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A DAVIS CUP DREAM MARCOS BAGHDATIS CHARM OFFENSIVE
THE MASTERMIND AGASSI • CIRSTEA • DJOKOVIC •
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LEARN TO PLAY PERCENTAGES OUST YOUR ANXIETY THE COACH & COMMUNICATION NOTES FROM NADAL
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APRIL 2010 VOL 35 No.4
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S am Steps Up
Samantha Stosur took the biggest step in her impressive career as she entered the world’s top 10.
M arcos Baghdatis’ Charm Offensive
Already brimming with character, Marcos Baghdatis is also brimming with confidence after a stellar return to top form.
D avis Cup: A New Era
Bernard Tomic’s perfect Davis Cup debut augurs well as Australia fights for re-entry into the elite World Group.
T he Plan for Kazakhstan
It might not rate as a top tennis nation yet, but Kazakhstan is targeting top players and top-level success.
B rad Gilbert: From Winning Ugly to Calling the Shots
Fast-talking but deep thinking, Brad Gilbert offers fascinating insights into today’s game.
Marin Cilic: Divine Intervention
This talented Croatian has some powerful supporters in his corner.
Australian Tennis Magazine | April 2010
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APRIL 2010 REGULARS 7
FROM THE EDITOR
Club of the Month
nis. No it for anybody who loves ten peculating is a common hab n we’re tha ed one tournament crown sooner are the champions of the next. carefully analysing who’ll win ny observers of erent nature is gripping ma However speculation of a diff ctions to be held nis Australia presidential ele Australian tennis, with the Ten President, Steve es are Tennis NSW’s current on April 19. The two nomine Namee. Open chief executive Paul Mc Healy, and former Australian ore taking over become President-elect bef The successful nominee will 25, succeeding General Meeting on October as President after the Annual the role since 1989. Geoff Pollard, who has filled eting of s to the Presidential role. A me There’ll be some key change changes that nth resulted in constitutional Member Associations last mo ear term, with ng eligible for onl y a three-y include the new President bei or Director who e Presidents. Any President Vic two from e com to t por sup ligible for election three-year terms will be ine has served two consecutive
for 12 months. e as both have a long history in the gam Healey and McNamee each tialed candidates They are both highly creden players and administrators. role. g an enormous passion to the and whoever succeeds will brin the end of an tralian tennis, and hopefully It will mark a new era in Aus e overshadowed one too. Recent politics hav emotive and at times brutal Davis Cup debut h as Bernard Tomic’s dream suc ns, gai sive res imp ny ma 10. iring step into the world’s top and Samantha Stosur’s insp st. Their mo ervers should covet the These are the stories that obs onl y lead to s for Australian tennis and can continued success is great new ent of fact. not speculation, but a statem brighter things – and that’s VIVIENNE CHRISTIE, Editor
EDITOR CONSULTING EDITOR ASSISTANT EDITOR ART DIRECTOR ADVERTISING MANAGER ADMINISTRATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER MY COACH CONTENT PHOTOGRAPHS COVER PHOTO
Vivienne Christie Alan Trengove Daniela Toleski Naomi O’Bryan Jackie Cunningham Sherryn Dove Travis Atkinson, Karen Clydesdale Getty Images, John Anthony (All photographs by Getty Images unless specified) Copyright MahaNasra
Australian Tennis Magazine is published monthly by TENNIS AUSTRALIA LTD, Private Bag 6060, Richmond, Vic 3121. Ph: (03) 9914 4200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Distributed by Network Distribution Company Printed in Australia by Webstar The views expressed in Australian Tennis Magazine are not necessarily those held by Tennis Australia. While the utmost care is taken in compiling the information contained in this publication, Tennis Australia is not responsible for any loss or injury occurring as a result of any omissions in either the editorial or advertising appearing herein.
Australian Tennis Magazine | April 2010
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Playing the Percentages
Adopting a winning strategy means placing the odds most in your favour. Understanding percentage tennis is the first step to successfully putting that plan in place.
hile it’s tempting to compare your own game to that of your favourite professional, can also lead to disappointment. Rising to the game’s upper echelons is the result of years of hard work and commitment – and staying there is even tougher. Mere mortals don’t have the time or resources that are available to the world’s best players. Watch and learn from your favorite players – but don’t expect to be exactly like them. Remember, what’s high percentage (safe) tennis for players like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray is low percentage (risky) tennis for the rest of us.
What’s high percentage (safe) tennis for professionals like Fernando Gonzalez is often low percentage (risky) tennis for the rest of us.
ercentage tennis. It’s a term you’ll often hear from tennis commentators but the reality for many social players is that it’s a concept that’s difficult to define. Still, most observers are aware that percentage tennis and being tactically astute go hand-in-hand. Percentage tennis, defined loosely, means playing in a way that puts the odds most in your favour – or as some coaches would tell you, playing the right shot to the right spot on the court at the right time. In his autobiography, Bjorn Borg pointed out that percentage tennis can mean different things to different players. While some players would suggest the concept refers to traditional – and safe – thinking, such as not hitting to an opponent’s forehand on a big point, the Swedish Grand Slam champion had another view.
