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The fourth ball refers to the fourth stroke in a rally, i.e. the second stroke by the receiver of the service. The fourth-ball attack strategy is not very common, but is useful for inflicting psychological damage on the opponent, forcing him or her to constantly change services.
The aim is to return the service of an opponent in a manner which makes him/her fumble, thus opening the window to strike decisively on the fourth ball.
Usually, this involves:
- Countering incoming spin in order to reverse the incoming spin and redirect it to the opponent. If the push return is played short with plenty of spin, it virtually assures the opponent's demise; OR
- A flip shot in order to surprise the opponent, providing the opportunity to unleash a loop attack.
When the opportunity arises, using the fourth-ball strategy according to the above guidelines can catch the opponent off-guard.
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