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:http://tennisopolis.com/events/registration-for-2013-holistic-tenni...