Many people wonder how top tennis players hit so many great shots in a row. In most cases, the answer is simple: a good player strokes the ball properly because his or her body is in the proper stance and is positioned correctly on the court. It's all in the footwork.
Because tennis is such a fast game and requires plenty of movement, your feet obviously play an important part. During a single point, you might find yourself moving from sideline to sideline, base line to net and in many other directions.
Anticipating where the ball will be hit and conditioning your feet to get you there is necessary for playing good tennis. I am always looking at the ball, my opponent's body position and his grip to determine the direction of his shot. This allows me to move for the ball sooner, and position myself before hitting a return.
For some players, fast footwork comes naturally; for many others, it has to be developed. Ilie Nastase, for example, is naturally quick on all courts and doesn't need to work on his feet. On the other hand, I need to work hard to improve my footwork on all surfaces. Keep in mind that on clay you can slide into the ball, on cement you must run in small steps and on grass you do a little of both. Whatever the surface, always remember to move for the ball with your racket in a ready, backswing position.
You can improve your footwork through drills. Running side-step sprints and jumping rope are two of the best. I like to position myself in the middle of the court on the base line, side-step in the direction of the ball and then side-step back to the middle in anticipation of the next shot.
Finally, long-distance running is helpful in building up stamina for match play. You want to be able to maintain quickness during the entire match. At this year's Volvo Masters, I relied on my stamina to carry me through a grueling five-set final.