23 November 2011


You probably remember that post which shows Ramy Ashour finishing off a match with a boast into the nick off the serve against Gregory Gaultier; a pretty stylish way to win a match, but a part from Ramy who else would have the guts (and the talent) of risking it? If he hadn't found the nick, Gaultier could have easily counter-dropped or killed the ball and who knows if you get a second chance? Anyway, if there is a moment where I would expected even less this kind of a shot is the very first point of a match. It is pretty common even for shot-makers to have a steady mentality at the beginning of matches, keeping the ball flowing, observing the other guy's weaknesses instead of initiating precipitately. Even historical greats like Jansher Kahn were famous of playing long long rallies in the first half of the first games, even against way weaker players, in order to get their legs a bit shaky before going short. But Ramy, we know, is different: he has been having hours of one-man training sessions all his life, and he has tried to find the nick from any point of the court in those sessions. He obviously remembers now which are those geometrical constallation from where he has a good chance to make the ball roll out off the nick. And apparently this situation, when the opponent hits a good serve that stacks close to the backwall, but not that close to the sidewall, is one of those geometrical points. The other thing to note in this rally is Ramy's second shot: he miscalculated Gaultier's semi-lob and had to turn in order to hit the ball which again stack close to the backwall. So many players stop in this situation, whereas if the only shot that you are realistically likely to be able to hit is a boast you must play that shot as your opponent is not in your way even if he covers the frontwall. Many players in a similar situation pretend they could have played the frontwall, but Ramy respects the quality of his opponent's shot and goes for the high boast in order to allow himself to get back to the 'T'. Then comes that famous flick-of-the-wrist-backhand-cross-court-length-kill and to conclude the cross-volley-drop into the nick. All this, within the first few seconds of a match. Do not try this at home!