In these days of the highly technical game the second, third and fourth ball are of vital importance. It is often no longer just sufficient to get the service back, so committed is the server to third ball loop or kill. In addition the power, spin and angles are so extreme that the ‘safe’ areas of return have become fewer and fewer.
Increasingly it becomes necessary to move away from accepted return techniques and to ‘play the odds’, to switch into what used to be high risk areas. Not only for example attacking the ‘impossible’ spin serve, but hitting it wide to acute angles or down the line or against the spin. It is noticeable for example now that the top players take the ball much earlier after the bounce even on the push return and give the opponent no time to react.
Bear in mind against the high throw that the ball may take one or two seconds from the time the ball leaves the server’s hand until bat contact — but after the contact you may have only a fraction of a second to determine where the ball is coming, what spin is on it and what speed and to move into position to play your stroke. It becomes apparent that one cannot over-emphasize the vital importance of practising receive of serve at every opportunity.
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