Watching the 2021 U.S. Open, it is pretty clear that there are a lot of players who thrive on using the opponent's pace of the ball to hit their best shots. It is also apparent that when a player is able to mix up the speed, it can help draw errors or weaker shots from their opponent. A well-placed slice backhand, a shorter wide serve, or a groundstroke with extra spin and a little less pace can be very effective.
The difficulty these days is that players tend to hit the ball extremely hard and it is not always easy to reply with one of the shots I just mentioned. It is always easier to hit the ball back in a similar fashion to how it was hit to you. This can result in four, five, six shots in a row with an amazing amount of pace. If one of the players can throw in a different type of ball, their opponent is likely to struggle with the timing of the next shot.
Practice hitting a few shots in a row with good pace and then add the change up. This can help tremendously when you are hitting the ball well, but your opponent seems to be using your pace against you. The occasional slower ball can be the key to your success against the big hitters.
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 email@example.com or call 865-300-7323