Analyzing ‘Serving American Style’
The “Master Pro Corner” article by James R. Shaughnessy in the USPTA ADDvantage section of TI’s November/December issue made a compelling case for the “American Style” serve over the “Trophy Style.” But the statistical box “Career Service Points Played and Won” failed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between American-Style servers and successful serving. To prove that relationship, the following variables would need to be broken down and analyzed for each server:
- Points vs. Games: Service games won matters far more than service points won. The sole exception is points won in tie-breakers.
- Big Points vs. Little Points: All points are not equal in value. Generally, the biggest service points are match points, followed by set points and then game points. (Of course, all service points are important in a tie-breaker.)
- Surface: Generally, the faster the surface, the higher the percentage of service points won.
- Points won outright by the serve.
- Points not won outright by the serve, but which were still set up by strong serves: In this case, strong serves elicit weak or very weak returns.
- The third and subsequent shots in serving games. For example, Roger Federer fares well here because he has a well-rounded game that wins points in a variety of ways. Andy Roddick’s chances of winning points that had three or more shots, however, were not as good because the rest of his game was not as effective as Federer’s. So Federer won many points and games even when he did not serve as well as usual.
- The quality of opposition: The tougher the opposition, the more difficult it is to win service points. The better the player, the further he or she advances in tournaments, playing better opponents.
Bucky Adams, USPTA Elite Pro
Paul Fein, USPTA Elite Pro
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