Win aggressively with poor serve?

#1
Is it possible to win playing aggressive tennis if your first serve isnti hitting? If you're an aggressive player, what do you do if your serve isn't clicking for you?
 
#3
I don't foresee you winning unless the other person is also having an off day serving. If you serve poorly, you will be on the defensive unless they return poorly. If they do, then perhaps you could start being aggressive and try to dictate points. If they dictate from the start, you will be in for a short day. If the other player also serves poorly, then it will boil down to what I would call a WTA type match. Last one to break serve, wins!

If my 1st serve is not clicking, I would serve only 2nd serves.
 
#4
I don't foresee you winning unless the other person is also having an off day serving. If you serve poorly, you will be on the defensive unless they return poorly. If they do, then perhaps you could start being aggressive and try to dictate points. If they dictate from the start, you will be in for a short day. If the other player also serves poorly, then it will boil down to what I would call a WTA type match. Last one to break serve, wins!

If my 1st serve is not clicking, I would serve only 2nd serves.
For aggressive players then, #1 focus in practice should be the serve.
 
#5
Is it possible to win playing aggressive tennis if your first serve isnti hitting?
Sure...if the rest of your game can compensate. if the 1st serve makes up the majority of his points, it's going to be difficult digging out of that hole.

If you're an aggressive player, what do you do if your serve isn't clicking for you?
If my 1st serve isn't clicking, start hitting more spin and more margin. Go to underhanded if you have to. Just get the ball in so you can start the point and then let your ground game kick in.
 
#7
Is it possible to win playing aggressive tennis if your first serve isnti hitting? If you're an aggressive player, what do you do if your serve isn't clicking for you?
Of course it's entirely possible. You basically describe my games, especially during this period when I'm rebuilding my serve. So for the time being I basically come to the courts with different (experimental) first serves which is usually a fault and followed by a dinky second.

But don't let this fool you. There's more to my game. One, I can dink, slice a low second serve to opponent's bh or the weak side on command. Two, I can read their body language for the shot they're going for and cover. Three, I'm fast enough and play counter punch, aggressive tennis which is what you have, right?

Around 4.0, nobody has the kind of groundstrokes that can outpace a fit guy, HENCE, pushing tennis (weak-stroke, all fitness tennis) tends to rule the day! LOL. I'm sure lots of people here know this.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#9
Is it possible to win playing aggressive tennis if your first serve isnti hitting? If you're an aggressive player, what do you do if your serve isn't clicking for you?
I know lots of S&V players with lackluster serves; they just lob that sucker in and crash the net.

To be an aggressive baseliner with a weak serve you need to be able to serve it wide with spin.

Look at early 2000s Agassi. His serve is very good and chronically underrated, but that's the plan for rec players.

J
 
#11
Not sure what the OP means by "aggressive tennis". You can be aggressive from the baseline or aggressive from all over the court.

As long as your serve isn't getting pounded, you can still be aggressive. You just may have to be patient a bit before getting into aggressive mode. As long as you can make the opponent hit the serve on the move, you can get away without a ton of power.

I'm a textbook aggressive player with a weak serve. I just try to hit my spots and attack ASAP. I don't have the stamina to get into pusher battles. But I don't have the serve to get free points. But I can get weaker returns based on placement and go on the attack from there.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
#12
I'm assuming this thread is focusing on singles. Like mad dog1, I use a lot of spin serves placed in different locations and depth and go for slight miss-hits that my doubles partner can capitalize on. If it's singles, it just gets the ball in play and I will have to create pressure another way.
 
#13
Like @mad dog1 said, a big first serve doesn't make you an aggressive player. I would consider serve and volleying an aggressive play style and doesn't require a big first serve (e.g. Rafter).

Aggressive play is more shot selection oriented than pace/power oriented imo.
 
#14
If you can't PLACE your serve, regardless of pace, and just put up some weak nerf in the middle of the box you WON'T win because you'll never be in control of the point. Your opponent will rip the return and you'll be perpetually on defense. Now if they have a weak serve you will be able to break right back, but it will be some ugly broken tennis right there.

Best advice: Go for your serves, first and second, go for the corners or just spin in the first serve, but don't put up some meat ball.
 
#16
Ken Rosewall did not have a powerful serve, yet he won matches playing serve and volley tennis!

His serve wasn't poor, but not much for the level he played at. He was able to serve and volley anyway against the best in the world. If you can anticipate well at the net I think you can win. But at least hit your serve deep, those short, floaters won't work even against my Grandma.
 
#17
You can't. that is the quick answer.

My serve is weak and the problem with that, is it gives your opponent control of points on your serve. They take control with the return, which forces you on the defensive. If they have a good serve, you are on the defensive in their games as well.

My whole game is basically shaped by the weakness of the serve and I start most rallies in a poor position and have to neutralise my opponents attacking shots long enough to get back to at least a neutral position. This is not an easy way to play tennis.

