From Craig O'Shannessy
....Stosur was able to break Williams five times because she was able to win two out of every three points on Williams’s second serve
. Williams won only 9 of 27 points (33 percent) in this critical area, which took away all hope of victory for her.
Stosur’s success on Williams’s second serve came from her strategy to run around her backhand and hit her bigger forehand as often as possible. An opponent’s second serve provides the ideal environment to do that. Williams hit 27 second serves for the match, two of which were double faults. Of the remaining 25, Stosur was able to turn 19 of them into forehand returns
, winning 13.
Stosur won a devastating 68 percent of points starting with a forehand return off Williams’s second serve
, which represents winning a set by 6-0.
Williams was able to find Stosur’s backhand return on six occasions, where Stosur was able to win half of them.
The No. 1 area in which Stosur hit winners for the match was not aces, ground strokes or volleys, but forehand returns off second serves, with five.
Stosur not only dominated Williams’s second serve, but she did an outstanding job of protecting her own second serve as well.
Stosur won 10 of 16 points (63 percent) on her second serve and was broken only once for the match. She has the best kick serve on the women’s tour, and it viciously kicks high out of her opponent’s strike zone, making it very difficult to step in and attack.
Williams had trouble with Stosur’s kick serve all match, while Stosur devoured Williams’s second serve.
A critical dynamic for both players was the actual number of second serves they hit (Williams 27, Stosur 16). The first serve has many roles, but a major one is the “protector” of the second serve.
The first serve will have many more aces and unreturned balls than the second serve, but simply getting the first serve in reduces the exposure to the second serve. Williams made only 52 percent of her first serves, which means major exposure to her second serve. Stosur made 65 percent of her first serves, which greatly reduces the amount of second serves her opponent gets to see.
In general, winning 50 percent of second serve points means it has been a successful day at the office.
Since Williams hit 27 second serves, she would be happy to win around 14, but instead won only nine. You can thank Stosur’s determination to hit her big run-around forehand for that.
Stosur hit 16 second serves, so she would like to win eight, but ended up winning 10. She can thank the heavy, kicking spin on the second serve for the extra points.
Stosur’s commitment to run around and hit forehands on Williams’s second serve got better as the match went on. At the end of the first set, Williams was able to find Stosur’s backhand with four of her last six second serves.
But Stosur would not hit one backhand return off a second serve in the second set. Stosur won 7 of 9 points (77 percent) returning with her forehand in the second set to show a total commitment to her game plan.
The old saying that you are only as good as your second serve rings true, and it is normally the best indicator of all the statistics for who wins the match....