US Tennis Congress 2015 – Valuable Lessons Learned

My name is Nadim Naser and I am a long-time friend of Florian and the first certified OTI instructor, teaching the OTI methodology year-around in Ft. Lauderdale, FL to athletes like you.

I competed at and coached nearly all levels of tennis in my career up-to date. During this time nothing has given me more fun and passion than working with highly motivated adults for the past 8 years, who want to take their tennis game to the next level and become the best they can be…regardless of age or current level of play!

Thanks to OTI and Florian's vision to bring the best possible tennis instruction to adult athletes worldwide, I was introduced to P.J. Simmons, the creative founder of the US Tennis Congress and unbelievable human being.

The US Tennis Congress is a revolutionary event in the tennis industry and the first and only of its kind.  It brings hundreds of the most passionate adult tennis players, who truly want to improve their game and become the best they can be, to learn from the best tennis coaches, instructors, mentors, grand slam champions, the game has to offer in a 3-day event.

I was invited to be part of the 2015 US Tennis Congress in Tucson, Arizona this October thanks to Florian's fantastic job at the last two Tennis Congresses in 2013 and 2014.

I want to share with you some of the most valuable lessons I have learned during this incredible event.

 

1) Check your Ego at the door – Everyone wins!

I have never witnessed so much passion and love for the game WITHOUT the huge egos in play. The faculty, made up by true industry greats…and me, interacted and collaborated like friends would, and pushed each other to become better as coaches.

This in turn allowed us all to share our experiences and knowledge with one another and most importantly passed it on to the most passionate and enthusiastic adult tennis players I have ever seen.

The adult athletes who attended received the best possible tennis education one can ask for because of that level of involvement from the coaches. Please keep in mind, the adult athletes who attend this congress are gurus in their respective industries as well, but just like with the faculty, you couldn't tell! Again, no egos here!

 

2) You can learn it all, if you choose to

In 30+ hours in 3 days of on-court and classroom instruction and presentations, every athlete walked away with not only their best time in tennis but a wealth of knowledge you couldn't get anywhere else but here. Regardless of what you wanted most, you learned it here.

Experts from every part of the game were present and ready to work with and present their expertise to you. Areas covered included (but not limited to):

  • Technical Stroke Instruction & Video Analysis (Singles & Doubles)
  • Tennis Strategy & Statistics (Singles & Doubles)
  • Building Customized Fitness Plans (specific to each athlete)
  • Real-life stories by ATP/WTA Grand Slam & Senior Tour Champions
  • Mental Toughness
  • Injury Prevention and how to deal with injuries
  • Tennis Movement
  • How to get the most out of your practice sessions
  • Playing as member of a team…and so much more

 

3) Amazing Tennis Tips from the best coaches in the game

Last, but not least, I learned a great deal myself, given that so many tennis greats were present, sharing their knowledge, and these are some of the tips that stuck with me:

  • It is important to play versatile and use every stroke in your game; if you play the same tennis over and over, your opponent will figure you out, sooner or later. Example given: Rafael Nadal slices his backhand in the most unlikely of situations to get out of trouble, even though it’s not one of his better shots…
  • Even if you have had a severe injury, you can actually become a better tennis player still
  • In order to execute your strategic plan on court, you must first be able to understand and implement the technical details of each stroke, as technical ability gives you strategic options
  • Don’t jump the gun; focus on the essentials first; learn how to move and hit the ball properly, then move on to point and match-play for your long-term joy and improvement in the game
  • Thinking while playing is the worst you can do; you need to feel not think; get out of your head and into the moment
  • Your body is your temple, don’t abuse it; take care of it; learn how to properly warm-up, cool-down, stretch, and rehab your body
  • Communication is the most important factor when playing doubles; the rest is simple
  • If you want to progress, you need to be willing to take a step back before moving forward; especially when dealing with technical adjustments of your strokes
  • If you want to play “safer and more high percentage tennis”, accelerate your strokes, don’t decelerate (mentioned in the context of topspin groundstrokes and 2nd serves)

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and cannot wait until next year to do it all over again. Thanks again to Florian Meier and P.J. Simmons. 

Note: Private lessons with OTI instructor Nadim Naser are available year-round in Florida. Florian personally trained Nadim to teach the OTI system. Click here to learn more about private lessons in Florida with Nadim.

 

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How To Be More Confident Like Roger

Roger Federer just won the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with an impressive 6:3 7:5 victory over world number 1 Novak Djokovic.

