The key statistic that wins tennis matches more than any other is second serve points won percentage. How do I know this?
I’ve got the raw data to prove it.
Take a look at the infographic I created below. The player who had the higher second serve points won percentage won 4 out of the last 5 grand slam finals.
And 6 out of the top 10 male players in the world are among the top 10 in second serve points won percentage.
By contrast, only 3 out of the top 10 men are in the top 10 for first serve points won percentage. And just 2 of the top 10 male players (Djokovic, Nadal) are found on the first serve percentage top ten list.
The women’s game isn’t much different: based on the 2015 WTA Tour stats, more than half of the top 10 female players in second serve points won percentage are in the top 15 of the WTA rankings.
What does all this mean? It means that winning more second serve points than your opponent is crucial, and likely indicative, of whether you will win a match.
How Do I Win More Second Serve Points?
The most effective way to win more second serve points is to improve your second serve!
Your opponent will feast on your second serve if it is weak. Throw in some double faults and you are in for a rough outing. Having a strong second serve indicates how you perform under pressure. After all, if you don’t hit the second serve in, you lose the point. There is seldom more pressure in a match than a second-serve on break or set point.
Commit to the following tips to win more second serve points:
1. Better Placement
The ability to serve the ball in different areas of the service box is invaluable. You can formulate a second-serve strategy based on your opponents strengths and weaknesses. Placement is much more important than power. Perhaps you want to stay away from the forehand and kick out wide to the backhand. If you can swing your opponent out wide or consistently serve to the weaker side, you will have the upper hand in the point virtually every time. The next time you practice your serve, set up targets inside the service line, get a feel for the different types of spin you can produce when serving (slice, topspin, kick), and aim for the targets.
2. More Spin
Generally, players have trouble handling heavy spin (Nadal, anyone?). And when you hit a second serve, you want to give yourself a wider margin for error. Further, you do not want to slow down your swing. Therefore, you need to hit with more spin on your serve. Practice the various spins and utilize topspin and kick serves for a majority of your second serves, as they are safer than flat or slice serves because of the higher net clearance. Remember, spin for the win!
3. Have a Plan
Often, players hit the second serve with no goal in mind. Instead, you should figure out how to set up the point to your advantage with your second serve. Do you want to kick out wide so you can hit the next shot to the opposite corner? Should you target the backhand because it is weaker and can’t hurt you? Will a second serve to the body have the best chance at yielding a short ball or error? Perhaps you should serve down the T because you cut down the angle your opponent has for the return? Before you hit the second serve, ask yourself how you want the the point to play out. Having a plan each time you approach the baseline to serve will lead to more second serve points won (and reduce the pressure too).
4. Prepare for the Return
Once you hit the second serve, be prepared for the return. Anticipate where your opponent may hit the return before he or she makes contact with the ball. Figure out your opponent’s return game tendencies, be ready to track down a short reply if you serve to a weakness, and don’t be afraid of the return if you know the opponent is going to pound it. Instead, split step right before your opponent hits the ball, figure out where the ball is going as soon as possible, and get in position to hit a good shot off the return!
Having confidence in your second serve will help you hit more optimal serves and double fault less. Confidence comes from practicing your second serve and knowing you can hit it anywhere, with any type of spin, and without any hitches. Practice makes perfect, so if you want to have a strong second serve, and one that doesn’t make you sweat on the big points, get to the court and start practicing your second serve asap!
I hope you enjoyed this post and my infographic on second serve points won percentage. You must develop a strong second serve and a game plan for winning more second serve points if you want to win more matches.
As the old saying goes: “You are only as good as your second serve.”
Let me know what you think: Comment below!
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