Alcaraz: Wimbledon Final 1st Serve Lesson
Carlos Alcaraz stunned Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final a week ago in a thrilling five-set final. Next Thursday’s webinar will focus on learning the patterns of play and momentum swings of the final and how you can directly improve your game by studying the best two players in the world on the world’s biggest stage.
Register Webinar 31: Wimbledon Final Breakdown.
Learn Pro Patterns To Improve Your Game.
Thursday, July 27: 1.00 pm US Central / 8.00 pm Central European Time
Can’t attend live? No problem. Register & watch the recording.
Here’s a sneak peek at the kind of analysis you will find in the webinar.
The first thing to understand is that there were only two points separating Alcaraz and Djokovic at the finish line. Alcaraz won 168 points and Djokovic 166. Everything was so even until you drill down to specific battles and uncover where Alcaraz established domination in the match.
Let’s take a look at first serve performance by both players.
1st Serves Made (Tournament Average = 64%)
- Alcaraz 63% (94/150)
- Djokovic 64% (118/184)
Almost dead even. Djokovic hit more first serves, but this is definitely a wash. No real advantage popping up yet.
1st Serves Won (Tournament Average = 74%)
- Alcaraz 70% (66/94)
- Djokovic 62% (73/118)
This is startling. Both players were under the tournament average for 1st serve points won in the final, with Djokovic a substantial 12 percentage points adrift. This was a huge blow for Djokovic and a real key to the final outcome. Djokovic typically slays in this match metric, as you can tell by his run to the final.
Djokovic 1st Serve Points Won To The Final
- 77% Rd 1 vs. P. Cachin
- 88% Rd 2 vs. J. Thompson
- 90% Rd 3 vs. S. Wawrinka
- 89% Rd 4 vs. H. Hurkacz
- 75% Qtr Final vs. A. Rublev
- 75% Semi-Final vs. J. Sinner
Alcaraz has established himself as the premier returner of 1st serves on the ATP Tour this season. Here are the current top five ranked players with points won returning 1st serves.
- C. Alcaraz = 36.87%
- F. Cerundolo = 34.51%
- N. Djokovic = 34.47%
- D. Medvedev = 34.22%
- A. DeMinaur = 33.74%
When you break down first serve direction in the final between Alcaraz and Djokovic, something leaps off the stats sheet.
First serves at the body.
Alcaraz was highly successful with this tactic, while Djokovic elected to use it sparingly, and it failed to deliver. Here’s the breakdown.
1st Serve: Deuce Court Body
- Alcaraz won 67% (16/24)
- Djokovic won 45% (5/11)
Alcaraz used the body first serve a lot more in the Deuce court than Ad court (24-14). In the Deuce court, he won two out of three (67%), while Djokovic failed to win even half (45%) of his first serves. That’s a testament to the returning skills of Alcaraz and Djokovic not having a clear strategy to confuse Alcaraz with the guessing game of serve location.
Hitting first serves at the body has two main advantages.
- You make the returner have to defend three target areas instead of just two. Most players crush first serves wide and center. Alcaraz may be the biggest proponent of first serves at the body on the whole pro tour. Making Djokovic defend three target areas instead of two was very clever.
- You make more first serves at the body. The singles sideline and the center line are effectively taken out of play.
Let’s have a look at the Ad court.
1st Serve: Ad Court Body
- Alcaraz won 79% (11/14)
- Djokovic won 44% (8/18)
Djokovic served more ar the body in the Ad court (18-14) than Alcaraz but still failed to win more than 50% of those points – while Alcaraz was up around 80%.
Deuce Ct and Ad Ct Combined
- Alcaraz won 71% (27/38)
- Djokovic won 45% (13/29)
Djokovic had a horrible day with his first serves at the body. Alcaraz effectively shut that tactic down, as Djokovic could only win 45% from 29 body serves. Alcaraz won a substantial 71% from 38 serves at the body.
Below are the serve directions and win percentages for the Deuce court and Ad court combined.
Alcaraz Deuce & Ad Court Combined / Win Percentage
- Center = 68% (21/31)
- Body = 71% (27/38)
- Wide = 72% (18/25)
Alcaraz served more body serves (38) than either down the center (31) or out wide (25). He won a hefty 71% of them.
Djokovic Deuce & Ad Court Combined / Win Percentage
- Center = 79% (37/53)
- Body = 45% (13/29)
- Wide = 64% (23/36)
Djokovic served much more down the center and won a very high 79% of the first serves he landed there. The body serve was his third option, and it only yielded a 45% win percentage.
Players at all levels of the game – professional to amateur – benefit from hitting first serves at the body. It helps raise the first serve percentage and makes the returner respect three target areas instead of just out wide and down the center. Also, a serve at the body has a strong likelihood of being returned right back down the middle of the court, where it can then be attacked with a Serve +1 forehand.
Alcaraz has been leading the charge with first serves at the body for a while. I wrote a blog about this strategy HERE just over a year ago.
Next time you step on the court, aim at the body more with your first serve. Jam the returner up, especially if they want to step up in the court around the baseline to make contact with the return.