Will Federer's idea of taking pace of the 1st serve start a new trend ?

alter ego
08-21-2010, 10:03 AM
As I'm sure most of you have notice since Toronto Roger has a new style of serving the first ball. He mixes up fast flat serves with what looks like classic 2nd serves ( more topsin or slice rather than power). Thus you see him nowadays serving the 2nd serve faster than the first.

To see the reason for this change I think we must go back to what he said after his RG defeat aginst Soderling:

Because, I mean, these were some serious, tough conditions, you know. If you serve 225, 230, you can still hit through the court on the serve.
I may be lacking those 5 to 10ks extra on the serve to hit through a guy on the serve, but that's the way conditions are. I can't complain, because it was the same for both of us.

After RG I saw Roger hitting some very fast serves in Halle. Up to 220. But after Wimbledon he said he had some minor back problems. Could it be that those extra 5 to 10 ks were the ones that trgigered them ? Pretty likely.
So what I think might have happened was Roger realizing that he was hurting himself trying to go for more power and decided to change his new approach by 180 degrees .
Today we see that the top players stay 2-3 m behind the baseline from where they can eassily return a 200+kph serve (the most obvious case being Nadal).But dosen't those 2-3 m behind the baseline make them vulerable if they have to return a slow slice serve insted of the big flat serve ? Hell YEAH!
If you can mix flat serves with 100 mph kickers I'm sure that even the best returnes in the game Nadal, Murray, Nalbandain will have major issues.
Of course today Roger's serve is at it's most vulnerable point in the last 7 years because of the changes but I think this new dimension of the serve could be the future.

08-21-2010, 10:30 AM
nice insights, but i wonder if even federer is aware of those strategies, or it's only our vivid imagination ;)

08-21-2010, 10:32 AM
I think so. I've always wondered to be honest why players don't mix up hard, flat first serves with slower wide kickers (like in cricket where a couple of overs of fast deliveries with bouncers etc will be followed by the odd slower yorker that often gets the wicket). It keeps the opponent guessing and more unsure of their optimal court positioning for receiving the ball.

Furthermore, with so many people watching and trying to emulate Federer's game I doubt that this new tactic will go unnoticed amongst the pro players - especially if he he has reasonable success with the new strategy.

08-21-2010, 10:38 AM
Not exactly sure but I think there was a problem with the Halle speed gun, I seem to remember most people were serving above average there. Roger's always had an awesome serve though without it ever being very fast.

08-21-2010, 11:01 AM
Depends how many players have back problems.

08-21-2010, 11:15 AM
Sounds very reasonable. Varying your serve indeed forces your opponent to return earlier, further it's very easy to get adjusted to a player who serves everything full speed.

But this is not a new concept tho.

08-21-2010, 11:22 AM
Today we see that the top players stay 2-3 m behind the baseline from where they can eassily return a 200+kph serve (the most obvious case being Nadal).

Nadal is standing closer to baseline to return nowadays. That's why his returns has been pathetic. He's not used to it yet.

As for Fed, I think the the 1st serve variation is one of Annacone influence. Aside from the aggressive returns.

08-21-2010, 11:35 AM
Good observations.
Variation is key to his success on serve.
He seems to have discovered a kick serve wide from the ad court too... far from a common play fro Fed in previous years.

08-21-2010, 11:51 AM
Federer must protect his back that's probably why he changed his movement. Edberg did the same for the same reason

08-21-2010, 11:52 AM
A lot of guys working on the off speed pitch right now.. Not just federer. So many guys are forced to "guess" and lean one way or the other right on 1st serve direction, that off speed stuff is really working.

08-21-2010, 06:46 PM
Taking speed off at Cinci is rational for a lot of guys - even a reduced speed ball there from a big server is often unreturnable.

08-21-2010, 06:56 PM
Well it is a decent strategy to mix it up that way on a fast surface, but sometimes his choice of who/when he should employ that kick serve as a first serve is kind of strange. For example, against Berdych last week, in the third set, I think he was kicking most of his first serves in on the ad side. Berdych didn't have too much trouble dealing with it if I remember correctly..

I think he could of used this strategy against Davydenko a little more however.

08-21-2010, 07:02 PM
good strategy

of course, without serve and volley tennis feels dead, but we will have a player come through who can play as effectively a the net as he can from the baseline, and therefore rebirth of S&V and tennis will live again

but untill that player comes, rogi is the est we have, and always the most entertaining player to watch

08-21-2010, 07:06 PM
Probably won't start a trend, but certainly helps him with his back problems.

Start da Game
08-21-2010, 07:07 PM
no trend nothing.......a returner like nalbandian will blast return winners if fed keeps trying these wide kickserves on first serves against him.......these experiments only work against lesser players.......first serve is first serve, should be powerful and accurate and advantageous to the server.......trying to take pace off it very often makes no sense.......

i am not buying this bad back bullshit by the way......anyone feels the pain if they try too hard for something.......his serve never had the kind of pace roddick has for example, how can it be different now? he has lived with that serve for years and how can he change it and speed it up at this stage of the career? if he couldn't fire down 230 k serves consistently during his mid 20s, how did he expect of himself to serve at that speed at this age? looks foolish.......

08-21-2010, 07:47 PM
A lot of guys working on the off speed pitch right now.. Not just federer. So many guys are forced to "guess" and lean one way or the other right on 1st serve direction, that off speed stuff is really working.

Yep a lot of guys already do it...it's not like it's some new strategy. Most of the best servers on tour mix it up quite a bit. It's like a baseball pitcher...use the fastball to set up the splitter, and all of that makes your change-up more effective.

08-21-2010, 07:48 PM
i am not buying this bad back bullshit

and we are not buying bad knee bullshit

08-21-2010, 07:53 PM
and we are not buying bad knee bullshit
Welcome to the club of haters..sista

08-21-2010, 08:04 PM
When did Federer invent the off-speed serve? It's nothing new and will continue to be used as it has been in the past.