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Defcon 07-04-2004 11:15 PM

Is Roddick's serve really that great...
Sure he has the mph, but he doesn't have the placement, spin or disguise. Like the rest of his game, its all about brute power.

I'm talking relative to servers like Sampras, Goran, maybe Mark etc who had the ability to conjure up aces at will (esp Sampras) which Roddick does not have.

Granted Fed has a great return and that played a factor, but it can be gotten back. It was also obvious from today that as a 5 set match goes on , the speed on his serve will drop thereby reducing its effectiveness considerably.

jun 07-04-2004 11:28 PM

I don't know about disguise. It's hard to tell from TV. But he has mentioned in an interview that he practices hitting kick serve off his slice serve etc.

The thing is, he doesn't really need all that great disguise. Except a few players, most players will have hard time returning his serve even though they know where it's going.

In terms of variety, he has it all. He has got a great slice serve on deuce, seems to hit slider 2nd serve rather than kick serve on deuce. He can flatten it out down the middle, kick it out wide.

Mark P, Goran I, and Sampras are somwhat similar servers. I feel like they have less margin of error than Roddick does. It semes like Roddick is able to hit harder with a lot more spin.

But when it comes to accuracy, disguise, I think Pete Sampras is the one. He could disguise it so well, and had real pin point accuracy.

baseliner 07-05-2004 05:03 AM

Good enough serve to be the reigning US Open Champ and be a Wimbledon Finalist. How many tournaments does he need to win to prove he is a legitimate champion?

irishbanger 07-05-2004 07:44 AM


ProStaffTour90 07-05-2004 08:56 AM


Originally Posted by baseliner
Good enough serve to be the reigning US Open Champ and be a Wimbledon Finalist. How many tournaments does he need to win to prove he is a legitimate champion?

Where talking about his serve here!

He's light-years ahead of the field in terms of speed, but it isn't that much more effective!

Federer served more aces in the final, and to be honest, i think Andy's second serve is more effective than his first!

Speed isn't everything!

TwistServe 07-05-2004 09:36 AM

Sampras is the best server in tennis ever (with the exception of tall dudes like Kalovic whose height is used to find the crazy angles.. With that said, the only reason Roddick doesnt get that many aces is because his placement and disguise aren't as good. Most players can just block his serve back, like Borkman in the Davis cup 152mph serve. Once roddick ups his S&V game, those block shots will be perfect setups.

Vanja Ljubibratic 07-05-2004 09:49 AM

Well, one thing is to hit aces, but I think that Roddick gets a lot more service winners. Fed put his racquet on a lot of balls, but he also missed a lot of those. Roddick's kick serve isn't meant to be an ace, but rather something that will keep him the advantage in the point. Honestly, aces aren't that important if you win the point one way or another. The fact remains that his serve cannot be attacked easily. It can be returned, but not attacked. I mean that on a consistent basis.
The more important stat is first serve points won, and not aces. I never liked Roddick's game, but I have to give him credit for having the best serve in the game right now.

10HOF 07-05-2004 10:39 AM

It's just a matter of time before Roddick starts having shoulder problems because of his poor technique. Roddick IS all about brute power, his young shoulder is taking on a lot a stress. Sampras had the best serve ever! His smooth technique, placement, speed, spin and ability to hit the big serve on big points, set him above the rest! As Andy gets older, and his shoulder starts to hurt, hopefully he'll have something else to back up his game... Andy without the serve, is only a top 50 player, not top 3!!!

Chanchai 07-05-2004 12:00 PM

I don't have a copy of the players guide for this year yet (I was so sure I was going to win one during the first season of fantasy tennis, lol).

Can anyone list out the top ten lists for various service stats from 2003?

Either I haven't looked hard enough for such lists online, or am too lazy to pick out various players to do a harsh scan... but here are some tidbits from Roddick's 2003 Year in Review:

-Led ATP (#1) in 4 of 6 Service Categories
*Aces - 989
*1st Serve Pts Won - 81%
*Service Games Won - 91%
*Break Points Saved - 69%

-#2 (tied with another #2) in 2nd Serve Pts Won - 59%

-The wording was weird here but "played and won most tie-breaks" 36-21.

