Okay, I’m either a real optimist or just a huge Andy Murray fan but I think he is due and will win the 2012 US Open men’s singles title. The problem with my latest prediction is that future Hall of Famer Roger Federer is once again, the top player in the world and he just knocked off Murray at this year’s Wimbledon Championships. The way I see it, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have been trading places lately and it’s time for Murray to sneak in and nab his first Grand Slam title. Let’s just etch Serena Williams’ name on the 2012 US Open trophy now because she just destroyed the competition at the Olympics as she captured the coveted Gold Medal. Talk about dominance, she toyed with Maria Sharapova in the final, only losing one game!
With Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish nearing the end of their careers, it’s time to discuss who the next great American tennis stars will be in the coming years. Over the course of the last few summers, it appeared that our best rising star may be Ryan Harrison but I’d like to offer another youngster who may surge in the rankings. Our two-time Nationals Champion (Kalamazoo, Michigan) Jack Sock just may be the next rising star. Ironically his game resembles Roddick’s as he is a physically dominating tennis player with a booming serve and forehand.
As the game continues to evolve, look for the premier players to continue to hit more drop shots and topspin lobs; competitors have moved beyond the baseline and are vulnerable to the short ball. Additionally, when the player dashes quickly to fetch the drop shot, he must prepare for a well-placed lob by his opponent. Therefore it is essential to work on the overhead smash to combat this new effective strategy. In my opinion, the number one key to hitting a powerful ‘smash’ is to anticipate the lob. With so many doubles competitors hitting solid lobs (both offensive and defensive) it is essential to hit an aggressive overhead smash. If you are unable to put-away the opponent’s lob, plan on running backwards for the rest of the match and be prepared for a stiff neck after the match!
Without a doubt, one of my favorite new trends is watching the pro players slide on a hard court. Instead of hitting the brakes and setting up for a stroke, today’s players are moving through the ball and saving their bodies at the same time. The old school coaching theory stressed that players needed to come to a complete stop so they could set up and fire their groundstroke. Today, players typically rip a forehand drive and in the process, they move their back foot past their body because their momentum drives the leg forward. The most important benefit for tennis players who constantly slide is that they do not make abrupt stops or sudden jolts on the knee. I urge players of all abilities to have their coach teach them to slide on the court to help avoid nagging injuries and improve their footwork in the process.
Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing his tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.