French Open 2013 – Day 3

Consolation semis. Was up against my friend but latest Nemesis from two weeks ago, Peter Tatschl (AUT).
My plan was to focus on strong serves to his backhand and relaxed forehands with spin to the back of the court, adding a determined forehand slice whenever a looser return turned up.

It started OK, me having the oppportunity to go 2-0, but my problems started early…

I wish someone would have alerted me of what I was (not) doing. We had some very close games with many advantages points my way (especially at 2-3), but I failed to deliver.Lost the first set 2-6.. 😦

In the second set,  I started being more agressive with the slices, with some excellent points with ”swift killer points” in his serve, as I also moved better in order to receive more on my forehand.

I had a really great game (winning with a strong serve and slice killers with no point lost) at 1-5 to 2-5, and saved a lovely match point just afterwards.
After the game sadly ended (2-6, 2-6), my coach’s simple question, made it all clear to me, what had been at fault all along. He asked: ”Why did you play so aggressively, with serve and volley? No one in wheelchair tennis can get away with that in the long run. You leave too many options for your opponent.”

Of course…I had been to eager to kill off the points, being afraid of his strong lefthanded forehand. But in doing so I had not focused going back, circulating behind the baseline to regain momentum, and to give myself some time, to approach towards his strong shots with speed in a relaxed way on the second bounce (which is allowed in wheelchair tennis).

Silly me, rookie mistakes…Sitting there by the service line realizing my return was to ”nice”, and the sudden feeling ”Darn it, now what?”, just before you get passed by a well placed forehand.

Looking at the world no. 1 Shingo Kunieda yesterday, I should have put to practise ”Always go back to 5 feet behind the middle of the baseline, and never stop moving”. Obviously way easier in theory…

Go home and do your homework: Get snatchy serves, and create a comfort zone behind the baseline to enable relaxed approaches at all times. Don’t overdo it…

As if I didn’t know this already…But practise makes perfect…

Merci Paris.

All for now, over & out.


French Open 2013 – Day 2

Today, I started with the doubles, playing alongside Manuel Chevalier (FRA). He’s not that agile, sadly, meaning I had to try to adapt to a new way of playing, considering every ball in case Chevalier was out-of-place against the agile Israelees Weinberg/Ben Uriel. I tried to focus my strokes towards Ben Uriel (being the less experienced), but the communication misses we made were even tougher. Too often did we run in to each other, me not knowing whether Chevalier would make the shot. My focus could not stay on my game. A new situation for me in doubles.0-6, 1-6(?). A lesson to learn was however, that Weinberg’s sliced left-handed serves and his high forehand spins aren’t that strong nor complicated.

In the consolation I was up against said Chevalier. A bit tough to start with, as I placed too many shots in the middle (at him). 6-3, 1-6 felt comfortable though, being relaxed and focusing on placing relaxed forehands away from him.
A revenge opportunity against Tatschl (AUT) is next…
All for now, over & out!

Czech Open 2013 – Day 3

Learn from the tough challenges too..
In the round-robin schedule, I was now up against the (reasonably new) quad, Alfredo Di Cosmo. A hard-hitting, ”no-taping”, italian who played a good game against my room mate Marcus yesterday.
Focus was on reflecting his power to the best of my abilities. Short swings, while trying to keep the distance to the ball with determined shots) overall (maintain the follow-through).
A tough job, it turned out. 1-6, 0-6. Not much to write home about…:-|
Perhaps with a few exceptions: he serves at your body, and returns easier shots when bounces are close to him with topspin (no rocket science really, but hard to make happen when facing his shots)…

In the subsequent doubles against Di Cosmo/Innocenti (ITA), mine and Peter’s tactics where the same as before: just go for it.
I managed to use the learnings from the morning session, with some top spin returns (winners too ! :-)), on Di Cosmo. He’s team mate however, made up for that, with low, strong serves and astonishingly well placed long returns, paired with the odd stop (backhand) slice.
Some nice rallies and strong top spins to remember…Innocenti’s somewhat manageable backhands too (given that you kept your chair moving).

This week is over, but I feel I’ve take a few steps with the serving stability, and my topped backhands.

Next is to control all points (have a strategy with all shots), and to get my head in order, to win crucial points while keeping the momentum (the chair speed and the power/length of the shots).
Perhaps to alter the grip for more racket movement in the forehand swing too…

Team mate Marcus now needs a warm-up before his quad finals soon…
A great tournament btw (the Czech national tennis centre, with hard clay courts, well worth returning too…
All for now, over & out.

