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Post thoughts on the ATP World Tour Finals: the value of defensive tennis and will American tennis ever break into the top 4, WTA or ATP?

     Tennis has gone from winning points to conserving points. But that's what is to be expected with better racquets. To be able to stay in the point longer. Sampras used to win a quick easy points with a big serve, serve and volley, or down the line screamer with his running forehand.

     And Federer is partly of this school. He hits a well placed serve and then tries to get an advantage off the return with his great inside out forehand. He tries to come into the net and end points early. He runs with great economy and cuts off balls from on top of the baseline.
     But the new art in tennis is to be able to spin the ball to a higher degree of consistency and keep the point in hand until your legs can't reach the ball from exhaustion. Nadal and now Djokovic have proven this general idea to be the winning idea.

     Day in, day out, Djokovic was able to win the World Tour finals without a single defeat. He had funky moments but was always able to seal the door. Before Nadal got injured, he was the one who took it to Fed and had his reign of the courts. 

     As I watch juniors time to time play, I see the same old recipe. Hit flatly and slug it out, left and right. Will the U.S. ever produce someone who understand the new tennis, how to hit spin effectively and gain a reasonable offense and even better defense? Is the USTA really figuring out how to teach spin as the Spanish tennis federation clearly has to their own?

     I don't see it yet, especially seeing Sock and Harrison follow the old formula last year. Perhaps Harrison going to a new coach, former ATP pro, Joachim Nystrom, he will learn the Swedish tradition of spin (Borg, Wilander) and learn to defend. I do like the spin that Christina McHale has on the forehand, but if she could drive through it a little more and get a stronger serve, especially the second, there's a chance for her to break through.

     Well, as an instructor, I would be more tuned to showing how to hit spin with an adequate amount of drive, for offense from the backcourt. Likewise, I would like to show how to drive with enough variety of spin on tap to play great defensive tennis. I would now emphasize the latter even more.

      They must also be able to hit a strong second serve and be able to hit a first serve or well reasoned approach shot to be able to come to net. Watching Fed lose the World Tour Finals on a crosscourt inside out forehand approach shot, I could only think, "Never discount defensive tennis". Djokovic's backhand down the line screamer echoed the days of the Borg passing shot. All those break point opportunities lost on Fed's forehand clipping the tape, a flattened drive lost upon the net by a mere inch. A mere change of amplitude in the swing would've changed matters.


Side note: If interested in my services as an instructor, there is the upcoming tennis clinic during the 2013 BNP Paribas Open in Palm Springs. Coach William Vasquez will be leading the clinic:


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Comment by Tim Prapong on November 14, 2012 at 2:42pm

Yes, Janowicz was messing with Murray coming in at unexpected opportunities. Made Murray go nuts! lol

Comment by Tim Prapong on November 14, 2012 at 2:34pm

Well, I looked at the Murray v. Janowicz vid again, and I do see where you think the Janowicz serve resembles Sampras. It is kind of like he mixed aspects of the Sampras rounded shoulder delivery and toss. But his arms are more "up together, down together", and he has less lag. His toss motion starts with his upper body leaning over his front foot, into the court which is different from Sampras. Lastly, he is pinpoint stance, not platform like Sampras. Interesting serve motion, but more like an ovalized Krajicek motion. It is a huge serve.

Comment by Manu S Kumar on November 14, 2012 at 2:17pm

i think Janowicz has  the potential to play a baseline & net game. He can play a serve and volley too since his serve remembers me fo Pete Sampras. With his huge serve i think he should come to  the net and miz up his game instead of playing long long baseline rallies which Djoker and Nadal loves...Murray i think is an awesome player.. but still i think he lacks mental toughness...Delpo. can be a " Djoker" too...i still think he   can  add more variety to his serve

Comment by Tim Prapong on November 14, 2012 at 1:46pm

Harrison's best asset is his serve and his volley. His forehand is a little too compact. He folds his windup oddly, not as odd as Sock though. If he can widen out his windup a little more, he'd have a little more zip instead of having a buggy whip finish. He should finish more across. 

Yeah, Djoko's mental toughness has come back. I thought he lost it during the clay court season and Wimbledon, but now he is back.

Janowicz reminds me of Kafelnikov. Very solid workhorse. Has that nice slice and can play the net better though. 

Comment by Manu S Kumar on November 14, 2012 at 1:27pm

Harrison is a good player, has awesome potential....he z just 19..  he has a good chance...I Think Harrison has realistic chance..The big improvement djoker had to  reach this top player in the last 2 years was, he improved his serve , plus his mind.. this guys soo tough that he came 2- 3 match points against federer in 2 consecutive  Us opens..2 days before fed had 2 set points, he came back from that position too.. I don't think any player other than Djok can do that...Harrison can  give these guys a good match in 2-3 years i think...I think 1) no one can  beat Djok by standing only on the baseline..Fed's success  against Djoker in Wimbeldon and concinati was his variation...if any player is going to have 30 shot rallies.. it will be Djokers point.... If any one has to get Djoker the best chance is to Shorten the rallies and that's what federer  does always...Whats ur opinion abou the new polish guy Janowicz

Comment by Tim Prapong on November 14, 2012 at 12:40pm

Yeah, Manu! Doesn't really matter, he gets the check, the trophy and he keeps his white shoes. lol

Well, top 8 even you say. Yeah, I was looking at Harrison vs. Djokovic, the two matches they've had. He would get it close, give Djoko some problems, but then the foot is off the pedal. He might be the one to do it, and give him four more years. Hopefully, his temper simmers down by then.

Comment by CoachV - William Vazquez on November 14, 2012 at 11:52am

Manu S sounds like you coming to my clinic.

Comment by Manu S Kumar on November 14, 2012 at 11:49am

As long as he wins, regardless of the outfit he wears, who cares guys!!

I don't any American breaking into top 8 soon...Isner  i thought, he may do it... but its hard for break into top 8 by beating delpotro/ berdych....

Mardy fish, was in top 8 last year, now he is also due to health issues...

Unless we have a player from USA who has the talent of Fed and toughness of Djok/ Rafa, i don't see any american player breaking into top 8

Comment by Tim Prapong on November 14, 2012 at 12:03am

Yeah, Djoko should've gone all black, like Darth Fed. lol

Comment by CoachV - William Vazquez on November 13, 2012 at 8:51pm

White Shoes? Poor Choice for the  outfit.

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