Is your second serve a strength of your game?
I can say with almost certainty that it is not because it’s not for almost everyone on the 🌏.
Winning more points on 2nd serve will be covered in extensive detail in the webinar Serve Strategy: Patterns, Percentages & Drills, which is now available for purchase.
Consider these numbers from recent US Opens for men and women.
MEN US Open: 2nd Serve Points Won
The first thing to consider is that these are the best male players in the world – and they can barely break even with 2nd serve points won. They played more than 80,000 points, starting with a 2nd serve, and could only manage to grind out a 321-point advantage.
So that’s not good news for the rest of us, who are not nearly as proficient hitting 2nd serves and following up with strong Serve +1 defense. If the best in the world are barely above water in this statistical area, then there is a good chance we are statistically under water (<50% points won).
The leading five men with 2nd serve points won in their career are:
- Rafael Nadal = 57.28%
- Roger Federer = 56.83%
- John Isner = 56.01%
- Andy Roddick = 55.94%
- Novak Djokovic = 55.37%
Now let’s take a look at the women at the US Open.
WOMEN 2015-2021 US Open: 2nd Serve Points Won
This data set is smaller as there is no data for 2016 & 2020, and 20 matches are missing from 2021. But that does not matter at all because the rest of the data is consistent and tells a fascinating story. The women at the US Open can only win 45% of their 2nd serve points, which is a big hole in their game.
Two things really stand out to me from the tables above.
- There is an “art” to winning 2nd serve points.
- The 2nd serve, and everything that follows, must take up a bigger chunk of your time on the practice court.
Let’s dive into the first topic.
The “ART” To Winning 2nd Serve Points.
There are many more 2nd serves that come back into play than 1st serves.
2021 US Open MEN
- 1st Serves Unreturned = 36%
- 2nd Serves Unreturned = 18%
2021 US Open WOMEN
- 1st Serves Unreturned = 29%
- 2nd Serves Unreturned = 18%
Interestingly, the percentage unreturned from 2nd serves was the same for men and women at 18%. So the flip side of that coin is that 82% of 2nd serves come back into play, and that’s where the rubber meets the road.
Let’s focus on the 82% back in play and the goal of winning over 50% of those points. These are the elements to consider:
- Are you mixing your 2nd serve enough so the returner can’t simply step into it?
- Are you targeting the weaker return side on big points and mixing to the strength when you can afford to lose a point?
- Are you able to hit both a slice and a kick 2nd serve?
- Is your Serve +1 shot strong enough defensively against aggressive returns?
- Are you good enough at blocking your way out of trouble when you have limited time to prepare for your Serve +1 shot?
- Are you comfortable extending the point behind your 2nd serve to attempt to move from defense to offense?
- Is your technique strong enough to hold up under pressure? Do you have a consistent high point of contact?
- How often do you double fault? Are you more prone to double-faulting in tight situations?
These topics, and a lot more, are covered in detail in the Serve Strategy webinar. The art of winning 2nd serve points involves mixing serve locations and having a strong defensive foundation with your Serve +1 shot. It also involves having a positive mindset and clean fundamentals with the service motion. The “art” is initially understanding all of these specific elements and then developing them one by one into a strength of your game.
The drills for the practice court are also be in the webinar.
Looking forward to having you along and helping to make the second serve a strength of your game.