playing tough defensive players in tennis

27 04 2007

I think I now have an idea how Roger Federer feels when playing Rafael Nadal…  Not that I fully grasp the difficulty of it at that level, but perhaps the concept.  For the past few years I’ve played in a 3.0 league, and I’ve played a couple of very tough defensive players that gave me a lot of trouble.  The problem for me is when the opponent returns almost everything.  It’s frustrating to hit what would normally be a winner and they return it, and when this happens multiple times, you start to push to do more than you’re comfortable doing.  So you try to hit it harder and/or closer to the lines, but that causes more unforced errors (and thus giving away points).  So when you start missing more shots, you lose some confidence in your offensive shots and you tend to play safer, which helps your opponent.  There’s a mental struggle going on of how much to “go for” in your shots versus how safe to play it.

I’ve seen matches where Federer appeared to get this way versus Nadal, because Nadal would run down almost everything.  In a few matches (such as the 2006 French Open), it looked like Federer was not trying as hard in the later sets, but I suspect it was because of this mentality, because he had hit quite a few unforced errors (for him).

Even though this is a frustrating part of tennis, it’s still fun.  I have to keep from getting discouraged by such struggles, and I must make the necessary adjustments to win those types of matches.  I enjoy the mental aspect of the game, as well as pushing myself physically to compete.  It’s a great sport…




One response

1 05 2007

I once had a similar anguish on the tennis court. However, I devised a simple yet covert plan to rectify the situation. I reasoned that my opponents would have a hard time returning my best shots if they were somehow in pain or physically unable to move freely on the court. So I paid the neighbor boy, Paco, to help me out. He would hide in the hedges near the court with his air rifle. If an opponent was giving me a particularly hard time, I would give the secret signal for Paco to shoot the opponent in the shin, knee cap, or some other sensative area of the body. This was an exceptionally affective deterrent to my opponents. I mean, have you ever tried to sprint across the court and return a smoking shot with a lead pellet lodged in one of your bones, muscles or other tissues? There’s no way, unless you have really thick skin, like a wild hog or something.

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