‘He’s So Tough To Lob!’ Why Height Means Little For Klaasen’s Overhead

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Who doesn’t love smashing away an overhead? It’s not as easy as the ATP Tour’s stars make it look.

“The shot doesn’t really pop up too much in doubles,” said Raven Klaasen, who has competed in the past four Nitto ATP Finals. “But it combines your ability to cover the court with your ability to finish the ball.”

There was no consensus among the world’s best in picking the player with the best overhead, but what was clear is that there is more to the shot than being tall and powerful. Klaasen, who stands 5’10”, was the only player to receive multiple votes. In the newest installment of ATPTour.com’s ‘Ultimate Doubles Player’ series, read below for the players’ picks and explanations.

Raven Klaasen
“Just because of his athleticism. He’s got a good smash, but maybe it’s because he’s so tough to lob. He gets back to everything, so including the movement back to it he’s got the best smash.” – Joe Salisbury

Raven Klaasen is a very athletic guy, gets back well for overheads. Most guys don’t miss smashes, but there’s a big difference between making a smash and getting back and still being able to give it a good smack and hit it for a winner or really force an opponent to hit a [poor] reply, and then you put the next one away.” – Jamie Murray

“He is one who is very athletic. He’s not very tall, but very difficult to lob because he’s so athletic. He gets back so quick and he’s able to get a bit of pop on the old smash.” – Neal Skupski

Ivan Dodig
“He has the best overhead in the game because he’s very athletic, moves very well backwards and it’s very hard to lob him.” – Jurgen Melzer

Robert Lindstedt
“Robby always said he has the best overhead in doubles and I think I have to agree. I never saw him miss one. I’ll give him the credit. He’s going to be happy.” – Marcelo Melo

<img src="https://www.atptour.com/-/media/images/news/2020/07/09/21/23/ultimate-doubles-player-lindstedt-overhead.jpg" alt="Robert Lindstedt“>

Marcelo Melo
“He’s ‘The Giraffe’, people call him. He’s very difficult to lob. When he’s at the net, the best chance is to go through him rather than over him.” – Neal Skupski

Filip Polasek
“He was off the Tour for a little while and since he’s come back he’s flown up the [FedEx ATP Doubles] Rankings. He’s doing unbelievably well. He’s an absolute unit of a man, so first of all, to try and get the ball over him is a difficult job. But he has pure, brute power, a strong arm and I would really hope my partner would not choose to lob him if I was ever at the net because I would not want to be facing one of his smashes.” – Ken Skupski

Jean-Julien Rojer
“He doesn’t look big, but he’s really quick and it’s hard for me to recognise when we get it over him. He sees the ball, he reads the game. He always gets it and once he’s there, he’s not missing much.” – Filip Polasek

Joe Salisbury
“Partially because I don’t hit many of them, so he’s got to cover the whole court. He’s able to take balls from deep, short, angles and put them away. He can do amazing things with the overhead. He’s a great athlete.” – Rajeev Ram

“Someone like Joe Salisbury, he’s a very athletic tennis player. Very good at getting back to smashes, good around the net.” – Neal Skupski

<img src="https://www.atptour.com/-/media/images/news/2020/07/09/21/25/ultimate-doubles-player-salisbury-overhead.jpg" alt="Joe Salisbury“>

Bruno Soares
“Bruno has an amazing overhead, I think. He doesn’t really miss, but it’s also his ability to actually hit winners off the smash, which isn’t always that easy to do. Very impressed with him in the time that we played together. I always thought he had an amazing smash.” – Jamie Murray 

Horia Tecau
“He’s very good with anything over his head. He’s got really good timing with both his serve and overhead. I think he’s got very good hand-eye coordination when it comes to anything over head. If you look at his serve, it’s nothing very explosive, it’s just well-timed and he gets effortless power into everything he does up there. The whole motion is actually perfect, I would say. Maybe there could be some more action angle-wise on his overheads, but when he’s there it’s a very clean shot and tough to defend.” – Robert Lindstedt

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