Particularly at a higher level, players tend to have trademark shots, shots which that player is known for, and one that most other players don't even seem to attempt, let alone execute. A player's trademark shot is not necessarily their best shot or strength, and could be something that’s more unique or unorthodox rather than spectacular.
Below is a list of some of those trademark shots, while obviously there are still quite a few that I've missed out on.
Rafael NadalThe unusually powerful double-handed backhand crosscourt passing shot, where he swings the racquet through in a straight line making the racquet seem more like a sword or cricket bat. He bends his knees down incredibly low and his racquet nearly hits the ground on the initial contact. Commentators refer to it as being like a double-handed forehand.
Roger FedererThe flick backhand half-volley passing shot. His opponent comes in on an approach shot right to his backhand side and Federer’s still on the forehand side of the court. He smoothly and casually strolls his way there, or so it looks and barely makes any backswing nor does he even look up, he just keeps his head still. He flicks the backhand right at the last second and directs it exactly where he wants to for a winning shot.
He's also got the short-slice backhand intended to make his opponents scoop it back up and force themselves into the net, after finding themselves in no-man’s land. Then Federer whips across an easy passing shot winner straight past them, while making his opponents feel silly and hopeless in the process.
Andy MurrayThe high loopy forehand crosscourt that he throws in to completely take his opponent off-rhythm before throwing in the fast-paced flat forehand or backhand the next shot. Two of the most contrasting shots you could play consecutively, and Murray does it deliberately. Most players only hit change-up loopy forehands to give themselves more time to get back into the court, or either they usually hit with a fair amount of topspin as it is. But Murray uses it as a regular shot in his repertoire.
Nikolay DavydenkoI once read someone describe Davydenko on form as like “playing on skates”. The way he sprints from side-to-side, then sets himself in position right on top of the ball each time with perfect timing, makes movement and racquet control almost synchronous with each other at contact.
I also like the strangely nice feel he has on those double-handed volley dropshots. He can’t seem to hit any other kind of effective volleys but he bends down really low and opens his racquet face right out flat, instead of at an angle like most people would. He barely moves his racquet at all, keeping it in the same position to cut under the ball making it stop dead as it bounces over the net.
Andy RoddickRoddick's serve reminds me somewhat of a rocket or missile launch, in how the motion is almost completely straight up and down and the way he literally launches into it. He gets his feet set close together, then extends his racquet all the way down and bends his knees really low to push forward and create a violent, powerful motion.
David NalbandianThe backhand crosscourt angle shot, that he throws in the middle of a neutral rally catching his opponents completely by surprise. He flicks his racquet across, using almost entirely his left wrist, with his right hand as support. Most players need to either slow the pace down when attempting a short angle, roll over it with top spin or both but Nalbandian almost does it entirely with racquet control and feel.
David Ferrer and Tommy RobredoThe effort that they put in to make sure that they hit as many forehands as possible, even if that requires running all the way out of court, only to hit a three-quarter kind of shot, not even a near-winner or setup shot. You get the feeling that not much thought goes into whether any sort of reward will come out of doing it, but rather to follow the mindset of making everything into a forehand, as long as it's humanly possible.
Gael MonfilsHe teases his opponent with a floating, mid-court ball, begging for it to be hit for as an approach shot. His opponents do exactly as they should, hitting a deep approach shot into the corner, then you can feel Monfils lighting up with excitement already anticipating the glorious running passing shot winner. He sprints over to the corner three or so metres behind the baseline, does a trademark slide and finds the down-the-line shot, just as he knew he would letting out a predictable “Allez!”.
Fernando GonzalezThe go-for-broke inside-out forehand, where he takes a massive backswing and you know it’s going to be big before it's even hit. The backswing itself is intimidating itself, then he gets his footwork in position like he’s putting every ounce of energy into it knowing that he’s not going to be in position if it comes back. But that’s okay because he wants to hit an outright winner off it. I remember when Andy Roddick got back one of his “forehand bombs” in the US Open match, and Gonzalez got to it late and slapped a forehand two metres long afterwards, to essentially give up the point.
Igor AndreevThe sound that comes off his racquet after hitting a forehand. Andreev gets right under the ball, then whips right across it to send it spinning several rotations. Like the complete opposite of a cleanly struck shot.
Richard GasquetWhen he's on one of his hot streaks and you can tell how eager he is to hit his shots before he even hits them. Gasquet wants to hit glorious winners and he wants them to be spectacular. He puts in that extra hop on the backhand to make it a jumping backhand and gets right on top of that forehand. And just because he's in that kind of form, most of those winners actually come off. It even looks like he's walking quicker and more purposefully in between points than usual.
Then there are the more unique trademarks, those that aren't necessarily considered to even be close to a strength:
Andy Roddick’s drive backhand, how he grips his racquet with both hands together close to the middle of the handle, leaving a gap down the bottom, depriving himself of getting the full amount of power out of it.
Janko Tipsarevic, when he's wrong-footed, going back to retrieve a shot on the backhand side, hits the ball on the other side of the racquet strings. Like a very strange kind of forehand.
Tommy Robredo’s backhand, where he sets himself up with an exaggerated backswing then whips through his backhand, in a windmill sort of motion making almost a full circular rotation. His opponents predictably kick it up high to that side on serve, and he falls backwards three metres behind in the baseline just to be able to prepare for that stroke.
Fernando Gonzalez's backhand down-the-line, in that his racquet face is so flat on contact that after the ball bounces, that it kind of side-spins to the left. He sets up for his backhand in a manner that would seem to strongly favour the crosscourt backhand. Surprisingly he executes this shot, more often than would seem possible and it often catches his opponents by surprise because of the unlikelihood of the shot, as what happened to Federer in their Tennis Masters Cup 2007 match.
Mikhail Youzhny's service motion. He starts off his service motion with his front foot a fair distance from the baseline, to enable himself to move his front foot a couple of steps forward before making contact. As far as I know, he's the only active professional tennis player to do this, while everyone else starts with their front foot as close to the line as possible, while the back foot moves during contact, to get the body weight moving forward. Then, of course, Youzhny also has the one-handed backhand that starts off like a two-hander.