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Tennis Book Review: Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert

Updated on September 6, 2012
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Brad Gilbert was known to be a 'Giant Killer'. He did not have the most potent or brilliant shots but he knew how to beat the big guns. His mental and tactical strategies were what gave him success and it is these that he shares in this book. Although it was written over 15 years ago, the book is timeless and the information it contains will always be very valuable - apparently all players at Nick Bolletieri's Tennis Academy are obliged to read this book.

This book does not teach tennis technique, it is all about the other aspects of competitive tennis. There is so much material in this book that one could put into practice it is almost overwhelming, but the points that you do assimilate will certainly treat you well. I read this book about 18 months ago and the number of points that I did assimilate I still use today whenever I play.


Gilbert gives you tips on how to handle psyching, players who cheat and also emphasises the importance on knowing your opponent's game and how to scout them. On top of this he gives you heaps of strategies about how to play against different types of players like serve-volleyers, retrievers and lefties. He even stresses the importance of your decision after winning the toss and how to adapt it to the weather conditions when choosing your side for example. On particular tip that I truly value from this book is the concept of 'Set-up points' which forces you to focus much harder during your match - which is only a good thing.


Aside from this, Gilbert gives his readers a flavour of life on tour and narrates stories about matches he played against other tennis greats like Becker, Courier, Sampras, Edburg, Lendl, Connors and McEnroe and this is also a very interesting read as it allows you to get the feel for the mental outset of the pros (and the mind games that they can play).


Winning Ugly is a must-read for any tennis player who aspires to win their matches and truly aims to make the most of what their game offers.

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    • ptrguy profile image

      Thomas Daniels 

      5 years ago from Kobe, Japan

      This book by Brad is the all time best book on how to beat players that are better then you, it also needs to be standard reading for more US junior players.

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