Fed Serve Motion has changed over the last two years

#1
This is an observation which comes from my coach, and unlike most of us he really knows what he is talking about.

He’s throwing the ball up less high and the motion is therefore more compact and energy efficient.

And yet he’s serving better than ever. The man’s desire to improve is truly incredible.

It’s not just the neo backhand...
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
#2
This is an observation which comes from my coach, and unlike most of us he really knows what he is talking about.

He’s throwing the ball up less high and the motion is therefore more compact and energy efficient.

And yet he’s serving better than ever. The man’s desire to improve is truly incredible.

It’s not just the neo backhand...
If your coach is watching Fedr right now instead of Murray GOAT his opinion is worthless.
 
#5
Fred is using roughly the same serve/service motion he's had since Edberg worked with him. The serve is something Ljubes didn't really need to touch.

What your coach might be thinking of is when Fed goes for the slider up the tee on the ad-side. Sometimes he uses a lower ball toss to throw the timing off (for getting out of break points).
 
#8
Fred is using roughly the same serve/service motion he's had since Edberg worked with him. The serve is something Ljubes didn't really need to touch.

What your coach might be thinking of is when Fed goes for the slider up the tee on the ad-side. Sometimes he uses a lower ball toss to throw the timing off (for getting out of break points).
His view is that it’s a bit more recent, certainly noticeable to me too in recent times. It’s not really discussed much but thanks for adding some nuance to the discussion with your observation.

How’s your boy coming along BTW?
 
#13
His view is that it’s a bit more recent, certainly noticeable to me too in recent times. It’s not really discussed much but thanks for adding some nuance to the discussion with your observation.

How’s your boy coming along BTW?
Unfortunate freak injury in Dominican last month.

Just finishing up recovery stuff. Start training again in a week and a half.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
#16
You mean form wise?

Cause overall Federers serve is definitely better than it ever was especially the last 3-4 years.
IMO it probably peaked in 2015, though it's always been very good - some of his serving figures in 2004, 2007 and 2009 were right up there. Though maybe that's his all round game backing it up? ;):p
 
#17
IMO it probably peaked in 2015, though it's always been very good - some of his serving figures in 2004, 2007 and 2009 were right up there. Though maybe that's his all round game backing it up? ;):p
He has improved the serve as a shot. I'm only looking at the serve as a standalone shot here just to be clear. He has always been a great server and someone you put amongst the best on tour, but as the years have gone by it has become a shot that goes into the history books. It has everything.
 
#18
The quality of competition may make your serve look super strong

Only Djoker is credible opposition and we have seen that the supposedly improved serve did not change outcomes

When you are dealing with mug era , someone with second serve like Murray also looks like a Karlovic
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
#19
He has improved the serve as a shot. I'm only looking at the serve as a standalone shot here just to be clear. He has always been a great server and someone you put amongst the best on tour, but as the years have gone by it has become a shot that goes into the history books. It has everything.
Define history books? His serve as a stand alone shot is outside the top 20 all time - unless you want to really milk his clutchness.
 
#20
Define history books? His serve as a stand alone shot is outside the top 20 all time - unless you want to really milk his clutchness.
Even if you consider his clutchness it's still outside the top 20. The game that comes after the serve makes his serve numbers so great. #25 in 1st serve points won.
 
#22
Even if you consider his clutchness it's still outside the top 20. The game that comes after the serve makes his serve numbers so great. #25 in 1st serve points won.
For Federer to be able to have such a serve at his height, the whole package, I think that's impressive enough to put it higher than top 20. He has no height advantage like Isner, Ivanisevic, Karlovic.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
#25
I consider height into this and as Fed is ''only'' 1.85 I'd put it in top 10 in terms of talent.
Talent is different to effectiveness which is what I was talking about. If great serving despite height is what counts we'd be calling a guy like Almagro an ATG server.

Even if you consider his clutchness it's still outside the top 20. The game that comes after the serve makes his serve numbers so great. #25 in 1st serve points won.
Yeah I was being quite generous, considering that Federer has never (?) been the number one hold leader on tour despite his crazy overall game he can't be that good a server.
 
