Having seen many top players in action and also playing the game for quite while I am starting to come to a crossroads when it comes to string patterns. I have rarely seen a player with a great second serve use a frame with more than 16 mains. Sampras, Roddick, Krajicek, Larsson, Edberg, and many others who are notable for their second serve prowess all use 16 mains frames. The only exception is Mark Philippoussis. Safin, Ivanisevic, Tursunov, and a few others are well known for their first serves, but their kick serves are pretty much average by tour standard. Just think about the difference in the kick serves of the wodden era, and the difference now. Wood was very small and very dense, and when I played with a wood racquet a while ago the first thing I noticed was the lack of snap on the second serve. It was definitely a handicap for me in that area. I know that other areas of the game benefit from a dense pattern, but I would rather just talk about the serve for now. Is it almost essential to use an open pattern to achieve a great kick serve, or can the kings of the kick serve do it with an 18/20 if they wanted to? I seriously doubt they can, but I am interested in hearing your opinions and experiences. Should players seeking overall serving greatness consider learning to use more open patterns regardless of how it affects other aspects of their game early on, and just learn to control the extra spin as they progress.