I have just watched a few Dominic’s matches played on hard court and I’m impressed by both shots, which are told to be two most difficult and most important shots in tennis. Especially in tennis of today, with modern racket technology, making the game very, very fast and most of rallies short.
Both shots are even more important on hard courts, where the game is faster than on clay.
I have analyzed Dominic’s serve before in this article so I will focus now on return. Only to recall shortly: Dominic’s first serve is flat, the toss short, making the serve faster for the opponent, independently from the ball speed. You may know this kind of serve as a trademark of Dolgopolov, who’s serving from extremely short toss. Dominic’s first serve is mostly about 130-140 mph, one of fastest on tour. Another kind of first serve, used only on ad court, is extreme kick serve out wide. Even with relatively low first serve % those landing on service field of the court are mostly winner candidates – some are aces, some are nonreturnable, others can be finished with volley at the first shot after serve.
Now how is Dominic’s return? Another big weapon. Dominic plays almost never a passive return simply to bring the ball back over the net. This is why his return points are in some reasonable percentage netted or missing the court, thus ending with the point for the opponent. Is this bad? Of course not, the opposite is true. If opponent’s serve is too good to make chances in the rally even with a return, it’s a wrong idea to hit a passive return, ending mostly with point’s loss but after some unnecessary work.
Dominic uses two kinds of aggressive returns. “Older” is the blocking return, with the service ball hit 1-2 meters inside the baseline. The precise direction and placement is hardly possible with this kind of return and the main advantage is to reduce the server’s time to prepare for the first shot after serve. If the timing is very good (partly matter of luck), it can be a return-winner. If it is not, still the server have just lost his potential advantage to be serving. Positions in the rally are leveled and the rally continues just like nobody had served. Good point for an aggressive baseliner like Dominic.
Another kind of aggressive return is what I call SRBD. It’s described in the short linked article (click SRBD). This return is not that fast as the blocking return but gives Dominic the possibility to jump into the ball and perform more precise preparation for a heavy topspin, making the return not less aggressive than the blocking return.
Somehow both returns are close to Federer’s SABR, but Fed is recently not fast enough to make it an effective tool. Also some risk for overloading the wrist is included.
Serve&Volley must wait, but Serve&Return is there. One could wonder, why is Dominic not playing Serve&Volley after sich a fast first serve. Well – to play serve&volley you need more time to come to the net and cover the court well, so not to be passed easily. Unnecessary risk, because if the serve was good, the server mostly wins the point. If the serve was not so good as expected, he has not enough time to come to a good position for a volley. Most good Serve&Volleyers (like Mischa Zverev) use kick serve or wide out serve to gain time to come to the net and have a chance for a winning or win-preparing volley. Moreover, Dominic’s volley is still not on the top level, like his serve and return is. But Dominic brings every season something new or strongly improved, so maybe we will see Dominic serve&volleying just 2018, especially on clay?
If you can, watch a replay of Dominic’s match against Mischa Zverev in 3rd round of Indian Wells Masters. A match won by Serve&Return.
And Indian Wells was maybe Dominic’s best hard court tournament 2017. Lost QF to Wawrinka by a hair.
If videos don’t start, please reload the page 1x or 2x. Maybe they are too many for one page.
SERVE WIDE OUT WITH KICK
BACKHAND CROSS COURT PASSING SHOT
SO MANY FOREHANDS YOU NEED TO BREAK RAFA
THIEM WINS MATCHES WITH FOREHAND (BRESNIK)
SOMETIMES IT MUST BE THE BACKHAND KILLER
FOLLOWED BY FOREHAND KILLER
BLOCK RETURN PREPARING FOR WINNER
KILLER MIX FOR MATCH WIN
SWINGING RETURN (SRBD)
SWINGING RETURN + ” KILLER BACKHANDS
Just found an interesting article about some aspect of return, where Dominic is leading the ATP Tour field.
If’s an statistical analyze from Craig O’Shanessy. I don’t like analyzes founded on numbers only, but his are always very well founded and you can rely on “numbers”, while you can still add some qualitative factors to your own analyze.
Uppdated 23.03.2018, 09:09
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