Throughout this match he played exciting aggressive Tennis. He hit phenomenal topspin backhands and very aggressive forehands, which allowed him to come to the net a lot.

Take a look right here at the highlights:

Roger looked extremely confident on the court in this match and many tennis experts will argue that he is winning again because he has his confidence back.

So did Roger “work” on his confidence?

Roger of course did not work on his confidence. Instead Roger worked on his skills and these improved skills resulted in more confidence.

In the past I often argued that Roger needs to improve his topspin backhand and become a much better net player if he wants to compete for Grand Slam titles again.

With the help of Stefan Edberg Roger did exactly that in the past 12 months or so. He now hits lots of good topspin backhands and he has become a lot more effective at the net.

Roger’s Improved Topspin Backhand

It is very difficult to say what Roger and Stefan worked on in order to improve Roger’s topspin backhand. My guess is that they did work on some technical elements even though this is impossible to say without asking them.

We can’t see any huge changes but minor tweaks like staying sideways a little longer for example can make all the difference in the world at this stage. To me it appears as if Edberg helped Roger find the right tweaks for his backhand.

Roger’s Improved Net Play

Even more impressive in my opinion though is Roger’s improved net play. He is a completely different player up at the net these days.

So what has improved?

#1: Closing In More Aggressively

Roger gets much closer to the net and he understands the importance of positioning after the first volley.

In the past he often stayed too far back after the first volley and as a result it was too easy to pass him. Now however Roger gets unbelievably close to the net after the first volley and makes it really hard for opponents to pass him.

Essentially he does what all great net players in the past have done: He forces opponents to lob him by moving forward in an extremely aggressive manner. Stefan Edberg did the same thing and so did all the other great net players like Patrick Rafter, John McEnroe for example.

So players are now forced to lob Roger more often and lobbing Roger Federer is not an easy task. Because of his great backwards movement and a rock-solid overhead, opponents are forced to hit lobs that are almost perfect and that puts a lot of pressure on them.

#2: Smarter Volley Strategy

Roger now uses the first volley to position himself effectively for the second volley. One mistake he often made in the past was hitting difficult first volleys to the open court. That opens the court too much and players like Djokovic and Nadal are phenomenal at hitting passing shots on the run.

Instead Roger now often hits the first volley right back to the corner the opponent is already in. This strategy works really well if you get enough depth on that first volley, which Roger usually does.

Now the opponent is forced to move back behind the baseline and Roger can move in very close. The result is a much more difficult situation for his opponents that often results in errors.

#3: The Surprise Serve and Volley Tactic

Roger now uses what I like to call the “surprise serve and volley tactic”. He adds serve and volley to his game on a regular basis but he also does not overdo it with this tactic.

If you use this tactic, opponents cannot simply float returns back high to the baseline. If you don’t use it too often, opponents will be surprised and will often float the return and leave you with an easy high volley to finish the point!

Conclusion

So in the end Roger’s current high-level of confidence resulted from working on his skills in the past 12 months or so. An improved topspin backhand and a better net game completely changed the dynamics of his matches against players like Djokovic and Nadal and that gives him the confidence he needs to beat these players.

So was it all technical and not mental then? I don’t think so either. I believe this kind of an improvement usually requires technical input as well as the right mindset in order to make these changes and allow yourself to regain that confidence.

Developing this kind of a “champion’s mindset” is crucial and something we will talk more about in the next 2 weeks!

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Win More With One Statistic

Detailed statistics can tell you almost the entire story about a tennis match.

However they are very underused in tennis instruction.

Tennis generally requires lots of focused practice to become a great player but sometimes very simply ideas can get you to win more matches.

Today I want to share one statistic with you that is super easy to take advantage of and can make a significant difference for you!

This statistic has to do with serving …

When you win the toss in Tennis you get to choose whether or not you want to start the first set as the server or the receiver.

So Should You Choose To Serve Or Receive First ?

Researchers Jan R. Magnus and Frand J.G.M. Klaassen analyzed data from four years of matches at Wimbledon to come up with this conclusion: (see the link at the bottom for their research paper)

There is a clear advantage to serving first in the first set!

Here is the direct quote from their findings:

"The estimated probability of winning a service game if it is not in the first set is 80.1% in the men's singles and 62% in the women's singles. The probability of winning a service game in the first set (including the first two games), is significantly higher, namely 82.4% in the men's singles and 65.2% in the women's singles.