Of course this is 2003. And this is comparing Roddick to the ATP field, not matchup numbers, so there are returners who have his number.

But I doubt these numbers imply that his serve sucks. It does imply that in 2003, it owned most of the field (not necessarily all of the field).


PS a quick update. Checked Federer's profile and here are some quick little details from 2003:
-#2 in service games won (87%)
-#2 in 2nd serve games won (59%)
-#2 in points won returning 2nd serves (56%)
-#3 in aces (690)
-#5 in break points saved (66%)

shissncg 07-05-2004 12:14 PM

Roddicks kick serve is quite good. Take a look at how high his ball bounces compared to anyone else, he is getting a tremendous amount of spin.
On a second note Michael Stich had a super smooth serve with a good deal of pace and placement.

Chanchai 07-05-2004 12:26 PM

Wanted to keep this a bit separate from my stats post... Because it concerns different things, so I apologize for the double posting.

And these are just inquiries to DefCon and others... not really arguing, just curious about their perspectives.

Talking purely on aces... Doesn't Roddick have the ability to conjure up aces, at least on par with Philippoussis if not better? Or are we isolating Mark's peak year with Roddick's peak year? Mark makes a ton of faults too, or at least that's my impression.

I would argue that Roddick has placement on his serve and has used variety in spins on it.

-The guy seems to have clear and obvious targets and hits within inches of the line when he's going for it on those targets. Some opponents he's always aiming to the backhand. Some opponents, always aiming to the forehand. And a lot of his aces, throughout a match though especially in succession practically contact half of the service line.

-It's not always, but there are some strategic moments where Roddick goes for the slice serve out wide on deuce and often gets results with it. It flies in around 105-115MPH and it's not the serve he always uses, but for instance, I believe he aced one on Fed yesterday with it. Its slice/pace ratio might not be as much as Rogers, but for crying out loud it's still a good 10 or more MPH faster too.

-He has clearly been using changeup serves for over a year now, switching from the 120+ MPH serves to 90MPH serves. Obviously, if you can serve fast, you should have some capability of controlling slower serves (though this doesn't apply to everyone because of the margin created by spin combined with power on contact). But it's not like we consider pitchers to be less varied because they have changeup pitches and use them now and then.

-I would argue that on very broad and general categories, Roddick has 3 totally different second serves.
* #1 - The shoulder-or-higher bouncing kick serve that's around 90-110 MPH that he's mostly been using up until recently. He almost always gets this in, but it's true that he isn't painting lines with this serve, but he's certainly driving the majority of the ATP crazy with it. Federer is an exception in being able to destroy this serve on the return.
* #2 - The serve that american broadcasters have been pointing out, but it's an obviously different second serve than we're used to seeing from him except at Wimbledon this year. A second serve that more or less is a 120+ MPH serve with a bit of topspin, and this serve is hitting lines with good placement.
* #3 - It's a rare serve from Roddick, but he's hit a variant of a twisted serve that comes in looking like a kick serve going towards the forehand (righty) and has an insane kick to the backhand when it hits the ground. Fluke or not, I've seen him use it on rare occasions, but clearly remember it on the Australian Open quarterfinal match against Younnes El Aynaoui when it jammed him for a service winner.

Anyways, these are most of the different serves I see from Roddick. I'm not going to argue that Roddick's serve is better than Sampras' (not that I've seen it), but I feel that he's got a varied serve with placement, and obviously has pace. It's not like all of his serves are hitting 2-3 feet inside any service line, or always aimed at the middle of the top service line. They're clearly positioned and as far as I can tell (and even see on replays), they're hitting the sidelines and are hitting various angles.

However, I would like to know from you guys how his serve could improve and how he could improve the variety and placement on them. What types of serves you think he should hit more of, etc... I think that would make a good discussion.

A much better discussion than just saying "he doesn't have such and such" and keep it in a vague manner.

Also, for the less informed like myself (I came into appreciating tennis late), I'd like to know what makes the other players' serves so much greater. I know it would be naive of me to judge Ivanisevic's (sorry for mispell) serve as it was this year because of his injuries and the same to Philippoussis.

