Originally written on Eye On Sports with Eric Williams  |  Last updated 10/23/14
If you’re an avid tennis player or dedicated, longtime fan of the sport, then you likely already know all about the incomparable Roger Federer, the sport’s all-time leader in Grand Slam victories and a player that is now, widely considered the game’s greatest player ever.While Federer’s skill level is obviously extremely high in every aspect of the game, players of all ages and skill sets would do well to incorporate a few snippets of the Swiss superstar’s one-of-a-kind game into their own respective game to maximize their chances of on-court success. Of course, there are about a thousand things every player can learn from the Swiss superstar, but hey, I’m not writing a book, but these helpful tips are a start at the very least. To that end, I have come up with a fun-filled list of five things that all tennis players can learn from the great Roger Federer. ServeI always say that Roger Federer’s impressive, but not overpowering, serve, is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location! Federer’s serve isn’t nearly as overpowering as former contemporary Andy Roddick’s once formidable 145-mph bombs or even today’s big servers like John Isner, Milos Raonic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  No…Federer’s ‘service greatness’ certainly doesn’t come from having the ability to crank up a serve to 140 mph whenever he feels like it. Yet, the game’s most popular player uses a nearly unmatched array of serves to befuddle his opponents that all feature deadly pinpoint accuracy. One moment, Federer is hitting his incomparable – and unhittable – slice out wide from the deuce court  and the next he’s going up the ‘T’ with a flat blast that may only top out at around 130 mph, but one that generally catches lines so often that it either ends up as an ace or service winner. Make no mistake about it…learning to put a little bit of variation into your service game like Roger Federer will go a long way toward improving the on-court results of all tennis players.Approach ShotIf there’s one aspect of Federer’s game that all tennis players (particularly American ones) should incorporate into their respective games, it’s his simplistic approach to the approach shot, pardon the pun. When Federer gets a short ball (to either wing) inside the service box and moves forward to attack it, you just never know what shot is going to come next – unlike many mindless Americans that routinely think ‘bash the ball’ right before striking it. Well, not Federer mind you… and recreational players everywhere would do well to take notice of Fed’s myriad approach shots. From his deftly disguised drop shot to his laser-like cross-court winners or down the line ‘slow rollers’ Federer is a master of mixing up the short ball approach shot while maximizing his chances of winning the point with a single groundstroke or ensuing volley.ForehandIf you know anything about tennis, then you already know that Roger Federer’snow-legendary forehand is in a class of its own. The Swiss superstar uses his multi-faceted forehand in a variety of ways that tennis players everywhere would do well to copy.  From his original – and now widely-duplicated – windshield wiper forehand to his flatter more penetrating drives deep into the court, Roger Federer has used his No.1 offensive weapon to win a record, 17 majors. One of the things I like best about Federer’s forehand is the fact that he can hit his inside-out forehand nearly as fast as his cross-court forehand, a task that certainly isn’t as easy as he makes it look.   Whether he’s going inside-in or disguising his forehand to hit one of his opponent-freezing, crowd-stunning drop shots, Roger Federer uses his inimitable forehand to its maximum and players everywhere would do well to imitate the game’s greatest player ever in this area, particularly since approximately all winners in tennis come off the forehand wing. FootworkThis area may be Federer’s greatest strength and those that know tennis, take this for fact. I am often amazed at how graceful Federer moves around the court, but this is one of the big aspects of his game that has helped to separate him from nearly all of his era’s counterparts. Thanks to his Fred Astaire-like footwork, rarely is Federer off balance or out of position to hit a clean shot. Federer has what’s called ‘early preparation’ as he tracks the ball quickly and gets into position to hit whatever shot he chooses and this is one area of the game that all tennis players should think about improving.Remember, if you’re not in the right position to hit your shot correctly, then bad things – and a likely unforced error – are almost assured. Conversely, moving quickly and setting up early like Roger Federer and you’ll see an increase in shot productivity – and winners.Mental FortitudeIs there a stronger mind in all of sports?I think not!There’s a reason why Federer was voted the second most respected person in the world a year ago and much of it has to do with his on-court demeanor.According to a recent poll conducted by The Reputation Institute, Federer had thesecond-best worldwide reputation, landing only behind beloved former South African president Nelson Mandela.The survey measured the public's respect, admiration and trust in 54 public figures and was taken by 50,000 people in 25 countries. Federer came in ahead of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson, and well ahead of last-place finisher, Kim-Jong Il.However, polls aside and it’s easy to see how calm and relaxed Federer always appears no matter the situation. I often marvel at the fact that it’s impossible to tell whether Federer is leading 4-0 in the first set or losing in a fifth-set tie-breaker. Tennis players of all ages would be wise to try and duplicate one of his most amazing traits – the ability to keep your composure at all times.
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