The reason why the probability in the first set is higher is entirely due to the effect of the first game in the match! The probability that the server wins the first game is 87.7% in the men's singles and 74.3% in the women's singles. It is only the very first game that is special!"

So it seems clear that serving first is the better strategy!

Why Is It Better To Serve First ?

There are different theories as to why the percentage in the first game of the first set is higher.

According to the authors of this research paper it is likely that the receiver is not under much pressure to break in the first game and therefore uses the game to try and identify the server's strategy and "get into the match".

Therefore receivers tend to give the first service game away too easily, which results in an advantage when you serve first.

In their studies they also found that the same is not true in the first service game of the second set or third set!

So at that point the probability of winning the first service game is not higher than the average probability of winning any of your service games!

Now of course we have to be careful with statistics …

These stats were taken at the pro level and we can not be entirely certain that things are the same at the recreational level.

However, I tend to believe in the theory that oftentimes in the first service game the receiver does not feel as much pressure to break. Therefore, I believe it is safe to assume that for most of you serving first is the better choice also!

On the pro tour serving is generally an advantage and that's why the receiver may be thinking: I don't really have to win this first game yet. 

So to finish this thought I also want to mention this: If the serve is actually a real disadvantage at your level, meaning you win less than 50% of your service games on average, then i believe this effect could possibly be reversed …

So there may be a situation where the psychology in a match is more like: "Let's see who can first win a service game because the normal case is rather to get broken".

The big question in this kind of a situation would then be: Is the probability of getting broken in the first service game of the first set any different, meaning higher of lower, than in the rest of the service games. 

Possibly the psychology even go like this … the server in the first game of the first set thinks: "I don't have to win a service game yet because we are just starting the match".

As a result the winning percentage for the server in the first game in the first set could be lower than the rest of the match and in that case it would be smarter to receive first. I do however expect this to be an exception!

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments with me below!

Click Here To See The Original Research Paper

 

 

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Australian Open 2014 Review

Stanislas Wawrinka and Li Na are the 2014 Australian Open champions and I am happy for both of these players because they have been continuously improving their game in the recent past. Overall it was a tremendous tournament and I thoroughly enjoyed watching a lot of the matches.

Here are my thoughts on some of the players and developments at the tournament:

The Men's Game

The men's game keeps getting more and more interesting. Several players are continuously improving and that's what makes it so much fun to watch in my opinion. 

#1: Stanislas Wawrinka

Wawrinka played phenomenal Tennis and deservedly won the title. Stanimal as they call him these days has gotten a lot tougher mentally and physically most likely due to the help of his coach Magnus Norman.

Norman himself was one of the toughest and fittest competitors the game has ever seen and is apparently passing on that work ethic to his student.

Being extremely fit simply gives you incredible confidence on the tennis court and it shows in Wawrinka's game!

In the finals match, Wawrinka showed an aggressiveness against Nadal in the first set that very few players have ever been able to play with against Nadal. Right from the start I had the feeling that Wawrinka had tremendous belief in his ability to win the finals match against Rafael Nadal. 

Stan did struggle quite a bit later in the match when Nadal was obviously struggling with an injury and in that moment it showed that Stan has not always been one of the mentally toughest competitors on the tour.

Becoming mentally tougher is a process like anything else and under extreme pressure it is only normal that some of the old mental habits still show up but I am certain this will continue to improve with Magnus Norman on his side.

I think great things are still to come for Stanislas Wawrinka and am excited to see how his career continues.

#2: Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal played a phenomenal semi-finals match against an in-form Roger Federer and overall played a great tournament. 

In the semi-finals Nadal once again played super aggressive, dictating points from a position relatively close to the baseline, which is what he needs to do to play his best Tennis.

He also stayed away from slicing his backhand and instead hit aggressive topspin backhands, which is another big component for him to play his best Tennis.

Nadal was obviously struggling in the finals match even though it would have been tough anyways to win against Wawrinka the way Stan played before Nadal's injury.

Nadal deserves to be the number 1 player in the world right now and I believe he is likely to win quite a few more major titles and may end his career as the greatest player of all-time!

#3: Roger Federer

Federer hired Stefan Edberg as his new coach and even though I was skeptical in the beginning, I now believe that this was a great move and I think Federer may have a very good year ahead of him.

Overall reaching the semi-finals was certainly a success for Federer but more importantly we saw some nice developments in his game throughout this tournament. 

