For many years Novak Djokovic has been operating at the highest level in tennis, we can wax lyrical over many shots but one shot we don’t talk about too much is the drop shot.
It’s been there for many years, here’s one from Shanghai a fair few years back.
This image doesn’t show the disguise which I will come onto later on in the piece but a simple backhand to backhand rally is quickly put to rest with a deadly drop shot winner.
Even at the beginning of the year at the ATP Cup this was a theme. Once he got that backhand into play you could just sense it was becoming a theme and it had Nadal pulled out.
Before 2020 got postponed Djokovic was in an unrivalled run and was of course unbeaten in eighteen matches and seven top ten wins which is fantastic and this was key to it.
His run in Dubai of course nearly ended against Monfils down three match points in the tie-breaker but before the semi-final against the Frenchman his drop shots for the tournament looked like this:
The depth was simply incredible from Djokovic, on route to the semi-finals he won 22/24 drop shots, it was a simply insane performance one again.
Anyone can drop shot but it’s all about the disguise…
Monte-Carlo last year, Djokovic is lining up that backhand against Taylor Fritz. He could go down the line or cross court but the disguise is perfectly last minute to alter the course of the rally and end the point.
Wishing seconds of the ball bouncing he takes the left hand off and perfectly executes a disguised drop shot winner.
Are we seeing it more?
I think we are seeing more of it, it was a consistent theme in Djokovic’ run of 18 consecutive wins in 2020 before the Coronavirus pandemic and you have to look at the points won.
22/24 points won in Dubai and before his Dubai semi-final is incredible. When you consider you need four consecutive points to win a game, were talking bit points building up.
I do think we are seeing it more, we saw him taunt people with it at the Adria Tour first weekend in Belgrade. Ok, yes it is an exhibition but these guys are playing their games with the future in mind.
Part of me thinks we are now seeing more and more of it because Djokovic is now older. He recently turned 33 and can still slide around the court better than anyone but this is quicker and trusted way of winning points.
To be world number one you need to stay ahead of the game and he is doing it. No one hits that drop shot from the baseline dead quite like he does.