For a deeper analysis of the massive impact rally length has on winning a match, I highly recommend THE FIRST 4 SHOTS. Click HERE for more information about this tennis strategy product, focused on the importance of the start of the rally.
The First 4 Shots – Video
Roger Federer def. Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3, 6-4
Well, that didn’t take long! Roger dusted Dusan in just an hour and 19 minutes to move through to the second round of The Championships at Wimbledon this afternoon. Following are 10 elements of the match that you can learn from and copy at home to improve your own game.
1 Serve & Volley (Won 6/7)
I love serve & volley and you should too! Roger used it as a secondary tactic in this match to keep Dusan’s return game off balance. Here’s where serve and volley doesn’t really get enough credit. Dusan likes to slice his return to make a lot of them, but those slice returns are easy pickings for Roger when he serves & volleys. When Dusan comes over the return he naturally misses more, but it works well to get the return low. It’s a guessing game between being offensive or making lots of returns. The guessing game of “will he” or “won’t he” serve and volley was perfectly won by Roger by sprinkling in seven of them in 13 service games.
Federer Seven Serve & Volley Points
- Won Point – 1st point of his 2nd service game. He made a 123mph serve right down the T at Dusan’s backhand return and stuck the backhand volley for a winner through the Ad court.
- Won Point – At 30-0 in the same game, he served and volleyed behind his second serve! Again it went to Dusan’s backhand return, and again Roger stuck a backhand volley through the Ad court. This time Dusan missed a tough running backhand pass long.
- Won Point – Leading 4-1, 30-0 in the opening set, Federer served and volleyed and this time changed it up and came in behind a 109mph slice serve out wide in the Deuce court. Dusan could only slice his lunging forehand return, and Roger knocked off an easy forehand volley into the open court.
- Won Point – Leading 6-1, 2-0, 15-15, Roger picked another great time to serve and volley with no pressure from the scoreboard. This time he surprised to the body, and Dusan hit a backhand jam slice return. Roger hit a low forehand volley deep into the backhand corner and Dusan missed a very tough backhand pass down the line.
- Won Point – Now at 40-30 in the same game, Roger hit a big kicking first serve out wide that Dusan floated back with a high, defensive backhand slice return. Roger lit it up with a high swinging forehand volley for a winner through the Deuce court.
- Lost Point – At 5-3, 30-0 in the 2nd set, he cheekily snuck in behind a second serve down the T to Dusan’s backhand wing. This time Dusan was able to come over the backhand and drive the return, He got it down low to Roger’s forehand volley, and a really tough volley ended up in the net.
- Won Point – Federer led 4-3, 15-15 in the 3rd set, and served and volleyed down the T in the Deuce court to Dusan’s backhand. Dusan sliced a low return down the line to Roger’s backhand volley, and he hit a short angle cross-court volley for a winner. Nice touch taking power off a low volley, and applying lots of spin for control.
After you have finished reading this Blog post, click HERE to read about how Roger inspired Thiago in Brazil to serve and volley – on clay. Oh yeah, Thiago is 60+ years old and is around a 4.0 level player. Thiago is now an inspiration to all of us!
2 Rally Length
Roger creates his separation much more in the shorter rallies than the longer ones. Here’s the breakdown of the three rally lengths from the match.
- 0-4 Shots = 108 points (73%)
- 5-8 Shots = 38 points (26%)
- 9+ Shots = 1 point (1%)
Yes it is grass, and yes it is Roger Federer, BUT the 0-4 shot rally length is the number one rally length at all levels of out sport AND on all surfaces. Period. Full stop. End of story.
Here’s who won the points at the three rally lengths.
- 0-4 Shots = Roger 72 / Dusan 37
- 5-8 Shots = Roger 18 / Dusan 19
- 9+ Shots = Roger 1 / Dusan 0
The first four shots are made up of the:
- Serve +1
- Return +1
When Roger made contact with the ball a maximum of just two times, he crafted an extremely healthy 34 point advantage (72 to 37). When a fifth shot of the rally (or more) was hit into the court, Roger and Dusan won an identical amount of points = 19 each. This is quite normal in our sport. Dominate the short rallies and you can play even everywhere else and run away with the match.
