Sunday, May 13, 2012

Federer Shot Locations

I guess Roger Federer won't mind playing on blue clay next year in Madrid. He beat Tomas Berdych today for the 2012 Madrid ATP 1000 title. Nice to see a non-whiner win this one.

Here is a shot location chart for Federer in set 2 vs Berdych:

The speed of 72 mph is normal for Federer from what I've heard. Note again the absence of balls in the center of the court. The depth is not consistently what I would have considered deep. He has more balls close to the lines than some other players, but the vast majority of these shots are safely away from the lines. I count roughly a dozen out of the seventy shots as close to the lines, about the same number as shots comfortably inside the service boxes and away from the sidelines. So the high quality shots equaled the low quality shots.

If I were to plot the average shot locations, I'd say they were slightly less than half way from the service line to the baseline in the front-back dimension, and about halfway between the center and singles sidelines in the side-to-side dimensions. Obviously I don't know where he aimed these shots, only where they landed. Given that it's Federer, the shots probably landed pretty close to where he aimed them!

Since you, dear reader, and I are not Federer (unless Roger stumbles across this blog and bothers to read it), where should our standard aim point be for groundstrokes? I'd suggest no deeper than halfway between the service line and the baseline (where we're now seeing 60 ft 10-and-under lines conveniently appearing on courts), and no closer than seven or eight feet from the singles sidelines.

If you want to be a bit safer, and that's what I need to do to avoid wide errors, give yourself the same nine foot margin of safety sideways that you're giving yourself between your target and the baseline. Simply divide the singles court into three nine-foot wide vertical hitting lanes and aim for the each of the two center lines.

I bet you've been aiming closer to the lines than that, haven't you? I know I have been. And I miss enough to lose plenty of points. Way more than I win by targeting slightly more aggressively.

It's fun to hit winning shots. If you want to have fun, crank it up and aim close to the lines. But don't come crying to me when some "pusher" beats you because he or she targeted more conservatively and didn't give you many free points.

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