From the Author

From the Author

Insights from Paul on his new book, "Fein Points of Tennis, Techniques & Tactics to Unleash Your Talent" as well as news and analysis of topical tennis issues

The Curious Case of Daniil Medvedev

When coaches and teaching pros project the ideal future playing style of a promising young prospect, they consider several factors: athletic ability, physique, character, and so forth. Of course, the player has to buy into the technique and tactics the coaches are trying to inculcate.

Variables for Hitting Drop Shots and Drop Volleys

Recently, I had a discussion after a practice session with a former college soccer and lacrosse player who started playing tennis in his 30s. Touch shots are my forte. He asked me how I hit the drop shots that confounded him. I discussed the variables in terms of their relative importance.

Backhand Debate, Depth in Men's Tennis, and Hurkacz's Game

Nobody asked me, but . . .

Daniil Medvedev may not have the most exciting game, but he relishes lively debates. When Tennis Channel’s topnotch interviewer Prakash Amritraj asked him about whether two-handed backhands will endure in pro tennis, Daniil replied, “I think we’ll still have amazing players with one-handed backhands.” He cited No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 18 Lorenzo Musetti as evidence.

Ideas and Opinions about the 2023 Wimbledon

Before the Wimbledon final, seven-time major winner Mats Wilander put Novak Djokovic’s chances of beating Carlos Alcaraz and winning the four Grand Slam events this year at 90 percent. “He’s got too many weapons. He knows everything there is to know about the sport. He’s got it all down to a science. The opponents aren’t ready for him,” Wilander told The New York Times.

Who will win Wimbledon?

The perils of prediction be damned. I say: full speed ahead. This year my crystal ball is quite clear. If it’s wrong, then I’ll just have to get a new crystal ball. Seriously, despite all the talk of the narrowing of the speeds of court surfaces — grass, hard, and clay — grass has several unique and important characteristics. And the best practitioners have the skills and tactics to best exploit these characteristics.

A Weighty Problem

Great champions often take our sport to a higher level. They do that simply by playing better than anyone ever has on a given surface, such as Rafael Nadal on clay, Roger Federer on grass, or Novak Djokovic on hard courts.

 Drop Shots and How Carlos Alcaraz Uses Them

Great champions often take our sport to a higher level. They do that simply by playing better than anyone ever has on a given surface, such as Rafael Nadal on clay, Roger Federer on grass, or Novak Djokovic on hard courts.

To Yell or Not to Yell During Points — That Is the New Question

Frances Tiafoe, an exuberant American competitor, recently proposed two rule changes. In a Forbes interview, Tiafoe said, “I think fans should be able to come and go and move around and speak during matches. Imagine going to a basketball game and not saying anything.”

Random Thoughts on Three Topics

As I watched Christopher O’Connell, a 28-year-old Australian journeyman ranked No. 98, valiantly extend heavily favored Daniil Medvedev to 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the Doha quarterfinals, I knew it was only a matter of time before his weak one-handed backhand would break down. It took longer than expected because Medvedev inexplicably hit too many shots to O’Connell’s forehand. But the result was still inevitable.

 Observations about the Australian Open

The Australian Open provided much food for thought about how to play and teach tennis.

Here are four observations, and perhaps lessons, about the year's first Grand Slam tournament.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions for tennis?

If you’re a player, you likely want to improve your technique or tactics or both. If you’re a coach, it could be to advance your understanding of technique and tactics, and especially the critical connection between these two cornerstones of the game. I recently wrote an instructional article—“The Missing Link: The Connection Between Technique and Tactics”—in which I posited six axioms about the connections that players and coaches should think about.

We all would like to see our favorite players display sounder technique and smarter tactics so they’ll win more. So here is what I propose for the New Year’s Resolutions of some elite players.

What Did You Learn About Technique and Tactics at the ATP Finals?

Technique and tactics form two of the main pillars of a winning offense and defense in tennis. Indeed, that’s precisely why these pillars inspired the subtitle for my award-winning book, “The Fein Points of Tennis: Technique and Tactics to Unleash Your Talent.”

The recent ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, provided some lessons for both technique and tactics. Here are some of them.

Analyzing “Strategic Genius” Daniil Medvedev

“In no other sport are the strategic possibilities so numerous, the ways to outwit your opponent so rich and varied within the accepted sportsmanlike bounds.” – Sarah Palfrey, a clever strategist who won 18 Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles

When world No. 3 Daniil Medvedev was dominating the second set of his Paris Masters match against Alex de Minaur, Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone averred, “Medevev is a strategic genius when it comes to playing points. He knows just what he wants to do. He is such an anomaly. It’s tough to figure him out.”

Physique Is Destiny

Just as 6’8”, 265-pound basketball superstar Lebron James could never be a horse racing jockey, whose weight averages 108 to 118 pounds, former junior Wimbledon champion Noah Rubin conceded he was too short to make it on the ATP Tour. So the 5’9”, journeyman Rubin, whose ranking peaked at just No. 125 in 2018, recently quit tennis and announced he was switching to pickleball. In a video on Instagram, the 26-year-old American said, “The tennis court is just way too big and there’s way too much ground to cover.”

The Tennis Brain of Roger Federer

What will you miss most about Roger Federer—as a player?

In my recent career retrospective, “Roger Federer: A Champion’s Champion,” one section is titled “Tennis Brain.” It explains why Roger was clearly one of the most tactically intelligent players in tennis history. His shot selection was generally smart, sometimes very clever, and occasionally innovatively so, such as with his SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger).

What Did You Learn from the US Open?

Here is what I learned. As serves and groundstrokes increased in power this century, the need for running speed became greater. However, not every player uses speed for both offense and defense. Gael Monfils, one of the fastest players in tennis history, never fulfilled his vast potential partly because he seldom used his speed offensively to attack when he should have. Conversely, former world No. 4 James Blake, another speedster, seldom used his speed defensively to keep the ball in play when he was in untenable court positions. Instead, Blake attempted low-percentage shots and frequently missed them.