Roger hit almost exclusively topspin backhands against Nadal and did not use the slice much at all. I have been saying for a long time that this is what Roger needs to do if he wants to have a chance against Nadal and Federer's level was certainly high enough for a victory against Rafa. 

Roger displaying improved form against Andy Murray

However, Roger basically choked towards the end of the first set and it was apparent that even though his game was good enough, the belief that he can beat Rafa just was not there. 

Federer also came to the net quite a bit against Rafa in the beginning of the match with mixed success. Roger's backhand volley is relatively weak and also his movement at the net is not great in my opinion.

However, his partnership with Edberg just started and I believe Edberg will make significant improvements to Federer's net game and it will be exciting to see how Roger plays later on in the year, especially at Wimbledon!

After this tournament I believe that good things lie ahead for Roger in 2014. Stefan Edberg is a highly intelligent individual and quickly realized what adjustments need to be made to Roger's game. Now they simply need more time to work on these adjustements.

#4: Novak Djokovic

Djokovic lost a tough match against Wawrinka. I don't think there is much to worry about here for Novak. Stan played incredible Tennis throughout this tournament and close matches like that are decided by just a few pionts here and there. 

It will be interesting to see what the influence of Boris Becker on Djokovic's game will be. I was not able to see a lot of differences in Novak's game but it is early in their relationship. 

I am certain Novak will have another good year in 2014.

The Women's Game

On the women's side we saw a lot of upsets and I am sure nobody expected Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova in the finals. 

#1: Li Na

Li Na is another great continuous improvement story. She hired Justine Henin's former coach, Carlos Rodriguez, in 2012 and they have been making a lot of adjustments to her game. 

The forehand is Li Na's weakness and even though they have not been able to fix this shot from a technical perspective, they have been able to do the next best thing and that is to have her hit with more arc and spin. The added spin changes the dynamics of the baseline rallies and allows her to use her backhand, which is her primary weapon, more effectively. 

Li Na playing great Tennis agains Eugenie Bouchard

Na has also developed confidence in her net game and comes forward on a regular basis to finish off points. 

I am sure Rodriguez is not done with the adjustments to her game and I expect her to do well for the rest of the year. 

That being said, her forehand is still too weak to be a real threat to either Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka when they are at their best in my opinion.

#2: Dominika Cibulkova

Cibulkova played great Tennis, beating Maria Sharpova and Agnieszka Radwanska on her way to the finals. She plays more aggressive and has significantly changed her service motion.

So once again this is a continuous improvement story and it will be interesting to see if she can keep up this high level. 

Cibulkova with a big victory over Agnieszka Radwanska

Remaining at this level also has a lot to do with the belief that she can beat the Top3 players in the world. It is tough to say whether or not she has that belief but she ceratinly has taken her game to a new level!

#3: Serena Williams

Serena lost to Ana Ivanovic but was apparently hindered by an injury. I expect her to go back to dominating form as soon as she is 100% healthy again!

#4: Maria Sharapova

I was not impressed by Sharapova's Tennis in this tournament. She hired Sven Groeneveld as her new coach but I did not see any new developments in her game. 

I am a bit skeptical about her chances for a great 2014 and am not sure if this is a good coaching fit for her. 

Allright. So much on the 2014 Australian Open. Let me know your thoughts and comments below!

 

 

 

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Accomplishing Your Goals in 2014

First of all I want to wish you a happy new year and all the best for 2014!

I am very grateful for how 2013 went and the incredible success we had with Online Tennis Instruction would not have been possible without your support so many thanks for that!

If you are like most ambitious tennis players, then you probably some goals for 2014 like:

"This year I finally want to fix my weak serve" or …

"This year I finally want to get in good shape for Tennis" or …

"This year I want to go from the 4.0 level to the 4.5 level"

Unfortunately these goals are usually forgotten by mid January or February at the latest. 

How To Make Your 2014 Goals Work:

The problem with standard new years resolutions/goals is that the resolution in and of itself is too weak to get any major change accomplished. 

It is human nature to avoid change and that is what's holding most people back from accomplishing their goals. 

Without any major change in your entire system of how you practice, you will most likely not get anything significant accomplished!

So telling yourself or writing something down like "This year I finally want to improve my weak serve" is simply not enough. 

If you want to finally fix a weak serve as an example, you essentially need to change the entire system of how you practice and how you spend your limited time on the tennis court!

So let's stick with the example of finally fixing that weak serve this year.

Of course the general idea would be the same for any other new years resolution/goal! 

How could you go about changing the system and assuring that you spend the necessary time on fixing your serve ?

