Daniela Hantuchova is a world class player from Slovakia. She reached a career high-ranking of number 5 in the world in 2002.
Hantuchova: A Good Serve Coupled With
Aggressive Baseline Tennis!
Hantuchova was born in 1983 in Slovakia. She comes from a family of intellectuals. Her dad is a computer scientist and her mom a toxicologist. Daniela is also smart, speaks four languages, and considered going to university but eventually decided on a tennis career.
She was a solid junior player, reaching a high of number 13 in the ITF junior rankings in 1998. Her professional career has also been very successful already. In 2002 she got to number 5 in the world. So far she has won 4 titles on the WTA tour.
Highlights of her career have been reaching the semifinals at the 2008 Autralian Open and winning the title at the Indian Wells masters event in 2002 and 2007!
Hantuchova is also a solid doubles player and has won the Career Grand Slam in mixed doubles!
Hantuchova is an aggressive baseline player that likes to dominate the rallies with fast rather flat shots!
Her baseline game is extremely solid and her strokes never break down from a technical standpoint.
Hantuchova has a great forehand. She can hit the ball very hard and flat with her forehand, using a short and compact swing. This type of swing allows her to hit a very effective inside-out forehand that moves out of the court.
In the video you can see how well she uses her lower body in order to generate power. Her legs coil and uncoil and this is the kinetic chain working at its best!
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There is one element in the kinetic chain that I believe Hantuchova could still improve on though. She does not pre-stretch her forearm muscles as much as the players with the best forehands in the game. Here she could most likely add even more power to this great shot!
Hantuchova has an amazing backhand. She has very good grips and a beautiful swing pattern!
When watching her backhand you can also see how well she makes use of the lower body and the kinetic chain in general. All of the body segments are working together to create effortless power!
The Hantuchova Backhand:
Great Use Of The Kinetic Chain!
I have rarely seen Hantuchova use a slice backhand. This is a shot that could help her defend the court better and I think she would benefit a lot from developing a solid slice backhand!
Daniela hits pretty solid volleys. Her forehand volley is stable and her backhand volley is not bad either, even though the racket face is a bit too open in my opinion. Her problem is that she can’t cover the net very well because of her lack of leg strength!
Hantuchova has a good service motion and she can do some damage with her first serve!
She tends to toss the ball slightly to the right, which allows her to hit good slice serves. Even though she has a good motion, her second serve tends to land short at times but this is more a matter of nerves and not going for it enough!
Daniela Hitting 2 Aces In A Row
Daniela has a fluid service motion and uses a somewhat abbreviated motion. Overall it is a good motion with most of the important body positions in place!
The one thing she could improve upon is body rotation though. She does not turn her shoulders away from the target and does not create much of the so-called separation angle between hips and shoulders.
Improving her second serve is more a matter of target practice and learning to hit it confident from a mental standpoint and less a matter of technique.
Overall Daniela Hantuchova plays a game style that suits her physical and technical capabilities very well. She plays aggressive with rather flat shots and often takes balls early!
She has the strokes to do this and it is also a good strategy because she is not a great mover and therefore needs to try and be on offense as much as possible.
I do believe there are a few slight adjustments that could help her improve tactics even more.
First and foremost I think she should
play even more aggressive!
Starting with the return of serve her primary goal has to be to get on offense!
Throughout the rally she sometimes does not take opportunities to hit forcing shots and instead hits the ball with more spin and deep. This is of course understandable because it is really hard to maintain that sort of aggression throughout an entire match. Nevertheless if she wants to be a Grand Slam contender she needs to play with even more risk than she does now!
In interviews she has said that she tends to overthink her options. Instead of overthinking she should
just focus on aggression!
Of course Hantuchova will not be able to avoid being on defense altogether. For those situations she could also develop a better defensive game. She is often somewhat stuck in her mode of hitting the ball hard and relatively flat and does the same thing when she is on defense.
In those situations it would be better to hit some high loopy topspin shots to give her time to recover to the middle. Additionally, developing a good defensive slice backhand would help her a lot!
Daniela is definitely a fit player and I believe she works hard on her fitness. Nevertheless she lacks explosiveness!
How well you can get in and out of the corners is extremely important in Tennis and is in large part determined by how strong you are in relation to how much weight you have to move. Hantuchova lacks strength in her legs!
Her opponents can really hurt her by making her run for bigger distances on the court. She struggles to get into the corner once on defense and she also struggles to get to drop shots or sharp angles.
She is naturally skinny and early on in her career she looked extremely skinny to the point where people were suspecting an eating disorder. If she wants to move around the court better she needs to train with some heavy weights and gain some weight in order to develop more explosive power!
Daniela is known to struggle with her mental game. She has a tendency to get tight and nervous in the most important matches!
Her game is built around being aggressive and in control of the points. This is pretty much impossible to do when you are tight and nervous.
Hantuchova also got tight in the biggest match of her career. She lost the 2008 Australian Open semifinals to Ana Ivanovic after being up 6-0 2-0. Basically she got nervous and played too tentative in the second and third set of this match!
In order to take her game to the next level she definitely needs to get tougher mentally!
Daniela has great technique and a game style that matches her capabilities well. She struggles with her movement and her mental game!
There are several areas that Daniela Hantuchova could improve in.
From a tactical standpoint I believe she should play even more aggressive. She needs to avoid being on the run at any cost!
Returning serve extremely aggressive is crucial for her and taking as many balls as possible early as well.
Her defensive game could certainly be improved as well. She seems stuck in this mode of hitting everything flat and fast.
Defending with some higher slower balls or slice backhands would allow her to get back into rallies better.
Hantuchova definitely needs to work on her mental game!
Without the necessary mental toughness she will not be able to get to a level where she can compete for Grand Slam titles!
Last but not least I believe Hantuchova would benefit tremendously by focusing on weight training with heavy weights and low repetitions in order to improve her explosiveness. Taking four weeks off from her schedule to follow a serious weight lifting program could probably make her come back a different player!