Did you ever wonder what a 2500-rated player was thinking during a match? What thoughts were going through his head? What were his initial game tactics and how did his tactics change during the match?
For those of you who know me… You have probably seen that I play fairly aggressively on serve return, backhand loops, forehand loops, and counterloops. Why is this? It is because of the type of opponents that I’m playing against. Many US players are so consistent against long pushes and soft blocks, that I’m forced to play more aggressive to put them into a defensive position. In this video, you will see that I played a much much different style. Why is that? Watch the video and read the detailed analysis…
1. Donglong Hao (rated 2569) and I (rated 2560) had never played against each other previously. Prior to the match, I had done some studying and knew that he was a long pips chopper on the backhand and an inverted chopper/looper on the forehand. He also did some studying on my game and had a slight idea of my strengths and weaknesses, but only from observation.
2. Prior to the match, I practiced with Angela Guan for about 3 hours to warm-up my looping and pushing against chop. Practicing patience and control beforehand, did me so much good and put me in the correct mindset.
3. Initially, I made many mistakes and he was winning a significant amount of point from my errors. I was excited to play and wanted to do my best. Still, I was overzealous and went for too much, initially.
4. I mistakenly hesitated on his serve, which caused many errors initially. Later, I was able to loop his serve with good spin and control, and he was forced to serve short more often.
5. He attacked powerfully with his forehand; however, I was able to return his powerful loops. Every time, I returned one of his “winning” shots, I felt the life go out of him.
6. As the match progressed, I become more stable and wasn’t afraid of his attack. I continued to re-assure myself that I could block his attack and the only way for him to possibly win the match was for me to over-hit. I actually wanted him to attack.
7. With his forehand (inverted rubber) he was able to make excellent spin variation while keeping the ball deep and fairly low. When looping to his forehand, I didn’t have much confidence.
8. With his backhand (long pips) he was not able to give much spin variation and I knew that the amount of spin returning to me was proportional to the spin that I gave to him. When I looped to the long pips with good spin, there was heavy chop coming back. When I rolled the ball soft without much spin to the long pips, there was very light backspin coming back to me.
9. It became more and more evident as the match progressed, that I should loop primarily to the backhand and middle. As I continued looping to his backhand and middle, I gained more and more confidence.
10. When I pushed to the forehand he would often loop. However, when I pushed deep to the backhand, he wasn’t willing to pivot and use his forehand from the backhand side.
11. During the match, there was a couple of unlucky calls against me by the umpire. Unfortunately, I did let those somewhat bother my concentration for a short time.
12. Overall, patience paid off and I was able to win with consistent loops and pushes. With giving good spin variation to the middle and backhand, I waited patiently until he missed or popped it up.