The Best of London 2015 Hot Shots

The London World Tour Finals are behind us. What a glorious end to the exciting season of 2015! For those who haven’t been following, the finals are played by the top 8 ranked players at the end of each season. This is where modern tennis gladiators clash for one last time, before packing up and winding down for the end of the season.

This is the fourth year that has been dominated by Novak Djokovic who managed to write down a victory over Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 in the finals. What’s been interesting this time is that we saw two matches by these top tennis gurus, with very different results. In the round robin, Federer won the match against Djokovic with the result of 7-5, 6-2.

All in all - this has been an amazing tournament to follow and there has been quite a barrage of breathtaking points. Let’s check them out:

Rafael Nadal’s amazing lob against Wawrinka

This point starts with a well-placed chip return down the line by Stan. Rafa runs around it to hit a blasting forehand towards the backhand side. This is a risky move as it leaves the court open, but Stan doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity, hitting to the center of the court and helping Rafa recover. Rafa’s next shot goes crosscourt to Stan’s backhand and this time he takes a lead by pushing his opponent off the court with a sharp angled backhand and then going for a down the line shot to stretch Rafa. Few more shots follow, with an approach shot that places Stan on the net. He hits a short and sharp backhand volley to the side of the court. This is the time everyone thought the point was over. Everyone except Rafa, he runs it down and lobs Stan with a perfect shot that lands crosscourt and right on the base line.

Roger’s masterful half-volley

This one is from their round robin match where Roger has a break-point and a chance to end the first set. He chooses to return a slice to Djokovic’s backhand side and then he plays a strong inside-in forehand to set Novak on the run. This shot is successfully followed by a down the line forehand to Novak’s backhand side. At this moment, Novak is defending with all his might, and running all over the court. Roger takes the opportunity to attack the net and to everyone's surprise, he plays a masterful half-volley that landed right on the sideline. This kind of shot is extremely difficult to pull off and one of the shots that require a tremendous amount of feeling. We could argue that this set-closing shot was the one that decided the outcome of the whole match.

Murray’s unbelievable running forehand

When you run down all those shots and defend well, you always deserve to win the point. This is what Murray did here. The point starts with a hard serve down the T which Murray just barely catches with his racquet. Then follows a time warping inside-out forehand by Wawrinka that Murray struggles to run down on his backhand side. Stan took this opportunity to position himself on the net and places a great forehand volley crosscourt. This was a great shot and the court was completely open. Here comes the most unexpected plot twist, Murray runs down this shot, and somehow manages to get to this ball even though such an endeavour seemed impossible. His forehand shot lands right on the baseline inspiring a roaring cheer from the crowd.

Federer all-court magic

This was a great example from the finals of how tennis can be so much fun to play (or just watch). The point starts with an aggressive topspin backhand return by Roger, hitting a nice angle. Djokovic stretches down to catch the ball and the point is now neutralized, at least until Roger runs around the ball on his backhand side to hit an aggressive forehand down the line. Novak responds to this with a masterful forehand, that landed with a sharp angle inside the service box on the deuce side of the court. This means that the Roger is now on the run. He somehow manages to get to the ball and play it deep, forcing a defensive backhand return from Novak, and a short put-away ball in the middle of the service box. Of course, Roger takes the opportunity and attacks with a blasting backhand towards Novak’s forehand side. Novak somehow manages to return the ball, only to meet Roger’s legendary half-volley. Now, here is an unexpected shot. Novak chooses to catch this ball in the air with a volley shot, in order to lob Roger. Barely, just barely Roger gets to it and puts it away with a smashing overhead.

This point was a great example of skill and versatility tennis titans of today possess. The point had everything in it. Arguably, the best of tennis there is. It’s so exciting to see Federer and other players playing more aggressive, all-court tennis in these modern times - just when we thought the volleys and net style of play was surely fading away.