3 1st Serve Direction
Deuce Ct 1st Serves
- Wide = Won 7/8
- Body = Won 6/6
- T = Won 11/12
Ad Ct 1st Serves
- Wide = Won 10/11
- Body = 0
- T = Won 7/8
Roger mixed a lot in the Deuce court. The goal was to keep Dusan guessing and keep him slicing returns so Roger can pounce with a Serve +1 forehand, or serve & volley. Roger went mostly wide in the Ad court and then mixed down the T to confuse Dusan. It’s all part of the master plan.
The body serve is often very under-rated. Roger likes it, and so should you! It makes the returner have to move away from the ball and often brings the return right down the middle of the court.
4 Distance Run
Tennis is an explosive sport with lots of changing direction. Both guys were moving on average right around 10 metres per point. You need to copy this when you work on your fitness, movement, and agility.
Average Distance Run / Point
- Roger = 10.5 metres per point
- Dusan = 9.8 metres per point
Total Distance Run
- Roger = 1545 metres
- Dusan = 1437 metres
5 Shots In
There were 465 shots hit into the court in this match in 147 total points. Roger won 91 points, and Dusan won 56.
- Average Rally Length = 3.2 shots
So the average contained a serve, a return, a Serve +1 shot or a volley, and then… that’s it! This match was all about “First Strike” tennis, with lots of offense at the start of the point.
Question… are you working enough on your serve and return in practice?
6 Forehands v Backhands
You may love your backhand all you want, but we play a forehand dominated sport. Let’s check out the performance of these two shots for both players.
- Forehands = 16 winners / 15 errors … +1 total
- Backhands = 2 winners / 25 errors … -23 total
- Forehands = 6 winners / 31 errors … -25 total
- Backhands = 4 winners / 20 errors … -16 total
Forehands had 22 winners, while the backhand chipped in for six.
Do all you can to look for forehands from the back of the court. The more forehands you hit, the more you control the point.
A good way to think about your returns is that you are on defense when returning first serves, doing all you can to get the ball back in the court. When you see a second serve, shift to offense and look to immediately force an error.
- Combined 1st Serve Returns Missed = 33
- Combined 2nd Serve Returns Missed = 6
As you can see from the numbers above, you get very few “free” points behind a second serve. They come back into play almost all the time, even though the returner is going for it a little more.
Players at all levels of our sport can greatly benefit from practicing their return of serve more in practice. It’s actually the least praticed shot!
8 Serve Speed
These are the numbers for Roger for the match.
- Fastest Serve = 125mph
- Average 1st Serve = 114mph
- Average 2nd Serve = 96mph
If we go by the assumption that when Roger really gives his serve 100% effort, he is at 125mph. So that would put his average first serve speed at 91% of his fastest. This is a great indicator on how much you should really go for it. Right around 90% of full power still gives the ball enough curry, but it will also go in a lot as well – Roger made 71% 1st serves for the match.
When it comes to 2nd serves, Roger’s average was at 77% of full power. That thing needs to go in, and it did. Roger only double faulted once for the match.
9 Net Points
Getting to the net is a good thing in our sport – especially when you practice it a lot.
Net Points Won
- Roger won 82% (23/28)
- Dusan won 44% (8/18)
Roger crushed it at the net because it is an integral part of his game all year round. Dusan typically does most of his work well behind the baseline, and when he came in on the grass, it was not nearly as natural for him.
The average points won at Net last year at the 2017 Championships was 65%. The baseline was just 46%. The net is a wonderful place to be!
10 Serving & Net Play
When you are serving, you need to have your radar locked on getting to the net as much as you can to finish points. The serve extracts a lot of short returns and defensive play that really facilitates coming forward.
Roger – Net Points When Serving
- Won 18
- Lost 3
Roger – Net Points When Receiving
- Won 5
- Lost 2
Getting to the net when you are returning serve is not an easy thing for you – or Roger. Be a step ahead and look for the short ball when serving.
I hope these insights help you understand what makes Roger so good here at SW19, and they also inspire you to incorporate them into your own game. There are lots of fun ways to improve!
All the best from Wimbledon.