#26
Federer from January 2015 - December 2018:

80% 1st serve points won.

Isner career: 78%
Karlovic career: 82.7%
Ivanisevic: 82.5%
Johansson: 79.4%
Federer career 77.3%
Fedr 2015-2018 80%
And that has a lot to do with the shot that comes just after the serve. His volleys and approach in these last few years have all been about dominating his own service points.
All I am saying is that if Isner or Karlovic had the Fed serve they wouldn't have the same % of first serve points won that Roger has.
His genius at identifying a weak return and his precision at putting it away is what is behind his awesome numbers. It's not just his serve which is the case with John and Ivo.
Also we judge the level of the player's serve regardless of their heights. Federer serve is not top 20 of all time. If you want it to be top 20 I suggest you make a height adjusted ranking of the servers coz when I talk about serve I talk only about the ball that comes from the racquet of a player when he hits the serve. Should Nishikori or Schwartzman's serve be top 10 considering their short heights?
For Federer to be able to have such a serve at his height, the whole package, I think that's impressive enough to put it higher than top 20. He has no height advantage like Isner, Ivanisevic, Karlovic.
It's impressive but we shouldn't put it that high coz it's not good enough alone as a weapon.
 

NKDM

Professional
#27
You cannot judge Fed's serve by numbers related to that shot alone. It's his effectiveness behind it that makes it a part of the huge weapon that is his 1-2 combo: First serve + Forehand off return

In other words the first serve doesn't have to be as damaging as others, just good enough placement wise to get him a weak return which he can pounce on and finish off. Against 99% of the tour that is.

That's why against an otherworldly returner like Novak, a big part of Roger's advantage is neutralized and he has to go toe-to-toe from the baseline.

As for the shot itself in the past few years, he is perhaps arming it more now to gain mph when needed, while not taxing his back. He has also been smarter with serving slower but with more accuracy against lesser players to conserve himself.

But I don't think the serve is 'better' than in his prime.

tl;dr - He's doing a great job skillfully maintaining the effectiveness of a dwindling skill. But the serve itself is not better than in his prime.
 
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#28
But I don't think the serve is 'better' than in his prime.
I think the serve as a shot is maybe the same as his prime or even better. The next shot after the serve is maybe better against lesser opponents coz he shuts the door on the points with his approach to net against not-so-good returners.
Against guys like Novak his prime service game was better than his current one coz who are we kidding, we know that Nole is going to put the ball back in play regardless of the level of Fed's serve and when he does that Federer needs to call upon his ground game and his ground game was much better in his prime years. Back then he could stick with the opponent from the baseline.
 
#29
I'm sure this stroke of genius is the result of Fedr seeing KingKyrgios copying his serve.
This would be the second time Fedr has reworked his serve in his career.
 
#31
Fred is using roughly the same serve/service motion he's had since Edberg worked with him...

What your coach might be thinking of is when Fed goes for the slider up the tee on the ad-side. Sometimes he uses a lower ball toss to throw the timing off (for getting out of break points).
This ^.. additionally, it's really hard to tell minor changes in ball toss height when the camera angle changes a fair bit between tournaments also. Also - if he's serving with urgency (speed, esp up the T) it might appear he's throwing it lower because he gets up to it marginally quicker. An extreme example of this in action is Dolgopolov's serve. People always say he throws the ball up really low but if you look at it slow-motion he really doesn't, he just gets up to it quickly and right at the apex.

 
#37
Talent is different to effectiveness which is what I was talking about. If great serving despite height is what counts we'd be calling a guy like Almagro an ATG server.
You are correct. I didn't think that way.

In terms of effectiveness just looking at the shot alone without taking into consideration what happens after, but also turning our heads to heights, yes I agree Fed is well below. But Federer is ''only'' 1.85 and still has that package that he has. Same with Sampras who I think had a better serve than Federer, especially the 2nd serve. Overall they aren't far from eachother IMO, but Sampras edges it a bit.