#1: Pay in advance for court time to work on your serve!

If your usual serve practice consists of 10 minutes of hitting serves at the end of a session with your practice partner, then I would highly suggest the following:

Book a court once a week for an hour for the next 3 months at least, where you go on the court by yourself only with a basket of balls. 

This is a system change and has a real chance of success, especially if you pay for the court time in advance!

If you don't have to pay for the court time during the summer, then you can still schedule a 1 hour serve practice session in your calendar once a week at a set time and I would highly suggest you do not practice with one of your tennis friends before or after this session!

You want this session to be entirely about the serve practice and you want that to be the reason for going out to the courts! 

With this kind of a system change you are not relying on "trying harder to work more on your serve" but instead are forcing yourself to put the time in and that is what makes all the difference!

#2: Invest Money And Schedule Serve Lessons In Advance

If you are not the type of person to go out on your own, analyze your serve problem and then spend an hour by yourself working on your serve every week, then you can of course do the same thing with a coach!

If you are more comfortable working with a coach, then I would highly suggest you book the coach once a week for at least the next 3 months to work on your serve.

Of course I would only recommend this if you have the confidence in your coaches ability to fix your serve!

I would highly discourage you from simply booking one or two lessons in order to "see how it goes". 

That is not a system change and highly unlikely to succeed. 

It is simply too easy to find a reason not to continue when things are not going that well (which they will at some point) and then you will be likely to go back to your old way of practicing!

Investing money up front will also make you much more likely to stay with the new program!

It makes you more committed and reminds you of the importance this issue has for you because you were willing to spend money on it.

By going to a coach you are also getting somebody else in on the mission and as a result another human being will remind you and hold you accountable in regards to the necessary steps to accomplish your goal!

I also have an online program planned for this year where I will take on a small group of highly committed students and help you implement system changes as well as hold you accountable and supervise your progress on a regular basis. 

My 2014 New Years Resolution And System Change:

I have made only one new years resolution, which is more on a personal level.

2013 was a very successful year for my professional career but I also worked way too much and did not spend enough quality time away from work.

So my resolution for 2014 is to work less and spend more quality time doing fun things outside of work.

In order to make sure I follow through on that I am changing my system in the following way:

I have planned out the first 4 months of my calendar and blocked off several time periods for quality leisure time. 

This includes an already planned 3 week vacation with a good friend in February and several weekends for skiing trips and other things that I enjoy. 

I check my calendar every day and by blocking out the dates and already defining what I am going to do during the time and in most cases with whom, I am changing the system rather than just telling myself "I want to work less and spend more time doing fun things outside of work".

Let me know how you are going to change your system to achieve what you want to accomplish in 2014 in the comments section below!

All the best for 2014!

Florian Meier

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Roger Federer’s Dilemma

Roger Federer has been playing some very good Tennis these past 2 weeks and it was great to see him show some of his old form!

Last week he lost in a tough 3-set match to Juan Martin Del Potro in the finals of Basel.
Del Potro played exceptional Tennis and Federer was close to winning the title.

Check Out Some Of The Highlights Here:

This week Roger once agained showed some strong form and lost in 3 sets to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Paris masters series event.

I watched both of these matches and it was a pleasure to see some of Roger’s magic again!

Roger’s forehand was unbelievable for the most part and he also came in to the net frequently with good success!

After watching these matches though, it also became obvious to me that Roger is not anywhere close to the form that he would need to beat Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament.

In fact I am certain Roger is facing a dilemma that a lot of you can relate to! 

Against Djokovic in the semifinals Roger started out the first set hitting a lot of slice backhands and he won the set.

The slice backhand is currently what Roger feels comfortable with. His topspin backhand hasn’t been great this year and it is very obvious that the stroke is not 100% clean from a technical perspective.

The problem is that Djokovic really wasn’t playing well in the first set so this result was a bit deceptive in my opinion.
Roger is currently in a situation where most likely he will win the maximum amount of matches by slicing a lot of backhands and making great use of the rest of his game, which is currently exceptional again.

Nevertheless with this strategy he has close to zero chances in my opinion of beating Djokovic or Nadal when they are at their best, which they usually are late in Grand Slam tournaments.

In order to win a Grand Slam these days you need to hit huge off of both sides and Rafa and Novak are doing just that.
The only real chance for Roger to beat Rafa and Novak in a Grand Slam is to improve his backhand and hit aggressive topspin backhands without committing too many unforced errors! 

