Acceptable number of double faults?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by ajmack, May 11, 2010.

  1. ajmack

    ajmack New User

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    I'm focusing on reducing my double faults, something I did 10 times in an 8-game set and 14 or 15 times total in the same match last week. Earlier this year, I double faulted five times in one game.
    So, what would be roughly the average number of double faults by the typical 4.0 league player?. Maybe one double fault every service game or would it be two service games?
     
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  2. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    It depends more on the player and how aggressive a server you are... but once you reach a level of 4.0 a double fault should not even enter your mind. Doubles usually happen when you go for a little too much on a second serve or because of a lapse of concentration. At this level they really shouldn't happen otherwise.

    If you are at this level you are either going for too much on your second serve or you haven't quite reached 4.0 yet.
     
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  3. Dave M

    Dave M Hall of Fame

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    Fair comments above, i try not to count my doubls but do try to mke sure i hit more aces/un retunables than doubles, to that end though i do find myself going for a second serve a bit more than i pobably should and end up with either a 2nd seve ace or a double though it does depend on the situation.
    If you are giving away too many cheap points on serve take a bit off the first serve and place it more shoul kep the pressure on your opponent more as well.
     
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  4. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    by 4.0 you should double at most 1-2 per MATCH. in essence you really shouldnt double fault
     
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  5. Totai

    Totai Professional

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    Federer gets more than 1-2 DF per match. He is less than 4.0?
     
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  6. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    If you never double fault I don't think you are going for enough on your second serve. I mean seriously- go further out wide or go closer to the lines... At some point just getting the serve in is counterproductive when you have that much control.
     
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  7. SlapShot

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    I don't think that there's any way that you can have a blanket statement like the above.

    You should not fear double faults - you shouldn't embrace them either, but if you NEVER double fault, you have room to go for more on your second serve. I will hit a few per match, but 75% of the time, it's because I'm trying to hit a forcing serve as a second. I prefer to leave those for when it's 40-0 or 40-15 if I can.
     
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  8. dlk

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    At the lower levels, getting the ball into play should be focus. Now obviously, you don't want your second serves getting murdered, but at least give yourself an opportunity. I'm not an advanced player, with that, if I DF once in four service games, I can live with that. It's when I DF per service game, that I tone it down & try to get it into play.
     
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  9. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    What they all said...

    ...regardless, you obviously have some issues with fundamentals of the serve. Rather than think about reducing the number of double faults, go back to getting your service technique wired, and everything else will fall into place...
     
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  10. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    At all levels of play, you want to double fault as little as possible.

    The only reason that double faulting is acceptable is when you are playing against a player who is killing you on the returns and you don't have a choice but to take more risk.
     
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  11. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    1 double fault every service game is way way too much. 1 double fautl every 2 service games is of course better, but still too much, imho. Unless you have a 150 mile first serve, and a 120 mile second serve, you should try to double fault as little as 2 times a match. I have gone some matches with no double faults (but that is rare). you should get your second serve in at least in the 80 to 90% range, or better.


     
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  12. HitItHarder

    HitItHarder Semi-Pro

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    I have to agree with Raiden here if we are talking about competitive match play. If your opponent is killing you on the service return and using it to take you out of points early, then you may need to go for more on serve and take more risks. As you are apparently not holding your serve, this may help turn the momentum.

    If you are holding serve fine, I don't know that I see a need to "go for the big serve" if it is leading to double faults.

    If your second serve is consistent, then you have more flexibility and can hit that big first serve without worrying about a DF if you miss. If your second serve is not consistent, then you need to take less risk with the first serve.

    Your service game should minimize double faults while still consistently hold serve. I don't know that you can put a number on that because it may change depending on the opponent and what that opponent brings to the table for service returns.
     
