Being flexible in your return position is a huge key to helping you visually change your opponents landscape, influence the server and help you to time your return better. Here are some options if you are struggling with your return game.
A) Start way back!
Take a page out of Nadal’s book and start the point way back. A great option to give yourself a bit more time against a big server and persuade your opponent to hit to smaller targets. Look for depth through the middle of the court on your return and MOVE UP to the baseline as soon as you can to regain a more offensive position.
B) Start left or right
Great to return second serves or to force your opponent to hit to a different target if they have been beating you with a favorite Serve. Standing left or right can either help you protect a weakness or make it easier for you to get your preferred stroke on the return. (Eg. run around your backhand)
C) Give and take.
Give your opponent and good chunk of the service box to persuade them to target the open court, then once they toss the ball, move to cover the gap. Another way to mix things up and try and influence the server.
D) Stand close.
Stand in close and take the return EARLY. Use your opponents pace to send it back fast and take time away from their recovery. Roger Federer’s SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger) is an extreme example but mixing something similar into your return game will have your opponent thinking about you before they serve. Great way to mix it up. Standing in close helps the return to cut off the angles wide and “T”. It does leave you a little bit vulnerable to he body serve so be prepared.
Be flexible in your return position and improve your chances to break.
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