The Novak Djokovic forehand has been the topic of discussion among tennis fans and coaches worldwide as he continues to dominate the world of professional tennis.
The Background Behind the Djokovic Forehand
Djokovic’s forehand shares many of the same commonalities of a world class forehand stroke. Many of the same elements used by top players such as Roger Federer and Nadal are present in the djokovic forehand.
Novak Djokovic is a Serbian professional tennis player who is on the top 2 of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings.
Novak Djokovic is considered as one of the best players in modern tennis because of his accomplishments. He holds two grand slam titles, the Australian Open championships in 2008 and in 2011. He is also known for being the youngest player who reached the semi-finals of all the grand slams championships in a consecutive manner. These grand slam championships include the Australian Open, the French Open, the US Open and the Wimbledon Open.
Novak Djokovic entered 2011 in fantastic shape without giving up a single match so far. And this achievement is made possible by his dominating forehand stroke, his greatest weapon. This article describes the Djokovic forehand technique step by step beginning from the preparation to the follow through
Novak Djokovic Forehand Ready position
The ready position of the Djokovic forehand is the same as the other tennis stroke. He holds his racket with his right hand (since he is a right-handed player) and at the same time supports it with his left hand or non-dominant hand. He then stands with his two legs, spread at a shoulder-width distance or more with his knees bent and body slightly crouched in front. At this position, Djokovic has the ease to turn to his forehand side if his opponent hits to his forehand. But it also allows him to turn to his backhand side in case his opponent’s return is towards his backhand.
Djokovic Forehand Grip
Novak Djokovic uses a different style of grip for his forehand shot. He uses a ¾ Western which is a bit similar to Semi-Western but less similar to the full Western grip. This grip is considered the pinnacle of modern tennis, as players are using this grip to generate additional topspin while still being able to drive through the ball with pace.
Novak Djokovic Forehand Preparation
The Djokovic forehand is one of the most effective and powerful forehands in professional tennis and this is made possible by his world class preparation. The Novak Djokovic forehand preparation is characterized by strong coil of the shoulders, hips and trunk. As a result, Novak is able to create a great body turn and coil just like a pressed metal spring which is ready to spring forward.
Novak Djokovic also executes the split step as he prepares for his opponent’s return. Similar to the other professional players, Novak also performs proper tennis footwork in perfect timing. He quickly begins to execute the split step footwork as his opponent start his foreword racket swing. It should also be noted that Djokovic sometimes executes the split step before he starts moving towards the ball. Once Novak Djokovic lands on the ground, it is also noticeable that he spreads his legs at a wider distance, wider than the shoulder-width which is normally done by many of the professional players. This is done to maintain a low center of gravity which is key to effortless and fluid movement around the tennis court.
Novak Djokovic Forehand Stances
Novak Djokovic forehand execution is done with the semi-open stance. This stance allows him to have proper balance. This type of stance is more or less a combination of the open stance and the neutral stance. The good thing about this stance is that he gets the benefits of both stances. That is the generation of quick racket head speed due to angular momentum (from the open stance) and the generation of linear motion and more forward movement (from the neutral stance). It also allows him the Djokovic forehand to produce so much of the kinetic chain of energy.
The semi-open stance is characterized by the forward and upward push of the legs in addition to a perfect unit turn prior to the opponent’s shot crossing the net. With these movements, Djokovic is able to generate rotational energy needed for the modern forehand. The other advantage of the semi open stance in tennis is that It also allows the legs and torso to rotate, bringing the arm forward.
Novak Djokovic Forehand Backswing
Since the Novak Djokovic forehand is characterized by using the ¾ Western grip (as mentioned above), his racquet face points in downward direction when his racket is positioned at the farthest point of his racket backswing. One of the unique pieces of the Djokovic forehand is the position of the racket during the backswing. In the Novak Djokovic forehand, the racket face is normally facing the ground as he swings the racket forward.
Novak Djokovic’s forehand racket face is usually positioned in a downward manner as the initial step of the forward racket swing allows his racket to come in contact with the ball in a vertical position.
