| By Steve Annacone


When facing a player with an extremely strong forehand or backhand, our instincts are to try to direct all of our shots to the weaker side. The problem is that most of these players are very good at covering up their weaker side and eventually hit more balls with their weapon or stronger shot.

By hitting a ball or two to the player's strength early in the point, a player can open up a bigger area to attack their opponent's weakness. Of course, the shot directed to your opponent's strength must be good enough to allow you to "weather the storm" from their stronger side. This usually happens by getting the opponent on the run or pushing them back.

Many players with a stronger side favor that shot by positioning themselves more on the side of the court where their weaker shot is hit. In other words, someone with a big forehand will stand more on the backhand side of the court and challenge the player to hit to their strength.

Most of the time, a player with this weapon does not hit the shot as well when moving to their favored side (Pete Sampras' on the run forehand would be an exception) compared to when they are moving around their weakness to hit the ball from their weaker wing. Try opening up their weakness by attacking their strength and follow it up with a good shot to the weaker side.

This is the tactic that Novak Djokovic used to perfection in his match against Juan Martin del Potro to win the 2018 U.S. Open.


Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com)  and MyHamptonsPro based in Sag Harbor, NY (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Tennis Professional at Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ.  For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at info@annaconetennis.com or call 865-300-7323