A question about second serves [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

A question about second serves

xoyz
03-12-2012, 12:15 AM
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.

romismak
03-12-2012, 12:20 AM
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

Kat_YYZ
03-12-2012, 12:23 AM
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.

leng jai
03-12-2012, 12:26 AM
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.

Sunset of Age
03-12-2012, 12:28 AM
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.

BodyServe
03-12-2012, 12:50 AM
Coria was hitting 2nd serves like 1st, then again his 1st serves were 138kph

alter ego
03-12-2012, 12:56 AM
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.

:rolleyes:
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.

Johnny Groove
03-12-2012, 01:07 AM
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.

:rolleyes:
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?

Gabe32
03-12-2012, 01:13 AM
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.

leng jai
03-12-2012, 01:18 AM
Tursunov has been trying the baseline version of this phenomenon for his entire career.

Ajde.

jonas
03-12-2012, 01:21 AM
Wasn't Pim-Pim hitting his 2nd (almost) as hard as his 1st? Calculated risk, he called it I think.

LocoPorElTenis
03-12-2012, 01:21 AM
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.

Deathless Mortal
03-12-2012, 01:22 AM
Rumor has it Troicki once managed to hit a double fault on 1st serve.

alter ego
03-12-2012, 01:23 AM
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%.

Johnny Groove
03-12-2012, 01:32 AM
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.

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 :shrug:

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

:lol:

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.

LocoPorElTenis
03-12-2012, 01:39 AM
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 :shrug:


Agreed on all counts. In the end it's all down to mentality. What is funny is that you see more double faults on key points when players are trying to play it safe rather than when going for it, because the first kind happens when players are tight, and players only go fo big seconds on important points when they're feeling very confident.

LocoPorElTenis
03-12-2012, 01:40 AM
By the way the pointed I wanted to make is that even if you discount mental issues, outside of a few freak cases players are not better off hitting two first serves.

allpro
03-12-2012, 01:44 AM
:rolleyes:
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.

sampras' 2nd serve was totally clutch in the crucial stages of the biggest matches. that's how you measure true greatness -- when it matters most and when the chips were down.

Gabe32
03-12-2012, 02:50 AM
A player like Federer probably doesn't need it, as he has one of the best 2nd serves on tour, but maybe someone like Berdych or Tsonga can pull it off.

But, as mentioned before, to do it constantly might seriously injury your shoulder over a prolonged period of time.

Kat_YYZ
03-12-2012, 10:24 AM
Today when he was serving for the match, at deuce Raonic hit a first serve that was called an ace, but then Berlocq challenged and it was actually out. Raonic then hit his second serve 138 mph for an ace :lol:. Then he hit a first serve ace on MP. He was up a double-break at that point though and I guess he wasn't worried about it.

Topspindoctor
03-12-2012, 10:57 AM
:rolleyes:
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.

51% on second serve is brilliant, since Sampras was a clown as soon as an extended rally started.

AncicCilic
03-12-2012, 11:20 AM
Ivanisevic sometimes hit 200+ kph 2nd serve on break points, you never knew what his crazy head will decide. :D

Nixer
03-12-2012, 11:24 AM
Wasn't Pim-Pim hitting his 2nd (almost) as hard as his 1st? Calculated risk, he called it I think.

Not exactly, he was hitting 2nd as other players' 1st serve - around 200 km/h, which is 20-30 km/h slower than his normal 1st serve

Voo de Mar
03-12-2012, 11:55 AM
Ferrer is a pointless example when he wins 6-2, 6-2. I love risky 2nd serves, they help especially in tie-breaks, guys like Sampras, Ivanisevic or Rusedski who won plenty of them always tried to risk 2nd serves even facing set point at 5:6 (30-40) or 5:6 in the tie-break.

Currently Isner has the most risky second serve and his tie-break record is impressive as well.

alter ego
03-12-2012, 12:14 PM
Ferrer is a pointless example when he wins 6-2, 6-2. I love risky 2nd serves, they help especially in tie-breaks, guys like Sampras, Ivanisevic or Rusedski who won plenty of them always tried to risk 2nd serves even facing set point at 5:6 (30-40) or 5:6 in the tie-break.

Currently Isner has the most risky second serve and his tie-break record is impressive as well.

Tsonga did it a couple of times against Murray in Queen's final. I remeber he hit an 136mph 2 serve in the tiebreak. He also saved some break points with huge 2nd serves.

duong
03-12-2012, 12:15 PM
The only guy I recall whose 2nd serve was as close to his 1st as imaginable was Pete Sampras.

it's not at all confirmed by the stats of points won on serve : he's one of the best servers ever for the % of points won on first serve (over 80%) but quite average for points won on second serve (around 50%), a difference of 30% points won is a very big difference hence I can't imagine his second serve was really nearly as good as his first one !

Sometimes probably he hit a great second serve then started the legend and legends are what stays in people's minds :rolleyes:

Agrajag
03-12-2012, 12:18 PM
Wasn't Pim-Pim hitting his 2nd (almost) as hard as his 1st? Calculated risk, he called it I think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zeza9uvscI

He wrote about it in his blog aswell. I think a lot of player would profit from a statistical analysis of their game. Particularly regarding second serves.

duong
03-12-2012, 12:20 PM
The usual suspects: Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Isner.

