It must be noted that Djokovic is a great tennis player with a number of remarkable traits, but such long list of traits do not get mentioned here for the simple reason of a lack of space. What is that one thing about Djokovic that we find remarkable, which we will want to make the topic of this blog post. It is his ability to adapt. This is a trait which from the looks of it not really being discussed in the tennis and layman spaces, which is perhaps his most underrated.
What does it mean for Djokovic to adapt in the way that he does then. We concertise the above-mentioned abstraction from this line onward.
Djokovic, given his quite Western forehand grip, is by nature someone who hits spins and loops, and is meant for the returning of spins and loops, making him not too different from Nadal. What Djokovic does remarkable though, is his successful adaption to the various disparate styles of play of his opponents, by completely changing the nature of his game-play despite wielding the same technique. I define nature to mean both shot-type and game-style To give you an idea of how difficult such a proposition is. Try asking Roger Federer to hit Nadal-like loop-spins with his forehand, or Nadal to hit only flat shots throughout the match. Or try asking Federer to play the counter-punching game throughout the entire match, or Nadal to play with a finish-the-point-as-early-as-possible mindset (again, throughout the entire match). In fact, most probably without you having realised it, there is a high probability that you (assuming that you are a tennis player of course) have stuck the same game-play throughout your entire tennis 'career'.
To give you some examples..
The video above is taken from the match between Djokovic and Dogig at the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters tournament. Pay attention to the flat ground-strokes of both Djokovic and Dodig, and also notice the irony of the Western forehand producing the flat ground strokes.
The video above is taken from the match between Djokovic and Dimitrov at the 2016 Paris Masters. As you can see, he is playing truer to his nature with the more loopy shots.
Now, why does he adapt
1) To amplify his strength, while at the same time exposing his opponent's weakness
The difference between his game-styles against Dodig and Dimitrov, we believe, is largely due to Dodig's better ability to take on Djokovic's spin than Dimitrov. Dimitrov' stroke is like Federer's and as we all know the Eastern forehand is disadvantaged when it comes to the more spin-heavy shots.
2) To adjust to the environment
Djokovic does tend to become the 'flat player' when the court is grass, or hard. The obverse applies to the slower courts of clay.
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