God of Tennis - Chapter 17.2
Han Woo Jin heard the referee’s loud voice announcing the score.
He once again tossed up the ball. Han Woo Jin swung his racket while the ball was exactly one meter above him.
He has done the same motion so many times that he knew where the ball would be and hit it accurately even with his eyes closed. He needed to at least be able to do that much in order to succeed.
He didn’t use the Sparrow this time and just did a normal serve. The ball flew towards Fabian’s side of the service court. The serve was Han Woo Jin’s highest level skill so even without using a special skill, his normal serves had high speed and accuracy.
However, the tournament he is in is an ATP 250 League.
In Korea, he might be able to get a service ace from this serve, but here the ball will be easily returned.
The large French player looked angry because he lost the first point and hit the ball with a lot of power.
It was a scary two-handed stroke. Han Woo Jin couldn’t even react fast enough to return the ball as he stepped backwards. The ball flew past his shoulder and hit the ground.
“Fifteen all! (15:15)”
Han Woo Jin felt a slight ache in his shoulder and clicked his tongue.
He already knew that his opponent’s strength was scarily high but this was beyond his expectations.
It was a strong blow and if he got a body shot he might get bruised. Also, Fabian’s aim was very precise.
‘This is definitely world class.’
He remembered when yesterday, Shin Sae Yeon showed him Robert Fabian’s profile. ATP rank 292. He isn’t considered to be a high rank but his skill was pretty decent.
He didn’t have time to admire him. Since Fabian attacked him he needed to attack back. Han Woo Jin threw up the ball once again. The ball hit the right side of Fabian’s service court.
Fabian moved very quickly in order to perform another return ace. The racket he was holding swung fiercely and threatened to score a point.
But this time was different from the first time. The ball hit the hard court and the degree that it bounced up was in an obtuse angle which made the bounce lower than expected.
Fabian, surprised by the sudden change in direction, barely struck the ball and it flew out of bounds.
“Thirteen, fifteen! (30:15)”
Usually a serve flows in a steady direction, but if a player curves their wrist while serving, it adds a spin to the serve. This trick changes the ball’s bounce height. This was the second serve where Fabian lost a point.
If Fabian used one hand instead of two to receive the ball, he might have been able to reposition himself fast enough to return the ball.
‘This should be easy. He has good power but his actions are easy to read.’
The only issue was Fabian’s frightening strength. If he hits the ball in the sweet spot then he can definitely reach 200 km per hour. Even within the top rankers there are only a few people that can return a ball going at that speed.
But why is someone like Fabian who can hit the ball at that fast of a speed only in the low 200’s rankings?
Han Woo JIn knew the answer. Furthermore, he was confident in his ability to react quickly to Fabian’s balls from now on.
He got into position to serve with an underhand serve not overhand. He threw the ball softly and
Swung his racket upwards. It was an understroke serve with a spin.
‘If he can’t control his strength, then he won’t be able to hit balls with spin like slices.’
That’s what Han Woo Jin thought as he served. Slice was a technique that needed a clean stroke. There was a limit to how much power he can use to hit a ball, so he cannot hit balls that need a lot of technique to use. So that’s why he can serve a lower ball that has a smaller bounce.
“Forty, fifteen! (40:15)”
Fabian tried to hit the ball but he could only hit the ground with his racket. Because he hit the ground too hard, his racket frame was now bent at an odd angle.
Han Woo Jin muttered under his breath. His muscular body had high explosive strength and speed but he had little control. He didn’t have enough skill to receive balls with spin and low bounces. Usually, in tennis everybody thinks that the server will always use an overhead serve. While it is true that almost all tennis player use that overhead serve because it has both speed and power that can’t be compared to an underhand serve, an underhand serve has a strong point as well. A person who has even a little bit of tennis knowledge knows the advantage of an underhand serve.
“It’s hard to return right?”
Han Woo Jin mumbled softly to Fabian’s back who was changing his racket. He vaguely knew what Fabian was currently feeling. He must incredibly frustrated and angry. Because that’s what an underhand serve does to you.
If Fabian was a player that could be easily beaten with overhead serves, then he wouldn’t use underhand serves. Han Woo Jin’s skills were slightly above Fabian. If the rally goes on for a long time, then it will show that Fabian will be inferior in skill. However, if he can last long enough to wear out Han Woo Jin’s stamina then, he has a chance to win.
But if he used this strategy, Fabian will also be tired. He has one more game after this so he doesn’t want to use all of his energy on the first match. That’s why Han Woo Jin chose to use the underhand serve.
Fabian’s expression was furious as he returned with a new racket.
Everyone says that using an underhand serve is a coward’s tactic or is a cheap move because it was a move that caught the opponent off guard and has a lower bounce so no one expects the angle. Some players lose points because of underhand serves so they kick the ball in anger.
However, he still won’t change the way he serves. This is Han Woo Jin’s practical way of playing tennis.
He once again took the position of an underhand serve.
“Game – Woojin Han!”
This time Fabian’s racket hit the ground and his eyes were furious. Han Woo Jin made eye contact with him with no expression. There was no foul and was fair play.
[Great play! You won your first game in an ATP 250 League so you have been award one stat point in a random stat.]
[Great play! You have won your first game in an ATP 250 League so you have gained a large amount of experience.]
He gained so much from just one game.
In Han Woo Jin’s mind he checked his status. His speed stat went up by one. It wasn’t bad.
