PlayerDominic Thiem Stanislas Wawrinka
The rally starts in a typical way for top players, with a wide kick serve.
Dominic makes his split step left of the middle expecting a cross court return from his opponent.
Exactly that happens, Wawrinka returns cross court. Dominic has his racquet ready before the ball bounces. A long rally with several changes of direction ensues. The video shows the dynamic nature of the exchange.
If we focus on the ball impacts on the court, it is obvious that these top players do not aim too close to the lines, which many people claim to be the difference between top players and juniors. This is s myth that has been around for years. We will take a closer look at it on future articles.
Let's take a closer look at Thiem's movement. Thiem uses a cross over step to recover from the corner.
His top speed in this short sprint is 27.13 km/hr, a great speed for a distance of 9 m, if one considers that Usain Bolt's top speed is 40 km/hr, and that tennis players are only able to optimize their speed on the court and never maximize it. Dominic barely gets to the ball and is forced to use a slice forehand.
Wawrinka recognizes the opportunity and takes the slice forehand in the air. He hits a cross court drop volley but his shot is too high over the net. Thiem sees his chance and sprints to the ball.
Exactly at this point - when the ball reaches the height of the net - is when Dominic recognizes the direction of the volley, turns his body towards the shot and sprints at 18.48 km/hr.
He sprints forwards diagonally to the side line.
Now, he reaches with his racquet..
..and makes contact with the ball very close to the ground, way below the net tape. Even though he is already sliding his speed is still 13.9 km/hr.
Being able to stay balanced, decelerate, realize where the opponent is and chose the right shot is something that requires mastery.
He makes the right decision and chips the ball deep, down the line to Wawrinka's backhand.
The ball lands close to the baseline - much closer than needed, but he wins the point. What a rally!
If you need to recover quickly from the corner, a split step is not enough - you need to use an explosive cross over step. Practice that first without a ball, then have a practice partner or coach feed you some wide balls. Practice also sliding after a fast sprint and then recovering, just as you saw in this clip. Have fun on the court!