If a player decides to employ a strategy of deliberately hitting his opponent to try to intimidate or injure them, it would be considered unsportsmanlike but would it be against the rules?

If not, has anyone actually tried this at a professional level? Cause I'm thinking, especially in doubles where one player is at the net, given that a tennis ball can be hit at 200km/h+ - it would actually be an effective strategy to mess with your opponent and maybe win the point if you can hit them on the full.

  • It's the player's responsibility to return the ball sent to them by the opponent, and I don't see how it's supposed to injure them. Normally when the strategy is used they just shun the ball and return it. If they aren't fast enough to return it, they lose this round.
    – xji
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 15:35
  • The point is, some players do use this strategy, but not to "intimidate or injury", but simply to score.
    – xji
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 15:35
  • So, how does one determine the difference between a hard shot at a player intended to win a point by being difficult to handle and one intended to intimidate? Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


There seems to be no rule against hitting an opponent and many players have included body shots in their repertoire. (This assertion is validated by the fact that players like the Bryan brothers and Ivan Lendl are patrons of this strategy and there appears to be no record of any punitive action against them for using it.)

If you are looking for more examples of players who used this strategy to win points, you can find a lot of examples in this 2013 article from Sports Illustrated.

"Where this really becomes an issue," [Brad] Gilbert said, "is in doubles. At close range like that, it's simply good strategy to hit the ball directly at someone. The Bryan twins [Bob and Mike] do that pretty often; you'd better be ready. Leander Paes [the accomplished doubles specialist from India] is a genius at it."


When Andy Murray enlisted Ivan Lendl as his coach two years ago, he quickly became aware of Lendl's penchant for targeting the opposition.

However, one risks losing the respect of fans and opponents on using this strategy often. In my opinion, opponents with good reflexes can sometimes return the shot thus making it a not so viable strategy in the long run, but the above examples show that it is a strategy that is used to some extent.

  • 3
    I hit a lot of people when playing tennis, sometimes on my court.
    – Coach-D
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 7:28

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