It is also very noticeable that during the farthest point of Novak Djokovic’s backswing, the butt cap of the racket (the end point of the racket handle) points towards the ball. This wrist and arm position in the Djokovic forehand is typical among the pro forehand and this serves as the biggest key in his forehand shot.
This butt cap towards the ball orientation allows the Novak Djokovic forehand to have more control and leverage over the ball. At this point, his left arm plays an important role. He pulls across to the opposite shoulder after the contact point which is another sign of a good forehand shot.
Djokovic Forehand Forward Swing
As Novak Djokovic starts the forward swing of his racket, he also starts to unleash his left and right leg in an upward direction. At the same time, his right arm moves in a forward motion. Just like the other top professional players, Djokovic’s eyes are always glued to the ball at this stage of the Djokovic forehand execution and always. The very fast movements of his two legs and arm are also typical of his forehand shot. At the start of his foreword swing, Djokovic rotates his wrist in such a way that previous position of the racket face (facing downward) is changed with the racket face facing the back fence. This part of the Djokovic forehand swing is that it also helps him create topspin.
As the opponent’s return approaches, Novak Djokovic’s racket begins its downward movement below the path of the ball. This action creates a situation where he can brush up behind the ball and add additional topspin to the shot. The Novak Djokovic forehand is one of the reasons why he among the top pro players that are able to hit a forehand shot with world class power and topspin. In Novak Djokovic’s forehand, the racket head during the forward swing is positioned lower than the ball’s path to properly the brushing of the ball, thus creating topspin.
Novak Djokovic’s Forehand Contact Point
During the Djokovic forehand contact point, his forearm and wrist are fully rotated. Similar to the other professional tennis players on tour, Novak Djokovic’s eyes never leave the ball and his head is always steady when the ball comes in contact with the racket face. Novak Djokovic makes sure to establish a good balance with his feet and lower body during contact which is vital to have an accurate and well executed forehand shot. In addition, the Djokovic forehand hitting arm position and non dominant arm during contact is also perfect. This means that his left arm is always stretched out to give him the perfect balance during the contact.
After the Novak Djokovic Contact Point
Seconds after contact in the Djokovic forehand, the racket face (the stringbed that came in contact with the ball) remains facing the ball for several seconds. A situation like this signifies that Djokovic’s contact point was characterized by a clean point of contact.
Novak Djokovic Forehand Follow Through
The Djokovic forehand follow through starts with his head in a stable position after he hits the ball. In most situations, Novak Djokovic’s forehand elbow position remains the same but at this stage he finishes with more shoulder and hips rotation. Like many of the other pros on tour, the Novak Djokovic Forehand follow through consists of the racket swinging across his body, wrapping around his shoulder and towards his back. This rising of the racket to shoulder level signifies enough topspin creation.
Djokovic Forehand Recovery position
Lastly, during the Djokovic Forehand follow through, he makes sure to finish the shot and immediately returning to the standard recovery position appropriate to the current point situation. Novak Djokovic sometimes comes off the ground during the shot, but once he lands, his weight is more concentrated on his left leg. This element of Novak Djokovic’s Forehand allows him to recover quickly to the right position for his next shot.
Summary of the Djokovic Forehand
In summary, the Djokovic forehand is one of the most effective and powerful forehand shots in professional tennis. In fact, the Novak Djokovic forehand is given the credit for his winning streak in 2011. Many of the same elements of world class tennis forehand technique are present in the Djokovic Forehand. The one unique aspect is that Djokovic’s forehand gets the job done without getting too fancy. In fact, the technical swing pattern of the Djokovic Forehand is quite simple and straight forward. His forehand is mainly characterized by the following:
- Semi open stance that allows him to enjoy the benefits of both the open neutral stance, paired with great hips, shoulders and trunk rotation,
- Constant involvement of his left hand or non dominant hand all throughout the forehand execution (especially for balance and coiling proposes)
- The high follow through which signifies a complete follow through as well as topspin generated on the shot
- Head position is fixated during contact, while the eyes are always alert and always glued on the ball and,
- Speedy racket head that creates pro level power in his shot.
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