I have written about this idea in several different ways in the past. It seems too simple for it to actually work. However, Rafael Nadal just won his 22nd Grand Slam and his 14th French Open by basically doing this better on more of the points than his opponents.
When analyzing his last match against Casper Ruud, one of the biggest statistics that jumps out is that Nadal dominated the points that lasted five or six shots. He won 24 out of 30 points that were this long. What that means is, if Nadal hit three shots in a row, more often than not, the point ended in his favor.
We always tend to remember the long points and often feel demoralized if the opponent wins the hotly contested point. It does help to win these longer points since it can change the momentum of the match and give a player confidence to play the next point even better. However, most matches are determined by the points that are a shorter length. If a player can hit three shots in a row more often than their opponent, it is very likely that they will win the match. I usually qualify the "three shots in a row" idea and say that you need to hit three of your "regular" or "normal" shots in a row. In other words, don't just hit it soft, down the middle, and on the court.
Try to use your crosscourt shots to set up the point, hit the ball at your normal speed, and eventually hit it in the direction that feels most comfortable for you. As simple as it seems, three shots in a row can be the key to winning the match because it forces the opponent to hit three or more shots in a row in order to win the point.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at email@example.com