There is simply no other way out of this.

Tactical adjustments can be great but in this case all of the tactics that Roger has been trying, like slicing short, coming in etc. are not going to get the job done! 

Tactical adjustments oftentimes make the difference when 2 players are relatively equal in skills and playing level.

In this case however Roger is not even in the ballpark of Rafa and Novak because of his relative weakness on the backhand side.

So the real dilemma that Roger faces is this: If he stops hitting slice backhands and starts hitting almost exclusively topspin backhands he may lose more matches in the short term and that could hurt his confidence even more.

If he stays with the slice he will be reasonably competitive and does not risk the chance of getting blown out as much as he would if he were to go with the other strategy of hitting almost exclusively topspin backhands.

If however he wants to have a real chance of winning another Grand Slam title he needs to work on his topspin backhand and hit it as much as possible until he regains confidence in the shot!

And this is the same dilemma that so many of you face. Deep down you know that you have a technical weakness that needs to be worked on.

You know for example that you need to develop a better serve or start hitting your topspin backhand more aggressively to get to the next level.

However this can take some time and you may lose some matches in the short term that you may not have lost otherwise.
If however you decide to go for the change and you commit to it you have the chance of transforming your tennis game and getting so much more joy out of it.

One of the keys to go through with something like this is to have a process-oriented mindset rather than an outcome oriented mindset! 

Rafael Nadal is the absolute role model for this. His focus is on continuous improvement and not winning.

Roger has stated in the past that he is more of a results-oriented guy and that he does not care as much about playing well.

As of now Roger is the greatest player of all-time and I am certainly a big fan.

Unfortunately though I think that this results-oriented mindset is currently holding him back!

If you want to maximize your tennis improvement and enjoyment, then most of you need to jump into the cold water so to speak, and work on the big technical problem areas that are holding you back!

Helping tennis players do just that and succeed at it is what I founded www.onlinetennisinstruction.com for!

To your tennis success,

Florian Meier

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Nadal – Greatest Of All-Time ?

Rafael Nadal just won his 13th Grand Slam title at the 2013 US Open. This puts him reasonably close to Roger Federer who has 17 Grand Slam titles and is widely considered the greatest player of all-time. 

I think Nadal has a great chance of overtaking Federer and becoming the greatest player of all-time in the next 2-3 years by winning more than 17 Grand Slam titles!

Why I Think Nadal Will Likely Overtake Federer:

#1: Federer Probably Won’t Win Another One

Roger Federer has been struggling a lot this year and i think his chances of winning another Grand Slam title are minimal. 

Now anybody can have a slump but the reason I say that is because Roger’s game simply is not good enough anymore to hang with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when these players are at their best. 

At 32 years of age Roger has probably lost a step compared to his prime and the only way to make up for that is to have a super sharp game. 

His game however is not as sharp as it used to. Especially his backhand is simply too weak and he can’t get over that weakness against guys like Nadal and Djokovic when they are at their best!

#2: Nadal Currently Dominates Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is of course the one player that can stop Nadal at the moment but Rafa has managed to turn that rivalry around in his favor and he has now won 6 of the last 7 matches between these two!

I do think it is likely that Djokovic will come back strong against Nadal in the near future but at best I think Djokovic will get to a 50:50 situation against Nadal in big Grand Slam matches. 

Nadal is simply too strong mentally and it seems as if he has fixed what was previously the one weakness against Djokovic, his backhand!

#3: The Numbers

Nadal needs 4 more Grand Slam titles to tie Roger for the record. Assuming that Nadal stays healthy, i think it is safe to say that he has a good chance to win at least another 2 French Open titles in the next couple of years.

After all, he has won the French 8 out of 9 times that he has played the tournament!

With that in mind, Nadal really only needs to win another 2 or 3 Grand Slam titles other than the French Open to overtake Federer!

It also looks as if Nadal and Djokovic will dominate the Grand Slams in the near future so if Rafa only wins 50% of those matches against Novak, then he has a very good chance of getting to 17 within 2 years in my opinion!

So what do you think. Will Nadal win more Grand Slams than Roger and become the greatest player of all-time ?

 

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US Open 2013 Finals Review

Nadal played possibly his best Tennis ever to beat Novak Djokovic in 4 sets and Serena Williams beat Victoria Azarenka in a tough 3-set match. 

Let’s take a close look at the keys to the finals matches and lessons that can be learned!

Men’s Finals

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1 to win his 13th Grand Slam and 2nd US Open title.

