Returning serves faster than 200km/h is hard enough at the best of times.
Now a viral photo has revealed the unusual lengths one of the world’s best tennis players goes to prepare for returning those flying green missile back over the net.
At a French Open training session, world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas was spotted using an unconventional method to prepare for his third round match-up against big-serving American John Isner.
The Greek superstar got his practice partner to serve from just behind the service line, in an effort to replicate Isner’s lightning quick serves and sharpen up his reflexes.
How did Tsitsipas prepare to return Isner’s monster serve tonight? Had his practice partner serve from close to the service box. https://t.co/JiS8jMJQuT
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) June 4, 2021
The 208cm Isner is renowned for his fast and powerful serve.
New York Times tennis reporter Christopher Clarey tweeted the photo and wrote: “How did Tsitsipas prepare to return Isner’s monster serve tonight? Had his practice partner serve from close to the service box.”
The strategy was clearly successful, with Tsitsipas defeating Isner in four sets 5-7 6-3 7-6 6-1, despite the giant American still managing to hit 19 aces.
“I didn’t have the best start I would say, but things started going my way in the second set. My head kind of cleared up and helped me to that important victory,” Tsitsipas said after the win.
Isner was the fourth American man to lose on Friday, joining Steve Johnson, Reilly Opelka and Marcos Giron.
Tsitsipas, 22, is yet to win a grand slam but is considered one of the few players that could challenge for this year’s French Open title and end Rafael Nadal’s reign of dominance at Roland Garros.
He will next face Spain’s 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round.
— with AFP
Originally published as Tennis world loses mind over insane photo