What a start to the tournament day 1 at the Australian Open has been. You can’t ask for more than a thrilling five set roller coaster ride of a tennis match to kick off a Grand Slam tournament. Bernard Tomic vs. Fernando Verdasco was a great match and I want to congratulate Tomic on a fantastic come from behind victory.
It was interesting watching the tactical plan of both players today. Fernando Verdasco, keen on moving Tomic around the court to expose his lack of speed, used his big serve and forehand to control and win points. This aggressive strategy worked well for the first two sets but fell flat in the end. Bernard Tomic, on the other hand, was hitting to Verdasco’s backhand side in order to open up the court and unleash to the Verdasco forehand for the change of pace winner. Tomic cleverly mixed up the pace and strategically used slow balls to mess up Verdasco’s timing which proved to be devastatingly effective in the end.
So What Actually Happened?
Why did Fernando Verdasco’s strategy stop working and Bernard Tomic’s prove to be so effective? Well it’s something the so called experts haven’t explained or haven’t picked up on. The truth is that Verdasco’s forehand is no longer as reliable under pressure as it used to be. And it’s driving the poor guy crazy.
Let me explain…
Fernando Verdasco makes contact with the tennis ball out in front of his body with a straight arm. This is very rare amongst the top players in the world. Yes it’s true, Federer does it and so does Nadal on the odd occasion (depending on the shot selection). Federer is a man with some unusual technical and Biomechanical quirks. His natural ability allows him to get away with things that most people could never do. And when I say “most” I really mean everyone.
Ok moving on…
In the windy conditions, like the ones today, no player (including Verdasco) is able to time the ball as well as he would like. Now, if a player hits every forehand out in front of his body with a straight arm, he would have to be very careful not to hit too far in front (over reaching) causing loss of control. This is exactly what happened to Verdasco time and time again today just as it did for a great part of last year. Verdasco’s forehand is his ‘go to shot’ under pressure and it no longer works as today illustrated. This alone is sending his ranking further and further down. Unless this issue is fixed I believe he will really struggle to regain his top 10 ranking spot.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Now I’m not trying to take anything away from Bernard Tomic’s 1st round victory. Tomic played some fantastic tennis and exploited a weakness in Verdasco’s game. This is what tennis is all about. Mixing up the pace, using the wind to your advantage and playing clever tennis is exactly what Tomic needs to keep doing.