Recharge your Tennis Batteries
“Tennis matches are won by the man who hits the ball to the right place at the right time most often.” — All-time great Bill Tilden
If you take a complete break from tennis during the holiday season, play less frequently, or don’t compete either in league matches or tournaments, the break will help you in several ways. It will give your injuries vital time to heal. And it will recharge your tennis batteries. When you resume play, you’ll be fired up.
Did you watch Rafael Nadal compete in an exhibition last week (Dec 2022) and lose close matches to Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov? They were his first competitive matches since August. The other side of the “break from tennis” coin is that while his level of play was reasonably good, all things considered, his rustiness was most evident in his shot selection.
Shot selection becomes automatic when you’re playing and competing regularly. There is no indecisiveness. But shot selection also becomes smarter the more often you play, or at least it should.
I devoted an entire chapter to this topic—“Six Keys to Smarter Shot Selection”—in The Fein Points of Tennis because this is such an important part of tactics. Even superstars hit the wrong shot on occasion as Roger Federer admitted in the epigraph to this chapter. When it happens on big points or repeatedly on a particular stroke, it’s time to correct the problem.
This chapter is divided into six sections: Know Thy Own Game, Know Thy Own Form, Know Thy Opponent, Know the Existing Conditions, Know the Right Shot in Challenging Situations, and Know the Perils of Over-hitting and Under-hitting. I review specific situations involving Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams, Bjorn Borg, and Frances Tiafoe, among others, to explain these six critical areas.
If you are occasionally frustrated by dubious shot selection, this chapter will definitely help you improve your game.