Six players who give it their best shot by Britain's former Davis Cup coach Warren Jacques

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Goran Ivanisevic

First serve

THE REASON why Goran has such a dynamic and daunting first serve is that he has an exceptionally quick action off a fairly low toss-up of the ball. He has a tremendous wrist whip which is very hard to read and causes the other players a lot of concern. With most of the big servers you find after a while that you can read the pace and predict the direction of the ball, but if Goran gets into a good rhythm then his serve is almost impossible to anticipate because it is so well disguised. Not only is the speed extremely hard to face and coun-ter, but the receiver loses a vital split-second through his own uncertainty.

Pete Sampras

Second serve

PETE has such a perfect rhythm and natural acceleration through the ball that both his first and second serves carry a tremendous amount of disguise. He has an excellent wrist action which generates extreme power without using too much muscle. He is so clever at mixing it up on his second serve. He has a good slice serve, which is essential for grass because a lot of players struggle to stretch down to the low bounce. But he can also produce the second serve with a big kick, which you see a lot on clay courts. His ability to maintain the penetration of his second serve for so long into a match is very impressive.

Michael Stich


MICHAEL has hardly played since injuring his left ankle last October, so to reach the French Open final in only his second event back was exceptional. He has a terrific all-round game which is even better suited to grass than clay, and he is probably the best volleyer in tennis. He has a conventional grip, unlike Agassi or Muster, who use either a western or exaggerated eastern grip, and therefore can volley consistently on both sides without having to adjust it. His anticipation is superb and he meets the ball cleanly in front of his body. His natural hand and wrist action enable him to volley with little apparent effort.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov


KAFELNIKOV'S only problem is that he doesn't yet have a great liking for, or familiarity with, grass. But he has one of the best forehands in the game - it's right up there with Agassi's, and there can be no higher praise. He has a short backlift and gives it a strong, powerful thump. He can hit it flattish, with exaggerated slice, top spin and a disguised lob, all of which are extremely useful on grass. His top-spin forehand return is a particularly dangerous weapon because it delivers the ball at the feet of the ser- ver. He can hit running forehands from every angle and every part of the court, down the line and across court.

Boris Becker


VARIATION is the key to Boris's backhand. You name it, he's got it in his armoury - flat hits, top-spins, chips and slices. His top-spin lob from the backhand side is absolutely exquisite and he executes it with no effort at all. You can only hit your backhands like this if you have really strong wrists. For a good backhand, you need mobility and anticipation. Boris has both despite being a pretty big guy. He gets into the right position quickly (he's very good at predicting his opponents' movements) and hits with great authority. His stock shot is the chipped backhand approach - it's always so accurate and penetrating.

Andre Agassi

Return of serve

ANDRE reads the game so well and his reflexes are so quick that he has a return of service which ordinary mortals can only dream about. He meets the ball so early - a lot of the players stand 10 feet back from the baseline, but Andre always stands on the line even if he's facing Ivanisevic. With his eye, he could have been a world-class batsman or baseball hitter. He has a short backswing and is adept at turning the pace of the serve against the server. His two-fisted backhand is a dynamic weapon, but he's so consistent - down the line, cross-court or lobbing over the top.

Interview by Paul Trow