Ha! Ha! Ha!
Serve and volley?
Ha!Ha! Ha! Serve and volley is dead!
Net play? Ha!Ha!Ha!Are you nuts?
A woman coach? Amelie Mauresmo? Ha! Ha! Ha! You must be crazy!
These are the kinds of barbs , taunts, scorn and scathing attack you would imagine that Michaël Llodra endured when he decided to seek coaching from his compatriot Mauresmo.
Changing your game plan is never easy. Remolding and remodeling it is even harder, especially late in your career. The trick lies in not changing a lot of stuff, just a few things.
Llodra works some magic
Llodra is no spring chicken. The 30-year-old has been around for eleven long years. He turned pro in 1999.
Pete Sampras fleshed out the serve and volley approach to impel his way to fourteen Grand Slam titles.
But since then its been a massacre of this archetype at the rackets of the back court specialists. Their ability to strike the ball clean and hard from the back of the court make the adventurous think twice before embarking on the ‘serve and glide into the court’ art form Sampras patented.
But for three straight sets on Wednesday, the 1st of September, 2010, Michaël Llodra illumined that if you put on your thinking cap you can make the most powerful opponent seem positively flat-footed.
Llodra’s gambit - sticking to his strengths - paid off big time!
Berdych had no comeback to Llodra’s artistry and court craft. His inability to decode the Frenchman’s wiles had him packing his bags way too early in the tournament.
Tomas had this to say about the match: “We played three times, four times from the baseline, that’s it.I had no chance to play my tennis. That’s just well done for him.”
Llodra won sixty serve and volley points. This was out of a total of 101 points won. A remarkable sixty percent. Net approaches won = 48 of 75 = 64 percent. He was rapacious and predatory at the net.
Volleying it out
Serve and volley is an offensive ploy; slugging it out from the baseline is essentially defensive.
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the aggressive quad dance provided you can execute it well.
You curve the ball into the body to cramp your foe or spit it wide so that your opponent has to stretch to get to the ball. You follow up the serve by moving into the half-court and wait for the floated ball. The return is ruthlessly dispatched to the nether regions of the court or killed at the net with a deftly executed drop shot.
It is a perfect ruse to allow you some rest and recuperation in between games. Grinding away at long rallies is more suited to the younger, fitter players; it is hard on the knees for the older guns.Besides, there’s nothing like the sheer exhilaration and joy of being able to kill off your opponent’s shot at glory from mid-court or at the net.
Shortening the points also frustrates your opponent.
The only real counter attack your opponent can effect is to try for the low percentage passing shots on either side or try to drop the ball at your feet. Lobbing is for the truly venturesome.
Closing in on the mid-court lacing reduces the angles and allows one to take the ball early. This simultaneously cuts down your adversary’s reaction time.
But it has to be executed to perfection else you could be left stranded at the net watching the green spheroid whiz past. Playing doubles is a surefire way to improve your game on the half-court.
Sinking a titan
Llodra is a doubles specialist.And his game plan mid-court was near flawless in its execution.
It helped that the Tomas Berdych who showed up was not the Wimbledon buccaneer but his older inconsistent walking dead man shadow.
The Frenchman’s serve and volley game seeks to emulate his idol - that elegant Swede, Stefan Edberg. Is it any wonder that he berged, submerged and bagged a Berdych? A Tomas Berdych to go , please!
Llodra may well be shown the door in the second round when he takes on Victor Hanescu but for one magical afternoon, he showed how attack is often less taxing than defense and even more ethereal.