The German Slice and The Rafter Slice

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by erik-the-red, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. erik-the-red

    erik-the-red Semi-Pro

    Mar 23, 2005
    Graf and Becker had these driving slices. They were slices, but they were heavier and more "slippery" compared to your average slice.

    I think their trick was that they really, really leaned into it when they hit it. Can anybody confirm this?

    When I saw the 2001 Australian Open Semifinals between Rafter and Agassi, I was amazed at how Rafter could occassionally hit this "no pace" slice. Felix Mantilla has said, "When you see his slice, you think, "OK, I can hit that.' It's going so slowly, it's like my mother is hitting the ball,"

    So, how'd he hit that?
  2. raftermania

    raftermania Banned

    Oct 27, 2004
    Rafter is god and you don't question how god acts. (for lack of a better answer, sorry)
  3. Kana Himezaki

    Kana Himezaki Semi-Pro

    May 18, 2005
    Rafter had a beautiful, compact motion. His was a simple stroke, a thing anyone can learn from.

    Graf and Becker had "biting" slices because they put lots of racquet head speed on while brushing under and forward through the ball. These time time to develop, are inconsistent without practice, and whatever else. Their slice motions were longer, not as compact, etc.

    It's the whole difference in RPM.
  4. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Yeah Kana is right. Graf had a good amount of racquet speed, great control of the racquet head/swing path, and excellent timing.

    Graf did step into her shot but the most important thing to learn from her slice was her balance when she made contact. It was excellent.

    For a long-time I struggled with hitting a driving slice. I had a normal get it back slice but not one that could really be used offensively. It wasnt until a friend of mine (a very good player) who had an excellent slice helped me improve mine. He helped me with several things:

    1. I moved to an inbetween grip sometimes called an Eastern depending on who you talk to. Not a full eastern with the base knuckle on top but on the edge towards a Continental.

    2. I started to hold the racquet head more up in my hand (handle more up in the V created by the index finger and the thumb) and more firm so that it did not accidentally droop under the ball as I swung forward.

    3. On the backswing (this is a preference) I began with a more closed racquet face before swinging forward. This is something I played with for a long-time and it is something you may or may not want to incorporate. There are a ton of good slicers that have the racquet face more open at the climax of the backswing.

    4. I fed slow balls to practice on to learn to drive through the shot. My swing path needed to flatten out before and slightly after contact with a relatively square face.

    5. I worked on holding my balance after contact over my front foot for 10 seconds. No wobbling.

    6. I focus on the top outside half of the ball and dont overthink about. Once you see it, just let the swing go and aim about two feet above the net to land a little behind the service line. Practicing with cones on the court will help you develop your rally slice by aiming and drilling with those cones.

    Most of my shots when I practiced this were going into the net. That is actually a good thing. All I needed to do was raise it a little and it eventually became one of my favorite strokes.

    The slice is not really so much muscular as it is rythmic. It is a fine balance between having just the right amount of tension in your muscles and relaxation in your swing.
  5. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Jul 13, 2004
    Although I play with people who do have good driving slices, its a shot that has always been very inconsistent for me. If I can hit it mid to upper chest height than I can drive it fine (good percentage of the time anyway) but if its out of that area (maybe a 8 - 10 inch range I can't do much in the way of a drive. I think I have good balance and focus but its not a shot that I feel extremely comfortable with - wish is was.

    I play against one guy in particular who can really drive the ball and he's relatively small. He'll use it particulary well on return of service but boy, does he get everything into it. I've watched him very carefully but can't fully understand exactly what he's doing and of course he's not interested in giving anyone a lesson - so to speak. Seems to like to start his backswing around jaw height and really keeps the butt very forward but is wicked with the shot - I can see why it might be a favorite once you get it.
  6. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Yes, it is very fun to do.
  7. andreh

    andreh Professional

    Feb 19, 2004
    If I may add some of my experience with the slice. I work hard on getting an offensive slice behind which I can move in to the net. I recently experimented with string tension. I play with a high tension, 27-28 kg in a Pro Staff Original 85 and found that dropping the tension to about 25 kg made the slice very much easier to hit. I got much more drive into the shot. Unfortunalty, the drop in tension screwed up my volley and my kick serve big time so I'm now back to the higher tension, which all in all, is much better for me. But now I know what to aim for - getting the slice to work as well but with the higher tension.

    I also experimented with adding weight to the head of the stick and found that the slice is easier to hit with more weight as well. Again, it had some disadvantage so I removed the weight again.

    So, some of you looking for a better slice might wanna try this. Not sure it's a universal solution, though. It might be specific to the player and/or the racquet.
  8. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Speaking of racquets, weighting helps as well to go through that ball. ;)

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