Good morning from Milan,
I arrived at the venue for the NextGen ATP Finals a little early today and saw 20-year-old Jiri Lehecka warming up for his afternoon game. Worked on serves and returns. He hit the ball very clean! I pulled out my iPhone, recorded a few minutes of practice, and was lucky enough to capture this absolute gem of a backhand return.
Here is the scenario at all levels of our game…
Most of the second serve on the advertising court is a kick to the backhand wing of a right-handed player. He either goes body from the backhand or goes wide. The goal of the server is either to take the returner off the court, make the serve jump well out of the strike zone, or to block it, forcing the returner to move away from the ball.
This second serve is an absolute corkscrew. He lands short and wide, then bounces high until Jiri comes back from the backhand. It’s a bearable nightmare.
But as you’ll see in this slow motion video, Jiri puts his body in the perfect position and actually hits the winner with it at a sharp angle.
See the video in slow motion. It has three parts.
- Part 1 = tracking only the ball.
- Part 2 = foot and ball tracking.
- Part 3 = clean video.
Jiri Lehecka Backhand Return: Next Generation Finals Training
- The key to this comeback is the second video, which focuses on his feet.
- Jiri takes a step, then splits the step into the court, then cuts off the high-bouncing serve, moving forward at an angle.
- Makes good contact inside the baseline.
- He also makes good contact in front of his body. Automatically creates an angle to go across the court.
This is the textbook phrase of the second application. The footwork is correct. The technique is correct and the goal from the crossbar is wonderful!
Jiri did a great job of properly preparing his upper body for this difficult comeback. I think he did an even better job with his feet moving forward at an angle to cut them off. Definitely try to incorporate this into your own game!