Roger Federer - Playing Style

Playing Style

Federer's versatility has been summarised by Jimmy Connors: "In an era of specialists, you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist...or you're Roger Federer."

Federer is an all-court, all-round player known for his speed, fluid style of play, and exceptional shot making. Federer mainly plays from the baseline but is also comfortable at the net, being one of the best volleyers in the game today. He has a powerful, accurate smash and very effectively performs rare elements in today's tennis, such as backhand smash, half-volley and jump smash (slam dunk). David Foster Wallace compared the brute force of Federer's forehand motion with that of "a great liquid whip," while John McEnroe has referred to Federer's forehand as "the greatest shot in our sport." Federer is also known for his efficient movement around the court and excellent footwork, which enables him to run around shots directed to his backhand and instead hit a powerful inside-out or inside-in forehand, one of his best shots.

Federer plays with a single-handed backhand, which gives him great variety. Federer's forehand and backhand slice are both thought by many to be the best ever. He employs the slice, occasionally using it to lure his opponent to the net and deliver a passing shot. Federer can also fire topspin winners and possesses a 'flick' backhand with which he can generate pace with his wrist; this is usually used to pass the opponent at the net. His serve is difficult to read because he always uses a similar ball toss, regardless of what type of serve he is going to hit and where he aims to hit it, and turns his back to his opponents during his motion. He is often able to produce big serves on key points during a match. His first serve is typically around 200 km/h (125 mph); however, he is capable of serving at 220 km/h (137 mph). Federer is also accomplished at serve and volleying, and employed this tactic frequently in his early career. His speciality is a half-volley from the baseline which enables him to play close to the baseline and to pick up even the deeper shots very early after they bounce, giving his opponents less time to react. Later in his career Federer added the drop shot to his arsenal, and can perform a well-disguised one off both wings. He sometimes uses a between-the-legs shot, which is colloquially referred to as a "tweener." His most notable use of the tweener was in the semifinals of the 2009 US Open against Novak Djokovic, bringing him triple match point, on which he capitalised for a straight-set victory over the Serb.

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