The new Djokovic weakness his forehand?

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The new Djokovic weakness his forehand? Empty The new Djokovic weakness his forehand?

Post by socal1976 on Thu 12 May 2011, 8:50 am

I have read this in the comments section of ESPN and on this site as well, that now the book on Djokovic is to play it to his supposedly weaker forehand. Novak did go through some troubles with that shot in 2009 when he changed his racquet and his swing to add a bit more spin and safety to the shot, however I disagree with those that believe that somehow the way to beat Djokovic is his supposedly deficient forehand. Yes, Novak misses more with the forehand but so does virtually every player with a good two handed backhand, the two hander is very reliable. But at the same time he hits more winners with his forehand as well, just like everyone else. In fact, I would rate Djokovic's forehand as one of the top ten or 15 forehands on tour. Look back on the Roger/Novak semi in 2010 Novak was hitting rocket after rocket with the forehand and towards the end of the match was winning the cross court exchanges with the mighty Federer when they were going forehand to forehand shot after shot. I hope his opposition believes that the best way to beat Novak is to go after the forehand because if they do, I think they will be in big trouble. There is one caveat, Novak does at times go through a streak where he is missing that shot, it doesn't happen too often but if Novak is hitting errors with the forehand then by all means go after that shot, but more often then not the forehand is actually more dangerous because he hits it both with heavier spin and harder.

Certainly, there isn't any joy when playing to Novak's backhand, but there is even less joy in playing to his forehand (most of the time). In my mind the best strategy for beating Novak is to use a lot of short angled slice shots, dinks, and droppers to force him to move up into the court. He has improved his volleys but like most volleyers he likes to volley on his terms, not to be drawn into the net. Also his huge western grip on the forehand makes it harder to handle the low ball. And the two handed backhand also is not as effective on the low ball as it is on the highball. The book on Djoko is to give him a steady diet of low balls with little pace force him to hit up on the ball, and then when he puts some air under then, then flatten it out to his forehand. But when you go to the forehand go flat and deep. Also as mentioned above try to draw him into net on your terms, also you better mix up your service delivery and use a lot of body serves in your mix. Rafa got caught continually trying to serve to Djoko's backhand. This is the playbook to beat Djoko, easier said than done obviously.

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Post by noleisthebest on Thu 12 May 2011, 11:05 am

And I thought I heard it all....

Nole has got a fantastic forehand, and at the moment the rest of the field just have to stand and admire the run as long as it lasts....simples! Very Happy

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Post by socal1976 on Thu 12 May 2011, 11:27 am

Exactly, Nitb, as a Nole fan you have watched him hit thousands of forehands, would you in anyway anlayze that shot as being weak? I know I wouldn't, personally I rate him as having a top ten forehand, in a tour filled with guys that can crank the forehand.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Thu 12 May 2011, 1:05 pm

I always thought the forehand was a great strength of Djokovic. Maybe a bit more inconsistent than the backhand, but a very damaging weapon. I would go more with socal's approach; Lots of short angled balls, low slices, keep him guessing, changes of pace, etc. Maybe draw him into the net a bit (not saying his volleying is weak, as he's massively improved it, but it IS one of the weaker parts of his game).

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Post by socal1976 on Thu 12 May 2011, 2:23 pm

Exactly, Mad for Chelsea, when Novak gets into a rhythm from the baseline from the baseline moving and hitting he hits the ball so hard and so heavy that even the best players find it hard to hang with him. In his heyday that is what Roger did to Novak to screw up Novak's timing. Work him with a lot knifed slice shots, and take the ball early and flatten it out when he had the opportunities to hit the winner or put him under pressure.

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Post by graf_the_greatest on Thu 12 May 2011, 9:43 pm

What I think is the most depressing thing about the Top 4 is that they all hit with either mid-Western or extreme Western forehand grips. I find it safe, high margin and therefore boring to watch. Whatever happened to the Continental or Eastern grip forehand. It's a better shot, enables you to transition into a single-handed backhand much easier and is natural for volleying. But then I guess one handed backhands and volleys are so '90's.

The only players with exciting forehands are Del Potro, Berdych and Soderling and even Berdych/Soderling don't hit it that flat all the time.

So by default Del Potro's forehand is the best.

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Post by socal1976 on Thu 12 May 2011, 11:09 pm

Well graf, the modern game has changed the new strings let you put a lot more whip on the ball. I myself use the semi western, and since I started hitting semi western I actually hit more winners as I can get better angles both on my cross court and inside out forehand. Federer still uses basically an eastern grip. The continental grip has been dead since the early 80s maybe earlier.

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Post by graf_the_greatest on Thu 12 May 2011, 11:12 pm

I think it's sad that the Eastern/Continental grip has almost vanished as there are obvious benefits of it. It also rewards those players that can hit flat, powerful strokes (which is much harder to do than the overly topspun, high percentage, low risk strokes we currently get).

Also, flatter shots tend to be faster, go over the net at low clearance and go deep into the court which is much more exciting for the viewer.

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Post by Stealth Maestro Agro Love on Thu 12 May 2011, 11:18 pm

Now I'm no expert here graf, but i'm pretty sure Federer has always played with an eastern grip. Some American chap did his research here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXcsblS3Jl4

As far as eastern grip being 'superior' is concerned it really rather depends. I'm actually one of the converted here in your case as I switched from Western to Eastern after a wrist injury, and it's done me a world of good, but one thing that's much, much more difficult from personal experience is hitting shots about shoulder height. Against a good player belting high spinning shots, you really pay for being slow to the ball; that issue simply didn't exist when I used the western grip.

Now I'm a low level player compared to our pros, (though I maintain i'm better than Dan Evans The new Djokovic weakness his forehand? 3497602689 Wink) and they'll be facing shoulder height shots whether they are slow to the ball or there bang on time. So your Western grip is going to help massively. In addition, you obviously get the much talked about extra spin which is going to help them control hard hitters and achieve angled shots the rest of us can only dream of.

The single handed backhand issue is not true either in the case of a western forehand, as you're using the same grip for your one hander, only you turn your racquet upside down! I found that very useful to be honest.

Continental grip forehands are suicide at any level, and as far as I'm aware every pro uses them for volleys and nearly all for serves, so it's by no means defunct. Smile

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Post by socal1976 on Thu 12 May 2011, 11:21 pm

Well graf, these things are matter of preference, you can still flatten out with a semiwestern. Today the players are hitting more miles per hour on the groundstrokes then they ever have before. So the pace still going up and up, but now that added spin is also a big factor. Interesting your favorite players are lendl and Graf both hit the ball very heavy for their day. Stealth, is 100 correct the continental is what you use for volleying and serving. I should have stated that the continental is dead as a groundstroke grip. Although the new slice forehand players are using in a defensive position obviously requires a continental and so does your slice backhand which is used nowadays maybe more so than in 90s.

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Post by graf_the_greatest on Thu 12 May 2011, 11:25 pm

Del Potro appears to use an Eastern grip and he seems to do rather well.

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