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View Full Version : Which is more important, the 1st serve or 2nd serve?


nadal_slam_king
01-09-2011, 08:39 AM
Sampras has the greatest serve ever not because of his 1st serve (there have been many great 1st serves in history) but because his 2nd serve was a major weapon. In the 2000 Australian Open SF vs Agassi, Sampras hit 2nd serve aces twice in the 4th set tie-breaker, one of them 200kph OUT-WIDE and the other 193kph. To have so much skill AND confidence in that 2nd serve under duress like that, is out of this world. It'd be great if someone comes along like that again. Of course, Sampras' 2nd serve is a bi-product of his 1st serve, and some would (wrongfully) say they are identical.

What if a player has a relatively weak 1st serve (perhaps flat without a lot of penetration) and a penetrating (via kick or slice) 2nd serve?

Tennis sensation
01-09-2011, 08:42 AM
Well I don;t remember the person;s name but someone has said

A player is as good as his second serve.

Ocean Drive
01-09-2011, 08:46 AM
Look at Andy Murray, good first serve (when it's in, obviously, his % can be very up and down) and his second serve is more often than not, poor. He is still tough to break because of the free points he wins off his first serve and his solid baseline game when he has to throw in one of the powderpuff second serves. If the opponent is brain dead and unwilling to do anything with the second, then it makes no difference and it is advantage Murray.

Just throwing that out there as an example.

Gorecki
01-09-2011, 08:48 AM
if you have a deadly 2nd, mostlikely you will have a outrageous 1st anyways...

nadal_slam_king
01-09-2011, 08:53 AM
if you have a deadly 2nd, mostlikely you will have a outrageous 1st anyways...

That's why I threw in the example of a player with a relatively weak 1st serve (perhaps flat without a lot of penetration) and a penetrating (via kick or slice) 2nd serve. Because a lot of guys use the flat serve for 1st and it's not crazy fast so its just flat without much threat to it, and then they use topspin or slice on the 2nd serve successfully, perhaps more successfully than they use pace on the 1st serve.

Sentinel
01-09-2011, 08:54 AM
"If you don't double fault then you aren't going for your second serves."

I've won more titles when I've had 3-4 DF's (total) than when none.

Gorecki
01-09-2011, 08:57 AM
That's why I threw in the example of a player with a relatively weak 1st serve (perhaps flat without a lot of penetration) and a penetrating (via kick or slice) 2nd serve. Because a lot of guys use the flat serve for 1st and it's not crazy fast so its just flat without much threat to it, and then they use topspin or slice on the 2nd serve successfully, perhaps more successfully than they use pace on the 1st serve.

i'm sorry... You are saying that Sampras 1st serve was Weak compraed with his first?

please say it aint so!

nadal_slam_king
01-09-2011, 08:57 AM
Karlovic and Berdych aren't any kind of threat once they miss the 1st serve.

nadal_slam_king
01-09-2011, 08:58 AM
i'm sorry... You are saying that Sampras 1st serve was Weak compraed with his first?

please say it aint so!

No, I'm giving you an example of a player unlike Sampras.

li0scc0
01-09-2011, 09:01 AM
i'm sorry... You are saying that Sampras 1st serve was Weak compraed with his first?

please say it aint so!

No reread his original post.
His last sentence was asking about a player with a stronger 2nd serve when compared to the first, asking 'who would fit this description'?
The original sentence said yes, Sampras had a great first serve, but his deadliness was more due to the fact his second serve was so deadly.

Gorecki
01-09-2011, 09:03 AM
No, I'm giving you an example of a player unlike Sampras.

i do not recall any player in the ATP tour in the past 30 Years in such category... having a 2nd but lacking a good 1st! but im no expert. maybe Dr. Tennis Namlessone... he seems always so sure about everything!

DTL
01-09-2011, 09:07 AM
That's why I threw in the example of a player with a relatively weak 1st serve (perhaps flat without a lot of penetration) and a penetrating (via kick or slice) 2nd serve. Because a lot of guys use the flat serve for 1st and it's not crazy fast so its just flat without much threat to it, and then they use topspin or slice on the 2nd serve successfully, perhaps more successfully than they use pace on the 1st serve.

er.. If a player discovers that his second serve is much more effective than his first, then he will start using it as his first serve as well. The case you describe would never happen in practice.

nadal_slam_king
01-09-2011, 09:07 AM
i do not recall any player in the ATP tour in the past 30 Years in such category... having a 2nd but lacking a good 1st! but im no expert. maybe Dr. Tennis Namlessone... he seems always so sure about everything!

er.. If a player discovers that his second serve is much more effective than his first, then he will start using it as his first serve as well. The case you describe would never happen in practice.

Let me put it this way. What if a player has a 1st serve ranked 15th of all-time. And a 2nd serve ranked 5th of all-time? I can think of examples. Federer.

Currently on the WTA, Sam Stosur.

fednad
01-09-2011, 09:08 AM
I would say time taken between the two serves is most important, followed by the number of times you bounce the ball.
1st and 2nd serves are minor issues.

Gorecki
01-09-2011, 09:08 AM
Let me put it this way. What if a player has a 1st serve ranked 15th of all-time. And a 2nd serve ranked 5th of all-time? I can think of examples. Federer.