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  13. iankogan

    iankogan Rookie

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    I agree with skiracer's point. Of course you want to hit as few DFs as possible, but the real question is not 'how many' but 'why'. In my case for example, I generally make one double-fault per service game on average; not great statistically but this translates into an easy service hold 90% of the time when playing at-level (3.5). However in nearly every competitive match there is one 'outlier' service game where I make at least two double-faults, and often more than that. I don't have much variety in my serve, it's basically always a hard flat(tish) first serve and a substantially slower but high-bouncing topspin kick second serve. The second serve technique is new to me (I was previously trying to hit a slower variation of the first serve as my second, which didn't work all that well), and I feel that my 'new' second serve is not completely 'embedded' in muscle memory. At times I loose timing on my second serve and begin 'guiding' it, and that is where I get into multiple DFs per service game.

    As skiracer said, take care of the underlying technical (or mental game?) issue(s) and the stats will fall in place.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    First of all, you SHOULD be able to serve entire matches without double faults.
    Whether you CHOOSE TO, or not, is up to you. Balance of forcing second serves that end up with you winning the point vs double fault, which you normally LOSE that point.
    The ratio is up to you. I do know one thing. If you double fault, it works on your mind, it helps your opponent's mind, HE cannot make a mistake, you must be pressing, so he can relax more! :shock::shock:
     
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  15. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    I understand the mindset of hitting big second serves... but unless you are going to win points outright is it worth the gamble. I can tell you for sure if you miss you are going lose the point outright.

    If you opponent it teeing off on your second serve there is an easy solution, take a little off a few of your first serves and get a higher percentage in. Still use your big first serve as a deterent but manage your service percentage so you do not need to depend so much on your second serve to win you points.
     
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  16. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    All true...

    ...but now we're kind of into the realm of serve technique and tactics. Pancho Gonzalez used to say that you needed to get your shoulder into every serve, to put some sting into each and every serve you hit. Two summers ago, my coach had me working on a heavy, heavy kick serve. Not necessarily just for a second serve, but that's the first reason he wanted me to go there. What I found out was that in some ways, you actually hit a kick second serve harder than you do a flat or slice first serve. You have to really go after your serve at contact point, and this is especially true of kick second serves. Watch Samantha Stosur's second serve. If you don't go after a kick serve, it's going to fizzle and sit up...or maybe not even make it over the net or back down in the court.

    My kick second serve, hit that way, has lots of clearance over the net and kicks up above most player's ideal hitting zones. I also use a kick serve on the first serve. What's the difference? On a kick first serve to the ad court, for example, I'm probably going to go for a very wide angle. If I can tag one there and move in, I've likely got an easy first volley to open up the court. On a second serve, same situation, I'll do a body serve, more or less straight down the middle of the box. Same kick, same clearance over the net, but a better probability of going in because I'm going down the center of the box. So you need good technique, and you need to go after your second serve...but unless you're trying for a second serve winner...and there are times you do this, as in down 4-5, 0-40 on your serve...you temporize the whole thing by not going for too much of an angle.
     
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  17. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Ripper- we just look at things differently. I think that I could get all my second serves in if thats all I care about. I think I can hit second service winners by moving the ball around and trying to go nearer the lines. Yes I will DF some- but just as surely I'll lose some points as well by just trying to make sure that I get the ball in the box.

    I am not talking about hitting big serves- But I'll EASILY take an aggressive second serve where I DF a couple times a match vs just trying to make sure that I NEVER DF. I don't see why this would be different on groundstrokes. Sure you could push the ball and never hit an unforced error- but I think its smarter to hit rally pace balls where you can consistently attack even if it means sometimes you will hit unforced errors.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
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  18. gameboy

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    As long as I have more aces/forced errors than double faults, I will take it.
     
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  19. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I agree with this as being most sensible for the majority of players.

    All of this will of course depend on other things as well such as

    a) the game score (more acceptable to df at 40-0 than 30-30 and obviously not at all acceptable to df at 30-40)

    b) the set / match score

    c) your opponent. If he allows you to just push in a second serve, then why wouldn't you just do that as opposed to taking a bigger risk?

    I think the saying "you are only as good as your second serve" contains a lot of truth. I have developed very reliable slice and kick serves that I believe I can get in over 90% of the time.

    I hit a pretty fast first serve, so sometimes I will just push in my second serve. The dramatic change in pace will often draw an error or a weak return.

