Five Ways To Impose Your Game Onto Your Opponents

Players are always looking for tennis tactics to beat their opponents. There are so many different tangibles that can change the complexion of a match. In this 5 part series, USPTA Elite Professional John Frausto digs into modern tactics that will take your game to the next level.
Tactic #1 – Buy time by standing further behind the baseline
It’s a fact that professionals like Murray, Nadal and Gasquet are buying themselves more time by playing tennis from further behind the baseline. They are doing this for a few reasons.
1) The modern game has evolved into a power game
The tennis balls are being hit with such heavy topspin and pace that players are standing further back to get a better look at the ball. Imagine in baseball if a batter had the opportunity to back up an extra 4-6 feet to get a better look at a pitch. It can’t happen in baseball but it does happen in tennis. Look at this photo of Rafael Nadal. He is clearly 10-12 feet behind the baseline and off the court. Because of his speed, he can run down any shot and put it back into play. I call this neutralizing a shot. In this photo he is in a defensive position but their is no doubt in his mind that he will get the ball back in play. What sets Nadal, Federer, Djokovic from their peers is that not only can they neutralize from a defensive position but they can also be offensive from a defensive position.
2) Players are able to take a full cut at the ball
Because of the increased court area and more time, players are able to take a full swing at the ball. This increased racquet head speed also equates to more topspin which brings the ball back into the court. Richard Gasquet is a perfect example of this. He is currently a top 25 player who employs this tennis tactic into his game. Look at this photo of him and his distance in relation to the baseline. He has obviously done a nice job getting balanced, loading and distributing his power from the ground up through the ball. Now, this is not to say that you wouldn’t want to move into the court and take a ball early or on the rise if the opportunity presented itself. I do recommend that but you may not get that “attacking” ball until the rally is well established. You must be patient and have good physical endurance in order to execute this style.
3) Your opponent will begin to make more mistakes
With more time and confidence, you will begin to keep the ball in play longer and eventually frustrate your opponent. Here are three common errors your opponents may start to make due to your NEW tennis tactic. One, they may start to hit closer to the lines. With less margin of error, they will hit more balls out. Two, they may attempt to hit the ball harder which will cause them to tire quicker and make more mistakes. Three, they will try and make shots that they aren’t comfortable with or don’t have. One example may be coming to the net to shorten the points. Another may be drop shots to lure you into the net. And last but not least will be to hit out right winners.
Look at Andy Murray and his position on the court. He is definitely in a defensive position and behind the baseline. He has been doing a lot of work in the gym and on the track so for him to neutralize this shot and get back into the point is not a problem. He enjoys the grinding knowing that eventually he will wear down his opponent(s) and win the the match. Playing this Grinding style takes a lot of effort and a strong mindset. You have to go into the match knowing that it will be a battle and nothing will come easy.
These are just a few examples of what buying more time has done for players on the tour. I would like your feedback on this tactic. Please feel free to email me. Please look for the second tactic in this 5 part series, “Height Equals Depth In Tennis.”