Tennis in 2020 has been “different”. The French Open was no exception, cold weather and no fans. Had to adapt to that tough wind.
Strategy—game plan. How you plan to win.
Tactics–the tools you use to carry out your strategy.
Jack Kramer said the fundamental strategy is to find what your opponent can’t handle. Drop shots have emerged as an evolving tennis tool. It follows that defending against drop shot has been taken to a new level. The Joker has mastered this. His extreme crosscourt off a dropshot may be the most improved shot of this year.
Dominic Theim gets the stamina award for recent play; (US Open) starts his marathon. Three backhand down the line passing shots were a tactic!
But he exhibited another passing tactic that impressed me more. When pressured by net play Theim has a low floating pass shot, not intended to win the point. but to make his opponent to volley up. Then comes the point winning pass. Not chip and charge, but chip and rip.
College players were allowed coaching between games about mid-career for me. Once I overhead an opposing player say about his coach, “…yeah, he talked but never gave me any help!”
I began to look harder for ways to help. The best person to know what needs to be done is the player on the court. Theim and Diego Schwartzman practice and play doubles. As defensive as clay is as a surface, Schwartzman’s tools at the net won the match for him. He knew of the chip and rip passing tactic of his friend, now opponent. With this knowledge and speed he closed in and took that away. Knowing also of the down the line bomb he used his speed cover that one too. Faultless volleying caused Theim to try a weak cross court to no avail. While these tools were few, they were flawlessly executed and timely. And kept the match go that long distance. In fairness to Dominic the final strategy may have been to use his fatigue to be a successful game plan. No one should have lost that one.
Did you get the real message? If you can outrun and outlast them, you have the best tools to win. Get in shape.
PS—Watch this shot emerge as the next emerging shot: THE TOPSPIN LOB.