Italian tennis pro Fabio Fognini once again proved that going to the net other than just to shake hands can pay handsome dividends. His match against Rafa at the US Open this week was a classic and I believe that he is the first player to beat Nadal after losing the first two sets since the Spaniard was a teenager.
Fognini appeared to tweak the game plan after the first two sets and repeatedly attacked the net to put Nadal under pressure to find enough winners. In fact the Italian went to the net 54 times and won 39 of those points, not bad for a man considered to be a baseliner. Just as my last chapter suggested it takes almost a genius to find enough winners against a player willing to take the game on as opposed to simply waiting for something to happen.
The Swede Borg, as brilliant as he was from the baseline simply could not find enough winners against Mac to win on the hard courts of New York. Perhaps even the baseline robots of today are starting to see the way in which guys like Federer can finish points a little quicker and preserve the legs for the latter stages of a match.
With groundstrokes hit to almost perfection by most professionals there is no reason at all why a player can't come in more regularly on a shot hit with venom that puts an opponent on the defence. If you watch a player practice they will always hit volleys and most hit them rather well, it's only a mindset that prevents them from using it more often in a match, a fear of being passed.
A tennis player of any talent will see that staying back all match will groove an opponent into form yet by mixing the play up with slice or net approaches it will keep the opposition guessing, a necessity of the sport. Predictability in sport doesn't win too many matches.
A smart tennis player will own more than one plan as will a smart coach. Fabio Fognini obviously is a player who was gifted with more than one way of playing and likewise his coach's thinking.
At the conclusion of the match the Italian looked up at his coach and pointed to his own head as if to say "I thought my way through".
Always great to see a player taking the game on, makes it more interesting as a spectator....