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Should more players use underarm serve?


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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Who thought Kyrgios use of underarm serve against Nadal was a fluke, was heavily mistaken. He used it multiple times in the match against Lajovic - and it worked!

In modern tennis, where the courts get slower and defensive pushing from the stands is often successfull, underarm serving can be a quite effective weapon. You will rarely hit aces, but you can disrupt the rhythm of your opponent and make him question how far behind the baseline he really should return.

Furthermore, the mental aspect can not be denied. While it has little to do with exposing the opponent, losing a point like this sure leaves mental scars.

All in all, the underarm serve is a legitimate weapon to increase the likelihood of success. So far, only the false assumption of it being "inpolite" prevented other players from doing it.

So far, only madman Kyrgios was brave enough to imply this tactic. Will others follow? I'm looking forward to see much more underarm serving in the future. Seeing a pusher like Nadal exposed with this sneaky tactic is like watching a epic piece of art - just beautiful in every way.


 

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Ask Peter Polansky about it. I remember watching this match and thinking how effective underarm serving can be when used right.

It's basically the same as a dropshop: somebody playing far behind the baseline expecting a big hit has to chase down a ball and may find themselves at the net. If they aren't comfortable there, should be an easy pass for the server.

Kind of the effect that the SABR had on opponents. They don't know what is coming, where to stand, what to cover and it can mentally throw them off.
 

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Everyone should do it against nadal and thiem, once or twice to make them move forward. Was watching the highlights and i wondered where Nadal was when he was returning and then i just noticed he was basically right beside the linesman. His returning position is unsportsman like and he wonders why his body is in bad shape.
 

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Who thought Kyrgios use of underarm serve against Nadal was a fluke, was heavily mistaken. He used it multiple times in the match against Lajovic - and it worked!

In modern tennis, where the courts get slower and defensive pushing from the stands is often successfull, underarm serving can be a quite effective weapon. You will rarely hit aces, but you can disrupt the rhythm of your opponent and make him question how far behind the baseline he really should return.

Furthermore, the mental aspect can not be denied. While it has little to do with exposing the opponent, losing a point like this sure leaves mental scars.

All in all, the underarm serve is a legitimate weapon to increase the likelihood of success. So far, only the false assumption of it being "inpolite" prevented other players from doing it.

So far, only madman Kyrgios was brave enough to imply this tactic. Will others follow? I'm looking forward to see much more underarm serving in the future. Seeing a pusher like Nadal exposed with this sneaky tactic is like watching a epic piece of art - just beautiful in every way.


1) Kyrgios is not the only one to do it.

2) Lajovic could have EASILY got to that ace if he wanted. Was he in tank mode?
 

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Legit tactic. Should be used often against the likes of Dull and Thiem.

As said above, I find Dulls returning position as poor sportsmanship just as much as an underarm serve.

Throwing it in occasionally will give them doubts as to how far back they stand and gain more free points from normal serves.

I do think only Sir Nick will have the balls to do it regularly though.
 

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Nick's 1st one wasn't even that good. His opponent could have ran up to it and ripped it for a winner. Nick's doing it from 40-0, so not much risk for him.

It's really only a shot to use if you are for sure your opponent won't get to it. Because in tennis, pretty much the worst shot you can play is one where you send a really short ball, into the middle of the court. With underarm serve, that's what you are doing. If your opponents get to it, then it should be an easy winner for them.

I guess it depends on how good the server is. If you have touch to just nudge the ball barely over the net and it dies well before your opponent can ever get to it, then yeah go for it. But I doubt many players ever practice it enough to get good at it to use it as a strategic shot.
 

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[...]

Ask Peter Polansky about it. I remember watching this match and thinking how effective underarm serving can be when used right.

It's basically the same as a dropshop: somebody playing far behind the baseline expecting a big hit has to chase down a ball and may find themselves at the net. If they aren't comfortable there, should be an easy pass for the server.

Kind of the effect that the SABR had on opponents. They don't know what is coming, where to stand, what to cover and it can mentally throw them off.
The video in this post is breaking up the layout for me (Firefox). I think the
 

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The SABR is an effective and appropriate counter measure against such "disrespectful" tactics. :armed:






Respectfully,
masterclass
 

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Nick's 1st one wasn't even that good. His opponent could have ran up to it and ripped it for a winner. Nick's doing it from 40-0, so not much risk for him.

It's really only a shot to use if you are for sure your opponent won't get to it. Because in tennis, pretty much the worst shot you can play is one where you send a really short ball, into the middle of the court. With underarm serve, that's what you are doing. If your opponents get to it, then it should be an easy winner for them.