I do think Federer's serve is awesome because of its placement and spin and how he sets up easy points with it. However, those types of serves up the spin/pace ratio by lowering pace, and that works perfectly under control for Federer. Part of me wonders if he was hitting first serve faults yesterday because he was going for bigger first serves initially. Also, I believe when his MPH was up on the serve, his positioning of the ball wasn't all that different from Roddick's similarly paced serves.

But I don't think it's a case of "Player X has a sucky serve because it's not Player Y's serve." But I do notice that some people do have this notion of a "Strictly One Ideal Way to Play Tennis" concept. I'll admit I don't agree with that notion. Not even when you break it down to just strokes and serves.


!Tym 07-05-2004 03:22 PM

Roddick has excellent placement and variety in addition to unparalleled power on his serve. Really, he can paint the lines, I've seen it. He can swing it out way wide with power, he can kick it to the corner way high with power, he can smack it down the T or up the middle to jam the player. And he can do all this with consistency.

Really, just in terms of raw goods, Roddick's serve is the best ever.

The reason he's not quite as effective as he could be on the serve is that according to what I've read from I believe Ljubicic, reading the direction of where he's gonna serve isn't as difficult as it could be.

Goran's serve was so effective, because it was so sneaky quick and he was left-handed. He could swing it out wide better than any player I've ever seen. Couple this with him being left handed, and that's devastating. His motion also had a very low ball toss, and he kind of just swayed then slided through his motion very slinky like. I think players just had a really hard time reading his serve. Roddick has a higher spin and power combo for sure and he also can paint the lines, but players have a better chance of reading where his serve is gonna go. The key to acing someone is not really power so much as getting them leaning the wrong way or guessing wrong.

This is why Goran said that Stich was the hardest serve for him to return, not Sampras'. He said it was because he could never read where his serve was going.

Of course, Sampras had the better second serve for sure, because he had more spin on the ball.

But as far as first serves go, I don't think Sampras was ever considered to have the best first serve in the game. It's the combination of his first and second serve *in addition to* the "clutch" x-factor (as opposed to the Philipoussis double fault by a VERY fast mile on set point down factor) , which is why people say he's the best *overall* server of all time.

Bruguera said Ivanisevic's serve was the best in history when on after getting blitzed by it in an indoor final, but he was probably talking about his first serve. Ivanisevic's second serve was not very consistent and he didn't get that much kick on it, was basically just a slower version of his first serve, rather than a specific second serve like Roddick's HUGE kicker second.

So, I think Goran had the most effective first serve ever, because you couldn't read it, and he was left-handed, and very tall, and hence got unparalleled angle on the ball, which when on made his out wide serves virtually unreachable because of the angle rather than the sheer velocity...which he would then surprise you with on the next point with a bullet up the T.

Sampras and Becker had the best clutch serving.

Sampras the best second serve with the best variety, potency (spinxpower), and consistency.

Sampras the best overall serve, but not the most unreturnable first serve, and definitely NOT the most aces...Goran was more of an "ace machine," but Sampras was a more balanced server, and got more forced errors off his serve than probably anyone to date, kind of like how a great claycourt forehand *forces errors* because of the spinxpower combination rather than an outright winner which is more generated by a flatter shot such as Korda's one-handed backhand.

Goran's serve was also more of an on or off shot, while Sampras' serve was always there for him. I think this is because Sampras' planted feet motion was more repeatable than Goran's unique see-sawing motion, somewhat open-stance motion.

Krajicek had a more devastating first serve than Sampras' in my opinion as well, because his motion like Goran's was sneaky quick. The problem with these sneaky quick motions, however, in my opinion, is that you can't generate as much topspin because you don't have time for a deep knee bend, which is key to generating heavy spin on the serve...which to me limits the effectiveness of their second serves compared to Sampras and Roddick, which is probably more important since even Michael Chang had an effective first serve when he got it in, who doesn't really?

Rusedski has a smooth motion, and is one of the best overall servers ever, as is Arthurs, but the rest of their games are a question mark.

