Over the past decade, the gentleman's sport of tennis has gotten decidedly less gentle. It's faster, more ferocious, and less forgiving than ever before, both physically and mentally. Balls are hit with more power, at sharper angles, and with previously unheard-of amounts of spin. At events like the U.S. Open, weakness is exploited and punished. Points are harder to defend, but they're also more difficult to win. The top players have raised their own levels, transforming themselves into rare physical specimens who can play at maximum intensity for more than five hours in searing heat.
And though they've engineered themselves into winning machines with thousands of hours of practice, the best still manage to stay flexible and creative, improvising shots and shredding conventional textbook rules as they slide across the hard court. But it's not just the pros who are doing it – the power game is being played everywhere from Roland Garros to your town court. Sure, you may never hit a forehand like Rafael Nadal, slide like Novak Djokovic, or float like Roger Federer. But you can crank up the pace on your shots and outsmart – and outplay – better players. Or just hit more winners.
We asked tennis pro par excellence Rick Macci, former coach of Andy Roddick, the Williams sisters, and Maria Sharapova, how to emulate the best shots made by the best players on tour. He suggested we go on the offensive.