How To Hit the Tennis Tweener
Trick shots in tennis have always been a bit of a guilty pleasure. They are always entertaining to see, especially given how professional the sport is nowadays.
There are a lot of different trick shots that tennis fans have admired over the years, but arguably the most iconic is the tweener. This through the legs shot has captivated tennis fans the world over, due to its degree of difficulty and sheer entertainment value.
We have seen a number of different examples of the tweener over the years, but it has seen somewhat of a resurgence in recent times.
Young players like Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Bulbik have adopted the tweener as a means of entertaining the crowds, upping their popularity within the sport and sometimes even putting off their opponent.
Being able to hit a tweener cleanly is not an easy task however. As you can imagine, getting this shot wrong can have some very painful consequences!
So, if you have always wondered how to hit the perfect tweener, then wonder no more! We will explain all right here, as well as take a look back at some of the best tweeners we have ever seen!
How the Tweener has Been Popularised
As tennis has had more TV and social media coverage over the last few years, more personalities have risen to the top of the sport and have taken their opportunity to show their flair.
Whilst we may associate the flamboyant Nick Kyrgios with the tweener, even the greats of the game have given it a go. One of the most famous we have seen was from Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open semi finals against his long time rival, Novak Djokovic.
This was a spectacular tweener passing shot that will go down in history as one of the greatest ever, and certainly paved the way for many tweener lovers we see today.
In fact, Novak has been on the receiving end of a few tweeners, as we will discuss later.
Hitting a tweener in a professional match requires a certain level of relaxation and clear mindedness. Some players really thrive when playing like this, and it helps them produce some very creative shots.
So, let’s explore how to actually hit the famous tweener!
How to Hit the Tennis Tweener
There are two ways to hit a tweener. There is the front facing tweener and back facing tweener, so let’s take a look at each.
Front Facing Tweener
The front facing tweener is certainly the easier to pull off of the two tweeners. There is less movement and good timing required, so it is a more usable option.
You simply need to make sure that your feet are more than shoulder width apart and swing the racket through your legs to meet the ball.
It should mainly be used when the ball is low, so no more than a foot or so off the ground. Hitting the ball lower will give you more leverage and a more powerful shot as you strike the ball between your legs.
Back Facing Tweener
The back facing tweener is the more spectacular to pull off, but definitely requires more practice and good timing. The key with this shot is to have the ball going up and over your head, turn to face the back of the court and time your movement to perfection.
If you are at the net and have been lobbed, this could well give a good opportunity to hit the back facing tweener.
First off, as the ball goes over your head you need to turn and start running back towards the ball. In order to pull off the tweener, you’ll need to run directly behind the ball so you are in line to strike it between your legs.
Then, as the ball starts to drop towards its second bounce, you should have your racket up and ready to strike the ball through your legs. Assuming you are lined up correctly, you’ll then need to accelerate so the ball passes slightly between your legs. This is your time to strike!
As the ball passes between your legs, swing your racket through your legs whilst you are still moving. Again, striking the ball lower will give you more power as your racket and arm will be acting more like a pendulum.
Bear in mind that this is a very difficult shot to pull off and timing really is everything.
The key is to move quickly and swing quickly as the ball is near bouncing twice, as this ensures you actually hit the ball as it has already passed through your legs and gives you a contact point in front of you (or in this case, behind you!)
Best Tweeners Ever
Now we have explained how to hit the perfect tweener, let’s learn from the masters. Here are some of the best tweeners we have ever seen!
Roger Federer US Open 2009
Arguably the most iconic tweener of all time, Roger Federer produced a moment of magic against Novak Djokovic in the semi finals of the US Open. Federer hit this wonder shot so hard it passed Djokovic and left him dead in his tracks!
The magnitude of the moment also adds to this shot, as it brought up 3 match points for Federer to move into his 5th consecutive US Open final!
He then finished the match in style by crushing a forehand return for a winner!
Roger Federer US Open 2010
Roger Federer backed up spectacular tweener from the year before at the 2010 US Open, against Brian Dabul in round 2. Federer ghosted into the net and Dabul put up a good defensive lob.
Federer had his trusty trick up his sleeve though, and managed to run all the way back to the advertising boards to hit another spectacular tweener winner! Dabul, along with the rest of the crowd were stunned, as Federer produced another moment of magic.
Rafael Nadal Madrid Masters 2011
2011 was an unbelievable year for the Serbian super star, Novak Djokovic. However, his long term rival Rafael Nadal would steal the limelight from Novak at the Madrid Masters.
Nadal and Djokovic have had some epic battles over the years, trading punishing groundstrokes for hours on end. One rally in this match was a particularly cagey affair, with Nadal drawing Djokovic into the net with a forehand drop volley.
Novak then lobbed the ball over Rafa’s head which at first he attempted to smash with his backhand.
He then quickly realised he would not be able to play the backhand smash and proceeded to let the ball bounce and hit a tweener lob, straight back over Novak’s head! Genius!
Novak Djokovic Shanghai Masters 2012
After being the victim of a few tweeners passing him, Novak Djokovic well and truly got his own back against Andy Murray in the 2012 Shanghai masters in 2012.
Djokovic found himself a set and 5-4 down, with Murray serving for the match. Novak was just 2 points away from defeat at 0-30 down in the game and was not playing his best tennis.
In what turned out to be an epic rally, approached the net with an inside out forehand and was then lobbed by Murray. He then hit an aggressive tweener that Murray deflected back, only for Djokovic to win the point with his signature backhand drop shot down the line!
This was a massive turning point in the match, as Djokovic would go on to save match points and win the title in Shanghai!
Nick Kyrgios Wimbledon 2014
In his breakthrough match at the 2014 Wimbledon championships against Nadal, Nick Kyrgios hit one of the most outrageous tweeners we have ever seen!
Nick took the first set and was tight with Rafa at 3-3 in the second set. Nadal fired down his formidable lefty serve wide in the advantage court, which Nick returned with ease. Rafa picked up a forehand off his shoe laces and put it back deep in the court.
Nick had not sorted out his feet and was left slightly out of position. So, instead of adjusting and playing back a sub-par forehand, he decided to take the ball on the half volley through his legs, and hit it for a drop shot winner!
This was one of the most inspired tweeners we have ever seen, and to do it on your Wimbledon debut against a legend of the game on centre court was amazing!
Overall, we love seeing the tweener executed well! It is by no means an easy shot to pull off, but when it is timed correctly it can be a very satisfying shot to hit.
Whilst we don’t advocate playing it very often, it is worth having it in the locker for that golden opportunity, afterall tennis should be a bit of fun!
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