    My main goal with my second serve is to make my opponent move. Most players have such terrible footwork that they have a lot of trouble getting into position to hit effective returns if you make them move. Obviously, I will usually go at my opponents backhand until he demonstrates that he can hurt me with it on the return. Most people can't. Those that try will often make as many (usually more) errors than winners or good shots.

    Hitting second serves is all about being smart and trying to keep the percentages in your favor if you can.
     
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  20. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    The only serve I struggle with is an american twist serve, everything else I can hit it is just a matter of how high a percentage of them I get in, and that will change from day to day.

    I normally rely on a well placed heavy kick serve for my second, that I use to initiate the point. I use it not to win the point outright but to setup the point, to at least give me some advantage at the start of the point. My biggest issue is that my second serve doesn't puts me at a disadvantage. I have the rest of my tennis game to win me the point... I don't try and win it on my second serve alone.

    And yes I do hit my second serve as hard as my first... but we are talking about double faults and not about how hard we hit the serve. When down break points I have even been known to hit my kicker as my first serve so the receiver does not have the mindset to attack a second serve.

    All in all r2473 I agree with everything you have written
     
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  21. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    For a recreational player, expecially at the 4.0 level, the likleyhood of your opponent consistently returning your serve so well that they have the advantage (instead of you) on the return is slim. If this happens one of you is likley not a 4.0.

    When you are facing a good returner you may have to go for a little more and risk more DFs. Be less agressive against someone who is just going to block it back no matter how you serve. But unless the serves you get in are absolutley fantastic it is not worth giving away 1 or 2 points per service game in DFs. I am a 4.0 and generally I am surprised if I DF 2 times per set ...

    I agree that you likely have some fundamental flaws in your serve if you double fault that much.
     
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  22. ajmack

    ajmack New User

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    Just to clear up a few things:
    - I'm definitely a 4.0. I've won all my singles matches, three, at that level, one easily. I've been competitive in doubles.
    - I understand the risk/reward and situational aspects (opponent's strengths, return ability, etc.). I wanted to keep the issue simple and not muddy the waters.
    - The 10 d.f.'s were unusual and the most for me in more than 20 plus matches this year. The d.f.'s seem to come in waves, a la Sharapova, I guess.
    - Only one opponent at the 4.0 level has consistently put me in a defensive position on the second serve. It's when I fail to get the ball to his backhand on the ad court. He likes to drag a forward down the line.
    - My second serve is a kick serve that can be pretty effective when it's working. I often hit it on first serves, especially in doubles.
     
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  23. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Well there are times where its completely unacceptable to DF. In mixed for example, it is almost always the case that you can serve to the woman with conservative serves and still win the point. It is just stupid to risk a DF in that scenario. Not that its guaranteed, but typically in leagues the women don't see nearly as big or spinny serves against other women, so unless they play mixed year round, or are very high level, they are going to have problems against the male servers, so you want to take advantage of that.
     
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  24. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    Personally, I often go for a somewhat aggressive second serve. Not a flat bomb, but a kick with a LOT of kick. I DF about once every other game - and I'm OK with that. I'd rather lose the point on my terms by going for too much than to lose it by tossing in a wounded duck that my opponent can shoot out of the sky.
     
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  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    It's a different world in ladies 3.5.

    It is rare to see a "good" second serve at my level. Many player still try to bomb the first serve and then hit a huge wounded duck that arcs 10 feet over the net for the second serve. It can be difficult to punish the Duck at 3.5, so they get away with it.

    Even though it doesn't necessarily cost them matches, I think it is a mistake to get in the habit of serving this way. I was playing some Duck servers the other day, outdoors in wind. I had some DFs for sure (serving into a headwind that also blew from my left to right), but the Duck servers *really* struggled. Because they had no spin and no pace, they just could not control the serve because of the wind. And if they were serving into the wind, the serve was so short that it was easy to return and follow it to net.

    I guess I'm saying that if your goal is to improve, you have to tolerate some DFs by going for more on your second serve and learning to hit a real second serve. Otherwise you won't have a real second serve when you need one.

