Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone? - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

Before I start, the following opening comment will mention Caroline Wozniacki. If all you want to do is call her "Dullniacki" or "Pushniacki" and sneer or, on the other hand say "haters gonna hate" and post a silly gif then please do it somewhere else. This thread is not about Caro, though it will mention her as an example.

Thankyou.

One thing has puzzled me for a over a year now. How did a player with a weak forehand and an excellent backhand avoid being targeted on her weaker wing for long enough to spend over a year (minus a week) at #1?

Did she skilfully manipulate the rallies to avoid being pinned on the forehand wing? If so, then how come a player like McHale was able to manage it?

Did other players simply not notice that her forehand is so much weaker than her backhand? If so, what are these girls paying their coaches for?

Did other players know about the disparity but choose to hit to her backhand anyway because they felt generally more comfortable playing crosscourt backhand rallies? In other words, did players know that her own forehands were better than Caro's but still prefer to rally crosscourt to Caro's backhand because their own backhands, though weaker than Caro's, were better than their forehands. Do most WTA players play to their own strengths, regardless of their opponents strengths and weaknesses?

Or was it a combination of the above?

I find it curious that it was principally players ranked outside the top 20 who started to target Caro's forehand in the latter half of the year. I think that supports the 3rd factor. You are less likely to back yourself to "play the way I play" when you are playing an opponent 20 or 30 places above you and are perhaps more likely to try and bust up their game.

If players are so locked into playing a certain way that they are comfortable with and unwilling to try something else in order to target an opponent's weaknesses, is this a fault of the players themselves or their coaches?

Whatever you think of Caroline Wozniacki, you have to credit her with this much. She knows where her opponents don't want the ball and she hits it there.
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post #2 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:32 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

You want to use Woz as an example, and you're hoping GM will play along and not get into a dumb-ass flame war? Good luck with that. Her stans won't even agree with you that her forehand sucks, or that other players successfully targeted it,

That said, I think it's a rather rare WTA player, even in the top 50, whose game is sufficiently sound and varied to succeed in targeting a weakness like that. You have to be able to change direction of the ball.

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post #3 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:41 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

I heard a commentator (Jo Durie maybe?) saying recently that most of the current players don't actually WATCH enough tennis, and that when she was a pro, she found watching other players and getting a feel for what patterns of play unsettles them really helped her, far more than her coach simply telling her, because if she was just being told, she couldn't really visualise it in the same way as if she'd seen it with her eyes repeatedly.

Serena, for all her faults, has probably evolved into one of the most intelligent and tactically-aware players at the top... in her match against Woz at the US Open, she showed the perfect way to beat her: kill off points at the net. Wozniacki isn't actually that fast in terms of raw footspeed, she relies on floating her defensive shots back slowly in order to get back to the centre of the baseline - so Serena robbed her of that vital recovery time by taking Woz's junk out of the air, which meant Woz wasn't quick enough to track it down. Maria in particular I hope took note - in her match against Woz last year's US Open, Maria was actually striking the ball pretty well, but so many times, she could've killed off points with swinging volleys, but instead let Woz's defensive shots drop and let the rally go back to near-neutral.
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post #4 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

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You want to use Woz as an example, and you're hoping GM will play along and not get into a dumb-ass flame war? Good luck with that. Her stans won't even agree with you that her forehand sucks, or that other players successfully targeted it,

That said, I think it's a rather rare WTA player, even in the top 50, whose game is sufficiently sound and varied to succeed in targeting a weakness like that. You have to be able to change direction of the ball.
It was naive of me I know but I had to try.

I take your point about players being poor at changing the direction of the ball but most players don't even target her forehand with their serve! You don't see players serve to Federer's forehand very often and Roger's backhand is by no means a lousy shot, it's just not as good as his forehand.
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post #5 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:51 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

when i did my marks out of 10 for the top 10 in that other thread, the marks for netplay and finesse were the lowest overall. thus telling me a lot of players these days don't have the option or skill set to play any other way than their usual baseline bashing.

it is hard to have a gameplan or to read the play if you have no other option but to play the only game you are capable of.

part of the reason caro is so successful is because most top players cant attack her junk from the net, cant keep her off balance by throwing in good drop shots or slices. just thinking about what a prime henin would do to all those floated nothing defensive shots from woz at net makes me sad these days.

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post #6 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:54 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

I remember one particular match at the USO, against freakin Vania King, who was outplaying her everytime she hit to the forehand. But guess what she did on all the major points? Hit to the backhand, sometimes 4/5 times in a row. Makes no sense at all.

Having said that, I don't think her forehand has been as shaky as it has been this past summer. Usually it can always fall short, but it was totally breaking down sometimes. So not only you need to hit to the forehand, you also need to make use of a short shot. As Radwanska has shown in the YEC, a good net game backed by a backhand cc can do the job. But not many players will implement it.
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post #7 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

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when i did my marks out of 10 for the top 10 in that other thread, the marks for netplay and finesse were the lowest overall. thus telling me a lot of players these days don't have the option or skill set to play any other way than their usual baseline bashing.

it is hard to have a gameplan or to read the play if you have no other option but to play the only game you are capable of.
I'm not I sure you need to have a varied skillset to target an opponent's forehand. McHale did it rather competently and so have a few other lower ranked players. And Caro herself is pretty good at putting the ball where her opponent doesn't want it.

Quote:
just thinking about what a prime henin would do to all those floated nothing defensive shots from woz at net makes me sad these days.
I've often wondered how Hingis would have played her.

Last edited by bobito; Dec 22nd, 2011 at 09:08 PM.
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post #8 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:17 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

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I've often wondered how Hingis would have played her.
Massacre. But a beautiful one.

Takes all her moonballs very early and moves the ball incredibely well, creating angles at will and hitting the BH DTL when she pleases. On top of hitting random drive volleys off Caroqueen's moonballs and attacking the net. Basically what JJ did in IW '10 except 15x better.

I would have paid $$$ to see this. Too bad it never happened.
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post #9 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:23 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

Legend played her twice. She destroyed her both times. The H2H is 2-0.
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post #10 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:26 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

The thing with Legend against local players. Each time she hits the ball she inches her way into court. Hit, move slightly forward, hit, move slightly forward.

Then she finds herself able to change the direction from inside the baseline against Borz's shorter balls and finish the point at net.

It would look somewhat like this.

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post #11 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:42 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

Not when you have both Zvonareva & Radwanska in the top 10. They both play very clever tennis.



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post #12 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:54 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

I wonder when will Wozniacki haters achieve a level of maturity required to spot mistakes in their fave's game instead of putting her down. Probably never, but I had to try,LOL.
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post #13 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 10:09 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

it all stems down to one thing - total incompetence at the net by most elite power players. Their coaches either don't encourage them to kill moonballs in the air or they simply lack confidence to come inside. Without net play, all Dullniacki matches look like this - bash, floater near the line, rinse and repeat untill the ballbasher self-destructs or finally hits a clean winner.

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post #14 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 10:13 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

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Not when you have both Zvonareva & Radwanska in the top 10. They both play very clever tennis.
Zvonareva runs around the court like a chicken with it's head cut off most of the time.

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post #15 of 63 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 10:17 PM
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Re: Is the WTA becoming a tactics free zone?

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Legend played her twice. She destroyed her both times. The H2H is 2-0.
juniors getting owned hard
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