These days car manufacturers are producing vehicles that can anticipate faster than the human sitting behind the steering wheel. In a split second the car can apply the brakes if it anticipates that an accident is...
These days car manufacturers are producing vehicles that can anticipate faster than the human sitting behind the steering wheel. In a split second the car can apply the brakes if it anticipates that an accident is going to happen and in fact the technologies can keep a car a certain distance from the vehicle in front of it without the driver’s input. Heck that was just the next step because cars were already being able to park themselves – the one I have does that. Same goes for tennis. Anticipation is soooo important. To try and guess where an opponent is intending to place the ball and cut that return off in no uncertain terms by thinking ahead. “I think it is something you are born with, if you play a lot of tennis early on” Roger Federer says. “I always thought Martina Hingis was a great anticipator of where the ball goes. I don’t think it’s enough today. I think you have to be very athletic and explosive. I think that’s what the top guys are doing at the top of the rankings. “I think they have maybe that extra step, that extra somewhere to go and find the ball and get it back. I think you need a lot of different things to do really, really well now. I just think it’s tough, it’s physical tennis. But I enjoy it. I’m happy I’m going through this period of time too.” Now what period of time could he be talking about? Is he suggesting he doesn’t mind the losses? Surely not! Federer was a brilliant anticipator of the ball but it’s not quite the case anymore. The other top players have become more deceptive and quite possibly he is not reading the play as well when he comes to face the likes of Rafa Nadal (who he’d always struggled with), Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. As you get older that sense of anticipation drops gradually, it’s only natural when the years tick on, your mind and physical attributes get slower. Djokovic has certainly taken over the mantle in the anticipation stakes. He’s even out-doing Nadal. By the way did you see how he burnt his fingers on a hot plate in a restaurant in Cincinnati? Ouch! He was struggling to hold the grip of his racquet handle. Federer seemed sort of reluctant to anoint Djokovic with the anticipation crown saying everybody anticipates well. Err, I don’t think so Rog. “I think we all read the plays pretty good,” he said. “Others read some players better than others. Some read certain serves better and some don’t. But I still think you need to be quick. “When you play a player 10 or 20 times you also know the chances of where the balls are going to go. It’s not so much anticipation anymore. Eventually, it’s maybe more percentages and you start to learn those as well as time goes by.” Maybe that’s what a lot of the other players have picked up on Federer’s game. What do you think? Let’s have your thoughts here on We Are Tennis.