In 1991 Brad Gilbert beat his future 'student' Andre Agassi 6-1, 6-2 at the Semi Final stage of the San Jose tournament in San Francisco, absolutely belted him , a tennis lesson in any man's language. Two years later Andre asked Gilbert to be his Coach , the rest is history as Andre won six of his eight Grand Slam Titles under the guidance of a man who knew the intricacies of the game of tennis. Brad Gilbert was far from perfect technically with his own game, but a brilliant mind, Agassi was a technical genius, but lacked brains, their partnership was always going to be a winner . If you know anything about tennis in the 80's and 90's you would then have an idea on the way Gilbert played , if you don't then here's the best way to describe him , he was a 'pest'. Gilbert hit the ball so unlike any other players , almost in the Mats Wilander clay court style , slow and annoying but he did it on hard courts as well as carpet , he made the opposition make their own pace , he gave them none. Most players rely on the ball coming over the net at a reasonable pace to give them some rhythm and to almost be a spring board . If a ball is coming slow then a player has to swing through harder to force the pace , slow balls are a lot harder to deal with than harder hit balls .
Brad Gilbert had a tactical mind that Andre Agassi desperately needed as he was fast becoming a 'wasted talent' with losses to guys who he should have beaten easily with his game that was in a word 'exhilarating' , he just needed a brain.
Tennis has seen some contrasting styles over the years ; The Borg - Mcenroe rivalry was chalk and cheese as far as their playing styles were concerned as were the Agassi - Sampras matches but they all had a mental battle to them as well. Brad Gilbert felt that because Andre was aiming for perfection on each shot and more or less going for winners at inopportune moments that all he had to do was 'reprogram' his way of thinking that would make his opponents play more balls . Of course in Andre's case most of his shots were so good that this was eventually the way that he ended up being the World's best, he simply stopped trying to be perfect on each ball, he made his opponents play more.
Tennis is like that , I wrote an article that was published in the ATPCA's monthly journal that more or less stated the Gilbert way of playing , but i put my own twist on it . I felt that the game now days is too predictable and needs a different approach to throw the opponent's rhythm out, Brad Gilbert made 40 Tournament finals with this way of playing and won 20 of them . Kids could take a leaf out of his book by looking up his style and implementing some different tactics that can work in their favour , an unpredictable game plan.
Tennis is a thinking man's game , simply just playing to the current style of sitting on the baseline won't guarantee you a win , these players are a dime a dozen , think outside the square........