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Tennis Lessons From The Australian Open – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 181

By Kselz @TennisFixation

Let's talk about the Australian Open! Again! I told you I wasn't going to be able to let this go. In my last episode, I gave you all of my tips for making the most of any professional tennis tournament you might attend. But in this episode, I'm giving you some completely different tips. I'm going to let you know all of the tennis lessons I learned at the Australian Open. And the good news is, these are the kinds of lessons that regular ol' recreational players like you and me can apply to our games to help us play better tennis.

You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player in this post or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in Apple Podcasts by going to


Hey, before we get into the tips, I'd love to do a listener shoutout. Because your reviews and comments are always so fun and supportive and are part of what keep me going with this podcast. So this week, I want to give a shoutout to Tennis Quick Tips listener Fiona. Fiona listened to my last episode which was Episode 180 called Top Tips for Attending a Professional Tennis Tournament and she had this to say:

Hi Kim - Thanks for the tips and suggestions for visiting a grand slam or professional tennis tournament. One extra pointer that I would add - might be obvious to some but wasn't initially to me - would be to GO EARLY! You have the best chance of seeing all the players if you show up early in the tournament as opposed to towards the end. Seeing the semifinal or final match(es) are great if you can, but in my humble opinion, if you have only one or two days you get to really maximize the number of big name players you will see if you go earlier. Specifically, for a two week event, going the first weekend is guaranteed to have a LOT more action and big players still competing (and interesting practice sessions to watch) than if you go for the final weekend. The final weekend tends to be rather quiet because there isn't much going on. Thanks again for your suggestions, glad you had fun on your trip down under! I hope to make it to the AO soon!

Fiona - such a great tip! In fact, I remember talking to James at Grand Slam Tennis Tours and he told me it was good that I was going in the middle of the week because I would see way more tennis than if I went at the end. So thanks for sending in this wonderful tip that I definitely should have added to my Top Tips list in Episode 180.

And now - let's get into this week's episode where I tell you some of the lessons I learned at the Australian Open. Specifically, I'm talking about the things I saw the pros doing that made me think, "Huh, I should be doing that, or at least trying to do that, when I play tennis." Here we go!


1. Get Fit To Hit

I think I have always said fitness is so important in tennis. I may not be the smartest player on the court. I may not have the most beautiful technique. But if I can keep going, if I can run down those lobs and make it through the end of a three hour-three set match, well then, I've got a good chance of winning.

And definitely, this philosophy of being fit to hit was on display at the Australian Open. It's hot there because this tournament takes place during the Australian summer. Players have to play long, hard matches and recover quickly, both during the match they're playing and in preparation for their next match should they win. So, putting everything else aside, like talent, technique and tactics, being in excellent physical shape is paramount for the pros.

So - first lesson from the Australian Open - fitness has got to be front of mind for recreational players like you and me. That means, even on a day when we're not playing any kind of tennis, we can still be improving our game by working on our fitness.

2. Never Stop Moving, Even In Doubles

Okay, the next thing I saw at the Australian Open is these players NEVER stop moving on court. Of course, this makes perfect sense in singles. They have to keep moving to get to each and every ball. But, even in doubles, the movement on the court is constant. And you really see this when you watch the non-hitting partner in doubles. In the matches I saw, that non-hitting partner was always on the move, adjusting his or her position based on what was happening on court and what he or she should do to best help the hitting partner. That non-hitting partner was always "involved" in the point.

And here's another thing I saw - the positioning of the partners on court was CONSTANTLY changing. Sometimes both partners would be up at the net. Sometimes one partner would be up and one would be back. Sometimes one of them would be playing in no-man's-land. But, again, everyone was moving.

Now, you may recall that I recently did two episodes talking about court positioning in doubles. One was Episode 177 called The Pros and Cons of Playing One Up One Back in Tennis Doubles. And the other was Episode 178 called The Pros and Cons of Playing Doubles Up at the Net. In these episodes I talked about moving into doubles positions and how they can benefit your doubles game. But what I don't think I made clear in those episodes and what I definitely saw at the Australian Open is that there is not one position that you should take and stay in. Pro doubles players are always moving into the position that will best serve the moment.

So that's the second lesson I took from the Australian Open - keep moving and adjusting and using a variety of court positions in your doubles points. You do not want to get caught flat-footed where you have no momentum to get you moving on court. Just keep moving!

3. Just Keep Poaching In Doubles

This next lesson is a big one for me. And that is to keep poaching in doubles. Even when it doesn't work. Just keep poaching.

Now, I will tell you that I have believed this for a long time. That even trying to poach is important in doubles. Because I do believe it sends a message to your opponents that, hey, she might poach so I can't just keep sending my same cross court shot back every time. And getting that little thought into your opponent's head is often enough to make things start going wrong for them.

