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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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A question about second serves

Why do most (all) players hit weaker second serves? In some cases it seems as if the correct decision is to hit a "first serve" even on second serve. It will result in more double faults, obviously, but should win more points.

For example in first set of Ferrer-Dimitrov today:

Ferrer hit 57% first serve in, winning 81% of them, winning 46% of the points. He only won 25% of second serve points, so hitting the same kind of serve on second chances would have won a few points.

Similarly for Dimitrov who won 28% of points on first serve (48% in times 58% won), but only 23% of points on second serve.
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:20 PM
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Re: A question about second serves

Becuase nobody wants to make million DF during match, but this is interresting topic i thought many times about this about KArlovic, when he missed 1st serve, generally on 2nd serve you can take your chances and his 2nd serve is mostly bad and can´t back-up it, but if he is hitting 1st serves all the time can win more points on serve maybe. But it depends on serve form. By other players i don´t hink they would go for 1st serves on 2nd, it makes no sense when you have good baseline game.

I think it would make sense to go for 1st serves all the time, if you have good serve day - high FS% and your baseline game is worse than your oppoonent baseline game, in this situation you can win more points on serve during match hitting 1st serves on 2nd serve too- for example if you have 65% FS in, 80% and more FS won, 2nd serve under 50% won it would make sense probably to go for 1st serves all the time
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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:23 PM
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Re: A question about second serves

hitting a lousy second serve diminishes your chance of winning the point, BUT you might still win it.

Hitting a double fault gives your opponent the point 100% of the time. Your opponent could go sit down at his bench and still win the point. If you are a good server and up 40-0 in your own service game, I say go for it. Otherwise, no.

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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:26 PM
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Re: A question about second serves

You wouldn't have the same rate of success hitting the "second" first serve in because missing it would cost you a point thus resulting in more pressure. Most players have enough mental demons as it is.

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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:28 PM
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Re: A question about second serves

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Originally Posted by Kat_YYZ View Post
hitting a lousy second serve diminishes your chance of winning the point, BUT you might still win it.

Hitting a double fault gives your opponent the point 100% of the time. Your opponent could go sit down at his bench and still win the point. If you are a good server and up 40-0 in your own service game, I say go for it. Otherwise, no.
That's about it indeed. Call it 'safety play'.
The only guy I recall whose 2nd serve was as close to his 1st as imaginable was Pete Sampras. Not surpringly, one of the best servers ever.

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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:50 PM
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Re: A question about second serves

Coria was hitting 2nd serves like 1st, then again his 1st serves were 138kph
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:56 PM
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Re: A question about second serves

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That's about it indeed. Call it 'safety play'.
The only guy I recall whose 2nd serve was as close to his 1st as imaginable was Pete Sampras. Not surpringly, one of the best servers ever.

Sampras' 2nd serve is so fucking overrated here it's not even funny.
Carrer wise for Sampras: points won behind the 1st serve 81%, behind his 2nd 53%. Sampras is not even in the top 10 of points won behind the 2nd serve.

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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:07 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

It all depends on situations, and the quality of a man's serve. I recall Roddick at his best routinely going big on his 2nd serves, 105 mph or faster. But if your serve is not so good, maybe take a little off the first serve, hit it at 80% and get in a high % and rely on your baseline game. That's what Nadal did early in his career when his serve was shit, and still does at to some extent.

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Sampras' 2nd serve is so fucking overrated here it's not even funny.
Carrer wise for Sampras: points won behind the 1st serve 81%, behind his 2nd 53%. Sampras is not even in the top 10 of points won behind the 2nd serve.
53% won on 2nd serve is awesome over an entire career.

What players are ahead of Sampras?

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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:13 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

Interesting idea. I'd love to see a top player try this out in the first round of a 250 or something.

Same goes for American football. I heard about a high school coach who never ever kicked on fourth down. I think it actually turned out to be beneficial.

Very interesting at least.
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:18 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

Tursunov has been trying the baseline version of this phenomenon for his entire career.

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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:21 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

Wasn't Pim-Pim hitting his 2nd (almost) as hard as his 1st? Calculated risk, he called it I think.

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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:21 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

Some basic math ignoring the (VERY IMPORTANT) psychological aspect. There are three numbers to consider:

1) F = the first serve percentage.
2) W1 = percentage of points won on first serve.
3) W2 = percentage of points won on second serve.

If a player manages to hit second serves exactly as he hits first serves, he would win W1 percent of the time the second serve was in, and lost the other points. So he would win F x W1 percent of second serves (the rest would be double faults or would correspond to the percentage of points lost when first serve goes in).

So the question is, is F x W1 > W2? In this case, theoretically a player would be better off hitting two first serves (ignorning, again, psychological factors). But there are very few players for which this equation holds, they would need to have very good first serves hit at a large percentage and comparatively bad second serve. Ivo might be one of them.
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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:22 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

Rumor has it Troicki once managed to hit a double fault on 1st serve.


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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:23 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

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53% won on 2nd serve is awesome over an entire career.

What players are ahead of Sampras?
The usual suspects: Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Isner.
You may say that Nadal's so good because he's still young and most of those points are won due to his baseline game, but take a look at Fed's stat.
He's played 1011 matches and won 57% of points behind his 2nd. Sampras has played 983 matches with just 53%.

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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 12:32 AM
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Re: A question about second serves

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Wasn't Pim-Pim hitting his 2nd as hard as his 1st? Calculated risk, he called it I think.
When you have a serve as good as his, you can take such a risk.

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Originally Posted by LocoPorElTenis View Post
Some basic math ignoring the (VERY IMPORTANT) psychological aspect. There are three numbers to consider:

1) F = the first serve percentage.
2) W1 = percentage of points won on first serve.
3) W2 = percentage of points won on second serve.

If a player manages to hit second serves exactly as he hits first serves, he would win W1 percent of the time the second serve was in, and lost the other points. So he would win F x W1 percent of second serves (the rest would be double faults or would correspond to the percentage of points lost when first serve goes in).

So the question is, is F x W1 > W2? In this case, theoretically a player would be better off hitting two first serves (ignorning, again, psychological factors). But there are very few players for which this equation holds, they would need to have very good first serves hit at a large percentage and comparatively bad second serve. Ivo might be one of them.
Well, if someone serves at 62% first serve, wins 75% of first serve points, and wins 42% of second serve points, it may be beneficial for him to perhaps go for more on a 2nd serve. This of course is purely mathematical and does not take into account mentality, which is the #1 thing in the game of tennis. Basically, it all comes down to how confident is Player X in hitting a 2nd serve like a first serve, and especially on a big point? Most times, a guy will roll in a 2nd serve and rely on his ground game

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Rumor has it Troicki once managed to hit a double fault on 1st serve.


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The usual suspects: Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Isner.
You may say that Nadal's so good because he's still young and most of those points are won due to his baseline game, but take a look at Fed's stat.
He's played 1011 matches and won 57% of points behind his 2nd. Sampras has played 983 matches with just 53%.
Well, Fed, Nadal, Roddick, Isner, of course.

That 57% vs. 53% in Fed vs. Sampras is probably due to the fact that Fed's ground game superiority over Sampras is larger than Sampras' 2nd serve superiority over Federer. Also, perhaps a few too many double faults Sampras made when going for the 2nd.

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