New Rafa serve to challenge conventional wisdom?


Bionic Poster
New #1

“We’re looking to maximise damage from the onset, and one way to do that is with a faster, more aggressive serve,” Moya told following his afternoon practice session with Nadal. “We’ve been working out the mechanics of his serve; his motion now is more fluid. Before, the ball he served lost power immediately after bouncing. That isn’t the case anymore; his serve maintains speed now after making contact with the court, making it that much more potent.”

“The change is based on three pillars,” Roig explained. “The first is that when he executes the swing, he takes his hand away from the ball quicker, instead of letting his hand linger. Second, Rafa is working on staying more upright and using his size, rather than launching into the serve by twisting and recoiling. That extra spring motion actually resulted in a reduction of power after the ball bounced. The last thing we’re working on is getting Rafa to plant his right foot in the court upon landing from his serve.

“An added benefit is that his second serve is also going to throw opponents off. It might be a more risky approach, but the positive part is that his opponents won’t be looking at the same high bounce; they’ll have to be more on their toes and react faster instead of just keeping the ball in play.”

“He was the first to identify the weakness in his serve, and we as a team formulated an approach to improve it. We were sidetracked [in late 2018] because of the abdominal injury and the right ankle surgery but finally got around to physically working out the new service motion after recovery. I’m happy to say he’s now comfortable with the revamped serve motion.”

“This isn’t some radical change; it’s just adjusting a weapon we believe will take him to even higher levels,” Moya said. We’ve done ‘trial runs’ in mock matches, just to ensure he’s comfortable when it’s time to compete. The modified serve was a tricky adjustment at first, but now that he’s found his groove, he’s back in his comfort zone.”

The first is not clear to me. Is it in the past tense or the future, i.e., is he going to take his hand away quicker or NOT do it?

Second one says rotational coiling and uncoiling will be deemphasized.

Third one about putting right foot down first seems conventional for a leftie - but he seems to be doing it already, so what is the big deal here?



Talk Tennis Guru
It seemed a bit different at the fast tennis exo recently.

But I do remember him crushing serves when he won the US Open in 2013 with an older motion.

Dan R

What's he talking about "reduction of power off the bounce"? Frankly, none of what his coach said makes a lot of sense. I guess we'll see in a few days.
Ok, what this guy is basically saying is, "Where going to try to FLATTEN out Rafa's FIRST SERVE, so opponents don't see the SAME BALL come at them between first and second serves"... So, I guess what he means "less twisting" and staying "more upright" all causes a less "spinny" serve, and more leverage/power/flat.. He explains it pretty horribly, but this is what I get from this..

He's not trying to modify Rafa's second serve, but get more flat penetration off the first.

Btw, I have been watching Rafa's "new serve" and it looks like the same exact serve to me! haha (but then we have that bad back top angle but still looks identical so no change.)

p.s. I'm watching on DVR, but Brad just said its the 'best serving Rafa's ever served', so clearly miss alot watching it on tv. haha
Last edited:
I wonder if rafa doesn't have a great serve due to hitting with the left hand despite being a righty. Learning a left handed forehand is not tough because it is a pretty simple motion but doing that overhead throwing motion with the off hand isn't easy. Of course he has 25 years of practice now but it still might not be quite the same.

Of course his serve isn't terrible but it is slower than most top20 serves on tour.


the only difference I see is he is opening the shoulders more. I would also say the swing path is a little flatter. basically, if you just said open up the shoulder and hit it harder, this is what you would get. I think all the other stuff Moya is talking about is mumbo jumbo. he may be serving "better" but i think it is just confidence and they've convinced him to go after it more.


Hall of Fame
Guy needs to get some free points like everyone else. He works too hard on every point. Not like he doesn't have what it takes to get more aces


Bionic Poster
Different serve. Just count the number of aces per match compared to 2018.
Way too small a sample size...5 matches vs a WC, a career journeyman (never top 30), a small teenager with too many matches under his belt, a former top 4 player returning from injury and an overachieving 21-year-old.

Let’s see how Tsits and Joe Kovic/Pouille fare first and then how far he can take that serve at the Sunshine Masters and Wimbledon. Then we’ll have a big enough sample size.


Hall of Fame
The experts say his new serve is hurting Rafa's game massively. He is further into the court and taking time and space away from his ground strokes. So many shanks today. So time to go back to the old serve. Or is too late?
The experts say his new serve is hurting Rafa's game massively. He is further into the court and taking time and space away from his ground strokes. So many shanks today. So time to go back to the old serve. Or is too late?
I don't think it is bad unless you face an opponent hitting every return super deep like novak did.

The old serve wouldn't have helped him either as he can't outgrind novak.