But you know what happens to me sometimes? Sometimes I play with a partner who doesn't like my poaching. Especially if it doesn't work. Sometimes I play with a partner who isn't sure where to go or doesn't want to "switch" when I cross over in front of them to poach. Between you and me, I really don't like to play with this type of partner because it makes me start questioning what I'm doing up at the net.

So I was really happy to see doubles players not only poaching at the Australian Open, but continuing to poach frequently even when they missed some of the poaches. And if they missed their poaches and somehow blew the point for their team, their partner did not appear unhappy. Instead, I saw lots of high fives and fist bumps and positive body language. And that's how I think doubles should be played! With supportive partners encouraging each other even when things to wrong!

So Lesson 3 from the Australian Open was to just keep poaching in doubles. Even if a poach doesn't work, it still has value. And when it does work, well, that's the best!

4. Use Positive Body Language

And this leads into my Lesson 4 from the Australian Open which is to use positive body language on court. Now, I get it. I have no idea what anyone was thinking or saying on court during the matches I saw. But I can tell you, I could see a lot of body language going on. With individual players in their singles matches and with partners in their doubles matches.

And those players using positive body language seemed like they were having a better time of it on court. I'm talking about singles players who would have long rallies in one point and then would be immediately ready to serve or receive in the next point, no matter if they won or lost. Sure, there was some toweling off that happened. Actually a lot of toweling off. And that gave them a tiny moment of recovery. But by and large, the singles players who were most successful at this tournament were immediately prepped and ready and on their toes ready to play that next point.

In doubles, same thing. Lots of high fives. Lots of fist bumps and hand slaps. Lots of racquet touches. And always, always, at least a few words between each point to make sure that both partners were on the same page and feeling good about each other.

I know in the matches I play, the vast majority of which are doubles matches, I don't see so much of this positive body language. Players stay in their part of the court and just walk back and forth. Players often appear to not only be tired, they look exhausted or even dejected about what's happening on court. And I can tell you, this negative body language sends the wrong message to both your partner and to your opponent. It tells your partner, "Hey! We're doing terrible!" and it tells your opponents, "Hey! We've got them! We're doing fantastic!"

So Lesson 4 from the Australian Open is to always be using and showing positive body language. And I will be doing this a lot more in my own matches.

5. Have The Right Mental Attitude

Finally, my Lesson 5 from the Australian Open is to have the right mental attitude. And what I'm talking about is players who do the work. No matter what was happening on court, you could see some players were never, ever going to throw in the towel. They were going to do the work and just keep fighting and going until the very last shot on the very last point.

The players who I most noticeably saw this with, and this is no surprise, were Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. No matter what was happening on court, those guys maintain the same positive attitude and just keep going. It has got to be disheartening for someone on the other side of the net to feel like you just won an amazing point and Rafa looks completely unfazed. Another player I really saw this with was Milos Raonic. I saw Raonic play two matches - one against Marin Cilic and one against Novak Djokovic - and he just looked super determined and unshakeable. He ultimately lost to Djokovic in three sets but those were three well-played and hard-fought sets.

Now this is opposed to at least one other player I saw who I thought was giving off the completely wrong vibe. And that was Nick Kyrgios in his loss to Nadal during the fourth round. Look, Kyrgios is super talented and, because he is Australian, he had massive support from the crowd. And he was able to take this match to four sets, losing the last two in very close tiebreakers. But the fact is that, from what I saw, Kyrgios was inconsistent and frustrated. He just couldn't seem to keep any momentum going when he did have it. And Nadal, again, just doing the work on the other side of the net. No matter what was happening on court. No matter how the crowd cheered on Kyrgios. You just could not have seen a bigger contrast in the attitude of two players playing at the very highest level.

So my takeaway, my Lesson Number 5, have the right attitude on court. Keep doing the work. Keep moving forward in a positive way, no matter what the score or what your opponent is doing. Hey, if it's good enough for Nadal and Federer, then it is certainly good enough for someone like me!


So those are my five lessons that I learned from watching the pros playing at the Australian Open. Just to quickly review:

  • Lesson 1 - Get Fit to Hit
  • Lesson 2 - Never Stop Moving, Even in Doubles
  • Lesson 3 - Just Keep Poaching in Doubles
  • Lesson 4 - Use Positive Body Language
  • Lesson 5 - Have the Right Mental Attitude

I am so happy I had the opportunity to attend the Australian Open because I learned a lot. And even though I will never, ever, ever play tennis anywhere close to the level of the pros that I saw, just by watching them play, I learned a lot that I can and will bring to my own game.

Thanks so much for listening and be sure to check out the show notes for a transcript of this episode and for links to the resources that I mentioned. You can find those show notes over at


Check out these great resources mentioned in this episode:


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Thanks so much for listening and, as always, . . . Happy Tennis!

© Kim Selzman 2020 All Rights Reserved

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