Nadal played what I believe may be the best Tennis he has ever played and Djokovic played good but not anywhere close to his best!

Nevertheless, the match resulted in some amazing rallies. Take a look at this ridiculous 54-shot rally between the two:

Why Nadal Won The Match

Nadal has really turned the rivalry between these two around since his loss to Djokovic at the 2012 Australian Open. That loss was Nadal’s seventh loss in a row to Djokovic and it was obvious that Nadal needed to make some adjustments to turn things around.

Rafa did exactly that and now has a 6-1 record against Novak since that match at the 2012 Australian Open.

So what does Rafa do differently now ? The key change has been that Nadal hits his two-handed backhand more aggressively throughout the matches against Djokovic and does not slice as often anymore! 

Previously, Nadal sliced a lot of backhands and did not go for too much on his topspin backhands. Novak would hit his backhand down the line a lot and then take control of the point with his forehand after Nadal sliced the ball back and this pattern got repeated over and over.

As a result Nadal was on defense most of the time and at this level you really have to control a large percentage of the rallies to win matches!

Hitting his backhand more aggressively these days allows Nadal to stay closer to the line and also hit a lot more forehands inside the court, which is of course a winning proposition for him!

Novak so far has not been able to find an answer to this. Oftentimes he does not seem to be as aggressive anymore as he was in 2011, especially with his two-handed backhand.

I think the key for him to turn this rivalry around again, has to be to try and play even more aggressive and dominate as many baseline rallies as possible!

Lessons To Be Learned:

1. Never Stop Improving

Nadal is the best example I know of a player that never stops improving. He used to play way behind the baseline and nowadays he takes the ball extremely early.

It seems as if he always comes back with a better game whenever he realizes that he needs to improve to get to the next level!

2. Look For Your Patterns

Nadal was stuck in a pattern that got repeated over and over against Djokovic. Djokovic would hit a backhand down the line and then take control of the point because Nadal’s backhand response was usually too weak. 

Now Nadal has found a way to play patterns that favor him, where he dominates points with the forehand. 

There are usually only a few patterns of play when you play a match and it is very important that you are aware of which patterns favor you and which don’t!

Women’s Finals

The women’s finals was an incredible match to watch. We saw two very tough players in an intense battle that could have gone either way.

Serena struggled a lot with the wind and Victoria really tried everything possible and never gave up, no matter how devastating it must have been to play so well and still come up short.

Here are some highlights from the match:

Overall Serena has a lot more weapons than Victoria and I find it amazing that Azarenka kept the match this close!

From the baseline there is not a whole lot of difference between the two but the serve is the shot that makes all the difference in this rivalry!

Serena wins numerous “free points” with her serve, especially on big points whereas Azarenka oftentimes even gets attacked off of her first serve in this match-up!

Serena really struggled with the wind and in my opinion did not deal well with it. She kept looking up and in a way complaining about the wind as if it was somehow unfair. This certainly aided Azarenka in keeping the match close and winning the 2nd set!

Otherwise Serena was as mentally tough as usual. Both players showed an incredible will and belief to win this match!

I find it very impressive how Azarenka remained tough and positive even after losing the first set and being down a break early in the 2nd. Many other players would have dropped off at this point but she is a true champion and really maximizes her potential from a mental aspect in my opinion.

In order to have a chance to turn this rivalry around Azarenka would need to significantly improve her serve technique!

Her record against Williams is now 3-13 and none of the matches she won were played at a Grand Slam.

She may win a match here and there against Serena but overcoming that big of a disadvantage to start points off is simply too much to win against Serena when Serena is playing well, which she usually does at Grand Slam tournaments.

Lessons To Be Learned:

1. Be Mentally Tough Like Azarenka

Mental toughness is huge in Tennis and Azarenka showed a lot of it in this match. The key lesson to be learned i think is to remain positive even when you are behind in a match and this is what most recreational players struggle with.

Azarenka knows that she will usually lose to Williams when Serena is at her best but she did not care about that. Instead she simply focused on playing her absolute best and controlling what she can control, which is her own performance!

2. Develop Weapons Like Serena

Serena’s serve is a huge weapon and her backhand was also incredible in this match.

Tennis is simply a lot more fun when you have weapons and can dominate points with them!

So How Do You Develop A Weapon Like That ?

There are 2 main components that go into developing a big weapon on the tennis court:

#1: Great Technique

This is the cornerstone of a weapon. Great technique allows you to develop lots of racket head speed and control where the ball goes at the same time!

