Fed & Djoker Failed To Emulate The Sampras Serve?

#1
(Note: I posted this yesterday on the 'General Pro Player Discussion' but I felt like it was applicable this forum too.)

Before anyone states that the two haven't "copied" Sampras, please let me explain...

Sampras was an idol to both Federer and Djokovic. If you take a look at young Fed and pre-2018 Djokovic, their serve had a massive resemblance to that of Pete's (i.e. Moderately staggering back swing, iconic front foot up starting position, and for Djoker, the tomahawk finish).

If you want proof for my claims, please let me know - I have some videos cued up.


Neither Fed nor Djoker has been able to recreate the power and topspin of Sampras's serve - and according to my research on tennisplayer, this is due to their less extreme stance and body rotation away from the net.

So I would assume that the simple solution is to adopt Sampras's stance with the back foot pointing further back and turn the body away more. But this obviously hasn't happened.
  1. Is there a reason to this?
  2. Is there a drawback to having more rotation that I'm missing?
  3. Are Djoker and Fed simply incapable of contorting their body as Sampras has? If so, what is the cause?
 
#2
Every players body is a little different. Biomechanical principles are universal but emulating a style when the body is different doesn't make sense. Technique and fitness are very much related. One guy might have a little more hip mobility, another one more spinal flexibility and a third one more shoulder flexibility.

Everyone at the top finds a style that is best for their physical capabilities. If one has more lower body power he will use more knee bend for example and a guy with a lot of thoracic spine flexibility will use more hip shoulder separation. If you want to emulate Sampras find a physiotherapist who knows tennis and find out which traits allowed Pete's serve and work on those things.

But it is probably easier to fit your swing to your body.
 
#4
Every players body is a little different. Biomechanical principles are universal but emulating a style when the body is different doesn't make sense. Technique and fitness are very much related. One guy might have a little more hip mobility, another one more spinal flexibility and a third one more shoulder flexibility.

Everyone at the top finds a style that is best for their physical capabilities. If one has more lower body power he will use more knee bend for example and a guy with a lot of thoracic spine flexibility will use more hip shoulder separation. If you want to emulate Sampras find a physiotherapist who knows tennis and find out which traits allowed Pete's serve and work on those things.

But it is probably easier to fit your swing to your body.
I 100% agree. That is actually my main question - which physical traits (flexibility, leg strength, balance, coordination, etc.) allowed Sampras's motion - and what qualities are current top players missing that prevents them from inputing those elements like extreme body coiling.

Everybody says Pete was unorthodox, talented, and a "phenomenon" - it's hard to argue with that but I'd rather have more specific answers.
 
#5
I 100% agree. That is actually my main question - which physical traits (flexibility, leg strength, balance, coordination, etc.) allowed Sampras's motion - and what qualities are current top players missing that prevents them from inputing those elements like extreme body coiling.

Everybody says Pete was unorthodox, talented, and a "phenomenon" - it's hard to argue with that but I'd rather have more specific answers.

He had an extremely flexible shoulder, which produced a lot more shoulder rotation than pretty much anyone. His racket drop was extraordinary. The racket head is almost at his knees. If you slow this video down you can see the blur of the racket practically at his knees - unbelievable external shoulder rotation.

It's too bad that Pete finished his career just before the internet era, otherwise there would be a lot more good slow mo video of his serve.

 
#6
Fed and Djoker's bodies don't work like Pete's. If they tried to copy Pete in every way their serves would be worse.
Yeah, most likely would. I guess I should word it differently. Why haven't they implemented aspects of Pete's serve like more body rotation. Is it due to a physical incapability?
 
#7
He had an extremely flexible shoulder, which produced a lot more shoulder rotation than pretty much anyone. His racket drop was extraordinary. The racket head is almost at his knees. If you slow this video down you can see the blur of the racket practically at his knees - unbelievable external shoulder rotation.

It's too bad that Pete finished his career just before the internet era, otherwise there would be a lot more good slow mo video of his serve.

