Tricks of the trade:
Trick shots are always a welcome site when watching a tennis match. Throughout the course of a season, many behind the back, flick cross-court, and aerobatic dive volleys are performed.
During the recent US Open semifinal between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the Swiss maestro performed what he claimed was "the best shot of his life," against his Serbian opponent.
The shot in question took place at 0-30, 5-6, Djokovic serving. After a cat-and-mouse exchange ensued between the two, Federer was forced to run back and chase down the Serb's lob. Choosing a "tweener" as his shot of choice, Federer struck the miraculous tweener from his forehand corner, in-side-out, drawing immediate disbelief from all who were in attendance.
As great as Federer's shot was—it will be remembered for many years for its magnitude, quality, and viewership—another shot struck in similar fashion by Frenchman Michael Llodra, can not only lay claim the greatest shot ever, but perhaps eclipse Federer's brilliance.
Playing on a side court during the 2007 Indian Wells Masters 1000, Llodra was up against the stern challenge of German Tommy Haas.
The match itself was nothing to write home about, Haas was in complete control, leading 6-4, 3-1.
With Llodra serving at love in his service game, the Frenchman produced his own version of a "tweener," to the delight of the intimate setting.
Llodra's speed, accuracy, and athleticism not only rivaled Federer's tweener, but in many ways surpassed it.
Let's now take a look at both shots and decide once and for all who holds the grandest tweener.
Observing Llodra's approach to his tweener, it's evident that his pace of shot was much harder than Federer's. Although the Swiss is better known for his precision over velocity—when executing a shot of this nature, velocity is key.
Speed of shot goes to Llodra.
Competitiveness of the point:
The nature of competition is always evaluated. From the importance of the point, to the intensity of the point—factors which indicate the quality of an exchange stem from body language to explosiveness.
The importance of the moment definitely goes to Federer's match for being a US Open semifinal. Setting up match-point with the "shot of his life," gives Federer the edge in this category.
However, when looking at the competitiveness of the point, it is clear that Llodra and Haas were much more intense throughout their exchange, moving in full flight until Llodra prepared to riffle his tweener. Haas' belief remained steadfast, even when he realized what Llodra had achieved.
Djokovic on the other hand remained left flat-footed in his tracks, admiring Federer as he traced down his lob. He barely moved as the Swiss' shot whizzed by his ear.
All in all, though, the "moment" of the shot goes to Federer, Llodra definitely gets the nod for not only having to hustle harder to execute his shot, but also having his opponent engaged throughout the point.
This category draws a tie.
Crowd, opponent, and player reaction:
First impressions count.
Any master piece, whether it's a painting, movie, or in this case a tweener, are remembered for their first impressions.
In this case, the reaction of each tweener is similar but vastly different.
The crowd certainly has a lot to do with tennis matches and a well deserved round of applause was granted during each of these moments.
Federer's shot was acknowledged by a gasp of disbelief, while Llorda's shot received an instant standing ovation.
For arguments sake, let's call this one a tie.
The reactions of Djokovic and Haas also played a big part in the ranking of each tweener.
Although both men exuded a rye smile after the fact, it was Haas' ear-to-ear grin that was more celebratory of his opponent’s brilliance. Djokoivc's tired and "get me off of the court look," didn't do justice to what Federer had achieved.
In terms of playing to the crowd, Federer's instant enthralling scream of excitement wins out.
Llodra achieved more hang-time during the actual execution of his tweener, but Federer's thrust of enjoyment after he saw his winner fall in took center stage.
Llodra's hang-dog stoic reaction, if anything, took away from what he had just accomplished.
All in all, you may draw your own conclusion from these two mouth-watering tweeners—both provided a fun-filled moment for all to behold.
The categories constructed have revealed that Llodra squeaks by Federer by a score of 4 to 3.
Federer's shot will surely be remembered for a greater period of time, but Llorda's achievement continues the debate that memories can be created outside of center court.