Belgian Open 2013 – Day 4

Consolation round 3: Sébastien Jance (FRA).

His forehand has improved quite a lot lately, so focus was in his backhand and to stop him from attacking inside the court (long looped shots that is). To get him to move from side to side was also in the mix.

4-6 in the first set. Played really well, although my return on my backhand was a bit too flat (going too long). Get the backhand top to work on return, and angle the racquet some more!…

In the second set, it was (yet again) very tight in the deciding game. The longest I think I ever played, with numerous advantage points to go 3-3. 2-4 instead turned out to be too much to recover from. 4-6, 2-4 was the score.

A great game, with some really nice backhand winners. A bit too many backhand returns going out though, and some too soft forehand placements though (giving him the opportunity to attack). I’ll learn from it, but it´s always tough to lose a close game.

I also played a training game set in doubles with Pascal, Thomas and Sophie, with Thomas´racquet being 25 grams lighter than mine. That gave me ideas to improve my backhand returns when pressed for time, albeit that the forehand shots lose some power. Maybe that the forehand spins can improve with a faster swing ? Adjusted with some head weights to make up for the loss in power? The questions need to be sorted out in practise…

Merci beaucoup la Belgique, pour cette semaine!
A l’année prochaine!
All for now, over and out!


Belgian Open 2013 – Day 3

Consolation round 2. I was against world no.12 Antonio Raffaele (ITA), a very nice guy but quite dangerous on indoor courts (as Belgian Open is for us Quads), since he uses powerful low slices with very good placements, very often in the corners, out of reach.

My plan was to focus on long returns to his backhand, and to move directly after my seves, towards the opposite corner, to minimize distance, and to reply to his slices with looped forehand slices in his backhand corner (to get myself some extra time and possibly make the point difficult for him to finish off).

It worked out really great. 4-4, although eventually 4-6. Served a bit more unstable in the second set, so the number didn’t get as nice (but there were some additional advantage points).

4-6, 2-6. My best game ever against a player ranked this high. Defence and reduced mistakes of my own… Why not…? Before you focus on playing well yourself, the first step is to make it difficult for your opponent to do so…:-)

Séb Jance (FRA) is next…

All for now, over & out!


Belgian Open 2013 – Day 2

Consolation, round one. ‘Was up against my friend from last year’s tournament, Ian Payne (GBR).
He’s interesting to play against, ‘cause he has the same disability as me (meaning most moves/strokes I find hard, are difficult for him too. However, he has a very dedicated dad as his coach, noting every won and lost point to find match patterns and reasons for game changes. Tedious but very smart, since tennis is very much a mind game.
It’s fun and useful to see Ian develop, so I can learn from much the same ways of handling our disability and tennis skills. Mind you, he’s only 16, but has been playing since the age of eleven. He’s more consistent then me (doesn’t make as many unforced errors), but we did have quite a few really nice rallies (sadly only in the latter half of second set, cause his serves and returns were just too good in the first set).
From 0-6, 0-3, I started backing up a bit to create more time for my returns. Better late than never. I frankly was so inconsistent in the first set, I simply had problems playing anywhere near my game plan, let alone changing it. Once I changed, it worked, though. Long returns creating easier balls back at me, and some really nice long rallies. Sadly no winners for me on crucial points…
The advantage game to go from 2-4 to 3-4 was the longest I’ve ever played. I moved really well and consistently, focusing on getting the chair in position and looking at the ball. Made some (actually) relaxed last-minute saves that at one point got me a straight forehand slice winner after a tough save rushing across court. Sadly that was at one of the deuces… I lost track of the number of advantage points we both had, but finally his serving got the better of me, and he won the game and the match shortly after.
0-6, 2-6. Thanks Ian, that was fun! At least once the embarrassing play on my part had ended…
Lessons to learn:
Serve low and hard closer to him.
Push like a madman directly after your shot, to get back behind the baseline (to assess your next move with speed towards the ball).
Relaxed strokes is a must (where have I heard that before? :-))

The subsequent doubles with Anthony Cotterill (GBR), was fun, since I played relaxed (covering a smaller court in doubles), with some nice rallies. However, Mr Payne together with my doubles partner in Sardinia, Hunter (CAN), made a lot fewer mistakes. 3-6, 1-6. Fun, and a token of more consistent play for me (especially backhand). More power needed though (too high loops many times, although some were winners).
Get-well wishes sent to Alfredo Di Cosmo (ITA), my intended doubles partner, who had to withdraw with a fever.

A really tough lesson tomorrow against the very friendly Antonio Raffaele (ITA).

All for now, over and out.

Belgian Open 2013 – Day 1

Bon soir!
The first day of play is over.
A good draw to start with…What is ”good” then? An even game or a match where you have an opportunity to learn a lot. This was hopefully both…
S. Fraioli (FRA), was my opponent. Quite a fun and possibly an even game to look forward to, it seemed.
Time to improve my movements/wheelchair strategics from France not long ago, and get back to the back of the court after each stroke, to give myself more time… High and long balls with topspin to make it harder for the opponent to attack (given that you’re aware of the high loop that probably is played back at you).
It worked really well in the first set (for the first time ever in competition, I need to admit)!
I was up 3-0, 4-1, and 5-2…but then something happened. I had focused on simple but low serves, but now I got tense, I suspect, ‘cause too many loose serves to the forehand or simple double faults emerged. I had focused on keeping the ball in play, to be able to get into ”the groove” and keep my rhythm. Quite a few long rally winners was the result. Nice to get that feeling in competition!
Then my opponent started playing more aggressively, and sadly I didn’t really adjust accordingly, being (maybe a bit too) focused to stick to my game plan. Quite often you need to do that, but you also need to be able to adjust, to disturb your opponent. It’s seems I still have some stuff to learn to do the latter..:-|
Shorter points and more indistinct serves from me resulted in many game losses from 5-2 to 5-7 ! 😦
Initially I played better again in the second set, but I honestly never could focus enough on each point separately (leaving the past in the past). So the increase in misses from me made me take a few too many stressed out (difficult) shots, to kill off the points too soon. I also stopped moving as much, being afraid to get passed (which is often not a worry you should have if you move better, ‘cause then the built-up speed and distance to the ball helps you). I have some to learn on tactics and confidence, still…:-)
5-7, 1-6.
I was sooo disappointed at first. It helped though, that my Swedish friend here and world no. 5 Anders, said my play has improved a lot from when in Paris, and that I played well in the first set.

A great first set, but the summary would need to be that it’s my head that needs to get in order.
If you believe in your game, don’t start doubting yourself or blaming yourself for the odd missed point or a lost game. Get back at it! Brake the downward spiral…

Afterwards I played a nice practice doubles with Raffaele/Innocenti (ITA), and Payne (GBR).
I was hesitant at first ‘cause of the heat, but afterwards it felt great to get to trust your game plan again.

Next is the consolation (first round losers, yet again! 😦 ) and the doubles.
All for now, over and out!