Would Karlovic and Isner and all these tall guys be able to serve as well as Federer if they were his height? We will never know, but I think we should think about that aswell.
 
#39
Would Karlovic and Isner and all these tall guys be able to serve as well as Federer if they were his height? We will never know, but I think we should think about that aswell.
Actually we do know. Neither would be. Both have great serves primarily because their height and decent, not amazing, technique. Karlovic's serve in particular would be worse than Federer's if he was the same height. And clearly so. At 185cm both would be worse athletes and have worse technique than Federer. There's no way they would be better than him all things considered.
 
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#42
Actually will do know. Neither would be. Both have great serves primarily because their height and decent, not amazing, technique. Karlovic's serve in particular would be worse than Federer's if he was the same height. And clearly so. At 185cm both would be worse athletes and have worse technique than Federer. There's no way they would be better than him all things considered.
The other thing people forget about is that Federer served against all the best returners.

His serve was tested more than the Isner’s and Karlovics as he has a record of going deep in every tournament.

It’s a lonely view here but I would take Federer’s serve over Sampras. So reliable hardly any double faults, full of disguise and placement.
 
#43
Or there's less leg drive and back snap because his back is killing him and he's near the end.
I will say, from the naked eye and not accounting for all camera angle changes from tourney to tourney, he isn't getting as much knee bend at the bottom of the serve (which would certainly be a symptom of back with a history of chronic issues getting older and less flexible).
 
#46
The other thing people forget about is that Federer served against all the best returners.

His serve was tested more than the Isner’s and Karlovics as he has a record of going deep in every tournament.
Great point. I often point out to people that the stats get compressed near the top because the top guys play, on-average, better opponents by dint of going deeper in vastly more tournaments than Karlovic and Isner etc. If you could look at each of their serve stats vs only top 20 players they would look comparatively worse off. Federer, by contrast, has had to earn his serve stats against some of the best returners in the game literally 200 times in his career vs 25 times for Isner or Karlovic.

Quick comparison
Fed has played Murray/Nadal/Djokovic 110 times
Isner has played them 24 times
Karlovic has played them 16 times

At worst, Federer has faced the top returners 4.5 times as often.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
#47
Back this up please. List 20 servers who have standalone serves better than Federer so we can see what we're dealing with here.
Karlovic
Isner
Roddick
Raonic
Kyrgios
Joachim Johansson
Wayne Arthurs
Philippoussis
Krajicek
Sampras
Ivanisevic
Stich
Becker
Zivonjinovic
Mac
Curren
Tanner
Newk
Pancho Gonzalez
Neale Fraser
Kramer
Vines
Tilden

given the context of their times, majority of them are clearly better, some arguably.
 

Yoneyama

Professional
#48
Interesting observation. Fed's serve, FH and BH techniques have changed ever so slightly over his career - his FH probably the most noticable change (the takeback is a lot different now than what it was back in early 2000's). I'd say his serve has remained fairly consistent over his career compared to the rest of the Big 3/4 who have had massive changes over the years.
 
#49
Karlovic
Isner
Roddick
Raonic
Kyrgios
Joachim Johansson
Wayne Arthurs
Philippoussis
Krajicek
Sampras
Ivanisevic
Stich
Becker
Zivonjinovic
Mac
Curren
Tanner
Newk
Pancho Gonzalez
Neale Fraser
Kramer
Vines
Tilden

given the context of their times, majority of them are clearly better, some arguably.
Seriously, is this an exercise in scouring Wikipedia?

I take my hat off to you that can produce this stuff with a straight face.

Or maybe it is the Laurel and Hardy NatF double act!?
 
#50
His serving speed:

With Fed it’s all about placement, disguise and consistency rather than speed.

Hi second serve kicker is so underrated. Sure he doesn’t take the risk of a Sampras and and a Kygrios and bomb out first serves as second serves. He doesn’t have to as the second serve against 98% of the tour sets him up for a dominating position in the rally.
 
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