The two players switched sides with contrasting expressions. You were able to see the veins popping out near his eyebrows but Han Woo Jin’s face was calm and expressionless.
“Game 2! Fabian serve! Play!”
Han Woo Jin had no change in expression as the 190 cm bear-like man was glaring at him. The only thing he was focused on was the ball. There was nothing more important than that on the court.
Fabian threw up the ball.
As the ball began its descent he swung fiercely with his racket.
‘As expected, it’s fast.’
Han Woo Jin immediately moved his body. He read where Fabian was going to hit the ball and reacted.
The ball was headed towards the sideline and it bounced upwards in a high angle. 워낙 강한
“Fifteen Love (15:0)!”
He now had a rough idea. He observed in detail Fabian’s movements who was moving his shoulders which looked like he was about to do a full swing. Obviously his serve was going to be powerful but his movement was very large.
Fabian positioned to serve again. His swing was rough.
Han Woo Jin moved once again to return the serve. He moved two steps to his right to receive the ball. As soon as the ball hit the court, Han Woo Jin bent his elbows and swung his racket.
“Thirty love (30:0)!”
The ball that hit the frame of his racket went out. It was another service ace. Han Woo Jin’s eyes furrowed as he allowed him to give him two aces. However, Han Woo Jin was satisfied with what he has observed thus far.
He had a rough idea of the timing he had to return the ball. Han Woo Jin decided to give up two or three points to him by service ace in order to further familiarize the timing of his serves.
“Forty love (40:0)!”
The ball that he hit once again hit the frame of his racket. This time the ball didn’t fly out like before. Fabian’s expression also changed as he realized something.
Because he can only use flat serves. Fabian only used his strength to reach the world rankings. His body was very unbalanced therefore, he cannot use other types of serves. The most appropriate saying would be “you win some, you lose some”.
Fabian barely won that last game with a service ace. He expected Han Woo Jin to now be able to return his serves starting next game. In the grand scheme of things, winning this one game is negligible in the long run.
‘Damn, this is gonna be difficult.’
He thought that he was a punk that just knew how to use underhand serves, but he now had to reconsider his evaluation of him. He has won points with his accurate serves but his opponent was analyzing him the entire time.
Fabian looked at Han Woo Jin with an ugly expression.
He first thought that this Asian in front of him felt small but now he felt a bit larger.
“Woo Jin found his pace. This game is over.”
Coach Jeon mumbled to himself with a relieved expression. The two agents who heard him turned their heads. Jeon Sang Shik is the person who was famous for his good eye in reading the flow of the games.
“Does that mean Han Woo Jin will win?”
As soon as Choi Joon Sung spoke, Coach Jeon nodded. In his eyes, the French player was an imbecile that only knew how to use his strength.
Although, the fact that he was able to get this far using only his strength is commendable. Han Woo Jin’s specialty is adapting to simple opponents and counter attacking. So this is a bad match up for Fabian.
“That Fabian punk might have won this one game but he lost his advantage. Because the reason why Woo Jin just looked at that last serve and didn’t hit it was because he thought that he didn’t need to do anything.” (?)
It has only been a few rallies. How can he know the timing already?
The two agents thought to themselves. They thought it a little unbelievable how amazing Jeon Sang Shik’s eyes were, they couldn’t comprehend. This is the difference between experience and theory.
Coach Jeon looked at the court as if they knew what he was talking about and kept speaking.
“In tennis, you can’t play with your body and mind separately. If you just use your head, you’re just going to run around in circles. If you just use your body then, you’re going to become an idiot.”
It’s the same with technique without strength and strength without technique.
In Coach Jeon’s eyes, Fabian was the inferior player and Han Woo Jin was of superior quality.
Technique and strength are correlated which allow a player’s skills to be multiplicative rather than additive.
If he was to put a numerical value on Fabian’s strength and technique then it would be ten multiplied by four which would be 40. In Han Woo Jin’s case his strength and technique would by seven by seven which multiplies to 49.
Coach Jeon has watched tennis for 20 years while training players. This was his kind of observation while watching players’ skills. In the case where the skill level difference is high between players, Coach Jeon is easily able to tell who will win.
That’s why Coach Jeon predicted Han Woo Jin’s victory with confidence. Agents like Shin Sae Yeon and Choi Joon Sung who only have game theory will take a few more years to become more experienced.
“Game Woojin Han! Set won by Woojin Han, 6-1!”
The referee’s voice resounded in their ears.
Coach Jeon’s prediction came true and the two agents felt like a prophecy was being fulfilled.
Jeon Sang Shik was satisfied with Han Woo Jin’s performance who played to his expectations by playing his opponent’s weakness.
If it was Han Woo Jin who was losing from the beginning, then the short training that he had before this tournament would have been useless.
He looked at Han Woo Jin who was taking a break between the sets and he also looked over at Choi Yeon Hyuk who was watching the game. You could tell that the two of them were burning with passion.
‘If they can keep up this motivation then they might be able to make it. If they’re lucky and get easy opponents… it won’t be hard to reach the main tournament.’
That’s what Coach Jeon thought because he already saw the other players’ matches.
But he wasn’t able to watch the matches of the players who were seeded or were in the second round of the preliminaries, but at least among the 12 people in the first around, Han Woo Jin and Choi Yeon Hyuk were at the top.
At that time Han Woo Jin precisely returned Fabian’s serve. The referee’s voice could be heard after that shot.
“Game Woojin Han!”
The flow of the game wasn’t bad.