmed.

It's not that easy in the tennis world: if I play a 5.0, he's almost assuredly going to beat me no matter what I do; my strategy won't be enough to throw him off. But I certainly might win more games than otherwise [I recently notched a 2&4 loss vs a 5.0 that would have been more lopsided if I had stayed on the BL]. But against a peer 4.5, I might well disrupt his rhythm.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Lot of moonballs and floating slices. Seemed to trouble a high level player who couldn't take advantage:

That's a great strategy against Stephens, who usually prefers to be the one defending/grinding, and doesn't have a super offensive game. Maria gave her a taste of her own medicine!

The slice approach shots/chip & charge also seemed to be very effective against Stephens...
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
My main point putting that clip was to show to some individuals...umm Atp....that you don't need biting slices or hard topspin shots. Barty's slices are low. Maria's was not. Yet it worked. Too many times you'll have some rec players here coming and stubbornly insisting that moonballs at higher levels don't work or that slices have to be barely skimming the net to be great. If the assertion is that it will work in WTA but not in ATP, then again, Sampras used to hit a lot of floaty slices too (in addition to biting ones).
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Sampras used to hit a lot of floaty slices too (in addition to biting ones).
Yeah, I think that most of Santoro's slices were also more on the floaty end of the spectrum than the knifing slice end of the spectrum...

Actually, mixing in some floaty slices along with knifing slices is just one more way to keep the opponent guessing and to disrupt their rhythm!
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
I'm beginning to see some marginal improvement in my slice quality - one adjustment was to keep the wrist firm and fully laid back and elbow straight as I cut through the ball. Wonder that was one of the missing pieces in my long running slice puzzle...
(it's still an emergency shot for me)
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
Lot of moonballs and floating slices. Seemed to trouble a high level player who couldn't take advantage:

I loved watching this match. So much for the theory that slice and junk are useless above the rec level. It was a guilty pleasure to see a power hitting pro get ripped apart by slice and moon balls.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
I loved watching this match. So much for the theory that slice and junk are useless above the rec level. It was a guilty pleasure to see a power hitting pro get ripped apart by slice and moon balls.
I would believe it when winning using slice becomes more common than one off match. A few might have exceptional gifts for hitting really good quality slices.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
I would believe it when winning using slice becomes more common than one off match. A few might have exceptional gifts for hitting really good quality slices.
It's not a one-off match when some professional players make millions of dollars over the course of a decade+ with that playstyle...

Santoro made over $10 million in his career, with basically only a slice for a FH.

Same for Niculescu, who is approaching $6 million.

Hshieh is over $6 million with slice/flat strokes (certainly not "modern" topspin).

Stevie Johnson is over $5 million with basically only a slice BH.

Feliciano Lopez at $16 million with mostly slice BH.

etc...
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I would believe it when winning using slice becomes more common than one off match. A few might have exceptional gifts for hitting really good quality slices.

Maria’s slices were not biting or skimming the net. If you didnt know that she was a pro you would not call it a really good quality slice based on your own criteria that you laid out earlier.


Hopefully this shows you that your assertion that slices that don’t skim the net wont work against higher level players, is wrong. A lot of us tried telling you that.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
Maria’s slices were not biting or skimming the net. If you didnt know that she was a pro you would not call it a really good quality slice based on your own criteria that you laid out earlier.


Hopefully this shows you that your assertion that slices that don’t skim the net wont work against higher level players, is wrong. A lot of us tried telling you that.
If I can only slice like her - slice deep close to the baseline consistently. I can't keep more than 3 out of 10 in - but I'm tired of telling how bad I'm when it comes to slices.
 

Dragy

Legend
One of the advantages of high RPM slice is actually margin for error: be it hit higher to land deep, and it pushes the opponent back, be it hit lower and skim the net - and it stays low, slides on bounce and is tough to attack. Low RPM slice better be placed really well.
 
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