Topspinner vs Flat Shotter (Flat is losing)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by topspin64, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. topspin64

    topspin64 New User

    Jun 24, 2009
    I play regularly against a guy who hits heavy topspin. I have a very flat (but powerful) forehand and one-handed bh but I like to hit where the ball is low and I find myself having to hit at shoulder height or higher. How can I counter these high shots?
  2. esgee48

    esgee48 Legend

    May 30, 2010
    SF CA
    1st option is to back up. 2nd option is to short hop the ball like Agassi. 3rd option is to try flat, TS and slices, short and deep to move the opponent around. I play against a fellow who likes to hit TS off both sides. He does not like sliced and short because he hits it long. 2 cents.
  3. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2010
    It's hard, isn't it? This exact situation (heavy topspin, side spin, and lots of pace), where I was the flat hitter, was what convinced me to go find out about modern strokes, WW fhs, etc. I just felt like I'd brought a knife to a gun fight.

    With your current strokes you can:

    - Take the balls low and on the rise (the Jimmy Connors plan)
    - Play back and wait until they come down (you better be hitting hard or a better player will make you pay for being that far back)
    - Learn to hit a higher ball with a flat stroke (certainly possible)
    - Approach the net whenever possible and try to stay out of baseline rallies (again this can be hard against modern strokes because unless you hit great approaches a better player will start passing you)

    Or, you can do what I did and learn modern strokes. Took a while, but now I can hang with the all of the pace and spin and dish it out as well.
  4. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

    Aug 12, 2004
    Yeah you want to learn the across your body forehand - its very good at those shots. The low to high stuff makes you hit really loopy balls unless you catch the ball on the rise..

    I found those two videos to be really eye opening for me. I could never really get the hang of the shot watching alot of other videos.

    The across your body forehand will let you hit ball that has good spin - clears the net - but isn't a loopy lob. No doubt some players can take the ball off the rise and hit nice flat shots that land before the baseline.

    But the modern method is not just fancier - its easier. The reason that almost all the tour players have a shot like that is because they face alot of heavy topspin players and they need ways to deal with high bouncing balls.. Yeah I suppose you could hit slice but unless you practice slice shots against that kind of ball you might hit some slow moving floaters..
  5. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

    Dec 19, 2012
    A few tips.

    (1) When the ball is high, prepare higher. You're used to drop the racket slightly bellow the ball by a certain amount. If you prepare too low, you'll be forced to swing very vertically and that usually ends as an unforced error. If you bring the racket too high for the ball, you'll be swinging downward and that will send the ball into the net unless you're hitting nearby your head. The idea is to adjust your preparation to get approximately the ideal swing plane for your contact point.

    (2) You can swing DOWNWARD on very high balls. As exposed above, it's risky, but if the ball is significantly higher than the net, a part of your opponent's back court is open for a downward angle. Anything above 5 feet should allow you to do this, even if slightly. It's also a good tip to have from inside the court, obviously: on a short, but high sitter, swing it downward and deep.

    (3) It's not original, but practice makes perfect. I used to struggle on high balls, but I drop fed myself some balls that I had to contact above my shoulders. Now, I'm much better at it, even against pretty big hitters.

    I also have a one handed backhand and people just know about the Federer-Nadal rivalry. Go high to his backhand, they think. But, I have an evil secret: I play with a semi-western backhand grip! Muahahah! :twisted:

    (1) I remember what I told you about lifting the ball? You need to get a more vertical swing plane to bring the ball higher... if the ball is low, it's harder to do. You fortunately play with a one handed backhand which means you're likelier to become handy at hitting slices.

    I personally play with TONS of spin and, to tell you frankly, I can't do a lot with anything bellow my knees. I get it back deep, but the spin actually makes it a waste-level shot most of the time. I rarely manage to make the ball rise sufficiently to get back with my favored play patterns. I need a shot of a lesser quality to manage it. If you can slice the ball, but also make it low and short... he couldn't do much of a thing, except send the ball deep -- and that means you'll enjoy more balls within your strike zone.

    (2) Usually, players can't play both their backhands and forehands as well. If they do, one is often heavier than the other. Even if you prefer your forehand to your backhand, turning more rallies into backhand rallies might give you an edge. Most 2HBH players hit a flat backhand... if it's loopy, it's rarely anything like their forehand. USE THAT! Furthermore, once you're in a BH CC rally, you can do like Federer does: once you can, hit a short slice and run around for your next shot.
  6. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

    May 19, 2011
    San Jose, California
    Why is it good to slice low and short? The short ball gives him an offensive opportunity...

    Isn't a slice low and deep better?
  7. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    Great advice.

    It seems every one coming up today has big top spin off both sides.

    The "windshield wiper" forehand is a valuable tool to have against this tidal wave of opponents.

    You can still use your flatter forehand when the situation arises.

    On the backhand, there is nothing like practice, practice, practice:

    High One Handed Backhand Training

    It is really worth cultivating a practice partner with big top spin shots from both sides.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  8. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    You very well could be right.

    How to tell?

    Probe your opponent early with backhand slices both short and long.

    See which one he is having the most trouble with.

    Sometimes players with heavy top spin have extreme grips that makes it particularly troublesome with with short slices, particularly after having to run from a deep shot to their forehand on the previous shot.

    [Others, like the guy I played today, also have a good backhand slice in reserve, to slice that short shot down the line and quickly take the net and control of the point.]
  9. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Jun 18, 2004
    Mainly, you have to play against it enough to be able to time the shots.
    I used to play a guy a lot who played for the University of Kansas (before they killed men's tennis) who was a big topspinner. After I got used to it some, I could time the hitting on the rise and drive the ball or take the ball shoulder or head high and hit flat down on it to punish the ball. At that point I could beat him most of the time. However, I haven't played consistently against anyone who hits like that for a long time. I recently hit against someone who has the big topspin and I just felt lost.
    I takes hitting against those shots a lot to get the timing to punish those balls.

    Generally, to win a match against them, keep the ball skidding at ankle height and take the net. Very few play well having to hit shots that low. Don't cooperate in getting into baseline rallies. Lots of aces help, too.

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