Category Archives: Overhead-Smash

Understanding the Tennis Jumped Overhead Smash

W ether you are a great or not great tennis player, tennis strokes, if they are well executed, have undeniable similarities.

Since I hit this overhead in 1974 at the Oslo Open I can positively say that Roger Federer copied my overhead style! (Big green)


The jumped tennis overhead smash, is a very difficult stroke that few master due to the complexity of the co-ordinations involved, timing and the necessary athletic prowess.

Nowadays tennis players go so seldom to the net that the Nr. 1 in the world Novak Djokovic can not hit a decent overhead smash unless it is offered to him like a Aunt Jemima pancake  on a platter!

Of all things that the tennis jumped overhead smash requests, getting up into the air and execute the “ciseau” or chisel leg movement is a must. Here are some examples from the past of players who could truly execute the jumped overhead smash to perfection:

Very few ever hit the tennis jumped overhead smash like Jean Borotra did in the late 1920s and early 1930s!
Jean Borotra using the pronation during the tennis overhead smash!

Jean Borotra in the 1920’s already demonstrated that show boating has been always part of tennis and when Pete Sampras ‘introduced’ the ‘Slam Dunk’  overhead smash to tennis, he was almost 83 years too late!

The bounding basque Jean Borotra in the 1920’s already demonstrated that show boating has been always part of tennis .
Jean Borotra muscling the tennis ball
Jean Borotra muscling the tennis ball with a violent pronation.
Tennis - Wimbledon - Men's Singles - 1928
Henry Bunny Austin Wimbledon – Men’s Singles – 1928.
Teamed up with Fred Perry to win four consecutive Davis Cup finals between 1933 and 1936.
 2nd July 1947:  American tennis player Jack Kramer leaps for a ball in the men's semi-final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. He went on to win the title.   (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)

2nd July 1947: American tennis player Jack Kramer leaps for a ball in the men’s semi-final to hit a jumped overhead smash on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. He went on to win the title.
(Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)
Ken McGregorCirca 1950
Ken McGregor Circa 1950

Even women players were capable hitting the overhead smash! Suzanne Rachel Flore Lenglen was a French tennis player who won 31 Championship titles between 1914 and 1926.

Suzanne Lenglen tennis jumped overhead smash.

Henry Christian ‘Harry’ Hopman CBE (12 August 1906 – 27 December 1985) was a world-acclaimed Australian tennis player and coach.

‘The best tennis coach ever to walk on planet earth! ‘Harry’s’ passion for the game was so great that I am willing to bet he is coaching Angels in Heaven!’ Sérgio Cruz

Harry Hopman 1930s

Roy Stanley Emerson (born 3 November 1936) is an Australian former World No. 1 tennis player who won 12 Grand Slam tournament singles titles and 16 Grand Slam tournament men’s doubles titles. He is the only male player to have won singles and doubles titles at all four Grand Slam events.

Roy Stanley Emerson (born 3 November 1936) is an Australian former World No. 1 tennis player who won 12 Grand Slam tournament singles titles and 16 Grand Slam tournament men's doubles titles. He is the only male player to have won singles and doubles titles at all four Grand Slam events.
Roy Stanley Emerson a great example on how to stay airborne and hit the best overhead smash you can!

Now, there you have it! For a top class tennis jumped overhead smash, you must get up into the air, stay Airborne, use the pronation to smack the tennis ball with total abandonment to corners and angles (if you can do it like Borotra did, do it right to the service box corners!). Remember though, you will need to get ‘way up there’ to do that!


Sérgio Cruz

Why Is The Tennis Jumped Overhead Smash So Hard To play?

Many of you play tennis for years, take lessons from “gurus” like me and others, but your weaknesses remain or get just a little less aggravating, nevertheless still there!

Well do not despair! You are not alone, Novak Djokovic with some blatant weaknesses cannot find a coach who manages to improve his overhead smash for example!

As I say no one should feel embarrassed or ashamed if a challenge in a stroke or two remains hard to erase, you can still be Nr. 1 in the ATP World Tour! Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal can attest to it!

Novack Djokovic Tennis Overhead Smash
Novack Djokovic Tennis Overhead Smash – How not to do it!
An overhead smash by Novak Djokovic
An overhead smash by Novak Djokovic

With this kind of finish on a relatively easy tennis overhead smash by Novak Djokovic, I do not need any further arguments to categorically consider it a real patsy!

Of course I will not explain how should Novak hit the overhead tennis smash or I would be doing for free what consultants and coaches, who “Nole” graciously pays handsome fees, should be doing. To name a few; Marian Vajda, Todd Martin, Wojtek Fibak, Boris Becker and many others not worth to mention.

All I will say is, look at the pictures which follow and try to copy some of it and you will be alright.

In extension do it like Roger Federer (2000’s) and yours truly Sergio Cruz did back in 1974.

If you notice although the world constantly lauds the unbelievable technical improvements of the 2000’s, there is not a singe of difference and I was not a player of Roger’s caliber!

