If you spend any time watching the cream of the tennis crop, you’ll be aware that certain players have developed signature moves, or “calling cards”, to gain an advantage over the opposition.
From Andy Murray’s pitch-perfect lob to Justine Henin’s finessed volley and Ernests Gulbis’ “soaring eagle” forehand, in our weekly signature moves series we’ll run through the characteristic shots of players past and present – and explain how to replicate them on court.
The Andy Murray lob
The World No.1, we’ll never get tired of writing that at Tennis Talent, is famed for his ability to instantly turn defence into attack. He regularly seems off-balance and under pressure on the baseline before pulling off an unreachable lob with pinpoint accuracy. Consider Exhibit A, taken from the 2016 Wimbledon semi-final against Tomáš Berdych:
When Berdych, perhaps ill-advisedly, comes to the net to attack, Murray still has to run from behind the baseline to return the drop shot. However, he does so calmly and adjusts the racket as he moves. The lob itself is a mere badminton-style flick of the wrist that sends the ball sailing over a browbeaten Berdych. Cue wild applause.
Try it yourself
The Murray lob can be boiled down to two key elements: awareness and adjustment.
The former requires keeping an eye on your opponent’s body language (are they getting ready to approach the net?) and anticipating the space opening up behind them – a lob to a corner is far more difficult to return than one straight down the middle.
The latter involves adjusting both your body and racket in enough time to make the shot. Watch as Murray runs in from the baseline: his racket is open and ready to hit the lob even when he’s still two metres away from the ball. Preparation is vital, but you should also be wary of telegraphing your intentions: you don’t want to leave yourself open to a smash.
Once you’ve reached the ball, drop the racket low and hit straight along the back of the ball with the strings at a steep angle. This will add the large amount of aggressive topspin necessary to carry the ball a couple of metres over the opposition’s head, before bringing it down well inside the court.
As tempting as it may be, don’t stop and watch to see if your lob makes it – get back into position (usually the centre of the court) as quickly as possible and be ready for a return.
Now read about how to pull off a Rafael Nadal “banana shot”
Image: Marianne Bevis on Flickr