Novak Djokovic ended his 2012 season with his second victory at the Barclays ATP World Tour finals. He beat Roger Federer 7-6 7-5 in the finals and also finished the year as the No. 1 ranked player in the world.
Novak has gone through a phenomenal development in recent years and there are a number of lessons all tennis players can learn by examining his game.
No. 1: Master the Return of Serve
The return of service is a crucial shot in tennis. It's an underpracticed shot and one area where most rec players could make big improvements in a short period of time.
Novak is an excellent returner; just take a look at his stats. Novak finished 2012 as second best on the ATP Tour in "Points Won Returning First Serve" as well as "Points Won Returning Second Serve."
The key to a great return is to start with a body turn and not to move your arm. This will give you control and precision when returning first serves. If your opponent has an average or even weak second serve, you can take a bigger swing at the ball.
Most recreational players fail to turn the upper body and instead take a big swing at the ball with the arm. That's one of the worst things you can do on a return of serve.
No. 2: Never Stop Improving
Novak is a great example for a player that continues to improve over the years. We have seen him evolve in so many areas. His serve and movement has improved, he is tougher mentally and he also plays the net much better than a few years ago.
Novak definitely was not the complete player he is now during his first few years on tour.
Novak has become an all-court player. He can do pretty much anything on the court, very similar to Roger Federer.
You can always improve your game, no matter how old you are or what level you are at currently. Those tennis players that continuously work on improving are usually the tennis players that enjoy the sport the most.
Players often believe they're too old to improve or simply accept the level they're at because they haven't managed to improve much in the past. Fortunately, anybody can improve with the right information.
No. 3: Use the Backhand Down the Line
More and more players these days run around the backhand in order to hit big forehands. We all face these kinds of opponents at every level of the game.
In order to stop somebody from hurting you with big forehands from the backhand side of the court you need to master the backhand down the line.