I actually noticed this a couple months back - he has a similar ESR mobility to that of Roddick. I think Djokovic has pretty good mobility too - perhaps Fed a little less.
 
#8
I actually noticed this a couple months back - he has a similar ESR mobility to that of Roddick. I think Djokovic has pretty good mobility too - perhaps Fed a little less.

I think there was a study a while back that said the key to Roddick's serve was excessive shoulder abduction (which I believe refers to the rotation of the shoulder horizontally backward so that his elbow was behind him). Pete certainly had the greatest serve of his generation, but I think I'd rather have Isner's serve than Pete's (not that either is possible).
 
#10
I think there was a study a while back that said the key to Roddick's serve was excessive shoulder abduction (which I believe refers to the rotation of the shoulder horizontally backward so that his elbow was behind him). Pete certainly had the greatest serve of his generation, but I think I'd rather have Isner's serve than Pete's (not that either is possible).
Interesting - does this have to do with increased force output from the pectoral muscle? I would love to see the study.

Yes, Isner's serve is deadly but unless you're 6"10", it may lead to inconsistency since his serve is pretty flat (esp. compared to Sampras).
 
#11
Interesting - does this have to do with increased force output from the pectoral muscle? I would love to see the study.

Yes, Isner's serve is deadly but unless you're 6"10", it may lead to inconsistency since his serve is pretty flat (esp. compared to Sampras).
Isner has an insane kick serve too. But I agree height plays a big role as with karlovic.

Federer's serve is pretty good too though.
 

sredna42

Professional
#12
Fed and Djoker's bodies don't work like Pete's. If they tried to copy Pete in every way their serves would be worse.
That's a good point.
Lately I'm starting to think that much of the base of the serve is dictated by your own body and hoe it can or cannot move, or how it prefers to move.

I don't believe guys like roscoe tanner and sam groth consciously constructed their serve styles for example, i believe the basic form of their serve is just their body's way of doing it
 
#13
That's a good point.
Lately I'm starting to think that much of the base of the serve is dictated by your own body and hoe it can or cannot move, or how it prefers to move.

I don't believe guys like roscoe tanner and sam groth consciously constructed their serve styles for example, i believe the basic form of their serve is just their body's way of doing it
Yeah, I agree. There are so many variables that go into serve that are affected by what we literally can and cannot do.
 
#16
Have you seen Isner’s serve live? It explodes off the court after the bounce. Certainly not flat.
yea, Isner can hit fantastic spin serves. I don't think Isner hits as much spin on his 1st serve as Sampras did but it isn't needed for Isner as Isner's contact point is so much higher. But, I agree with you - even most of Isner's 1st serves have a lot of spin. It doesn't occasionally flatten one out but it's rare. Would be interesting to see spin rates for Isner in actual match play: average spin for 1st and 2nd serves, highest rpm and lowest rpm for each would be good too.
 
#17
(Note: I posted this yesterday on the 'General Pro Player Discussion' but I felt like it was applicable this forum too.)

Before anyone states that the two haven't "copied" Sampras, please let me explain...

Sampras was an idol to both Federer and Djokovic. If you take a look at young Fed and pre-2018 Djokovic, their serve had a massive resemblance to that of Pete's (i.e. Moderately staggering back swing, iconic front foot up starting position, and for Djoker, the tomahawk finish).

If you want proof for my claims, please let me know - I have some videos cued up.


Neither Fed nor Djoker has been able to recreate the power and topspin of Sampras's serve - and according to my research on tennisplayer, this is due to their less extreme stance and body rotation away from the net.

So I would assume that the simple solution is to adopt Sampras's stance with the back foot pointing further back and turn the body away more. But this obviously hasn't happened.
  1. Is there a reason to this?
  2. Is there a drawback to having more rotation that I'm missing?
  3. Are Djoker and Fed simply incapable of contorting their body as Sampras has? If so, what is the cause?
It's not mainly the stance and I'd love to see if you have a TP ref on that claim, thanks
 
#19
If not stance, what is it?

