Patrick Mouratoglou

What makes a great player?

Patrick Mouratoglou

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Diversity is what makes tennis so special -
different surfaces, different balls and changeable weather conditions support
the variety factor. Not to mention the wide mixture of games.

Even if there are very few serve and volley
players in the modern era, many players possess their own assets. Technique,
shot selection, game phases and tactics are what build players.

Each player makes their shot selections in
order to use their best assets to target their opponent's weaknesses.

My job is to use all this information to
build a plan highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of my player's opponent.
I like to work with my player's strengths as well as her favourite game phase
while trying to figure out how to expose the weaknesses of the opponent.

Some players possess qualities that are way
above average and it is interesting to take a look at the main aspects of the
game and the players who best demonstrate such tactics.

Analysing an opponent's strength

Every player possesses strengths: some use
it with greater efficiency, others will have numerous regrets at the end of
their career. Obviously the top five in the world know how to use all their
best assets. So let's take a look at those who have made the best of their

1. Rainer Schuettler

2. Arnaud Clement

3. David Ferrer

All of these players have been in the top
10 at some point in their careers and two of them have even managed to reach a
Grand Slam final. It was a shock to many of the profession to see them get to
that position but they deserve great respect because of it.

The main underachievers

In my opinion the three players that have
most failed to take advantage of their potential are:

1. Richard Gasquet

2. Marcos Baghdatis

3. Xavier Malisse

The first two players of my list were
ranked in the top 10 position before they even turned 22 and everyone saw a
great future ahead of them.

With that being said, the top two of my
list are only 24 and 25 years of age respectively. Marcos and Richard have
recently showed better signs and there is still time for them to get much
better results, but it will be more and more difficult to reach the top.

The best under-20 potential players

It is always fascinating to see new young
players emerging. Here's my top five under-20 list of the greatest talents who
should enjoy a great future.

1. Andrei Kuznetsov - current ranking 167

Born in 1991, Kuznetsov has already won the
junior boys' Wimbledon title. He has tremendous potential, is very relaxed, and
plays clean tennis. He knows how to mix his shots and grass suites his game
very well. He is coached by his father.

2. Bernard Tomic - current ranking 223

Born in 1992, this Australian with Croatian
origins has won the junior boys US Open. He is also coached by his father and
has an atypical game. Bernard can play easy tennis, has great touch and
understands the game very well.

3. Filip Krajinovic - current ranking 184

Born in 1992 in Serbia, he is yet to win a
title in the junior category but possesses the right spirit and plays clean
enough tennis to move up quickly.

4. Ryan Harrison - current ranking 215

The American was born in 1992 and is also
yet to win a junior title. But he keeps on improving.

5. Grigor Dimitrov - current ranking 281

Born in 1991 in Bulgaria, Dimitrov has won
the junior boys' Wimbledon and US Open titles. He beat Tomas Berdych and pushed
Nadal to a third set last year but has not improved as expected since then. But
he has been working with Peter MacNamara since July at my academy and seems to
be getting back into winning habits.

The best defensive players

1. Rafael Nadal

2. Gael Monfils

3. Lleyton Hewitt

It is almost impossible to pass these three
players. They see the ball very early, have great anticipation, very fast
footwork, and good balance in order to get the ball back in play.

The most powerful players

1. Fernando Gonzalez

2. Ernests Gulbis

3. Robin Soderling

These players can strike the ball with
fire, they can hit winners from anywhere in the court.

They can execute such shots thanks to the
speed of their arm, which increases the speed of the ball way above average.

But these three players need to figure out
how to structure their game as well as figuring out and when to attack.
Gonzalez had a better game plan when he was coached by Larry Stefanki, while
Soderling is getting better at structuring his game with the help of Magnus
Norman, as is Ernests Gulbis, who is working with Hernan Gumy.

To be continued ...

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