Editor’s note: This story was translated from ATPTour.com/es
Although Guillermo Coria left behind an incredible legacy that includes nine tour-level titles and a spell at No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2004, many remember him for one of his signature moves: the drop shot. Who better to ask, then, about one of its biggest proponents in today’s game, Carlos Alcaraz?
During his visit to the Miami Open presented by Itau, a tournament where he reached the final in 2004, ‘The Magician’ analysed one of the key shots in the armoury of the current World No. 1.
“Alcaraz’s drop shot is amazing,” Coria told ATPTour.com. “He’s a very intelligent player, who reads the game very well. He plays drop shots right when they should be played. He always sets up well and, best of all, he disguises it so well.
“That makes it even more complete. I’m in awe of how he plays drop shots. I love and celebrate the fact that there’s a player with so much potential who has such a good drop shot,” he adds with a hint of nostalgia in his voice. His favourite shot is now a rarity on the ATP Tour, but seeing the World No. 1 use it so frequently brings a smile to his face.
Most amazing of all is that Alcaraz can pull it off on every surface. Even on fast courts, where the ball bounces the most, increasing an opponent’s chances of reaching it. Also, Alcaraz is brave enough to utilize this weapon under the utmost pressure, when the nerves are jangling.
For Guillermo, the elder brother of Federico —who is playing this week in Miami— Alcaraz is one of the three players with the best drop shots in today’s game.
“I would put him right up there. Andy Murray also has a very good one, as does Djokovic,” Coria said. “They both use it as a tool to surprise the opponent. Those two and Alcaraz are the players I enjoy most when they play drop shots.”
Coria’s opinion was relayed to the man himself during Alcaraz’s first press conference in Miami. He replied: “It really is a great compliment for him to say that I’m one of the best at that. It’s incredible to hear that from Guillermo. It’s true that it’s a weapon I try to use quite a lot. I have very powerful shots, and combining them with the drop shot makes for a very good combination. I’ve had it since I was little, it’s something that comes from within.”
The statistics back him up. The drop shot played a fundamental part in Alcaraz’s title campaign at the 2022 ATP Masters 1000 in Miami. In the tournament, the Spaniard played 50 drop shots in six matches, and he won the point with 70 per cent of them. In fact, he won 16 of those points consecutively in his second-round clash (d. Cilic) and in the quarters (d. Kecmanovic).
Coria, who retired in 2009 and currently captains the Argentine Davis Cup team, explains why Alcaraz has such a high success rate when he decides to play a drop shot.
“When his opponent is on the defence, you can’t tell if Alcaraz is going to hit the ball on one side or the other, or if he’s going to play a drop shot,” the 41-year-old Argentine said. “In general, they are expecting the ball to come back hard. That’s why it’s a surprise.
“Also, he hits it very well on both sides, with his backhand and forehand. And he has a very good drop shot with both. My drop shots, for example, were on my forehand. I very rarely played it on my backhand.”
Again, his observations are backed up by the statistics; last year in Miami, the Spaniard played 30 drop shots with his forehand (winning 22) and 20 with his backhand (winning 13).
There is another important factor in Alcaraz’s success with this shot. He plays so deep and with such power that he gradually pushes his opponent back in the middle of the point. This creates the perfect space required to play drop shots. Argentinian Sebastian Baez can attest to that after two losses against the world No. 1.
“With all the power he has, he pushes you back, and when he hits the drop shot, whether it’s good or not, you’re really far back,” Baez said. “He uses that to gain time and sometimes it’s not even worth running. It’s a great resource among the other thousands he has.”
He made a statement with it last year, and this fortnight in Miami he will be bidding to demonstrate that he has become even more adept with this weapon over the last 12 months.