The jumped overhead smash or slam dunk a trade mark of Pete Sampras

No need explain why Pete Sampras had one of the best overhead smashes of all time.

A mighty powerful Jump force that kept Pete Sampras airborne.
A mighty powerful Jump force that kept Pete Sampras airborne.

Athletics, great vertical jumping and perfect co-ordinations play a huge role in the execution of such aerial acrobatics. Today only Roger Federer comes a very distant second.

The powerful finish still very much in the air shows how strong the vertical jump is.
The powerful finish still very much in the air shows how strong Pete Sampras vertical jump is.

Without a strong finish supported by a powerful vertical jump the overhead smash would be a limp thing easily returned by most, this way the opponents had to run into the gallery to have a smidgen of a chance to get to the ball.

A good idea for Novak Djokovic for FREE, just try to follow this gir!
A good idea for Novak Djokovic for FREE, just try to follow this girly jump!

As for Novak Djokovic he could follow the example of the girl in the picture and he would do fantastic! (Big Grin here!)

Keep improving your tennis in 2014!

Sérgio Cruz

…And Novak Djokovic Lost!


Wimbledon 2013 Djokovic Lost – Oh Well!

A few years back I wrote this article about how weak Novak Djokovic’s overhead smash is, at Roland Garros 2013 against Nadal everyone finally saw it!

Andy Murray a large fox saw it too and yesterday at the Wimbledon final 2013, as you all saw, everytime he was in trouble and could play a high and deep lob to Djokovic at the net, he did!

The dividends? All you have to do is next week look at the new balance in Murray’s bank accounts!

In any era of tennis you can NOT have blatant weaknesses, or they will be exploited and punished severely!

Tennis news – See How Roger Federer could have completely destroyed Novak Djokovic in three sets!


As usual I am giving you instruction on how you  can beat a certain player in a given situation, simply by observing and by that I mean seeing and then consistently pick at your opponents weaknesses until you bare him/her naked and beat them!

When I tell you the tactic …you will laugh, but I drove many a player (with such a weakness) to tears with it and I guarantee it Works!


Impossible? No! Easy and achievable? Yes!

For you to have a better understanding I have to bring you back to 1973 in a city in Spain called Cadiz, most famous for Sherry wine, but which at the time organized a pretty decent international tennis tournament.

Among the players there were some Australians and two of them were Keith Hancock (a former Australian Junior champion) and Mark Edmonson (Australian Open winner later), traditionally following in the foot steps of John Newcombe.

As a player I never lost an opportunity to learn and therefore watched both matches from these talented players against an old fox from Colombia William Alvarez, more commonly called ‘Willie’.

Before I go on I must explain that, ‘Willie’ in his prime, beat Manolo Santana,
Roy Emerson, Rod Laver among others. In other words a real tough cookie!

Around 37 years old Willy carried a respectable belly (about half a basket ball) walked around with duck feet and held the racket with some unexplainable grips.

Sure enough for the uninformed a character like this was going to be easy prey for Keith a 20 year old super fit Australian with powerful baseline shots,
an unbelievable net game and especially a great over head! But the
crowd was knowledgeable and I could see the glee on those Spanish spectators eyes in anticipation of a great fight!

In the first set it looked like Keith was going to go for a walk in the park! But ‘Willie’ had just been in the process of taking measure of his opponent, suddenly balls started to get deeper and
deeper, Keith could not find inner roads to the attack and when he did it was at Alvarez’s invitation who with a well disguised and measured passing punished Keith
over and over.

Normally Keith served and volleyed superbly and at the highest level, but he was caught either midway to the net with an early taken return which passed him or with a ball to his shoe laces which he often volleyed
exceptionally well and closed in to the net.

The response from ‘Willie’ was repeatedly more brilliant either a great passing shot or an incredible tight lob that stretched Keith to the limits of his back pedaling jump or to have to retrieve it after it bounced, to start it all over again!

Keith put up a valiant fight but after changing shirts at least five times, drenched in sweat and full of red clay dust from the several spills and dives, congratulated ‘Willie’ at the net (who by the
way never changed shirts!).

Well, I thought, ‘this 37 year old guy with a pot belly half the size of a basket ball… recovery, the Spanish August sun 35 to 40 degree centigrade, hum…he is done for the next round!’

Wrong! The 1976 Australian Open future champion Mark Edmonson was also going to learn a lesson for life!

Same script different players, Willie, confused, mesmerized, stretched and trounced Edmonson the very same way he did to Hancock!

You can give me all the books in the world ‘The Winning Ugly’, ‘The consistent Tennis wins’ to read, but what I learned on those hot summer afternoons in Cadiz (1973!) eclipse all of it by worlds!

Roger Federer in his match against Djokovic at the US Open 2010 was possibly too busy looking pretty at the on court TV screen that he forgot he was there to win! Sometimes a tennis player has to look ugly to win!

