The following observations are of course my personal view and do not claim to be the “truth”! Here comes Yuto Muramatsu (Japan):
This match is probably one of the best matches he ever played so far:
- good physical fitness, very good footwork
- great variety of forehand serves
- very good forehand topsins as well against pushes as against topspins
- good backhand defending with short pips (as far as I know) creating a great variety of spin (heavy chop and “floats”) making it hard for the opponent to read the spin and react accordingly.
- forehand defending often too high. Often gets punished by smashes or very fast topspins.
- backhand defending is too high when trying to return a slow short and spinny topspin as you can see perfectly in the game against Jian Zhang (Polish Open 2012)
- not using the advantage of the short pips very often: Blocking aggressively slow tospins down his backhand.
- Should also practice backhand serves
- Should try to block more often with the backhand short pips
- If you use short pips to defend with the backhand you have to make long movements with your arm in order to keep the ball low. This becomes more and more difficult when you go up in the ITTF-ranking because better players play faster and harder topspins and you won’t have time enough for making long movements. So Muramatsu should consider trying out choppy and awkward long pips in order to be able to defend low and with heavy chop. Now he is one of the few able to use his wrist a lot when chopping with the backhand. If he uses dangerous long pimples I think he will be one of the very top defenders soon.