I guess it depends on how good the server is. If you have touch to just nudge the ball barely over the net and it dies well before your opponent can ever get to it, then yeah go for it. But I doubt many players ever practice it enough to get good at it to use it as a strategic shot.
Probably also because it has been regarded as lame or something. An IDGAF type of guy like Nick has openly discussed its possible advantages, and now we've seen him use it in two matches in a short span. I'm inclined to think he will practice it here and there, just like he has honed some of his other "trick shots". It truly could be a decent tool for him specifically because of his rebellious/unorthodox mindset; because of the potency of his overhand serve, which pushes some players far back; and due to the beginning of his service motion with the swinging arms to which he can somewhat smoothly incorporate the underhand serve, like he did here.

There's a clip of Karlovic, not surprisingly another heavyweight server, executing an underhand serve against Haas who was almost glued to the backwall. This one's also nicely executed, near perfection... Olivo, on clay. Daniel right at the back fence. At 2:34. The Karlovic one is right after that.

 

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I think it's cheesy, tacky.
But go ahead and use it.
It's an expression of character on the court.
You could say "unsportsmanlike" but what's considered sportsmanlike changes over time. So many things that were previously thought of as vulgar are now routine.
I think of the ridiculously named "SABR" as the same, and i enjoy seeing it shoved right back down the returners throat. Fed and Nick use it.

You know there's a reason all the best players don't use the underarm serve.
 

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@Ilkae: why was Berdych's underarm serve not counted in that clip of yours?
Pretty sure the umpire felt he served to quickly after the time violation call. He could have explained it better though, now it seems like he just thinks Berdych can't serve underhand.

And I think it's ethically perfectly fine do it, but doubt it's gonna be a gamechanger.
 

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@Ilkae: why was Berdych's underarm serve not counted in that clip of yours?
I think because it came so swiftly after the umpire had spoken. Thus the ump thought that his speech was a disruption, and the returner should be allowed to prepare uninterrupted.


edit. Yeah he could've explained it better... he said: "I announce... then you cannot serve like that." 'Like that' does not refer to an underhand serve, but the moment being too soon after the announcement.
 

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Pretty sure the umpire felt he served to quickly after the time violation call. He could have explained it better though, now it seems like he just thinks Berdych can't serve underhand.

And I think it's ethically perfectly fine do it, but doubt it's gonna be a gamechanger.
I think because it came so swiftly after the umpire had spoken. Thus the ump thought that his speech was a disruption, and the returner should be allowed to prepare uninterrupted.


edit. Yeah he could've explained it better... he said: "I announce... then you cannot serve like that." 'Like that' does not refer to an underhand serve, but the moment being too soon after the announcement.
Makes sense, but is there an actual rule that serving too quickly after an announcement is disallowed?
 

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I think it's cheesy, tacky.
But go ahead and use it.
It's an expression of character on the court.
You could say "unsportsmanlike" but what's considered sportsmanlike changes over time. So many things that were previously thought of as vulgar are now routine.
I think of the ridiculously named "SABR" as the same, and i enjoy seeing it shoved right back down the returners throat. Fed and Nick use it.

You know there's a reason all the best players don't use the underarm serve.
How is a crafty move of countering a heavy serve by standing "miles back" different then? Makes zero sense really. How is that judged as sportsmanlike... Essentially trying to gain an advantage to win the point. Is a player supposed to play to the opponent's hand, or be crafty himself and counter whatever the opponent does... By this line of thinking you should play the ball in a rally to your opponent's racket instead of out of his/her reach.
 

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Anything that's not against the rules should be used if it gains you an advantage.

Probably also because it has been regarded as lame or something. An IDGAF type of guy like Nick has openly discussed its possible advantages, and now we've seen him use it in two matches in a short span. I'm inclined to think he will practice it here and there, just like he has honed some of his other "trick shots". It truly could be a decent tool for him specifically because of his rebellious/unorthodox mindset; because of the potency of his overhand serve, which pushes some players far back; and due to the beginning of his service motion with the swinging arms to which he can somewhat smoothly incorporate the underhand serve, like he did here.

There's a clip of Karlovic, not surprisingly another heavyweight server, executing an underhand serve against Haas who was almost glued to the backwall. This one's also nicely executed, near perfection... Olivo, on clay. Daniel right at the back fence. At 2:34. The Karlovic one is right after that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-otpjOIe3I
That serve by Olivo was beautiful, perfectly disguised.
 

