Jiri Lehecka’s key to success: power. Much power. | ATP Tour

Jiri Lehecka’s key to success: power. Much power. | ATP Tour

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One of the breakthrough stars early in the season was Jiri Lehecka. The 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up made a big impression Down Under as he battled through to the Australian Open quarter-finals with wins over the likes of Borna Coric, Cameron Norrie and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

How did he hold his own against the high-profile competition? Perfomance. Much power.

The Czech star already has one of the greatest forehands in the world, according to stats courtesy of Tennis Data Innovations and TennisViz. Over the past 52 weeks, Lehecka’s average forehand speed was 79.2 mph with an average spin rate of 2,992 rpm. That’s a scary combination of speed and spin.

This puts Lehecka in the same neighborhood as well-known ball bashers Felix Auger-Aliassime (78.4 mph and 3,178 rpm), Andrey Rublev (78.2 mph and 2,917 rpm) and Jannik Sinner (77.8 mph and 2,901 rpm). The ATP Tour average for forehand speed and spin is 75.1 mph and 2,713 rpm, respectively.

forehand analysis
Diagram courtesy of Tennis Data Innovations and TennisViz, a joint venture between ATP and ATP Media.
Tennis Data Innovations and TennisViz also produce a metric called “Shot Quality” that analyzes the speed, spin, depth, width of each shot and impact on the opponent. Lehecka’s 52-week forehand average is 8 and has improved to 8.3 over the past 10 games.

Last year his shot quality score was in the same range as Auger-Aliassime (8.1), Rublev (7.9) and Sinner (7.9). The tour average is 7.2.

“When I first met Jiri, he surprised me with his humility. He was such a nice person,” Lehecka’s coach Michal Navratil told “And then of course it was immediately the power and the impact of his shots that were in him.”

What’s more frightening for the rest of the Tour is that 21-year-old Lehecka is still using his power, according to his trainer. When they first started working together, Lehecka was using a different brand of racquet and his string tension was 50/50 pounds.

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Lehecka has since experimented with different racquet and string setups to control his game.

“He had big problems with the string,” said Navratil. “He could break the string in 10, 15 minutes. [It was] not even for the first rally, so it was massive.”

The Czech has had his racquets strung tighter and tighter to control his game.

“It’s funny. Last year was very special,” said Navratil. “Last year in Australia he stringed 35/33. So in the beginning he was really like an animal with so much power. But eventually he manages to do it and controlling everything. However, I don’t think he can use the full percentage of his power because I don’t think there are any racquets in this world that he can fully commit to and control.”

That paid off in his rapid climb up the Pepperstone ATP rankings. It was a year ago when he reached the semi-finals of Rotterdam as a qualifier in 137th place. Now, armed with one of the greatest forehands in the world, Lehecka is No. 52 and moving up (career-best No. 37).

Lehecka begins his run at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Tuesday in Doha against qualifier Damir Dzumhur.

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