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.

Winning a little helps you win a little more. All points in tennis are not created equal. Some actually mean very little to the final outcome. They are just building blocks. You need a minimum of 24 points to win a set, with some being a lot more influential to the final outcome than others.
Is 2017 Rafa’s year… already? The stats are overwhelmingly in his favor. Firstly, let’s understand the two separate rankings in men’s tennis. Singles Ranking (best 18 tournament results from past 52 weeks). Emirates ATP Race To London: year-end No. 1 (only 2017 results). What we are focused on here is the second one – the
Can Stan possibly defeat Rafa today? Stan beat Novak here in 2015. There’s your huckleberry… G’day from Roland Garros! In order to “flash forward” to figure out who is going to win today’s Roland Garros men’s final between Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, we need to “flash back” to remind ourselves what is possible for Stan
It’s a sledge hammer / French = marteau de forgery G’day from Roland Garros! Rafael Nadal is blasting his way through the 2017 French Open draw. He is now in the semi finals, and will battle No. 6 seed, Dominic Thiem, for a spot in the final. The beating heart of Nadal’s dominance is his
Don’t Stand In The Wrong Spot. Rafa is a lefty. He likes to serve wide in the Ad. “Like” is an understatement… G’day from Roland Garros 🙂 Rafael Nadal defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Court Suzanne Lenglen yesterday. Roberto is currently No. 18 in the world – with a career high of
The Train Is Rolling. Rafael Nadal is an absolute joke right now… G’day from Roland Garros! I want to share with you what it was like watching Rafael Nadal from five rows back on Court Suzanne Lenglen today. Nadal defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the 4th round – like he wasn’t even

TIME is the enemy…

There are EIGHT ways to force an error. Time is one of them. G’day from Paris! It’s been a magnificent first week at Roland Garros watching matches and researching the game. I was just looking through the draw and saw that if Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem both win in the 4th round, then they
Roland Garros 2017 Sunday Fun Day! G’day from Paris, The French Open is the only Grand Slam to start main draw matches on a Sunday. It provides the opportunity for people to come on the weekend and see the best players in the world. Good idea all round! There were 16 matches scheduled in both
Novak Djokovic hits a forehand playing percentage tennis
So, you want to be #1 in tennis? Here’s your formula… Hint: It has to do with percentage tennis as you’ve never heard before. I like to reverse-engineer tennis coaching. I like to start at the end to know all that I can about the destination I am trying to get to. I like to start
We play a “front runner” sport. G’day from Munich, We play a sport that is so much easier to succeed at when you get ahead on the scoreboard. Coming from behind is tough. Really tough. For example,  nobody in the history of tennis has a winning record after losing the 1st set. Below are several
Athleticism Perfonified Dominic Thiem battles Rafael Nadal in the Barcelona final later this afternoon. Rafa is going to look to hit as many forehands as possible, and target the majority of them straight at Dominic Thiem’s backhand. Rafa will be looking to get the ball up high, and push Thiem back as far as possible.
They look the same, they smell the same… G’day from Austin, On the surface, there are a lot of similarities between the score lines of 30-30 and deuce. Both point scores see the players even in the game, and both point scores are just two points from the end of the game. I just did
Own your 2nd serve. The top 10 players in the world do things just a little bit better than those chasing them up the rankings. But what exactly do they do better? I recently wrote an Infosys Beyond The Numbers story on the ATP website focused on what the Top 10 do so well. It
It’s about today. But it’s also all about tomorrow. G’day from Austin, I just got this email from Eric, and I let him know I was going to respond in my Blog so others in similar situations could benefit from the information. OK, so here’s Eric’s email… I want to make sure I directly address

Knocking Down The Door

G’day from Austin! Trends in tennis are similar to waves in the ocean. The tide can go out for a while, often years, but can change directions without you realizing it. The tide changes in two main ways: Players evolve new tactics to defeat opponents ahead of them. New players arrive on the scene. The tide
Copy This. Roger That. Roger defeated Rafa for the FOURTH straight time yesterday. There is so much to learn from this match, and how Roger has once again taken the tennis world by storm. Let’s focus on just ONE thing that contributed heavily to the victory – one thing you can copy and paste into

2nd Serves: The New Rules

Your second serve is a beast. You just didn’t know it… G’day from Miami! Last night Nick Kyrgios defeated David Goffin 7-5(5), 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals. Kyrgios fell behind 0-2 in the tiebreaker after he hit a backhand return in the net, and Goffin ripped a backhand winner down the line. Serving at

Nadal v Mahut Preview

Look though this lens.  #7 Rafal Nadal vs. #55 Nicholas Mahut (1 win each) G’day from Miami, I really like this match-up because of the contrasting styles. Seeing a “north-south” player like Mahut battle an “east-west” superstar like Nadal is just flat-out fun! I want to educate your eye for this match – have you
The Excitement Machine. Roger Federer def. Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-4 I just had the absolute pleasure of watching Roger & Juan Martin from three rows back on the baseline in Miami this afternoon. What was it like? Here’s five things that really stood out to me. When you sit on the side of
Rafael Nadal wins 0-6, 6-2, 6-3. Lose the 1st Set. Win the match. No problem. Rafael Nadal had a career 13-1 record against Phillip Kohlschreiber coming into their Miami Round of 32 match on the weekend. He had only lost one set in their past six matches. Nadal had a solid warm-up for the match.