Great technique is the major focus here at www.onlinetennisinstruction.com and if you are serious about developing great technique you may want to consider one of our video courses to help you do that!

#2: Athleticism

This is the second component necessary for a big weapon. Tennis in the end is also a strength sport and you need to be a great athlete with explosive power to hit serves at 130 mph or over 200 km/h!

So that is one good reason to work on your fitness and general athletic ability but just as importantly you will feel better in everyday life if you improve your athleticism and overall fitness!

Ok. So much for now. Please post any thoughts and comments underneath!

 

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Wimbledon 2013 Finals Preview

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will play in the Wimbledon finals match on Sunday. Murray survived a tough 5-set match in the quarterfinals and Djokovic in the semi-finals to get to the championship match.

I think this is going to be very close and in this post I want to talk about 3 key aspects that I believe will decide this match.

#1: The Crowd

Andy Murray will have very strong support from the crowd and in my opinion this will be a big advantage for him.

It seems like Murray has learned to channel the enormous pressure that he is under into something positive since he started working with Ivan Lendl.

Additionally, I believe Novak can struggle with the crowd being against him. He has gotten a lot tougher mentally in recent years and does not seem to lose his temper that often anymore but in an extreme situation with the crowd against him for a long period of time, I think he can still be vulnerable mentally.

#2: Second Serve Points

Both players hit big first serves and win a high percentage of first serve points. In these matches it is always crucial to win a high percentage of second serve points though.

Andy Murray has struggled with his second serve in the past and it can still be vulnerable and very slow at times. Djokovic would be well-adivsed to try and put as much pressure on Murray’s second serve right from the beginning as possible!

Djokovic certainly has the edge on the second serve in my opinion!

#3: Dominating Baseline Rallies

In today’s game there are always long baseline rallies and dominating them is absolutely crucial because it increases your confidence.

Both players hit excellent backhands that are always consistent. I think the real battle here is won for the player that manages to hit lots of aggressive forehands without getting the unforced error count up too high.

Djokovic and Murray hit solid forehands but for both players it is not the favorite shot.

Whoever manages to consistenly hit aggressive forehand shots and take control of the rallies with the forehand as often as possible, has a very high chance of winning this match in my opinion!

A big forehand has simply become more and more important in Pro Tennis in recent years.

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Rafa Nadal: Always Improving

Rafael Nadal did it again and won his 8th French Open title. The biggest victory of course came in the semi-finals against Novak Djokovic.

Nadal then deservedly won the title with a straight sets win in the finals over David Ferrer and once again I am extremely impressed how Nadal continues to improve his game when necessary!

 

Djokovic – Nadal

Nadal managed to beat his rival Novak Djokovic in 5 sets in the semi-finals and it was another epic match between these two.

Nadal made some critical and necessary adjustments to his game against Novak, which led to the victory! I was skeptical about Nadal’s chances in that match because Djokovic had basically been dominating the rivalry and simply seemed like the better player.

The Backhand Problem

Nadal’s big problem against Djokovic was his weaker backhand side. He hit a lot of slice backhands against Djokovic in the past and tried to run around as many backhands as possible because he lacked confidence in his topspin backhand.

As a result, the court geometry worked against Nadal and Djokovic took advantage of that by taking balls on the rise and taking complete control of a high percentage of the baseline rallies between these two.

This is what typical rallies looked like in the past between Djokovic and Nadal

Nadal realized that he needed to play more aggressive in order to beat Djokovic and came back with a significantly improved backhand!

In his match against Djokovic at the French he used the slice backhand a lot less and hit his backhand a lot more aggressive on average, which of course resulted in the historic victory!

This willingness to make changes to his game is one of the aspects that separates Rafa from most other professional players!

Continuous Improvement

It is very rare that professional players make major adjustments to their game.

Nadal is one of the few professional players that keeps improving and that is one of the main reasons he is so successful and loves the sport so much.

We all want to get better and enjoy getting better but too many tennis players are stuck believing that they have a certain game and cannot make any significant changes. This is an idea that is unfortunately also wide-spread in the coaching world.

Many times have I heard from coaches that someone is too old for making changes. This really upsets me because it is simply not true and I think it takes the joy out of the game to a certain extent.

You are never too old to work on your game and in fact you should always be working on your game!

In order to celebrate Nadal’s phenomenal success and attitude I decided to offer my ebook “Mastering The Mental Game” at 50% off for the next 48 hours!

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