Here's the article if you have a TP subscription:
https://www.tennisplayer.net/member...mpras_serve_radical_torso_rotation_part5.html
THanks for the link and I'll partially retract or soften my earlier position. Looking back over your OP intent and considering your reference's wording given his position on rotation at that time, I think both of you are being entirely reasonable on the issue. That said, Imo this is where a partial understanding can lead us astray. I think his partial explanation led to your simplified conclusion that leaves out the meat and potatoes of how it's done. I'm pretty sure their stance doesn't preclude them from getting nearly same or better level of pace and topspin as Pete. First off I don't think they have the same clear intent Pete had on doing this exact pair of things. They may have the same general idea, but "form generally follows function" and their form is not as specifically targeted to this pair of objectives such that it is clear they value both in the way Pete did. Yes, the stance is one of several items, but also the quality of the launch, path of the swing, and nature of contact, ...which could all be achieved from their present stance.

Again, thanks for the link and can you share some of those links you have queued up?
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#20
If not stance, what is it?
I think your stance argument is too simplistic. There are more variables at play.

For example, like Djok and Fed, Roddick also has a less extreme stance/body rotation, compared to Sampras. Yet, at a similar height, he served ~20mph faster than Fed/Djok.


 
#21
I think your stance argument is too simplistic. There are more variables at play.

For example, like Djok and Fed, Roddick also has a less extreme stance/body rotation, compared to Sampras. Yet, at a similar height, he served ~20mph faster than Fed/Djok.
good comparison here between the two in terms of that, but roddick himself has said his serve was more leg drive and rotation than shoulder

 
#22
I think your stance argument is too simplistic. There are more variables at play.

For example, like Djok and Fed, Roddick also has a less extreme stance/body rotation, compared to Sampras. Yet, at a similar height, he served ~20mph faster than Fed/Djok.


Interesting picture of Sampras and your pointing out that he does more body turning and rotation than other pro's.

This gels with my understanding how Sampras pronates his arm a lot but still able to slice to the left side. (Remember the other thread? Clay vs Sampras 's swing?) Normally a huge pronation tends to square the racket face forward and flatten out the shot, but Sampras can offset this by overturning the body in the first place.
 
#24
Agreed.

I was just pointing out that the stance is indeed important, and was probably one of the keys to Sampras' big serve, but it is just one of numerous variables to hitting a fast serve.
In his defense, he is referencing the combo of Spin AND Pace with Pete.
 

Dragy

Professional
#25
I think your stance argument is too simplistic. There are more variables at play.

For example, like Djok and Fed, Roddick also has a less extreme stance/body rotation, compared to Sampras. Yet, at a similar height, he served ~20mph faster than Fed/Djok.


Doesn't Roddick grip look semi-conti here? :eek:
 
#26
I think speed is partly technique but also just a "live arm" once your technique has reached a certain level.

The fastest servers are also the hardest throwers, Roddick probably could throw like 90 in his prime. Those guys will just have more flexible shoulders (more ESR) and also create higher rates of ISR and shoulder flexion during the swing due to more fast twitch muscles. You cant just say copy Roddick and get the same velo just as copying aroldis Chapman wouldn't make you throw 100. That takes technical AND physical skill, he couldn't throw that fast with **** mechanics but he has the strength, fast twitch muscles, flexibility and leverage too.

Technique and physical skill are related and many factors are at work here.
 
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#29
I has heard some time ago, that Roger had emulated Pete’s serve in his younger years — back in the 1990s some time. Don’t know how close it was but I suspect that it was something that Roger had experimented with for a bit. It is possible that Roger’s serve evolved from a pseudo-Sampras serve to something that more closely suited Roger’s anatomy, timing and talent.

Note that Jeff Salzenstein had gotten his hands on a good deal of high-speed HD film of Pete Sampras’ serve from John Yandell. He developed aspects of the Sampras serve mechanics, particularly to develop the “heaviness” of Pete’s serve. He developed a very decent serve from this study but, over time, modified the mechanics to something he found more suitable for himself.
 
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