I'm very glad I went to the Aussie Closed, since there were a few things that I was reminded of in time to do something about before the Australian Open on July 20, including:
- I have been focusing too much on training my forehand loop. Against the top Australian players, my forehand loop is an occasional weapon, not my main point winner. I can't try to trade counter loops with these guys - using a defensive blade with 1.5mm unglued rubbers I'm way outgunned in the technology stakes. My forehand needs to be mainly a put away, not a rally starter. The improvements that I have made lately are enough for the moment, now I have to concentrate on my main game.
- I need to train my over the table push more. This should be one of my most solid areas, but I noticed that I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be. The top players push fast and hard, and I should be comfortable at handling their pushes and varying the spin with both my smooth and pips sides, in order to make their first attack more difficult. I was netting too many balls when pushing during the tournament.
- My actual chopping technique and results were pretty good. Once I am back in position defending I'm definitely competitive. I wouldn't mind a little more spin variation with my forehand smooth rubber though.
- I need a little more work on my in and out footwork when defending. I'm a touch slow at getting in to the short ball at times.
- I am moving quite well wide to my backhand, but occasionally I'm caught flat footed on my wide forehand. I think this is a balance issue - I need to stay leaning forward even though I have moved backwards into defensive position. When I stand upright it's hard to move sideways quickly.
- Serve and a tight return of serve is vital - I need to keep the ball tight to stop my opponents ramming a strong attack down my throat while I'm still close to the table.
I only got back from holiday on late Monday night - so I had a rest on Tuesday and will start training again today. I'm currently 186 pounds (84.5kg), and I estimate my bodyfat is now around 16%. That's about 19 pounds of bodyfat lost since the beginning of March, which isn't bad progress. I've got 6 weeks until the Australian Open, so I'm hoping to lose another 6-10 pounds and get as close to a 10% bodyfat level as I can - my team won't have any reserve players, so I'll be playing in every match. I need to be as fit and fast as I can be to survive the week in good shape!