Rosset had a devastating serve too, but no one talks about him, because his feet were about as fast to move as a waterfall of honey.

Of the new servers, I'd say Federer's more of a Stich, type server, simple yet effective, and very well placed, a very balanced serving attack.

!Tym 07-05-2004 03:33 PM

Philipoussis is just a big server, because he's a dumb server, a macho server. He's a stiff server, with a stiff motion, and he doesn't get as much spin out of his serve as he could as a result. The result is a shotgun serve, a bullet up the t, out wide, or right at you...but always still a bullet. Yes, he can hit with spin too, but it's not like he can swing it out WAY wide like Goran can on the slice, or kick it out way wide like Sampras, Roddick, and Rafter can. Philipoussis is a limited server, and I think the most overrated server.

His serve is intimidating and nets him many aces and easy holds, but he can't count on it when he gets tight and in the most important of situations I feel as reliably as he could or should. This is, because his motion is made to smack the ball flat, but not for spin. When he gets tight, he goes for big flat serves, even on the second serve. I've seen so many huge double faults from him through the years, which really proves that you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

I don't soley believe that this trigger mentality on the second serve in pivotal moments is just because he's got an agressive mentality as he likes to say. I think it's because it's a mental cop-out, because he doesn't have as much faith in his second serve as he should. IF he could generate AGRESSIVE spin on his second serve the way Roddick and Sampras could, I don't think you'd see him going for foolhardy, roll the dice, take my chances, all or nothing, hail mary, flat as a pancake, sling shot, bullet, catapult away, second serves. You get the point.

Nadal2 07-05-2004 04:29 PM


Originally Posted by Chanchai

Can anyone list out the top ten lists for various service stats from 2003?

Just go to the ATP's website, over to players, down to statistics, click on statistics, and go to 2003 matchfacts. Or, here's a link:

Nadal2 07-05-2004 05:43 PM

As for disguise, I would say Ivanisevic. Yeah, Sampras, but people rarely even got a glimpse of Ivanisevic's toss he hit it so quickly. Sampras gets my vote for the most effective ever (we'll see about A-Rod)

SonicSpeed 07-05-2004 06:28 PM

yes it really is that great. I don't understand about all the lack of variety that a lot seem to be saying here. I've seen Andy slice it out wide on the deuce court very often. He does it on both his first and second serves. He can hit the corners with flat and kick serves.

Aoya 07-05-2004 07:05 PM

Actually, if you watch Roddick's service motion, it's just one streamlined motion, nothing radical and shoulder wrenching, he just uses his legs to push off and throws himself forward into the ball. His shoulder can take that, there's not THAT much stress on his shoulder.

Phil 07-05-2004 07:28 PM


Actually, if you watch Roddick's service motion, it's just one streamlined motion, nothing radical and shoulder wrenching, he just uses his legs to push off and throws himself forward into the ball. His shoulder can take that, there's not THAT much stress on his shoulder.
We'll see if that's true; check in on Andy and his shoulder in about 3-4 years.

VamosRafa 07-05-2004 07:55 PM

That's fine. We'll talk about it in 3-4 years. But for now -- on with the summer show. :wink:

!Tym 07-05-2004 08:14 PM

Agree, Roddick's service power and spin is more a function of his incredible leg propulsion more than anything else. His secret is that he loads his legs up, and uses them to propel the rest of his service motion like no other before. He gives himself a marvelous platform to push off from in other words, other than that his biomechanics are pretty standard and sound, just with a whole lot more racket head speed is all.

With that said, anyone can have shoulder problems at the pro level after a few years, regardless of their motion.

I mean it's like how any NBA player can have problems with his knees after a few years. I mean what do you expect? Basketball players jump a lot, and tennis players serve a lot...and baseball pitchers pitch a lot.

It doesn't always mean that the way one plays a sport is the reason for those injuries, it could factor in certainly, but the main factor is simply that one plays a sport every day for hours on end. From that perspective, Andy Roddick is quite normal among professional tennis players...he serves a lot of balls. If that eventually leads to shoulder problems, that might just be the luck of the draw.

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