View Full Version : Handling slice serves

06-16-2005, 06:26 PM
I was playing a tricky player today who hits slice serves exclusively and he took me out wide. I was up 2-1 on him then the rain came down, but I can't believe he held his serve on me. I can beat him every other way, but he gets me out wide on his serve and he was able to throw in a 1-2 punch on me; wide serve then a big forehand to the open court. How should I negate his slice serve? I'm thinking of changing my return grip on him from eastern to semi western. I normally use sw for most of my forehands, but not on slice serve returns. I want to rip his slice serve apart!

06-16-2005, 06:48 PM
Out of the top of my head, there are a few things you can try (assuming you are both right handed):

1. Try a return placing to his BH corner. His BH might be much weaker.
2. Try a short angle cross court return. If you can pull him out wide, he is basically left with a few options:
2.1 Try a much riskier DTL to your open court and if it is not good enough, you can rip a high percentage BH cross court to his open court.
2.2 Get into a short angle rally with you. Force him to give up his 1-2 punch.
2.3 He might even pop up a few easy ball for you to attach if he is not use to sharp angle returns.
3. Try a moon ball down the center to offset and slow down his 1-2 punch if he doesn't come up.

There are still many other options but without knowing your and his strength & weaknesses, is really hard to make suggestions.

Mahboob Khan
06-16-2005, 07:02 PM
If I understand correctly, you have problem with:

-- slice serves hit out wide to your forehand in the deuce court!

Yes, I also have a student (16U national player) who slices his serves both in deuce as well as ad courts. Some players employ this tactic within their overall service plan, and some can only serve slices (example Elena Dimentieva). Some have problem with their toss (they can only toss the ball to their right around 2 PM and then slice the outside of the ball). This kind of serve, barring some flukes, always goes out wide in the deuce court, and up the T in the ad court. Here is solution for you:

-- Watch the toss. If he tosses the ball more to his right, a slice serve is coming at you.

-- As he brings his racket into contact, you should quickly cut across and move to your right because this is the time he ought to watch the ball which is overhead, NOT you.

-- If steps 1 and 2 are done correctly, you will have no problem in returning. And since he then uses his big forehand to the other corner, you should return:

-- Deep down the line (about 6 feet from the singles sideline), or a high topspin down the middle. These types of returns will neutralise him, and allow you to recover to the center, and will prevent your opponent from unleashing a big forehand on you because he has to stretch from deuce to ad court!

In the Ad Court: Expect more serves up the T and to your forehand. Depending on my return situation, I love to scream a return either inside out to his backhand, or inside-in to his forehand. Both types of returns will prevent him from unleashing his big forehand on me!

Once you make a good neutralizing return, you are then 50-50 with him and in many instances you will have a slight advantage!

06-16-2005, 07:10 PM
Mahboob, I didn't want to cd on him so I went back to his forehand side with medium pace. I was thinking of ripping one back in the same direction, but with a low ball, it's kind of risky. I'll try the dtl to his backhand and the high topspin up the middle which would give me time to get back to the center myself. Thanks for the tips, Mahboob and Enk.

Mahboob Khan
06-16-2005, 07:15 PM
Obviously, once you get your rhythm on the combinations I mentioned, you can then, here and there, rip your return angled-cross-court because he may be thinking to move to his left, and you go to his right!

06-16-2005, 09:33 PM
I played versus a slice server the other day and the ball would come off of the racket oddly. I would return the ball into the net or the ball would sail long. I use a semi-western grip, and started to switch to a eastern grip just to block the serve back and get it in play.

Is there a correct way to hit a slice serve with a semi-western grip? Or is there a recommended grip for service returns?

06-17-2005, 03:13 AM

you should land from your split-step loading your right knee, with a large base (this first step wide to the right), then eventual crossover with the left, or shuffle steps

a low base and a gravity step will help (i.e. drop/flex deeply your right knee under yourself while passing your body to the right over it); a low center of gravity will help in moving to the right

06-17-2005, 04:29 AM
The problems slice serves have given me is the temptation to just kill it because it seems slow and easy to get to. Usually they are way too low to really attack so I've resigned myself to simply hitting to the open court, or if he's charging in on it lob him.

I tell myself I could have crushed a lot of them, but making the decision to just get a decent enough return to stay alive really helped my outcome and got rid of the damned unforced errors that those serves cause me when I overhit them.

Another thing about slice servers I've encountered, they are often very predictable. They don't deviate from their plan as much. The way they serve doesn't allow them to easily.

06-17-2005, 06:20 AM
The first thing I'll try next time I play him will be to moonball him so I can get back to the middle. I can outrally him so I'm not worried if we start a rally. How risky is it to cd on a wide angled serve?

06-17-2005, 06:41 AM
People who beat me on the slice serve when I go wide to their forehand tend to hit a sharp angle return back that I sometimes can't get to if they hit it hard enough and with enough angle. Sometimes I think they get lucky when they do this though, but I usually avoid serving the slice into good forehands and prefer to jam the backhand side. But that is how good forehands beat my slice, going sharp cross angle using the angle I created against me. Most players won't handle the spin very well though and the return will sail wide.

06-17-2005, 06:43 AM
Mahboob, I didn't want to cd on him so I went back to his forehand side with medium pace.

What is "cd"?

Regards, Predrag

06-17-2005, 06:45 AM
What is "cd"?

Regards, Predrag
change direction.

06-17-2005, 08:01 AM
I try and read it and cut it off before it pulls me really wide...If you go cross court it better be good - you have left the court really open for your oppenent...

Kana Himezaki
06-17-2005, 08:16 AM
Rickson, in this case, you SHOULD change your direction.

While it IS the usual cause of errors, keep in mind you're drawn off the court. If you hit it generally back to him, he has that HUGE open court to hit you. You simply can't give him that opportunity.

Aim for his backhand, closer down the line. Then move up to the net.

If you can predict the slices, and know where they're going to be, you should move in and take it BEFORE it draws you off the court. That way, you won't be forced way out in giving him the open court, and can hit crosscourt if you want to with less problems.

That should also make it easier to hit down the line and stay at the net.

06-17-2005, 09:12 AM
Thanks Kana, I will do a cod on him next time and force him to hit a backhand.

06-17-2005, 10:25 AM
Stand closer to the service line so it doesn't have as much room to pull you as wide. You can also try ripping a winner. If that doesn't work, try a drop shot. Having a serve returned for a drop shot winner is one of the most degrading things in tennis, IMO. At the very least, if he has a western grip, anyway, slice the return back to keep it low and harder to hit a forehand winner.