    Cindy -- who agrees with Geezer Guy completely
     
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  26. Ken Honecker

    Ken Honecker Rookie

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    I lean in the same direction as Lee's earlier post. A player of even modest ability should always be able to get the ball into play without double faulting if that is what they want to do but if you don't mind a few DF's, be agressive, bring the heat. As an old S/V player agressive is my style and I learned that you can win a game while giving up 5 DF's, all you have to do is hit 7 unreturnable balls.

    Really I feel it all comes down to the players mind set. I've seen guys fall completely apart over one mistake while others are cocky enough (read Ken here) to always believe they can pull a rabbit out of their hat.
     
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  27. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    raiden- I just couldn't disagree any more with that. I'd rather hit an aggressive second serve 90% of the time than a weak second serve that I get in 100% of the time. If you aren't ever double faulting then I don't think that you are going for enough on your second serve. I'm not talking about hitting bombs on the second serve or going for aces- but aggressive serves attacking the backhand where you are OK DF'ing once or twice a set because for all the other serves you do get in are putting your team in an advantageous position.

    I'll just put in this way- I LOVE playing against the people who don't worry about anything on the second serve other than getting it in. To me thats just them giving away free points even though they don't see it that way. They will just be content because its my good shot rather than their error, but either way their weak second serve is what gave me the opportunity. If they just roll the ball into the middle of the box maybe they can get 100% of their second serves in. But I think they would be FAR better off trying to move me around even if it meant giving away a couple DF's

    But maybe my math is different because I do have a quality second serve and when I am aggressive with it my team does get a lot of easy points. But to me just as the most basic example if you have the choice of putting the ball in the middle of hte box 100% of the time or trying to hit it right down the T 90% of the time you are far better off going down the T.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
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  28. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Also, Spot, I haven't met many people who can push 100% of their second serves in. Those folks get nervous and tight also.
     
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  29. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I agree with other people that say it really depends on what kind of serve you have.

    I'm a 3.5 and I have an 85-90 mph first serve. I've never had my second serve clocked, but I would guess it's 65-70. When I get those serves in, it's very tough for 3.5s to deal with them. However, on bad days, I double fault probably 4 or even 5 times per set. On good days I'll double fault once or twice for 3 sets.

    There are other people that have much slower serves, and because of that, they compensate by virtually never double faulting.
     
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  30. dizzlmcwizzl

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    I did not intend to offend. It could have been just as likely that your serve was being punished because you were playing superior opponents rather than you were below the appropriate level. Based on your record it seems like neither of these are the case. However, 1 DF per service game per service game is to many no matter what your strategy is. 1 For every 2 service games is as well, unless you feel you have to try for a lot more to be competitive.

    However, comments like "DF come in waves", "if my second serve is working" and "DF 5 times in one game" ... all suggest flaws in your serve mechanics or your approach to serving in general.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
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  31. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    I agree with most on the board (except dizzlmcwizzl saying 4.0s are 'recreational' players - I wish - in SoCal they are very, very serious). OP might want to have a friend look at his 2nd serve - or take a lesson. That's a lot of DFs.

    And there are good DFs - going for something you normally don't when you're up 40-0 isn't a terrible thing. At 15-40 you have to get it in - even if there is a strong chance your opponent might kill it - until you get to 4.5 and higher, you should make opponents try to win points and limit your giveaways.

    And one other thing (didn't read every post word for word so I apologize if someone else touched on it): OP might want to look at how he warms up. Hit 2nd serves until you've got it grooved. Then hit a few 1sts. Don't go for huge serves in your 1st service game. Ease into it as the 1st set evolves.
     
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  32. tyro

    tyro New User

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    I think it's possible to compete at 4.0 while hitting roughly 1 df a game, but I would agree that dfs of this frequency probably indicate a flaw in the mechanics.

    What I find most troubling about doubles is not losing the point, but losing confidence in my serve, which then makes my whole game tentative.

    I'd definitely focus on eliminating dfs before trying to develop a big service weapon, at least at 4.0. 4.5 might be a different story.

