The open court is an illusion… 👀
The ball is going to take approximately 1.5 seconds to arrive at the baseline in the big, vacant “open court” on the other side of the net. Your opponent has already turned their hips and is moving in that direction, and in 1.5 seconds will be making contact with the ball with ease.
It looked open when you hit it. It was never open.
The two videos in this blog focus on the 2019 Wimbledon semi-final between Novak and Roberto Bautista Agut. The first Wimbledon Channel video is my pre-match analysis, and the second is commentating with Rob Walker on Centre Court in the first set of the match.
From analyzing thousands of matches over the past couple of decades, one thing stood out to me early on. The better you are as a player, the more you will play behind your opponent and wrong-foot them over chasing the illusion of the open court. Yes – the Top 10 play behind more than anyone else.
Lots to learn for your own game in these two videos.
2019 Wimbledon Channel: Djokovic v Bautista Agut Preview
The video compares the game styles of Novak & Roberto. Below are the focus points.
0:38: What to look for in Bautista Agut’s strategy. To the semi-final, Roberto has hit 88 forehand winners and 20 backhand winners. He is a forehand dominated player.
1:20: Novak has 54 forehand winners and 31 backhand winners. Novak’s big weapon is redirecting down the line.
1:40: Roberto Bautista Agut run-around forehand technique.
3:39: Novak’s favorite patterns.
5:33: Playing behind. This is a perfect example of when to do it.
Centre Court Set 1 Commentary
The following video is Rob Walker and I commentating on Centre Court during Set 1. Novak would win the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Centre Court Commentary – Rob Walker & Craig O’Shannessy
2019 Semi-Final Set 1: Novak vs. Roberto
1:04: Novak came out a lot more aggressive in this match. Attacking down the line & attacking the forehand out wide.
2:45: The start of 2nd sets – the energy level can drop in a match. Players tend to go away, and Roberto does not.
4:40: Novak has won 54/55 service games when leading 15-0. Players win approx. 95% of their service games after going ahead 15-0.
5:48: The Bautista Agut game plan of backhands setting up forehands.
7:10: Roberto is only the 6th Spanish male to make a Wimbledon semi-final.
8:15 The importance of the start of the 2nd set.
10:25 Novak mixing strategies, especially with his slice backhand.
11:50 Novak post-match interview.
All the very best,