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Brains vs Power

by GP

Our guest contributor Evan Gaudreau is back with another match analysis. This time he deals with Medvedev vs Aliassime from the Australian Open Quarter-finals. We call it Brains vs Power.

Daniil Medvedev d. Felix-Auger Aliassime 6-7, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5, 6-4. Was it a cause of Brains vs Power? Let’s take a deep look…If you like this type of analysis, check out the Australian Open 2022 Final analysis here.

Evan has a Facebook page called Lone Wolf Tennis.

To Gilles Cervara

I think Medvedev could have won the match in straight sets! First, let me explain.

Felix is what I call a technician. Someone who is in love with their form (which is pretty good if I do say so myself). You can see how good his form is and he does too, that psyche built from years as a junior being told how great you are and then the compounding belief that you are, which again, is fine, but it will be his downfall if he cannot look past his athletics. There’s a reason why technicians lose to brains like Djokovic, Nadal and Medvedev.

But man! If this talent could have a brain to go with that game.

You see, technicians come from another place. They come from the Wizard of Oz. In Oz, they call technicians Scarecrows.
“What would you do if you had a brain?” Dorothy asked the Scarecrow.
Felix would compete for 20+ majors. That’s what he would do. And he’s putting in the work…with Toni! Who did what with his nephew?

Brains vs Power

When I looked at the match, one thing, among others, popped up. It’s what I call “grip change.” The longer you play crosscourts with Felix, the better he gets. And he’s developing spots in the crosscourts that are tough to be countered. But there’s one mixed combo that works more than others. The combo mixed with the fact that he has issues with “grip change” (the concept of making your opponent switch from forehand to backhand quickly), makes it hard to adjust. Especially, if you mix the combos with long combos. And mediums.

When should you do quick mix combos? When should you do long combos? Or Mediums? That is the million-dollar qwestin’ (said question). Gladly send me one million dollars to my Go Fund Me page. Or send me one-million in unmarked bills to my off shore account.

Seriously, though. In the first two games, there were only two groundstroke points won. By whom? Medvedev of course.
Two quick combos. In the first game he used a 1/2/1 combo. One to the deep middle, two to the forehand deuce corner and then one over to the backhand corner. If you’re watching, what you will see is a weird hesitation in Felix as he shifts from forehand to backhand for ball #5 in the rally. And he hits it wide. This is important.

The Perfect Stroke – is it worth it?

You can see all those years of developing the perfect stroke and the idea of how perfect it is. All those years, and it’s still there. His love for the swing, his love of the feeling. But that feeling is mixed with the hesitation.

What is the hesitation? The mind saying did I do this right? So many juniors and college players AND Future players fall into this trap. They’re just not as funded and gifted as Felix.

How do I know this? I was one of those players. In love with my strokes. How effortless I look on the court and having all the shots etc. What? You never saw me on TV? Hmm. I wonder why? I trained at the tennis academy’s. I worked my butt off. I perfected every shot and during that time I spent too much time in the aesthetic world of looking good and listening to all the people tell me how good my strokes were. And I fell for it, falling for the trap, slipping away down the hole into oblivion.

Listen! When you don’t get told at home how great you are, you’ll take it any way you can get it. Unfortunately.

There’s more to that. PTSD. Let’s look at some symptoms. Agitation. Irritability. Hostility. Hypervigilance. Self-destructive behavior. Mistrust. Emotional detachment.

Wow! All symptoms I seem to understand and have. That’s weird. I can see it in other people too. Can you tell which player?More on that later.

Medvedev and quick combos

Daniil Medvedev's Tennis Racquet

What were we talking about before? Quick combos. Got it!

In the second game, during point #3, Medvedev uses a quick combo. A simple one to the forehand, deuce side box 3 and then one to the backhand AD side box 2. Felix hits one forehand and then runs around the other and sprays an inside out shot. No biggie. But…

During game 3, Medvedev’s serve at 15-0 he goes for a backhand down the line and misses. Unforced error. Why is this important?

Because he’s up a point, he’s in ok position and it allows him to “hide” the quick combo. He already used it once in the two previous games and why waste it if you don’t need it. No quick combos in that game. Now to game four.

Medvedev returns to the middle of the baseline. Felix hits an unforced error. Medvedev, on the next point, returns middle, then three shots to the backhand, a *backhand down the line* and then has a good look for a forehand winner and sprays it.
(The backhand redirect is important because he likes that set up). He lost an opportunity here but an unforced error is not a tactical mistake. It was the right play. He just didn’t execute.

But check the next point. Double fault. 15-30 (could have been 0-40. Simple observation). I meant check point #4.
This is the first tactical mistake of the set. Up 15-30. Could have been 0-40. Should it have been? I think Medvedev thinks so and makes a mental error. He plays his 0-40 point at 15-30 and loses the point and it his first long combo. One to the middle. Second shot to the forehand. And then a series of shots, 3-7, to backhand side. 2 to the forehand and 2 to the backhand.

If this isn’t a mental mistake than I must be Cosmo Kramer.

