23 August 2012


I was there live at this match, and the very first thing that struck me was the number of viewers, hardly any - okay it was first round, but it was the British Open, it was in London, in the O2 stadium, and the world #4 (for many the best player of all time) played against another top10 player - with a different draw that could have been a semi or a final.
The second thing that struck me was how lightly Ramy Ashour was taking this match. It wasn't disrespect, just the usual lightness that Ramy feels when he plays opponents outside the top6. He is playing cat and mouse stuff - and that's hilarious considered what a strong, solid and intelligent player Daryl Selby is. Nobody else could afford to go on court with such a mindset against him.
The only other top player who visibly takes lower ranked opponents easy is Gregory Gaultier. But whilst Ramy has no problems to switch to 'serious' mode, Gaultier at times struggles to make this mental transition from one round to another.

22 August 2012


Last time we were talking about Simon Rosner - probably the player with the biggest swing out there (even if he restricts it nowadays somewhat). Technically speaking, the true opposite of Rosner is another player from the up-and-coming generation: Tom Richards
In this blog we have seen and analysed dozens of times the benefits of the compact backswing and we've had many many examples with Karim Darwish demonstrating it on a constant basis. Of course, everyone in the top100 is reducing his swing to a certain extent, but only few can reduce it as dramatically as Darwish or Richards, as it generally also involves a considerable loss of pace.
In the younger generation there are quiet a few opposite examples as well; next to Rosner there is Aamir Atlas Khan and Tarek Momen with big swings, and it works for them. However, for club players, I personally think that the compact backswing is easier to adapt in order to gain precision and generate deception.
As much as I find it beneficial in general, I have the impression that Tom Richards renders his forehand swing compact in a slightly too extreme way. I totally agree with keeping the elbow close to the hip whilst preparing for a shot, but I think you have to relax and loosen your shoulder at the same time in order to allow yourself to launch your arm if you chose to hit long and hard.
Even if it is not visible in this compilation - with three backhand winners to only one on the forehand - it seems to me that by aiming to render his backswing compact, Richards even raises his shoulder instead of loosening it. Maybe his aim is to hide the ball with his body this way, but I think by relaxing the shoulder he could still hide the ball with his body and gain more pace for his drives and more control for his drops.
Within the top30 the differences are mostly in the head; technical details are rather secondary. Tom Richards has advanced a lot in the last few years ranking wise, and nobody anymore would take it for granted to beat him. This must be due to getting stronger as well in the head as in the body. However, having talked to a few top players I know that they are still constantly trying to improve also technically, and I wonder if loosening the shoulder on the forehand side could enable Tom to make another step towards the top10 where he is likely to land some time soon. 

20 August 2012


Happy to get finally some material about Simon Rosner, the skilful and very fair German player. We have mentioned him at the end of last year as one of the most promising up-and-coming players and indeed, it would be surprising not to see him within the top 10 within a year or two. 
To be honest, these nick-compilations do not really help to gather a player's real playing profile, but in Rosner's case they are eventually quiet representative as he indeed is a shot-maker, a true attacker.
The shot that gathers mostly my attention is the drop-shot played at 0:13. It's not the first example that shows that balls that land just behind the service box and somewhat off the side-wall are apt for attacking; you've got the drop option as Rosner shows it here, Tarek Momen in another, or Ramy Ashour in this example. You also have from the very same position the attacking boast option, as the deep straight corner opens up and your opponent is on his backfoot to cover that deep corner; you surely remember Tarek Momen demonstrating this in a recent example.
And if we mention Ramy and Tarek when talking about Simon we are not just talking in the air; Rosner might not dispose of the natural touch, fluidity and agility of those two magicians, but together with his Swiss mate Nicolas Mueller, they are assiduous watchers and learners of the Egyptian school!