Tennis

Top five shots in tennis

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Let us embark on a quest similar to the one Harry Potter did in the seventh and last sequel of the Harry Potter series.

Except, instead of scouring for the Deathly Hallows set to make its owner the Master of Death, we will aim to unravel the five biggest shots currently in tennis, which would make its possessor one invincible and impregnable being.

1. The Rafael Nadal forehand

Ferocious, stinging, buzzing, penetrating and infallible; without the slightest shred of doubt, Rafa Nadal’s forehand is the best in the game. Often whizzing towards the opponent with an irritating 4500rpm, multiple aspects of the Spaniard’s forehand makes it a headache for his rivals.

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Ferocious, stinging, buzzing, penetrating and infallible; without the slightest shred of doubt, Rafa Nadal’s forehand is the best in the game. Often whizzing towards the opponent with an irritating 4500rpm, multiple aspects of the Spaniard’s forehand makes it a headache for his rivals.

Firstly, Nadal commits the least number of unforced errors amongst the game’s current top crop. He does this with his forehand wing, as the unorthodox topspin he applies increases the curvature and loop of the trajectory of the ball.

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It means the ball is usually a good couple of feet above the net cord when it crosses. Similarly, the vicious top spin on it forces it to dip back in quicker than is normally a case of a conventional forehand shot.

Also, the ball bounces up much higher than usual after landing, causing all sorts of problems for players, especially those with a weaker backhand.

When under attack in a rally, Nadal at times plays a relatively slow and deep forehand shot with a much greater curvature allowing him to recover. Hence, his forehand has both a piercing attacking element about it and a defensive mechanism enabling him to repel any onslaught from his opponent.

2. The John Isner serve

How bizarre it might be if you are competing in a tennis court yet have the feeling of being in the midst of a war with a barrage of rockets being hurled at your direction.

Only that instead of avoiding, ducking and taking cover, one is supposed to tackle them and reverse its direction back towards their opponent.

Well, that is a feeling when you are up against the serve of the towering American John Isner. The six feet ten-inch player fires serves at his opponents that at times clock a jaw-dropping 140mph. You blink, and you miss it.

Hence, it is no surprise that many of Isner’s encounters end up being decided on tiebreakers and at times a solitary break of serve proving to be the difference.

Such has been the reputation and awe for the American’s serve that even Federer once lavished praise on him, saying ‘I would take John Isner’s serve.'

So, Isner, if you have caught the great Roger Federer’s attention, you surely have ours too.

3. The Stanislas Warwrinka backhand

Winning in tennis does not just come down to having an exceptional set of shots up your sleeve. It requires strategies, tactics and ploys, especially when you are up against the big boys.

Coaches and players try to figure out chinks in the armoury of their adversaries and aim to exploit it. Often it is the case that player’s target the backhand of their opponents, usually a weaker shot in their stock.

However, try that against Stanislas Warwrinka and you are finished. The Swiss number two and reigning French Open champion is one of the few players on the mens tour who boasts a backhand stronger than their forehand.

The full extent of its potential was visible in this year’s French Open, where the brute nature of his backhand left even Novak Djokovic stunned, consigning him to his lone Grand Slam loss of the season.

Even Pete Sampras, a 14-times major winner, waxed lyrical about Warwrinka’s backhand last year and said he is willing to swap it with his own. And Djokovic would have been glad had that happened before the start of the French Open.

4. The Novak Djokovic service return

You fire an excellent serve at a man and see it rebound back and land close to your feet and just inches inside of the baseline. How frustrating can that be?

Well, you have to confront this frustration when you are up against Novak Djokovic, who will do this to you all day long. The Serb is by far the best returner of serve the game has ever seen, and it is the one major piece of weaponry in his already brimming stock which has exalted him to the game’s top podium.

Not only the depth but the angles which he produces on the return whether it be on his forehand or backhand side make him the server’s worst nightmare.

5. The Roger Federer sliced backhand

Go after his backhand, direct the bulk of your shots at it, that is his Achilles heel. That might seem to be the advice a player might get from his coach before squaring off against Roger Federer.

But if it is entirely true, then this prescription shouldn’t have allowed the prolific Swiss to reach the staggering heights which he has. Beating him should have been a task too easy.

But actually it is not, for the above statement is only half correct and another element overlooked here serves to mitigate this apparent weakness.

Federer has an ever-reliable sliced backhand shot which serves to bolster his defenses on the backhand wing. When in trouble, he resorts to this option that permits him to get back inside a point.
He commits close to no errors with it; it lands back deep and close to the baseline and the awkward spin on it is often difficult to contend with.

A defensive shot surely, but as Sir Alex Fergusson would say “defenses win you titles”. And certainly Federer has won a lot of titles in his career.

Who is the greatest tennis player of all time? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below.

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Topics:
Stanislas Wawrinka
Tennis
Wimbledon
French Open
Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic
US Open Tennis

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