A mental mistake

It’s a HUGE mistake for two reasons. Actually three. He played his long combo on the wrong point. 2) Felix just hit a ton of forehands and it is heating up and 3) I call this a mental trigger. Felix hit a winner, on a point that should have been a quick combo. Winners trigger and compound the mental mistake. (Winners by themselves are like stats or metrics. It’s just at stat at the end of the day. How many winners you hit vs unforced errors). Now, when you hit a winner against an opponent who, made a mental error, allowed you to heat up your forehand and has triggers brought on by PTSD? I’m just wondering…this could be interesting.

Oh yeah. He has a blessing and a curse. A high functioning brain that is wicked smart and HE knows it.
It can be a strength or It can be a weakness. Game lost! Look at the next game.

15-0. Long combo. Wins the point on a tape unforced error that was smoked by Felix. Again, up a point, he could have maybe used a quick combo. A grip change combo! This point affects the next because, he must be questioning the decision. I would be. Are you following, Cosmo? I’m teaching you how to combo. I don’t see this combo work outside the top couple guys.

Remember!! It’s not the combos that are important. It’s how you use them! And when. Do you know why no one uses them?
They don’t know how to train them and make them happen without losing concentration. It’s not about how well you hit the ball. It’s about how well your brain can process what’s going on. I’m getting pissed explaining this. My PTSD is kicking in. I’m getting triggered. Go work on your memory. Sorry. I need to behave. I’m going to take a few breaths and calm down.

Another mental mistake

Medvedev wins that point. Yet on the next point he hits a swinging volley back to Felix’s forehand and gets passed easily.
Are you surprised? Mental Mistake. Should have gone to backhand, especially while he’s up in the game, especially when you need to establish a short-ta-ball routine, you meat-ta-ball.

Again. Gets out of the game but comes with a price. He just doesn’t know it yet. The next game watch how Felix finishes the game. 40-15, With a volley. Planting the seed on game point. 3-3.

Threw in one long combo in next game to offset the quick combos. Great game for Daniil. Another thing popped up. Players who are all about the strokes occasionally get the shanks here and there. Felix hits the top of the frame at least 10 times during the match. Grip change mistake. But man! Felix is learning to play the crowd. And they seem to like him.

I’m only going to talk about the last point. Have I ever said, “How you finish games matters.” Well, Medvedev had an opportunity after the serve to come in and potentially win the point at the net but instead retreated back to the baseline and grinded out the rest of the point.

Let me add something to the quick combos. Finishing and mixing the quick combos is great. But if you can sneak in and finish off the point at the net. That “Sears” into your brain. Now that’s another element to worry about. It’s putting the squeeze on your opponent like a python, taking the breath out of your opponent. Watch in the final. That’s what Nadal has been doing. Serve and Volley when up in the game, especially on game point.


Triggers and Compounds. With grip changers, you can also get them with service patterns. Manipulation. Check the combos at 5-5. Worth watching. Notice two triggers for Medvedev. Missed easy swinging volley on game point and double faulted to lose the game. Triggers. Pattern emerging.

To get into a tiebreaker, he breaks back and does it with three quick combos in a row. The quick combo I’m starting to like is the middle shot mixed with the next shot going to one side, one point, and the other side the next point.

One tactic I think would bug a player like Medvedev or any player who is temperamental is using the clock time differently. Establish a pattern of say, 20 seconds between points, then throw a couple quicker points in. It’s a little bush league but Tom Brady does that all the time to throw off the defense and get his personnel package out there at the defense’s disadvantage. Bush league, I know.

What are mixed combos?

It has been brought to my attention that the “club” players at home or aspiring junior players might not understand the mixed combos. Listen.

First get good at or master the quick combos. They’re easy to see. These patterns dominate the game right now and have dominated the game for years and they’re not going away. Federer being the King of the quick combo. But how do those combos fair against Nadal and Djokovic…Who play mixed combos?

Look at the head to head. Now, Djokovic takes mixed combos to another level which I’ll get into in the future. He doesn’t want you to know what he does, but my meatball brain sees it.

He must be laughing, after matches…after a 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 straight setter. Why? Because he knows people don’t know what he’s up to strategically. Like you, I have been foolish this whole time. Focused on Federer’s technique and grace on the court. His athleticism. All that great show making.

Final thought. If Felix gets it…Or Jannik…Tennis world watch out. That would be the complete package. Mix the brain with the athleticism. That’s scary.

One major point I have to add that’s been bugging me. No ad scoring. I saw a post by someone who spoke of no ads and how that would improve the game. I have to be rude here. You’re a moron. Why? It turns Chess into checkers.

Think about it. Question: What’s easier? To win one point against someone or a series of points? Answer: One
Does this make for exciting tennis? I guess. But it takes the thinking out of the match and the game planning and the brain. This is brought up by players who play at low levels and don’t get the mental strategy.

More specifically, players below 10 UTR. I’m not picking on you, I just want to educate you ASAP. Have patience and give me time. Secret: Why do we have no ad in Division 1 college tennis? Because some bozo player kept calling lets on aces during the NCAA Team Finals during the 98’ season. And got away with it and changed the rule, inadvertently.

For the worst.

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