Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Best Shots In Tennis - Part 5

If there’s one shot that’s earned the wrath of the purists so often that we’ve actually become convinced that using it amounts to moral bankruptcy, it is the dropshot. That little artful piece of trickery, that deceitful sleight of hand employed only by the crooked of mind – surely no honorable player should stoop so low as to try and cheat his opponent out of a point by forcing him to sprint to the net? Unfortunately for the traditionalists, the players of this generation didn’t get the memo detailing all the evils of the dropshot, so they’ve pretty much gone in the opposite direction – it’s come to a stage where no young player can rest in peace unless he uses the dropshot at least, oh, a hundred times every match. And who can blame them if the strategy proves effective? It’s all about the percentages – if you can make the shot work more often than not, it’s worth taking the risk, right? Continuing with our series on the best shots in tennis today, we take a look at the dropshot.

Men – The Contenders: Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Jurgen Melzer, Ernests Gulbis, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet

You know the dropshot is spreading its ultra-modern tentacles and firmly establishing itself in the psyche of tennis players all over the world when that classicist of classicists, Roger Federer, actually hires a coach just to learn this one shot. The rumors were never confirmed, but there were more than a few whispers when Federer signed on Jose Higueras to be his coach back in 2008 that the assignment came with a set of clear instructions, foremost among which was – teach me the forehand dropshot. Federer hadn’t yet conquered Roland Garros back then, if you remember, and the dropshot is as good a way as any to make a breakthrough on clay; the farther behind the baseline a player retreats, the more effective a dropshot can be. If you’re wondering why Federer went 10 whole years on the pro circuit before even attempting to learn what has come to be one of the most important shots of the modern game, I should remind you of Federer’s stubborn sense of traditionalism – he actually thought playing a dropshot was a dishonorable way of trying to win a point. Thankfully he’s rid himself of that kind of archaic thinking, and today his forehand dropshot can rival his backhand dropshot (which has always been very good) for its quality and disguise. Still, Federer doesn’t always choose the best moment to use the dropshot; moreover, when the opponent manages to get the ball back, Federer’s follow-up shot can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.


Jurgen Melzer has been using the dropshot, and using it effectively, for close to a decade now, and his recent run of success has brought this highly underrated weapon into the limelight. Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils bring a certain flair to the dropshot that only a Frenchman can, while Ernests Gulbis can legitimately rank the dropshot as one of the very few shots he doesn’t routinely send ten feet long or tamely into the net. Novak Djokovic can make you drop your jaw in awe when he carves up a perfectly disguised dropshot that leaves his opponent completely flummoxed, but he can also make you tear your hair in frustration when he resorts to the dropshot as a cop-out and ends up sending it to the bottom of the net. That leaves us with Andy Murray, who not only has the uncanny ability to choose exactly the right moment to hit a dropshot, but can also follow up the dropper with the highest quality lob or the most pinpoint passing shot that makes viewers feel that he’s actually toying with his opponent. Of course, that satisfied smirk that sometimes crosses Murray’s face after one of his successful attempts at outfoxing the opponent through his deadly dropshot-lob combination only adds to the whole ‘I-can-run-rings-around-your-game-with-my-court-smarts’ impression that he seems to want to bring to the court.

Winner: Andy Murray

Courtesy: SportsKeeda

No comments:

Post a Comment