Czech Open 2013 – Day 2

Stepping up, but not quite to the plate…:-)
Today, my first consolation game was against my very friendly friend Peter Tatschl (AUT).
I was hoping for an opportunity to use some of the learnings from the sub-optimum performance yesterday.
The world no. 24 Austrian has a game style not that different from the Russian I just played, and felt I could keep up with, had I stuck to my game plan. Hence, the bout with Peter seemed a fun and adequate test of my progress.
Tennis has a slow but steady learning curve that requires adaptation of strategic theories during ever-changing matches, and that you stay calm and concentrated even when pressed for time.
I focused on thorough shots on his somewhat weaker backhand (when he’s pressed for time, that is), and remembered to ”control the game”, the part I missed yesterday. My approach succeded as I was up 3-0. (Yeah!) But then things turned…
First set included 4 (!) games (both mine and his) where 0-40 ended up being advantage games.. Great when he’s serving (as I mustered up some great focus and turned it around), but why didn’t I close the 40-0 games?
3-0 turned into 4-3, 6-5, and tie-break yet again. Some great passing shots at full swing, but Tatschl made more lay-aways when my returns were a bit cowardly placed in the midst of the court without spin. (I didn’t dare to push my forehand slice towards his lefthand forehand corner, afraid of his forehand slammer (at aiming badly at his backhand side).
In the tie-break he didn’t make any mistakes. Hence, I lost the set. 😦
In the second set, I didn’t keep up until 0-5. Being insecure and trying to play safe without determination is not a way to win games (too short shots without spin on clay court = lay-ups). The two following games I played execellent though. I Kept the ball under pressure and out of his reach…:-). The trend got stopped abruptly though.
6-7(2), 2-6. Danke schön for a fun game, Peter. Your are not unbeatable. Great to know.. 🙂

For the doubles, me and said Peter were up against top seeds Cotterill (GBR)/Jonsson (SWE).
We simply went for it, as we were hoping for a few games at best. What’s there to lose?
Funny enough this meant strong forehand killers from Peter, and winning backhand tops, some forehand spins at an angle, and the odd volley from me. We went up to 2-0! As the Austrians put it:Super!
We kept playing quite well, but our mistakes turned out to be about two too many per game, so we couldn’t keep up. We never picked it up again, so 2-6, 1-6 was the score.
Nonetheless, thanks a lot Peter, Marcus and Anthony for a great, fun and for me, eye-opening game. I now know I can play some very effective types of shot even in competition.
Get them into your every-day arsenal during practise, as you also work on mitigating your mistakes at crucial points, Mr Edström..;-) This seems promising. Apply it!
All for now, over & out!

Czech Open 2013 – Day 1

My first ever outdoor tournament in the Czech Republic. The same organizing committee as at Prague Indoor, so a promising start.
What is it with Czech’s and hotels with tennis courts in the same complex? Yet again! A great combo!
I was drawn against Konstantin Donskoy (RUS), the Russian I lost to 4-6, 0-6, last year in Poland.
Quite the optimum draw, to be honest, given the other (very good) players here.
A reasonably tight, interesting and for sure a doable game, keeping in mind my backhand improvements and the strategic thinking getting more and more into place over the last year. Something to learn from, for sure.
I started off with a break, ending up at 4-2, focusing on clean hits and forehand tops on his backhand. My serves were quite good (pushed hard at his backhand). However, I need to practise body shots. He had trouble with balls close to him, but I couldn’t quite make use of that, as I served more at his preferred reach. His backhand returns were less aggressive (then his forehand hits). However, his inside-out slices on both sides, were quite effective killer shots, as I didn’t manage to leave him pressed for time (made it easy for him, really).
My forehand tops were a bit too soft, making it possible for him to reach many, even well-placed ones, and to move in for an attack every now and then. I was up 5-3, but lost up to 5-6. I struggled to get to (and got to) the tiebreak. Once there, I had a set-point, but sadly lost 6-8.
In the second set he was more confident (from the tie-break!), and played more aggressively.
Since I didn’t control the points with some lower ball trajectories with top spins, he won the second set quite easily 2-6. 7-6(6), 2-6.
Spasiba, Konstantin. Beware, next time…;-)
Better than last time, many steps forward (some effective backhand slices, hard serves, nice backhand topspins, and some great forehand tops after all.
Now: learn to control the points to your benefit. Be more aggressive, and hit the ball further from your body standing sideways for maximum boll control, especially on backhands.
Round-Robin (all plays all), in both consolation (first round losers), and doubles is next…
All for now, over & out!