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The slice is one of the most basic tools of tennis, a versatile shot that can do any of the following and more: safely chip back big-ass serves, buy time to recover from aggressive attacks, inject a surprise change-up to the rhythm of a rally, send an annoyingly low ball to an opponent, or handle a peskily high ball to one’s one-handed backhand. If you play tennis for a living, it sure helps to know how to hit a slice!

Right now I am watching Denis Shapovalov, the sensation who does indeed use a one-handed backhand, in a Laver Cup exhibition match. ESPN commentator Darren Cahill, citing a source close to Shapo, casually noted that as recently as three months ago the kid did not know how to hit a decent slice. Sure, Shapo is an aggressively minded player intent on bashing through the boring baseline rally and ending points ASAP, and is just a pup at 18, and came up alarmingly fast, but the notion that he just made the fourth round of a major without a fundamental technique is both startling and funny to me.

We’ll try to add video later to confirm sourcing and phrasing, but for now, just watch him play against fellow Next Big Thing Alexander Zverev and hunt for a single slice.