1. Getting to the ball before it bounces twice
2. Tactical decision in regard to placement of your return
3. Court positioning to protect against your opponent’s eventual next shot
Getting to the ball in time
When receiving a drop-shot, your reaction to it has a lot to do with the attention you pay to your opponent’s body language.
There are certain cues that give away your opponent’s intention of hitting a drop-shot:
– grip change (most of the time a continental grip is used to deliver drop shots)
– short backswing (necessary to absorb the ball)
– position on the court (your opponent will not attempt a drop shot from the baseline; most of the time it will be sent from well inside the baseline).
A skilled player delivers a drop-shot while disguising it very well: pretending that he’ll hit a drive shot (bigger backswing) and just before swinging he would change the grip (or not) and soften the impact.
In this latter situation it is up to you to react quickly as soon as you notice the change in swing pace and path (high to low).
Moving to the ball quickly and in timely manner will depend on your court position, footwork, speed and quick reaction.
Now let’s assume that you were quick enough to spot the drop-shot (short ball) coming and you are now moving to reach it.
As you approach the ball, you must quickly asses your return options:
a). Angled drop-shot
b). Down-the-line drop-shot
c). Deep at opponent’s feet
d). Heavy slice (under-spin)
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