My advice, serve better, which is what I am trying to do.
 
#18
Depends on the level. If the opponent just pushes the return back the strength of your serve doesn't matter because you still can take a big cut at the ball.

All that matters for offensive tennis is that you can set your feet (ideally close to or inside the baseline) and take a good rip at the ball. If your opponent returns passively you can do that even with a crappy serve.

On higher levels however a weak serve will be attacked with a deep return that puts you on the run which will make it much harder/risky or even impossible to attack. Because of that at higher levels a strong serve helps with attacking because it causes weak and short returns to the middle of the field.

But if the opponent is contempt with hitting a lazy ass return anyway even on a soft serve you can still attack. All depends on your opponent.
 
#20
You can't. that is the quick answer.

My serve is weak and the problem with that, is it gives your opponent control of points on your serve. They take control with the return, which forces you on the defensive. If they have a good serve, you are on the defensive in their games as well.

My whole game is basically shaped by the weakness of the serve and I start most rallies in a poor position and have to neutralise my opponents attacking shots long enough to get back to at least a neutral position. This is not an easy way to play tennis.

My advice, serve better, which is what I am trying to do.
Have you tried S&V? You might be surprised: opponents who are completely comfortable taking control with their return when you're stuck on the BL sometimes start making a lot more errors when you approach the net.

I do not have a particularly strong serve but coming to the net can unnerve at least some opponents.

Against the higher 4.5s, no dice.
 
#21
As some point we need to establish how bad a serve is in a given match. You simply can't bring a 2.5 or 3.0 serve into a 4.5 match. The imbalance is just too much.

However, if you're talking about Nadal's "bad, zero-ace" serve in any pre-semi matches, the "bad" serve is really irrelevant. Thiem's 30+ ace serve vs Nadal's less than a handful ace serve is irrelevant in the end. No?
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#23
Thiem's 30+ ace serve vs Nadal's less than a handful ace serve is irrelevant in the end. No?
Disagree.

If Thiem would have had zero aces, he would have likely got broken much more in the match (fewer free points on serve). Also, Thiem's big serves set up easy putaways. Someone like Schwartzman or Džumhur doesn't get as many changes to be aggressive on the first shot following the serve.
 
#24
It's not irrelevant; more like, it wasn't as relevant as the rest of Nadal's game. And if Thiem had gotten 3 more aces at the right junctures, he would have won.
Of course it's presumed to be in the context of a whole match. I don't have to spell out everything, do I? That's what the OP was asking-- if his game with a weak serve can win in a match.

I am sure if Thiem had 20 aces, you would have still said only if he had gotten 3 more. Then at 23 aces... if 3 more, on and on. But notice at 30 aces, Thiem still lost. You see how poor that hypothetical thinking is? :)
 
#25
Disagree.

If Thiem would have had zero aces, he would have likely got broken much more in the match (fewer free points on serve). Also, Thiem's big serves set up easy putaways. Someone like Schwartzman or Džumhur doesn't get as many changes to be aggressive on the first shot following the serve.
If Thiem would have had zero aces, why would we even bring him into this topic? This topic is about a decisively worse server of the two (Nadal) but still come out on top. That's what the OP was wondering about, and a good example for him to follow.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#26
If Thiem would have had zero aces, why would we even bring him into this topic? This topic is about a decisively worse server of the two (Nadal) but still come out on top. That's what the OP was wondering about, and a good example for him to follow.
Ralph still has a very good serve and he uses it well with his game so it's not a fair comparison. Thiem may have a little better one but Ralph's rest of his game is better.

When you talk about a bad serve I think of someone who is all out of whack looking like Sharapova not someone who has a sound motion and uses the serve to set up the point.

J
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#28
I guess the prototype for bad serve and aggressive game would be Connors?

J
Connors is good example.

I was thinking Nalbandian as well. While not a horrible serve (definitely better than Connors), it definitely wasn't a weapon and he likely would have won a GS or two if he had a slightly better serve... Imagine if Nalbandian's groundies were cleaning up after a 1st serve like Sampras or Fed :)
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#29
decisively worse server of the two (Nadal) but still come out on top.
Like Jolly said, Nadal's serve is pretty good. How many players can actually attack it? (hardly anyone, even Fed, since Nadal so often topslices it into their BH which makes it hard to run around)

If you watch some of Nadal's old matches against Fed, especially on clay, it looks like Nadal is just spinning an easy serve into Fed's BH. But then Nadal hits a winner or forcing shot on the very next shot, especially if Fed just BH slices the return. So, in that regard, Nadal's serve is not holding back his aggressive game.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#30
Connors is good example.

I was thinking Nalbandian as well. While not a horrible serve (definitely better than Connors), it definitely wasn't a weapon and he likely would have won a GS or two if he had a slightly better serve... Imagine if Nalbandian's groundies were cleaning up after a 1st serve like Sampras or Fed :)
Nalby had a legitimate ATP level serve though.

J
 
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