Nepali Times
Game Point


After watching two gruelling weeks of action at the French Open, aren't you ready to get going on the tennis courts? No surprise that Rafael Nadal and Justin Henin were crowned champions-they both have a great balance of offence and defence but what separated them from the pack at Roland Garros was their guts and heart. There was plenty of great tennis and for us tennis junkies a great deal to learn. Here are four singles strategies to glean from the stars.

Mix it up like Roger Federer
Roger has the ability to hit a bullet past his opponent as well as change pace and slow things down. He knows the importance of keeping his adversary off balance. Watch him use backspin to keep the ball low. And when his opponent starts feeling comfortable and in a groove in baseline rallies, he is quick to apply pressure by coming in on his serve and approach shots. Federer also does not hesitate to use the drop shot to lure his opponent into unfamiliar territory. Find such ways to break the rhythm of your foe and you will be off to a flying start every time.

Develop an all-court game like Amelie Mauresemo
One of the reasons Mauresemo finally broke through in a major at this year's Australian Open was because of her belief in her all-court game. The women's tour is largely one-dimensional, with most players simply bashing the ball from the baseline as hard as they can. But Amelie has that rare ability to serve and volley, come in off an approach shot, slice, loop or bang the ball off the backhand side or use the drop shot when she is in an offensive position. Avoid being predictable like Mauresemo and you are going to frustrate your challenger set after set.

Have a major weapon like Rafael Nadal
What makes Nadal so tough is his ability to dictate the pace of a match with his forehand. He has great preparation and by that I mean early shoulder turn and little adjusting steps. He coils his shoulders and hips and uses his strong lower body to generate tremendous racket head speed. The ball explodes off his strings. His heavy topspin shots give him the ability to fire from all angles of the court to keep his challengers on the run. Nadal has also learnt to take the ball early with his forehand, which creates havoc for his rivals who are left with very little reaction time. Build a forehand like Nadal's and you will have a go-to shot that will spearhead your offensive game. You will definitely do a lot less running around.

Rely on patterns like Martina Hingis
Martina Hingis is regarded as the smartest strategist to have ever played the women's game. The thing that jumps out watching her is how she deploys her inside-out forehand to attack her opponent's weaker backhand as well as move them around the court. When the ball finally arrives on her backhand, she cracks a devastating down the line shot that is wide open every time. This is Martina's signature pattern, which she uses successfully time and again, even under pressure. Establish such a pattern and you will be on automatic pilot when the big points are there for the taking.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)