How To Beat A Grinder In Tennis
They’re probably the single toughest opponent for anyone on the tennis court. The “Grinder” wins many a matches due to his/her speed, endurance, consistency and mental fortitude. What they lack in weaponry, they make up with fight and grit.
Now don’t get a grinder confused with a pusher. In the video above, Monfils and Simon are both striking the ball with descent racquet head speed. But not once did any player attempt to hit an outright winner. Better yet, only one ball was struck from inside the baseline. Hitting from 5-10 feet behind the baseline is common for a grinder in tennis.
When a grinder has the opportunity to attack off a weak ball, they have the ability to hit a winner or force an error. A pusher in my mind does not have the ability to be offensive, their mindset is play safe, clean tennis. Here is a link to the Tennis Warehouse Forum where there was debate on the difference between a Grinder and Pusher.
So what do you do if you come across this opponent? Here are six ways to beat a grinder.
1) Get Tight
The goal against a tennis grinder is to shorten the points whenever possible and win points at the net. Get tight to the net as well, it’s rare when a grinder will attempt a lob, they love the opportunity to hit passing shots. It you don’t get in tight, you open up their angles.
2) Pick The Correct Time To Approach The Net
If you come in too early, consider yourself done. A grinder moves well and knows when an approach shoot is hit poorly. Not only does a grinder enjoy a target (an opponent at the net who hits a poor approach shot), they love the opportunity to hit a passing shot when they are under pressure. Imagine yourself approaching the net against David Ferrer, in my mind one of the top 10 greatest grinders of all-time, he has you in his cross-hairs and will make you pay. Be selective and approach the net on the correct ball.
3) Stay Away From Too Much Pace
One thing a grinder can do better than most is utilize your pace and neutralize any offensive shots you send their way. When a grinder has to supply his own pace, he may become uncomfortable and generate unforced errors.
4) Look For Opportunities To Bring Them To The Net
The use of drop shots and short balls can be a great way to beat a grinder. Home to them is being planted at the baseline and putting in play one more ball than you do. By bringing them to the net, they immediately step out of their comfort zone. They’d rather be swimming with sharks than have to move in towards the net.
5) Angles, Angles And More Angles
When you do get to the net, be mindful of hitting angles and touch shots. Anything you hit deep and to the corners, a grinder will run down. They move very well laterally but struggle when they have to move forward and off of the court.
6) Don’t Feel The Need For Speed
Not only do you want to avoid providing too much pace on your ground strokes, avoid over-hitting your serves. It is almost next to impossible to hit an ace on a grinder. Once again, they will take your pace and block it back with precision and depth. Changing up your pace and placement may produce better results for you.