Like in the game of chess, where a a series of moves can end a game, tennis players can also win points through well executed shot combinations. Here is an example by Dominic Thiem in a match against Stan Wawrinka.
Seconds after having the advantage during the point, the player finds himself on the defensive. Tennis is a game in which players are constantly changing from offense to defense. Here we show a typical situation in which @Rafael Nadal shows why he is the king of clay.
The players have no choice: Dominic Thiem can barely defend against Wawrinka’s forehand. Wawrinka sees the opportunity to attack. He hits a nice slice backhand approach and attacks the net running in the direction of his approach shot.
This rally between Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori during the Mutua Madrid Open is a great example of the rapid fluctuations between offense and defense during a point. First Rafa Nadal takes the offensive but then Nishikori is able to counter.
It is interesting to observe how much distance players cover in a long rally. Here is an example. This is the last point between Sabine Lisicki and Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic ran 52.1 m/168.6 feet and Lisiki (44.6 m/147 feet). We can also observe that even top players do not always aim their balls close to the lines – but will keep their balls in a “safe zone.” Of course, the fact that it is a match point cannot be ignored.
Defensive shots and footwork patterns are just as important in world-class tennis as their offensive counterparts. Roger Federer demonstrates how he is not only capable of great offense but can dig deep when needed. Roger stays in the rally by displaying an amazing defensive game and gets a bit lucky by Kyrios’s overconfident play.
One of the reason why some double teams climb in the rankings is their ability to recognize different situations on the court and quickly change their positions to play more offensively or more defensively. Lets take a look at one specific exchange between two of the top ranked teams in the world: Bryan/Bryan and Nestor/Zimonjic. This is a common situation that can happen at any level – two players at the net face two players on the baseline during the point.
The I formation allows the net player to stand much closer to the centre of the court before the start of the point. It also gives him the option to move to either side of the court to start the point. This puts pressure on the returner who has to guess what the net player will do.
The rule in doubles is to hit high volleys at the player closest to you and low volleys at the player farthest from you.
Here we can see Maria Sharapova against Lucie Safarova opening the court with a wide kick serve. The serve creates many options for the next shot even though it is aimed at the opponent’s forehand. She could play down the line or hit behind Lucie.