Federer parts ways with Annacone

A few weeks ago, Roger Federer, announced that he was splitting with Paul Annacone. His coach since 2010.

Roger+Federer+Paul+Annacone+Olympics+Previews+TkGsWMIq2YOlNow, you might think this would be due to Federer’s drop in the ranking or lack of strong performances in 2013. But Federer and Annacone both say that their partnership had run it’s course.

When they first joined forces. Federer, outlined a plan with Annacone, to get back the number one ranking and win another slam. Having achieved both of these goals. It was mutually decided, that they were ready to move on.

Personally, I think it’s for the best. It sounds like things may have stagnated between them.

Besides, Federer is going to need to make changes to his game. I don’t believe he’ll have to reinvent himself to get back into the top group but he needs to improve in a few areas. The return of serve (especially off the backhand side) and his running forehand.

His slice backhand is great. We all know that. It’s a consistent shot, which he uses offensively.

A good choice for opponents, who feed off pace.

Unfortunately, he has the tendency to float the ball back to the middle of the court. He does so, daring his opponent to go to his forehand. But this let’s them start off their service rally in the attacking position. Forcing Federer, to play defense.

Also, his opponents know that he’s going to float the ball back. They know the likelihood of getting hurt off his backhand is significantly less.

So it only makes sense for them to starve his forehand as much as possible.

That’s why I think he needs to come over the ball more often and hit deep with some pace. At least, force them to run to get the ball back.

He doesn’t need to get away from slicing the backhand completely. He just needs more variety. Make his opponents, respect that side more.

As for his running forehand. I feel this is more of a weapon that he’s going to need to use. He hits the inside out forehand beautifully. Better than almost any other player that I’ve seen. That’s his bread and butter.

His running forehand is good too. But he needs to improve this shot to keep up with the younger players. Fed, doesn’t hit with as much spin as Djokovic, Nadal, or Murray. He’s older and it’s unrealistic to expect him to have the same defensive skills that he had in his mid-20s.

But without a great defensive to offensive shot, it’s just about impossible to win. Murray, Djokovic, Nadal, and others cover the court far too well to be hit off routinely. With a great running forehand in his arsenal, Federer, would be that much more dangerous. Especially in the extended rallies, where he gets dragged wide and needs to finish the point.

Lastly. Roger, should hit more short angled returns. He’s great on this shot and it works well against the incredibly defensive Murray, Djokovic, Ferrer, and Nadal. Dragging them off the court and leaving an opening for a Federer winner.

Well, that wraps up my assessment for now. Please leave me a comment, if you agree or think I’m crazy.

Til next time.

How to become a great server

This is a follow up, to my post on how to become a great returner. Most recreational players are enamored with the speed of fast serves. And I’ll agree, it’s fun to swing away on the first serve. But in terms of importance, it’s consistency, placement and then power. Keep it in this order. Because you can’t have a good serve without consistency.

I equate consistency with topspin. When you hit with topspin you are adding safety to your shot. With this in mind, it makes sense that the topspin serve would be the ideal choice for the second serve right? That means it’s really important to get this serve down. If you’re struggling with getting it in, here’s a useful exercise that will help your consistency. I do this all the time.

Place a hopper several feet away from you. Grab a few tennis balls and practice throwing them into the hopper, while using the topspin service motion. This simulates the motion of the serve and familiarizes your muscle memory with that motion. Once you’re able to get the ball in consistently, stand back a few more feet and work at getting it in from further away. You can also do this same exercise on the tennis court, just stand inside the service line when you’re throwing the ball. Do you notice, tossing the ball from a close distance requires a lot of arm action but as you back up you start to turn through the toss? This is because the rotation of your hips adds extra power to your serve. When you are ready to add power to your second serve, you can accelerate through the striking part of the service motion, while turning through the ball.

Now let’s talk about the flat and slice serves. These are best used on the first serve. Your goal with them, will be to establish control of a rally. There are several ways to do this. One way, is to serve a hard ball to your opponent and hope for a short reply. Another way, is to angle the serve away from them and look for a weak return. Which puts you in the attacking position. Since these two serves are offensive. Think about where your opponent’s weakness is. Most players have a weaker backhand than forehand. If you’re not sure which side is weaker, play a few rallies and see if your opponents starts to hit the ball short. If they give weak replies off of a certain stroke, that’s the key to target that side when serving.

Another important aspect to serving, is to have a consistent toss. I like to put the ball right on the palm of my hand and then practice tossing it straight up in the same exact spot. The more consistent your toss the more successful your serve will become.

Anyway, try out some of these tips and let me know how it goes.

Top 10 players, I’d like to have a match with

Do you ever wish you could have a dream match, with your favorite tennis player? Who would it be? And why? I have a lot of them. Too many to pick from. Having seen thousands of tennis matches, I could probably name hundreds of players, who I’d love to meet on the court. So I gave myself a challenge, to sit down and figure out what my top 10 list would be. What surface the match would be held on and how I would play them.

After giving it some time, I was able to come up with a pretty diversified list. I’ll be putting this up in increments, since I’d like to make it detailed.

First, I need to tell you about my playing style. I’m an aggressive all-courter, with a heavy first serve. I like to hit with moderate topspin on my forehand and keep the backhand shots flat. I’m also right handed and prefer extended rallies, where I can gradually work my way forward.

#10

Fabrice Santoro

Aptly named the Magician. Santoro, was a master at spin, drop shots, topspin lobs, and hitting off paced balls. On top of that he was incredibly fast and could produce angles that you wouldn’t believe. For a guy, with such an unusual, yet incredible game. It would be hard not to put him on the list.

How would I play him?

Given his ability to hit winners from all over the court, going for broke against him would be suicide. I would try to play long, high percentage rallies, going deep to his backhand as often as possible and looking for the chance to come in off a short ball and rip it cross-court. Santoro, was great at coming up with winners on the run. So if I did come in, I’d look to close the court off as much as I could, yet not get too close to the net. Otherwise you run the risk of a topspin lob. Santoro’s specialty.

As you can see, from watching Federer, Djokovic, and other top pros playing him, it’s not easy to put a ball away against the guy. You have to be patient and wait for the opportunity, to try and force a winner.

What surface would I play him on?

Hard courts are my favorite surface. They’re more naturally suited to my game than grass or clay. Because I like the true bounce. Most of my choices here, will be hard courts but I do have a couple of exceptions later on. Besides, the hard courts would allow me to make better use of my serve against the speedy “Magician.”

Stay tuned for part 2.

Tennis strategy

I’ve been thinking about doing a series of posts on game improvement strategy. The posts, will cover conditioning, technique, and ways that you can add consistency to your game, without spending the countless hours on court hitting balls. Basically, I want to condense some of my tennis knowledge into several posts, that will help my readers make improvements to their games. While still avoiding the roadblocks that really slow down your development as a player.

When I started with tennis, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I went through a series of coaches and instructors, before I was able to find what worked for me. I have had help from so many different people and I’ve adapted different things from all of them. Which are now a part of my game. But there was definitely a learning curve to getting good at the sport and a lot of that came from not knowing where to go, to get to the next level. I want to discuss how you can go from point A in your game to point B and not feel confused about what grip you need to use, or where your feet need to be positioned to drive a forehand ball down the line. Also, keep in mind that I’m open to suggestions. So, if there’s anything in particular, that you’d like me to write on, just drop me a comment and let me know what you want to see posted.