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View Full Version : First serve let; where to go next?


scrappydoo
12-05-2012, 06:11 AM
I have been wondering this question for a while: after a first serve let, where do you serve your second first serve?

I have been watching the 2001 Sampras vs Federer Wimbledon match over the past couple days. At the beginning of the fifth set Federer hits a let while serving wide to the Sampras backhand (Ad court). On his second attempt at the first serve, he hits to the same spot and Sampras blocks a return winner crosscourt.

I think in this situation Federer had been picking on the backhand return of Sampras all day long. He loves the out wide serve-and-volley play, and typically it was working. But after a let, was it wise to go to the same spot? Sampras got a nice practice swing at the first one, and then crushed the second one.

Personally, I almost always go to the body on my second first serve. I figure my ball is traveling over the lower part of the net, and I have greater margins for missing the shot wide.

The only time I will go back to the same spot is if the opponent has a glaring weakness.

Where do you typically go on your second first serve? To the same spot, or do you mix it up?

Power Player
12-05-2012, 06:37 AM
Great question. One thing to do that really works is if your first serve is a flat heater and its a let - make your next serve your second and use heavy spin.

Most people are expecting big time pace again, as they just saw heat. It is a high % serve that can catch someone off guard in that situation.

LeeD
12-05-2012, 09:53 AM
You can make a case for ANY first serve again, or any second serve.
Returner knows only you tend to serve to his backhand side. Maybe 65% sure, anyways.
Or you can add a touch of slice to a flat first serve, slow it down 10mph, lower the bounce a foot, and it would work.

dominikk1985
12-05-2012, 10:42 AM
Mix it up to keep him guessing. first your opponent might expect the same again so you adjust and hit another serve. the next time he might think on a higher level (there is a great poker book by david sklansky where he describes the different levels of anticipation and analyzing the opponents thoughts) and think "he expects me to sit on the same serve so he will likely try another serve".

you need to mix it up to not develope a pattern just like a pitcher in baseball does. some very good players even might sometimes let their opponent intentionally read one in an unimportant standing (say 2-2 30-0) to set them up for a more important point. it is not the single point that counts.

greg maddux once said that he once intentionally threw a HR pitch to a star hitter in a RS game knowing that he would face him in the postseason to make him sit on that same pitch again when that count happened in the PS game (but not throwing it then of course).

Nuke
12-05-2012, 10:47 AM
I have a very reliable reverse-slice serve that I throw into the mix fairly often. After a first-serve let, I may go back to the same spot, but I usually change the spin to the opposite direction.

LeeD
12-05-2012, 11:53 AM
Don't they see your grip and stance change, when you toss up the ball?

Nuke
12-06-2012, 05:30 AM
^ Some do, but many don't. It's mostly my toss that should be the giveaway.

LuckyR
12-06-2012, 08:38 AM
A couple of things:

Some player's serves need to "fool" their opponent to result in a winner, others are good enough where they get a number of service winners whether you know where it is going or not.

Some returners notice every nuance and makes guesses based on them so if you are one step ahead of them you can catch them guessing, other returner's have as much insight as a stone so you are never going to "fool" them since their mind is empty anyway.

scrappydoo
12-06-2012, 07:15 PM
Very interesting reply's so far.

I think the variance in answers is interesting. But they all have one thing in common. The job of the server is to make it as difficult as possible for the returner to get the ball in.

PhrygianDominant
12-07-2012, 12:19 AM
For me it depends on the serve I just got a let on, and what the returner has done so far. If it was a slice serve, and he has had trouble returning to the center after my slice, then I would hit it again. If he was grooved on it I would go flat high percentage, to the body for example. Getting a let for me is just another blow to my already shaky confidence on first serve; easily the weakest part of my game.

Also, how bad was the let? Did it bounce up or just clip? If it was barely audible on a flat serve I would probably be more likely to hit it again. If it was a wierd one I might shy away.

I hit both slice and flat first serves. I don't have a lot of pace, but I have good disguise and placement. My first serve toss is almost the same for slice and flat, kinda like Fed and Sampras: above the head, but that was a happy accident. I take no credit. My slice first serve, out wide from deuce, or up the T from add, is higher percentage, so I would revert to that in doubt.



....I would just pick one and not look back.

TheCheese
12-07-2012, 12:26 AM
I like to go to the same spot because a lot of the time people will think you're going to change it up since you already told them where you were planning to go.

goran_ace
12-07-2012, 07:10 AM
But what if the returner is expecting you to go to the same spot thinking that you think that he thinks you're going to change it up??? J/k :)

I wouldn't overthink it. You'll just psyche yourself out, and like someone said earlier, most returners just react and dn't think about it. Mentally reset and play like it's a brand new point.

Not an issue in college tennis since there are no service lets (ball is still live after touching the tape and you play it out).

WildVolley
12-07-2012, 07:50 AM
If like me, your serve is sort of wild, then this isn't a problem.

Some of my best aces have been due to poor aim on my part. I try to go to someone's forehand and I end up body-serving them or hitting to the backhand. Hmm, I think that means I need to practice more.

This isn't an issue in college tennis because so many college players were such horrendous cheaters that they'd just call aces as lets on principle. This also explains why hitting topspin is so vital to success in college tennis. Keep the ball away from the lines or you will be hooked.

Larrysümmers
12-07-2012, 07:29 PM
Up the middle kicker, or up the middle slice, depending on the court. Just something ive always done.

TomT
12-07-2012, 09:02 PM
Great question. One thing to do that really works is if your first serve is a flat heater and its a let - make your next serve your second and use heavy spin.

Most people are expecting big time pace again, as they just saw heat. It is a high % serve that can catch someone off guard in that situation.Yes, I've experienced this against higher rated players. I'll just say that even though my overall game is somewhat lacking, even 4.0 players can have problems with my serve. Having said that, and in line with what PP said, what I usually do after a let first serve is something different than what I did on the let first serve. A well paced slice, or just serving to a different location is usually all that's necessary to get me into the point ... which I usually subsequently lose for other (lots of) reasons. :)

HEADfamilydynasty
12-10-2012, 06:52 PM
I often just go back to the same spot. I'm blessed with a power/precision serve so most people won't touch it even if they know where its going. Now if you don't have a big serve what you can do is, you can go back to the same area but take the pace off and add more spin, any spin(kick, slice, top, combos, whatever).

Fuji
12-10-2012, 07:43 PM
I often just go back to the same spot. I'm blessed with a power/precision serve so most people won't touch it even if they know where its going. Now if you don't have a big serve what you can do is, you can go back to the same area but take the pace off and add more spin, any spin(kick, slice, top, combos, whatever).

Same here! When my first serve goes in, unless it's against an Agassi styled returner, it's either going to be an ace/un-returnable/easy put away on my part. Normally if I'm just going for pure pace it's down the T or into the body. Most of the time, into the body is an easy winner since they do some funky dance moves and knife it back short! :lol:

-Fuji

HEADfamilydynasty
12-10-2012, 08:50 PM
Same here! When my first serve goes in, unless it's against an Agassi styled returner, it's either going to be an ace/un-returnable/easy put away on my part. Normally if I'm just going for pure pace it's down the T or into the body. Most of the time, into the body is an easy winner since they do some funky dance moves and knife it back short! :lol:

-Fuji

In my case they actually DUCK UNDER THE SERVE:twisted:

Fuji
12-10-2012, 09:27 PM
In my case they actually DUCK UNDER THE SERVE:twisted:

Bahahahaha!

-Fuji