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Discussion Starter #1
Last night I watched the 2003 USO Final where Justine beat Kim 7-5 6-1 and the 2006 Wimbledon Semi where Justine beat Kim 6-4 7-6.

First of all, at the USO Justine was serving kickers on all her second-serves. Not heavy kick in the Stosur mould, but moderate kickers. Now remember that a couple of months ago some of us were advocating that she serve kickers on the second ball to cut down on DF's? Well, as far as that went it worked on that occasion: she only served a couple in the whole match. However, the downside was that Kim was eating up the serve. It was bouncing up but Kim was taking it on the BH just after the top of the bounce, methodically driving it into the corners, and making Justine scramble almost every time. Near the end of the first set Justine was only winning 25% of the points on it. As she was only making 38% of her first serves, she gave up a double-break and was down 15-40 when serving to stay in the set at 4-5.

Now could it be that Justine chose to change to the fast slice because it was less vulnerable to attack? Despite the risk of increased DF's?

The 2006 W Semi left me confused because in that match Justine was hitting her FH's with the same shortened swing she has today! At Eastbourne only ten days earlier she was looping her swing, preparing too late most of the time, and mishitting the ball but her backswing in the W Semi was exemplary in its early preparation, closing of the racquet-face, and tautness and compactness of swing. My guess is that Carlos and she had worked hard to eradicate the weaknesses obvious at Eastbourne but how they did this in a matter of days almost defies belief. I'm wondering if she'd been making the transition for some time and it hadn't quite taken hold. If she was a little fatigued the old looping backswing might come back. I think this happened in the Final two sets of the Final where her FH broke down.

But I watched this one carefully because I could hardly believe my eyes. A few exceptions apart when Justine was well behind the baseline she was only taking the racquet back about 45 degrees. And it showed: her FH was great in this match for the most part.
 

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Now could it be that Justine chose to change to the fast slice because it was less vulnerable to attack? Despite the risk of increased DF's?
It's always been my opinion that Justine shouldn't bother with a kick serve because of her physicality.
Bigger players like Stosur, Serena and Kuznetsova are capable of hitting more aggressive kickers and even some of theirs are attackable. Justine's kick serve will be too attackable. The topspin slice 2nd serve that she uses is perfect. She just needs more confidence and it will be better.

The 2006 W Semi left me confused because in that match Justine was hitting her FH's with the same shortened swing she has today!
I don't see it. I have the 2006 W semi and there is more of a loop in that forehand swing than she is hitting today. (I compared it with the AO final)
 

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I don't see it. I have the 2006 W semi and there is more of a loop in that forehand swing than she is hitting today. (I compared it with the AO final)
Pull it out again and watch it. There is NO loop. Justine cocks her wrist, closes the racquet-face and snaps the head over the ball. If you can find a point where she takes it back high and ninety degrees back let me know and I'll watch it again.
 

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Pull it out again and watch it. There is NO loop. Justine cocks her wrist, closes the racquet-face and snaps the head over the ball. If you can find a point where she takes it back high and ninety degrees back let me know and I'll watch it again.
I just watched it. There is a loop. It's not the same. forehand she is hitting today.

She doesn't have to take it back high with a 90 degree angle (a la a push forehand) for there to be a loop (although she did this once in the 3rd game). She stopped doing that years ago.
The forehand she hit in 06 is a pull forehand with a bit of loop.
It doesn't look as forced as the forehand she is hitting today. There was a 'nike swoosh' motion to her forehand back then.
 

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I just watched it. There is a loop. It's not the same. forehand she is hitting today.

She doesn't have to take it back high with a 90 degree angle (a la a push forehand) for there to be a loop (although she did this once in the 3rd game). She stopped doing that years ago.
The forehand she hit in 06 is a pull forehand with a bit of loop.
It doesn't look as forced as the forehand she is hitting today. There was a 'nike swoosh' motion to her forehand back then.
As it's impossible to hit a loop without taking the racquet back high and quite a long way back (I'd say close to 90 degrees) I'm wondering if you know what a loop is.

A loop means you start with the racquet head high, you bring it down and well below the ball then take it up, hit the ball, keep it rising and finish with it high. Hence the "loop".

And Justine wasn't doing it in the match we're talking about.
 

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Also don't get me wrong. I'm not saying she never hit the forehand she hits today back then. Because she did. But she didn't hit it all the time like she does now. There was a variation to it, (like Federer varies his forehand for diff situations) which I think benefits her.
 

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As it's impossible to hit a loop without taking the racquet back high and quite a long way back (I'd say close to 90 degrees) I'm wondering if you know what a loop is.

A loop means you start with the racquet head high, you bring it down and well below the ball then take it up, hit the ball, keep it rising and finish with it high. Hence the "loop".

And Justine wasn't doing it in the match we're talking about.
lol, do I know what a loop is.

When you hit a pull forehand, your loop is going to be different from the push forehand.
THe loop you are describing is a push forehand loop. THink, the kind of forehand Serena or Sharapova hits.

A pull forehand, by nature will not have the perfect 'C' loop, it instead is a bit shallower.
Check out Nadal's loop

Then Henin's

You can see Henin has a loop but it is shallower due to her stroke and the low height of the ball.
When the ball is higher, there will be a bit more loop.