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Makes sense, but is there an actual rule that serving too quickly after an announcement is disallowed?
Don't know. For me though benefiting from outside disruptions falls within the realm of the underlying rule of any competitive sports, i.e. "fair play". Just like a play should be stopped if a ball boy at the back fence drops a ball during a rally, even if it might only slightly/borderline theoretically disrupt either player (which was the case with Zverev sometime back; I believe for this there's an actual rule though) etc. If there's outside disruption, no one should IMO have a problem against replaying the point. The ITF website says this about the role of the chair umpire https://www.itftennis.com/officiating/officials/on-court-officials.aspx:

The Chair Umpire is much more than just the person who sits in a high chair and announces the score. They are the guardians of the Rules of Tennis and enforce them to ensure a match is played in a spirit of fair play.

edit. Berdych clearly understands this notion, with the smile afterwards. But without a rule in place (as said, don't know about this one specifically), I can understand that a call is somewhat tricky. Playing within the rules should really be enough, but loopholes can exist...

One appalling one was Robredo (IIRC) playing against someone on clay... There was a line call, then the umpire went to check the mark and made a call. The opponent (who I forgot) said that the umpire had checked the false mark... That seemingly was the case, and the umpire went back to check it and wanted to change his mind, but the supervisor was called on the court, and Robredo got awarded the false call (which everyone knew it was) to his favor based on the rule that apparently the umpire can't change his/her mind (umpire was saying that "I made a mistake..." and was clearly vexed by that; guy who actually lost the point was awarded one). Thus Robredo expoited a loophole against the "spirit of fair play".
 

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How is a crafty move of countering a heavy serve by standing "miles back" different then? Makes zero sense really. How is that judged as sportsmanlike... Essentially trying to gain an advantage to win the point. Is a player supposed to play to the opponent's hand, or be crafty himself and counter whatever the opponent does... By this line of thinking you should play the ball in a rally to your opponent's racket instead of out of his/her reach.
Standing far back has more to do with a players own timing on their strokes, it's no accident that both Thiem and Nadal do it, because they hit heavy topspin, they need the time.
It's not about craftiness at all, standing back, it just about giving yourself the best chance to get the serve back.
There is so much nonsense on this subject it's insane, especially on this thread, but just in general.
Everyone bitching about nadal's return position, including some of the commies. Sometimes it works brilliantly for him; sometimes not. When it works well, suddenly the commies think it's great and other players start trying it.
Ridiculous.
Everyone takes a different approach to returning, one that suits their strokes, their read on the server etc.
Never sure whether this is just an extension of hating Nadal by whatever means haters can find, or tennis ignorance or both.

YOu r last line "by this line of thinking" is not even worth a comment.

Underarm serve is not in the same class of tactic as where you stand to receive. I wouldn't even call where you stand to receive a "tactic". It's just making adjustments to return different kinds of serves, in different conditions, on different surfaces etc.
Also, I purposely didn't use the word "unsportsmanlike"
I said "cheesy" "tacky".

Read more carefully.
 

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Standing far back has more to do with a players own timing on their strokes, it's no accident that both Thiem and Nadal do it, because they hit heavy topspin, they need the time.
It's not about craftiness at all, standing back, it just about giving yourself the best chance to get the serve back.
There is so much nonsense on this subject it's insane, especially on this thread, but just in general.
Everyone bitching about nadal's return position, including some of the commies. Sometimes it works brilliantly for him; sometimes not. When it works well, suddenly the commies think it's great and other players start trying it.
Ridiculous.
Everyone takes a different approach to returning, one that suits their strokes, their read on the server etc.
Never sure whether this is just an extension of hating Nadal by whatever means haters can find, or tennis ignorance or both.

YOu r last line "by this line of thinking" is not even worth a comment.

Underarm serve is not in the same class of tactic as where you stand to receive. I wouldn't even call where you stand to receive a "tactic". It's just making adjustments to return different kinds of serves, in different conditions, on different surfaces etc.
Also, I purposely didn't use the word "unsportsmanlike"
I said "cheesy" "tacky".

Read more carefully.
The bolded bits.

- "It's just about giving yourself the best chance to win your serve..."
- "It's just making adjustments to counter different kinds of return positions, opponents etc."

I.e. it really isn't any different; making the best possible move within the rules to win the point. As @zdravkelja above puts it in short: "Anything that's not against the rules should be used if it gains you an advantage." The rules don't allow you to yell, or use outside disruptions etc., but they allow you to use your racket to hit the ball wherever within the lines however you see fit.


edit. As long as the rules don't state that a serve must be executed as an overhand one, they leave room for creativity. Being against this, SABR, or any other creative touch outside the norm is to me a mechanistic view of tennis, when in fact there's plenty of room in tennis for improvisation and creativity on top of the textbook strokes and most common situations.
 
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