Playing different opponents in Singapore

It is always important for players to develop their own game and playing style, no matter how much they may then have to adapt this to suit different conditions.

As your game matures you should be able to adapt it without losing your own identity as a player. Junior players may either be too cautious or will hit every ball like a bullet.

Both extremes are bad  –  the cautious player must develop his ability to attack when the opportunity presents itself, and the hard-hitter must still move about quickly and attack the ball. 

But must moderate the attack with consistency and not make too many unforced errors.

Once you have developed your own game, you are then in a position to adapt this to suit the different opponents you may play against.

Rafael Nadal is a very good example of a specialist clay-courter who adapts his game and style to make it work on hard courts and on grass  –  the ultimate test of versatility!

Playing a strong opponent

If you know your opponent’s game is stronger all-round than yours, resist the temptation to have a crack at everything, but settle down to play your own game first.

As the match progresses and you get more used to the faster pace, and the heavier ball, you may find you can raise your speed of play without unforced errors.

Playing a weak opponent

The main danger when playing a weak opponent is that you may subconsciously drop your game to the same low level. Always apply pressure against a weak player by playing slightly faster than he can and maintaining your concentration.

At the same time treat your opponent with respect, but also beat him by the best score you can  –  if that means two bagels so be it  –  it’s a competitive sport.

Playing an equal opponent

Playing against someone of the same standard will require strong concentration if you are to play your own game according to the tactics upon which you decide.

If your opponent is of a similar standard, yet always wins when you play, do not be over-concerned. Keep developing your own game according to the strategies you are practising and use a different tactical approach each time you meet.

Playing a negative opponent

This type of player, who concentrates on retrieving every ball you play, is a very difficult opponent to beat. Pressurize this type from the net whenever you can and, when rallying from the baseline, play the drop shot and lob.

Move the player around and take him out of his comfort zone. Usually this means playing short angled balls which bring him into mid-court where it is easy to pass him.

The retriever has no armoury with which to hurt you, so if you are patient and do not try to finish the point too quickly, you should win.

A negative player will hit shots that lack speed, but do not try to play your returns too hard, just hard enough to keep your opponent running.

Playing left-handers

As soon as you realize your opponent is left-handed you will have to change your general approach.

Instead of attacking the left court more than the right and facing a defensive backhand from that side, you will now probably have to deal with a topspin drive, hit either crosscourt or down-the-line from your opponent’s left court.

Your opponent’s forehand will be a particular danger and your main tactical ploy should be to hit the ball to his backhand, which will probably be his main weakness.

When playing from the backcourt hit your forehand crosscourt and your backhand down the line consistently. Adopt the general tactic of serving balls wide to his backhand from the right court and down the centre to his backhand from the left court.

Use your slice serve, using the swerve and low bounce to swing the ball away.

Countering service spin

If your left-handed opponent slice serves to your forehand from the right court, the approaching ball will be travelling with sidespin, so aim your return more towards the centre of the court.

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