I saw her hit with a loop in the 06 W semi.
She was not consistently hitting the way she hits her forehand now.
 

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This is the push forehand loop you are describing (big loop, racquet head at 90 degrees, racquet above head, big takeback, wrist stays laid back)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
lol, do I know what a loop is.

When you hit a pull forehand, your loop is going to be different from the push forehand.
THe loop you are describing is a push forehand loop. THink, the kind of forehand Serena or Sharapova hits.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "push" and "pull" FH's. By the context you're talking about the degree of the loop. But Serena nand Sharapova don't hit with much topspin so I'd have thought they were in the "pull" category. Some players take the racqet back high but then it doesn't go well below the ball. Capriati's was a good example. But Justine's backswing in the match isn't particularly high because she's closing the head and not taking it back far at all. I don't have video from this year to hand but I don't think this is far from the way she's hitting it now.
 

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I'm not quite sure what you mean by "push" and "pull" FH's.
The push forehand is the de facto forehand for most WTA players. The wrist is laid back right from the beginning of the takeback and stays in that position till contact. It feels like the wrist is 'pushing' the ball during the stroke.

The pull forehand is the modern forehand and de facto forehand for ATP players (and some WTA players Henin included)
Here the wrist does not lay back during the takeback. THe forward momentum causes the wrist to lay back as you start the forward swing. This stroke feels like you are 'pulling' the racquet. You 'release' the wrist just after contact and have more pronounced pronation of the wrist than you would with a push forehand.
Due to the wrist release, you have greater access to racquet head speed with this stroke type, hence why it is the de facto tennis stroke for the men. It gives greater access to spin and pace.


By the context you're talking about the degree of the loop. But Serena nand Sharapova don't hit with much topspin so I'd have thought they were in the "pull" category.
THe less topspin one hits with, the more likely it is that they hit with a push forehand, not the other way round.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
The push forehand is the de facto forehand for most WTA players. The wrist is laid back right from the beginning of the takeback and stays in that position till contact. It feels like the wrist is 'pushing' the ball during the stroke.

The pull forehand is the modern forehand and de facto forehand for ATP players (and some WTA players Henin included)
Here the wrist does not lay back during the takeback. THe forward momentum causes the wrist to lay back as you start the forward swing. This stroke feels like you are 'pulling' the racquet. You 'release' the wrist just after contact and have more pronounced pronation of the wrist than you would with a push forehand.
Due to the wrist release, you have greater access to racquet head speed with this stroke type, hence why it is the de facto tennis stroke for the men. It gives greater access to spin and pace.
I'm still confused. It appars that the "push" forehand is basically a flat forehand and a "pull" FH is a topspin shot. The "push" comes inside the ball in the process. However, I'd have thought that the "pull" forehand begins with the wrist angled back from the forearm. It'd need to be to give the pronation, wouldn't it?

Can I give my model for what is called the "multi-segment" FH? It's a series of connected hinges, each of which has only a limited range of movement and each of which has varying strengths and speed of movement, these combining by transmitting the energy from one segment to the next and the next and in the process making the brute energy of the earlier stages more specific and accurate.

In other words, the first segment is the rotating upper body (with the waist as the hinge); the second is the upper arm (with the shoulder as the hinge); the third is the forearm (with the elbow as the hinge); and the fourth is the racquet-hand (with the wrist as the hinge).

Now the goal is to transmit the great but unspecific power of the upper-body, the upper-arm, the forearm, and the wrist to the racquet with the maximum efficiency, specificity, and accuracy. This with the purpose of channeling the maximum force into the maximum control.

Sorry if this is dead boring......
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I watched some more Justine matches last night - the 2006 USO one against Sugiyama (third set) and the 2006 AO QF against Lindsay.

It makes me question if her game now is THAT different from how it was then. All this talk of a "new" game is an exaggeration IMO. For instance, it appears that the 2006 Eastbourne Final was a bit of an aberration as far as her FH went. That day she was preparing late and her backswing was all over the place, leading her to twist her racquet-head as she hit the ball a lot of the time. When Justine does this, it's a sure sign she isn't "locking" in her backswing. What happens is she takes it back late - after the ball has crossed the net - and she makes backswing and forward-swing into one movement instead of pausing in between. This is reminiscent of her heroine, Steffi Graf, but Graf's FH was inimitable and not to be copied.

Anyway, in the Wimbledon semi, she was preparing a lot earlier, pausing at the end of the backswing, and her shot was much more controlled and efficient. And in the other two matches I watched, she was attempting (not always succesfully) top do the same. In these her backswing was only back around 45 degrees, with elbow angled downwards, her wrist laidback and angled towards the ground. When she takes it back late her wrist is often flopping around rather than locked in place - so that when she takes it forward it's twisting as it contacts the ball.

Oh, and the other thing I observed: she was hitting down the centre of the court most of the time. It worked when she got good depth but she often paid the price when she was short. And when she tried to angle the ball with her FH she often gave the opponent the initiative.
Get out your old videos and see how often she hit down the centre. I think it'll surprise you.
 
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