Currently on the WTA, Sam Stosur.

my point remains. he has a deadly first serve. and a deadly second... right!

DTL
01-09-2011, 09:14 AM
Let me put it this way. What if a player has a 1st serve ranked 15th of all-time. And a 2nd serve ranked 5th of all-time? I can think of examples. Federer.

Currently on the WTA, Sam Stosur.

Wherever each serve lies on the all-time list, a player will use his/her more effective serve as the first serve and the safer serve as the second.

nadal_slam_king
01-09-2011, 09:19 AM
So who would win?

Player A: the best 1st serve in tennis history, the 10th best 2nd serve in tennis history.

Player B: the 10th best 1st serve in tennis history, the best 2nd serve in tennis history.

(all groundstrokes, volleys, athleticism, brains etc. being equal)

DTL
01-09-2011, 09:23 AM
So who would win?

Player A: the best 1st serve in tennis history, the 10th best 2nd serve in tennis history.

Player B: the 10th best 1st serve in tennis history, the best 2nd serve in tennis history.

(all groundstrokes, volleys, athleticism, brains etc. being equal)
If I had to make a call based on this data, I would go with Player B. The 10th best 1st serve would still be good enough to gain plenty of cheap points and the upper hand in rallies, while the best 2nd serve would be, well, the least attackable second serve.

DTL
01-09-2011, 09:27 AM
If I had to make a call based on this data, I would go with Player B. The 10th best 1st serve would still be good enough to gain plenty of cheap points and the upper hand in rallies, while the best 2nd serve would be, well, the least attackable second serve.

For any given match though, it would depend on Player A's first serve percentage.

Gorecki
01-09-2011, 09:28 AM
For any given match though, it would depend on Player A's first serve percentage.

this.

10 serves

callmethedoctor
01-09-2011, 09:33 AM
Yeah, it would always come down to how often you have to use the second serve.

Also, most pros on the ATP don't even consider trying to attack a first serve, so a weaker first serve isn't as big of a problem.

rovex
01-09-2011, 09:41 AM
Karlovic and Berdych aren't any kind of threat once they miss the 1st serve.

There was a stat which someone posted which advocates that Karlovic should hit a first serve for his second serve.

That would be hard to break serve then.

DTL
01-09-2011, 09:42 AM
Another thing to keep in mind is that the first and second serves do not operate independently of each other. A player who has a fantastic second serve can afford to go for more on his first serve (e.g. Sampras - Player B) as opposed to a player who does not have as much confidence in his second (e.g. Murray - Player A). This may result in a more effective first serve for Player B even if, technically, he/she has an inferior first serve to Player A's.

IvanAndreevich
01-09-2011, 09:47 AM
There is no answer to such a loosely worded question. Doesn't quantify how great of a first serve or second serve the person would otherwise possess.

There are two players in the top 4 who are held back by their second serve, but not their first serve. That's Djokovic and Murray. Their second serves get trashed by serious opponents.

Mick
01-09-2011, 09:48 AM
i guess the answer depends on how often you get your 1st serves in. if you could get your first serves in 80% of the time, the 2nd serves probably wouldn't matter very much because if your 1st serves were that good, your 2nd serves probably couldn't be too bad either. on the other hand, if you fail to get your 1st serves in 50% of the time then you better have good second serves :)

BrooklynNY
01-09-2011, 09:48 AM
Yeah, but the ability to use your tools effectively is more useful than having a tool, but not exploiting this to its potential. (IE: Murray)

The-Champ
01-09-2011, 12:58 PM
No player has a better second serve than his first serve.

MichaelNadal
01-09-2011, 01:13 PM
No player has a better second serve than his first serve.

Exactly, so I say first is more important. Nadal is a perfect example of someone that doesn't have a great second serve but it doesn't really matter.

DeShaun
01-09-2011, 01:33 PM
This is an interesting question. Yesterday I was lucky enough to play a few sets against a buddy who is way better than me. I had never before bothered to insult him by asking if he wanted to play full sets, we had only ever hit ground strokes and practiced volleying together. I am just thankful to have such a great hitting partner, that's why I never bothered until yesterday asking him to play full sets. But he had texted me "Tennis?" not ten minutes after I had returned home from playing my first match of 2011 (against my nemesis) and I had lost 4-6, 4-6...and my competitive juices were off the charts high, I was chomping at the bit to practice match-play.
Anyways, my good buddy and I met up and he proceeded to bagel me in each of four sets.
What I remember most was NOT his first serve which was consistently in the high eighties and catching a lot of lines, but, he was getting every second serve in, except for two (double faults over four sets).
Nobody really can predict when they'll be painting lines with their first serve flat bombs at a higher than usual percentage like my buddy seemed to be yesterday. But it was the pace on his second serves that stood out the most--they had some weight behind them, and were penetrating. He used a slice/topspin, with more slice than top.

So I would have to say, final answer, SECOND SERVE; w/the only qualification being that, when you're first serve percentages are high, it's usually easier to take bigger cuts at your second. So, I suppose it starts with the first serve but because this is harder to control, it ends with the second serve over which one should be able exert far greater control.