On the Tennis Court, Lefties Can Be ‘Annoying’

As a child, Rafael Nadal hit with two hands from both sides until he was told to choose one side so he would have a single-handed forehand. Although the boy did most things right-handed, he instinctively started playing tennis as a lefty.

With his talent and his tenacity, Nadal likely would have been an all-time great no matter what, but being left-handed might have given him an edge — most notably, his high bouncing serve to a right-hander’s backhand has proved especially challenging for his rival Roger Federer. A win at Roland Garros would give Nadal 21 Grand Slams, one more than Federer. And since Nadal has won the French Open 13 times, including the last four years, he is the heavy favorite again in 2021.

The conventional wisdom is that being left-handed is an advantage in tennis. Lefties naturally hit with a slight side spin and can serve wide to a righty’s backhand in the ad service box on the most crucial points, and right-handed players suddenly find they need to adjust their tactics in rallies after days or weeks of playing only righty opponents. Switching gears during the tournament makes lefties “really annoying” to play, the player Matteo Berrettini said.

When Jan-Lennard Struff is not playing in a tournament, he tries mixing in practice against a lefty once a week. Garin’s coach is a lefty, which helps him practice serve returns, but if Garin has a lefty opponent coming up he will seek out another lefty from the draw to practice with or ask the tournament to find a sparring partner.

Krajinovic said he hoped that he would not get assigned to play Nadal at the beginning of the tournament.

“If I see him in the draw I will not be happy,” Krajinovic said.

Koepfer would like the challenge, but only under certain circumstances. “I hope it’s not the first round. I’d like to play righties in the first three rounds before playing Rafa.”

For anyone who has the misfortune of matching up with Nadal, Ruud suggested calling Robin Soderling or Djokovic, the only players to have beaten him at Roland Garros, for advice. “And then you just pray he doesn’t have his best day.”

Sahred From Source link Sports

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