    --Tyro

    http://tenniswire.wordpress.com
     
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  33. larry10s

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    been watching the madrid tennis. most pros df 1-3 time a set at most. for them they have to be aggressive. one should get past the blast /poop 1st/2nd serve techique and have a "real "second serve. if you df alot in the learning curve to hit your second serve thats ok. once you have moved past the poop 2nd serve stage up to 4.5 i dont think you need to fear the returns as much as make thaem hit the ball.hit a decent 2nd serve and dont df
     
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  34. larry10s

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    rafael nadal in is early years would spin the ball in and start the point he did very well for along time with that strategy
     
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  35. HunterST

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    He was probably spinning it in at 115 miles per hour, though.
     
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  36. larry10s

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    could be but everyone else was serving 120-130
     
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  37. djokovicgonzalez2010

    djokovicgonzalez2010 G.O.A.T.

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    there are 3 modes of serving for me
    about 8-6 aces to dfs
    about 3-4 aces to dfs
    and disaster mode, 4 aces to 12 dfs
     
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  38. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    I highly doubt it was 115mph... probably more in the high 90's. But Nadal can beat you with his ground game... he does not need to get cheap points with his serve from the majority of the players on the circuit.

    My guess is he probably has one of the best ratio's on the circuit for breaking serve as well.


    The correct answer is 0.... you never want to give a free point to your opponent.
     
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  39. HunterST

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    No way do I see his first serve being in the 90s. A 90 mph serve wouldn't just be a neutral, point starting serve. That's the speed of an average pro's second serve and would be a huge hindrance. I know he has that lefty slice, but I don't think that would be enough to save him, especially on the deuce side.

    I'd go for 110 on the first serve.
     
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  40. film1

    film1 Semi-Pro

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    I think it has a lot to do with how potent the serve is? If you have an average serve very few can be too many. If you have a big powerful serve and get a lot of free points more are acceptable.
    At times I double fault more than I like but I often hard after my second serve, harder than many I play go for their first.
    It boils to holding your serve, if you hold serve it's not so important, if you struggle you really need to get the ball in play.
     
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  41. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Ideally, you want zero double faults. It hurts to give away free points on your serve and can lead to breaks at critical moments of a match because double faults give the returner confidence.
     
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  42. Ripper014

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    I was assuming you were talking about when he was injured and was dialing back his serve. When there was talk about an abdominal injury and he was just spinning his serves.
     
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  43. HunterST

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    Oh yeah, I was just talking about early in his career. I think you're right about his serve being in the 90s when his stomach was hurt. In fact, I think I remember the commentators saying that his serve was about 90.

    The funny part is, today I hit my fastest ever recorded serve at 98 mph. So nadal spinning in a serve in with a pulled stomach muscle= my best ever serve. haha.
     
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  44. ODYSSEY Mk.4

    ODYSSEY Mk.4 Professional

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    0 is acceptable IMO Giving away points in a competitive match is a no no ;)
     
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  45. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    No double faults means you're not going for enough IMO.
     
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  46. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Either that or you have a great second serve with a ton of spin.
     
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  47. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Depends on how aggressive im serving and if im really on or not.
     
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  48. TennisNinja

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    Also depends on how big your serve is. If you're getting lots of aces and service winners your number of doubles could go up by a little bit.
     
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  49. Ajtat411

    Ajtat411 Semi-Pro

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    I don't agree that 0 df means that you're not going for it. It may just mean that a particular opponnet you played that day was not able to attack your second serve. Just depends on what level you want to play up to.

    Ultimately I would like my 2nd serve to be "safe" enough that I can get in 100% of the time but "offensive" enough to not put me in a defensive position after it's returned. 100% is not practical so I would accept 4-5 df per set, these would me mostly coming at 40-15 or 40-0 though when I have the margin to push it.

    Also, I want to get up to at least a 4.5 level, maybe 5.0? So I know for a fact that I need to continue to practice on getting good 2nd serve kickers in with good pace and spin. I practice this no matter who I play because ultimately I will need this serve when I get to 4.5/5.0. I find that adjusting my serve or dialing down my serve doesn't help my progression.

    I go for my 2nd serves harder than my 1st serve but I put heavy spin to get them back into the court.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2010
    #49
  50. v205

    v205 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2009
    Messages:
    540
    It's not how many but how important the point was.

    6 double faults at love-all of 6 games is less of a worry to a double fault at match point / set point / important game point.
     
    #50

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