During the match Federer got himself busy trading aggressive shots with his opponent from the baseline, but he forgot two fundamental things:

– First, that is exactly what Djokovic LOVES….PACE! Take away the pace and force Djokovic to generate it himself and you have a totally different ball game!

Second, Federer forgot that with his foot speed he could have taken away pace from the ball (force Novak to generate pace himself, which he does not like) by keeping the ball deep and neutralize the running around which in the end killed Roger.

As you saw by hitting hard Federer was also hitting shorter which allowed Djokovic to control inside the court and make
him run.

What would come next?

Once the running and all the hitting was done with and Djokovic was tamed and ready for ‘treatment’, Federer’s skills and variations could be set-up effectively.

It has been proven in other matches that when forced to generate pace himself Djokovic’s error quote raises substantially.

Also there is ample evidence that the Federer slice is more effective on slower balls.
This would have made the attack and winner opportunities raise exponentially.

The staggering 70 unforced errors from Federer would have been reduced to not even 30! Just here the match would have been won by huge margins!

Of course I could now go on to talk about what happened to the Roger Federer serve and volley, and more attacks, and the pressure on second serves (another Achilles of Djokovic) and so on, instead I am going to blow your mind with this, but first you have to watch the following video:


Roger-Federer-Novak-Djokovic-Lob-tacticsLaunch in external player

Now let us analyze what you saw.

First you see Djokovic in a perfect attacking position hitting a good deep shot to Federer’s backhand.
Also as you see in the first picture Djokovic is perfectly positioned on the T-line does not make a move forward and gets ready for a gimme (easy) lob from Federer.


A ready and expecting a lob Djokovic takes a couple steps back and is in position to put away the ball from Federer with an easy smash!


Now pay attention to the picture below, what is happening? Roger simulates a move to the right but, has not moved all the way to the center of the court and Djokovic, instead of hitting the smash for a winner into the huge open court area on the right, ‘patsies’ it back to Federers backhand once more.


Federer obliges and gives Novak another lob to the same spot, which Djokovic, barely having to move, completely fumbles into the net!


Boy I knew the overhead from Djokovic was weak, I had seen it fail in years past, but not this weak!

What did Roger learn or remember if he could still think? That Novak cannot put a butterfly away with his overhead smash!

My mind reeled back to 1973 and I could see how Willie would have dismantled Djokovic long before the pressure situation Federer and Novak were into in the fifth set!

What other tactics should Federer have implemented to have Novak Djokovic head
completely dizzy?

Slow things down as I said in the beginning, than use Federers great short slice backhand and forehand angle to pull Djokovic out of the court and force him to come in (unwanted) behind these difficult approach shots.

In order for Djokovic to have correct placement at the net, either from the backhand or forehand he would be forced to cover the side of the court.

At this point the ‘games’ would begin for Federer.

Tactical lobs

From such an uncomfortable position Djokovic would leave a huge gap on either side (of course Fededer could
pass him there, but the point is to hurt Novak mentally) and Federer can lob at ease cross court.

On either side Djokovic would be on the stretch pedaling backward for the most difficult shot in tennis – the overhead with the ball moving cross court away from you.

After a while Roger would have Djokovic so frazzled that I doubt Novak could make an overhead.

Second once Roger had Novak struggling after three or for times, back pedaling and stretching for the overheads, Dojokovic smart as he is, would hit the approach shot and stop coming in expecting the lob, sure enough Roger would
pass him in the open space instead.

My example was given with angle shots but, this can be done with both players in neutral positions (graphics below):

Roger Federer strech lob

The first yellow trace near the net is Djokovic’s ideal split step position after the approach shot the yellow traces backwards show how stretched Novak would be to make it to the lob.

Roger Federer short ball

Of course Federer would not win all the points. Novak would win some but, the key to this tactic would be to get Djokovic out of his comfort zone which is the baseline, bring him to the net unwillingly
(were he does not want to be), undermine Novaks confidence at the net and exploit an extremely weak overhead to the point of no return.

Do you believe it would work? I bet you it would! Do you want to laugh now? Go ahead but, first go to Keith Hanckok and Mark Edmonson who had real overhead smashes and could smash 50 times better then Novak Djokovic ever will and ask them if it works?

Just take my word for it, I saw Illie Nastase (former Nr. 1 ATP) do this in Madrid to Manolo Orantes (‘local matador’ former Nr. 2 ATP) to the point that
the embarrassment was so huge that Orantes half way through the match could barely walk.

When should this type of tactic be implemented?

– Against players like Djokovic who have weak overhead smashes.

– From the beginning of the match and consistently until you break down your opponent.

– During your opponents service games. (In your service games play your conventional type game).

All I have to say is, that this is a laughable tactic that used wisely and effectively can bring any opponent to tears and Roger could have done just that to Djokovic at the US Open 2010 final.

You can use it too to drive your friends and foes up the wall!

Sergio Cruz 

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