Also Agassi, Courier, even Chang I think.

duong
03-12-2012, 12:23 PM
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

This year Nadal is so far at 71% first serve percentage, better than ever :eek: (and still 74% points won on first serve, one of his best ratios)

As far as funny stats are concerned, this year Federer is so far at 63% points won on second serve :eek:

alter ego
03-12-2012, 12:25 PM
Also Agassi, Courier, even Chang I think.

Chang is at 52%, Courrier at 53% (same as Sampras), Agassi is at 54% though.

duong
03-12-2012, 12:27 PM
On the topic, nowadays I sometimes saw Söderling, Berdych or Tsonga going for a very big second serve.

What makes me laugh on that topic is that :

- if he succeeds, people say "great ! such great "balls" !

- if he misses, people say "double fault ! horrible choke !" :lol:

Time Violation
03-12-2012, 12:29 PM
^^People will say that anyway :p

duong
03-12-2012, 12:29 PM
Chang is at 52%, Courrier at 53% (same as Sampras), Agassi is at 54% though.

Courier and Chang declined a lot as you know, then I prefer looking at stats in their best years rather than at "carreer stats".

Same for Agassi, who had many ups-and-downs in his carreer and kept on playing very long.

BodyServe
03-12-2012, 12:40 PM
Furthermore if you play someone like Nadal, it's better to lose the point on a df than after a long grueling rally.

alter ego
03-12-2012, 12:41 PM
Courier and Chang declined a lot as you know, then I prefer looking at stats in their best years rather than at "carreer stats".

Same for Agassi, who had many ups-and-downs in his carreer and kept on playing very long.

Well then let's take their best years into account.
Agassi 1999 => 56%
Sampras 93 => 53%

HKz
03-12-2012, 01:30 PM
Game has evolved into a high-percentage type of game. A game of less errors rather than depending on chance to end a point quickly. I mean go back in the past, and you have these players like Sampras and Ivanisevic who used to hit absolutely enormous second serves. But this is certainly not the case now. Although, sometimes you'll still see some big second serves, especially from players like Karlovic, Raonic, Roddick and even Federer occasionally puts a little extra pop on his second delivery, even resulting in aces. Most memorable one for me was when he was serving out the match against Nadal in Madrid 2009 it was deuce and he hit a second serve ace down the T.

But yeah, it is much too risky to ever do it too much, however, I can agree some players should hit a bigger second serve a little more often. Because after all, what is the difference between missing your second serve compared to just rolling it in and then missing the winner?

MrEleganza
03-12-2012, 04:24 PM
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.

I came in here to basically say this. Athletes and coaches, even world-class ones, are very frequently risk-averse to the extreme. American football is RIFE with situations where the conventional wisdom is extremely conservative, low-risk low-reward. As Gabe (sort of) noted, punting on fourth-and-short in your opponents territory is the most glaring example of this.

Players are also afraid of looking stupid. The conventional wisdom is that you should take a little off your second serve and then if you lose the point anyway, well, at least you played it straight. But DOUBLE FAULTING by going out guns-blazing on your second serve? What a reckless idiot! Wanting to avoid that perception factors into it as well. Again, you see this conservative mentality and an unwillingness to buck the conventional wisdom in most if not all sports.

MrEleganza
03-12-2012, 04:29 PM
Not to derail even more into other sports, but I also wanted to point out that a big reason for the conservative attitude in team sports especially is that coaches want to protect their jobs and reputation so if things don't work out well they want it to be the players' fault. So again, in American football. You punt on fourth-and-5 at midfield in overtime, and go on to lose the game? Players' fault. You go for it on fourth-and-5 at midfield in overtime and don't make the first down? Coach's fault. Coaches would rather it be the players' fault.

AnotherGameFor
03-12-2012, 04:45 PM
I believe Raonic should be doing this, especially on slow surfaces vs good players where he isn't favoured in a long rally. He had a bunch of mathches on Clay last year where F*W1 was much greater than W2. He does also hit a big, flat second serve every once in a while to keep his opponent honest.

Slice Winner
03-12-2012, 04:50 PM
Did Rennich go for a 138 second serve last night, or something like that?

Johnny Groove
03-12-2012, 05:06 PM
Chang is at 52%, Courrier at 53% (same as Sampras), Agassi is at 54% though.

Chang, Courier and Agassi all had much better ground games than Sampras, which may contribute to these stats.

On the topic, nowadays I sometimes saw Söderling, Berdych or Tsonga going for a very big second serve.

What makes me laugh on that topic is that :

- if he succeeds, people say "great ! such great "balls" !

- if he misses, people say "double fault ! horrible choke !" :lol:

The line between genius and moron is always very thin. :p

Furthermore if you play someone like Nadal, it's better to lose the point on a df than after a long grueling rally.

Well, this depends. If I am playing Nadal and I am up 40-0 or even 40-15, yeah I may attempt to go big on a 2nd serve, especially if I am still tired from the point before.

But if it is 30-30, Deuce, or 40-30 or 30-40, Advantage either way, in that case, I personally would have to hit a regular 2nd serve and take my chances in the rally.

I don't have a serve like Raonic, Roddick, or Tsonga though. :p

156mphserve
03-12-2012, 07:13 PM
In the 16 matches yesterday, and for 32 players who played them the F*W1>W2 equation holds for 10 players. They are Ferrer, Berlocq, Matosevic, Malisse, Tsonga, Nalbandian, Muller, Tipsarevic, Lopez, and Nadal