“My definition of percentage tennis is different,” Borg wrote in My Life and Game. “It’s not so much a matter of whether I hit to my opponent’s forehand or to his backhand, because I think I can run down any attack and counterpunch effectively, no matter where the ball is hit. My synonym for percentage tennis is patience. I want to hit one more ball in court than my rival. “I want him to think I’m much more patient so he’ll make a mistake either in execution (racquet error) or in picking a lowpercentage ripper for the lines.” Andre Agassi was another player who utilised percentage tennis to full effect, particularly in the latter years of his career where his ability to carefully construct a point was practically unmatchable. Michael Chang was a similar aficionado of percentage tennis, the consistency in his style helping the 175 centimetre American succeed against considerably taller and more powerful players. Percentage tennis is less prevalent on today’s professional tours, where many
Australian Tennis Magazine | April 2010
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The key points n H it high over the lowest part of the net (the middle). n The majority of ground strokes are hit cross court. n Wait for the right attacking opportunity. n Patience, patience, patience – it’s paramount to success in percentage tennis. players are known for their powerful and explosive games, or for their ability to find spectacular angles and efficiency in their strokes. That’s not to say, however, that percentage tennis doesn’t have its place. For the social player in particular, percentage tennis means playing with consistency and confidence, which can only lead to more wins than losses.
The general principles Percentage tennis means different things for players with varying strengths and weaknesses; it also has nuances when you apply it to different surfaces. However there are some attributes to percentage tennis that
part of the court. The perfect time to hit them is when you’re inside the baseline and your opponent is out of position.
Emergency action It’s not the prettiest stroke in tennis, but the lob can get you out of many tricky situations. It can give you time to get back into position, and sometimes puts your opponent off-side. Remember you only have to stay in the point to give yourself the opportunity to win it!
Timing is everything Percentage tennis means waiting for the right attacking opportunity. This might be a short ball, high volley or when your opponent is out of position. Recognising these opportunities is important, and so too is the timing of them. Consider the score before you take the risky attacking shot – it’s fine at 40-0, but not always advisable at deuce in a key game, or on a break point.
Remember you only have to stay in the point to give yourself the opportunity to win it! ring true for most players on most surfaces. In trying to get the most out of your game, keep the following in mind:
Navigate the net The first step in keeping the ball in play is clearing the net. Even with a shot that’s going out, you at least have a number of ways to get yourself back into the point if you’ve navigated the net. Percentage tennis is all about reducing the margin for error so always aim to hit high above the net, preferably at its lowest point, which is in the middle. This also helps to keep your opponent deep and on the baseline. More often than not, this means hitting cross court.
Cross court key Speaking of cross court hitting, that’s what you’ll be doing the most in percentage tennis. It reduces the margin for error as you’re hitting to the longest distance in the court (from one corner to the opposite side corner). It also reduces your opponent’s ability to place angles on their own ground strokes. Remember, cross court keeps you in the point while down-the-line generally finishes it. Down-the-line strokes are riskier (or lower percentage) as you’re hitting over the highest part of the net into the shortest
First serve consistency increases any player’s chances for success.
First serve success Only a few blessed players possess a serve that will finish a point before a rally even commences, which means percentage tennis generally won’t apply to them. Most other players will rely on their serve to simply get them into the point. Often this means sacrificing power for placement, especially on those days when your first serve isn’t working. At times like these, just get the ball into play and trust that percentage tennis will give you some opportunity for success.
Exploit weaknesses It’s obvious in any situation, but if you’re relying on percentage tennis then you need to understand your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Hit to their weakness for the majority of the match. There’ll most likely be
Playing it safe
ercentage tennis may not be the flashiest tennis, but there’s something to be said for playing it safe. It’s estimated that at every level of the game, from beginner to elite, around 85 percent of points are lost through unforced errors, while only 15 percent are won through hitting winners. With stats like these, why wouldn’t you want to play it safe?
a point where they either adapt their own game plan or improve on their weaknesses but by this time, hopefully, the damage has been done. When this occurs, you can also try to get your opponent to hit to your own strength as much as possible.
Strategy matters You might be playing the safest tennis, but that shouldn’t stop you thinking about what your opponent is doing – or more importantly, what you should be doing to succeed against them. Obviously you should stick with a winning game plan if it’s working for you, but be prepared to adapt that game plan midmatch when things aren’t going your way.
Fit or fade Percentage tennis means hanging in points for longer periods of time, so fitness is paramount. You’ll need both endurance and the ability to run. Fitness allows you to be patient and test the strength of your opponent. While you’re still relatively fresh in the latter stages of a match, they may start to fade.
Flashy failures Everyone loves to hit a flashy winner but the reality for most players – especially non-professionals – is that the difficult shots result more often in embarrassing errors than they do in spectacular success. While these low percentage shots might earn you a point or two, it’s not often that they’ll lead to overall success in a match. It’s tempting to go for the easy point, but the player who plays safe, high percentage tennis is more likely to win. Australian Tennis Magazine | April 2010
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Published on Apr 1, 2010