It’s almost unbelievable, how Dominic in so young age manages to be at the same time self-critical and confident. He expects from himself performance not only wins. He knows his capabilities. But he is more interested in what he cannot (yet).
At Wimbledon in July 2015, some weeks before his first title in Nizza, after the second-round loss to Verdasco he told me: “Günter, this pisses me off. I know, that there is a lot more in me. I don’t belong in the second round, I do belong into second week.”
Next days we were practicing how to deal with dropshots of the opponent. I have dropped balls one after other over the net and he was required to jump in and get the ball over the net from the wrist.
We have worked on volleys. He needed to stay on half court , his butt deep at his heels, the racket high in front of his face, forehand volleys, backhand volleys drills, smashes – over hours.
Second ATP title in Umag in July.
Third ATP title in Gstaad one week later.
But the rankings position didn’t change anything in our training, our direction and orientation. To win next match was less important than his improvement as a player.
He needed to serve better, land more fast, flat first serves into the court. So we were practicing. For the second serve we have elaborated a variant, which attracted my attention for the first time in middle 90-ties: on the ad court he took position not at the middle of the baseline but some steps wider out. To be able to use the wider angle with an extreme kick serve, pushing the opponent some meters wider out – opening the court for a winner.
Difficult. We have practices over weeks, months and years until I started to work. Right now is this a kind of serve, which allowed him to win half a dozen matches in spring 2016.
Dominic was just a Top20 player as he has learned a new return – blocking the serve of the opponent deep inside the baseline. The role model was Boris (Becker – PRF), this return against Ivanisevic, which allowed him to win the Masters title in 1992. If Ernests was not available for the training , I did let a weaker professional stay 2-3 meters inside the baseline and serve from here with all power. Dominic was required to stay 2-3 meters inside the baseline too. On the beginning there was often no reaction from him. But he learned slowly to read the ball toss – professionals can read from the toss of the opponent: the direction and spin of the serve – his ese turned quicker, the reaction time shorter, his instincts sharper.
In the first tournament of 2016 Dominic returned against Australian Big Server James Duckworth some first serves, taking balls 1-2 meters inside the court. Also, when scoreline was tricky.
On the grass tournament in Stuttgart later this year he was able to defeat Roger Federer just with this return.
The week with Dominic I liked the most so far was the week in Nizza in spring 2016, one week before Roland Garros. We both and nobody more, every morning at 9.00 on court. 2-3 hours training, focused on things, we have aiming for: clipped volley, high smash, direct shot to the backhand. The volley skills – you will not believe me now, but this was just like this, we have practices like 5 years old having the racket in hand for the first time. Dominic threw the ball himself with left hand.
Here you go to the last part 11
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