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Brain Game Tennis Blog

Learn tennis strategy, read analysis of pro matches, and more from the Brain Game Tennis blog. All posts are written by ATP tennis strategy coach & analyst, Craig O'Shannessy.

Sand + fuzzy balls = backhands

The courts are slow. The balls are slow. Welcome to Indian Wells in October. Daniil Medvedev said, “this court is more like clay, it is so slow, and I hate clay” after squandering a set and two-break lead against Grigor Dimitrov. Well, there you have it… Players have been complaining all tournament that it is
G’day, The last time Novak Djokovic won the US Open in 2018, I was on his coaching team along with Marian Vajda. My specific role was match strategy. Keep a finger on the pulse of Novak’s game and research the daylights out of opponents. My goal was to always know the opponent’s tendencies better than
Novak Djokovic Is A Short Ball Hunter What are your chances of out-rallying, out-hustling, and out-thinking Novak Djokovic in a baseline rally? It’s somewhere between slim and none. You may be able to win some arbitrary points here and there, but nothing to form a game plan around. Nothing that allows you to create a
Imagine winning Wimbledon… one, two, three, four, five… six times!!! Novak just powered through the 2021 Wimbledon draw for the loss of just two sets. Dominant. Controlling. Commanding. Superior. Supreme. Here are 10 keys to his tournament victory. 1: Serve & Volley = 88% Won (36/44) Novak served and volleyed nine times in the final
G’day, Steve Tignor just wrote an excellent piece at Tennis.com about Italian tennis. Specifically, it was about the sudden influx of great male players doing so well at the Roland Garros. I have been consulting with the Italian Tennis Federation since 2016 and have had a first-hand look as to why this is happening. Firstly,
Right out of the gate, it was drop shot mania on Court Philipp Chatrier. Novak Djokovic stunned Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros with raw power through the court and subtlety and panache dragging Nadal to the front of the court. It was quintessential French theatre to begin the match, with
G’day, It’s been such a pleasure to cover Roland Garros for the ATP World Tour website in recent years, breaking down key patterns of play and match metrics that matter most to winning this prestigious event. Below are links to seven match analysis stories from 2015-2020, as well as a full report of the 2014
G’day from Roma! It’s been an amazing week in Rome working with the coaching teams of Jan-Lennard Struff, Matteo Berrettini, and Lorenzo Sonego as well as the Italian Tennis Federation. Having limited crowds back at matches is amazing. The electricity in the stadiums has been sorely missed by players. They really do feed off the
G’day, Andrey Rublev’s forehand caught fire in Monte Carlo this week. He was hitting it from all compass points of the baseline, especially as a run-around forehand from the Ad court. These run-around forehands were shots that opponents were trying to get to Rublev’s backhand, but he was too quick. He was a step ahead
G’day, Let’s focus on the word “control”. Meaning = the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events. When Rafael Nadal is in full flight on a clay court, this is exactly what happens. He controls both sides of the court. His wicked forehand and rock-solid backhand heavily influence the flow
G’day, Dan Evans dismantled Novak Djokovic. That’s not my opinion. It’s Novaks. Here’s what Novak had to say post-match after losing 6-4, 7-5 in the Rd16 at the Monte Carlo Masters 1000. “Today was completely the opposite of what I felt yesterday (against Sinner),” the 33-year-old said. “Just was obviously very, very windy, tough to

2015-19: Monte Carlo Matches

G’day, It’s clay court season again so here is a little refresher from the Monte Carlo Country Club. Below are links to five recent matches as well as the full analysis from the 2016 final. Enjoy! 2019 Semi-Final: Fognini def. Nadal 6-4, 6-2 Summary The forehand broke. Nadal made 46 of 47 groundstrokes and returns
G’day! The hat was blue. The hair was red. The shirt was yellow. The raw, unadulterated talent was both unassuming and overflowing. The first time I laid eyes on Jannik Sinner was Sunday, December 3rd, 2017, at the Monte Carlo Country Club. I was there with Novak Djokovic, completing a training week to prepare for
Full Extension On The Serve It’s your turn to serve. You get into position and toss the ball and… it’s too low. It still feels like you can make it in the service box so you go ahead and hit it anyway. You might be able to save it, but the odds are that it
G’day, Traditional tennis mantra dictates that the primary serve location is to your opponent’s backhand return. ✅ Then you sprinkle in some surprise serves to the forehand. The theory is that backhand groundstrokes hurt you less than forehands (correct) and that philosophy blindly carries over to the return of serve. So we serve to the
G’day, Tonight’s Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev is shaping up as a blockbuster. Two guys in great form who are so ready to rumble. This match is probably going to come down to a point here and a point there. Those points are probably going to be break points. I have
G’day, You come for the long rallies. You will wake up after midnight to watch the spectacular lactic-acid-inducing points between baseline heavy-weights Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. You come for the cartoonish side-to-side sliding that makes these guys look like they are playing on clay instead of hard. You come for the bruising backhands and
G’day! Can Jennifer Brady upset Naomi Osaka in the final of the 2021 Australian Open? On paper, it’s a tough ask. Once Osaka has ventured beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam, she’s won 11/11 matches. Half of her six tournament victories are majors. She is match-hardened against big-hitting opponents in this tournament such as Serena
G’day, Novak Djokovic is peaking. 🏔 Just. At. The. Right. Time. 🦘🏆 After defeating Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the 2021 Australian Open, Novak said in his post-match press conference that “I feel as best as I felt so far in the tournament. Physically, mentally as well. I was hitting the
G’day, The blockbuster Australian Open semi-final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will be starting shortly. In case you hitched a ride to Mars on the Perseverance rover and missed the lead up to this match, I have got both Serena’s and Naomi’s serve location through their first five matches. This will give you something
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