Serve Vs. Return of Serve – Whom would you bet on?

I was watching the U.S. Open men’s final the other day and it was a treat to watch Djokovic and Nadal – the two champions – battle it out.

According to me, the thing that tilted the match in Djokovic’s favour was his superior return of serve.

Djokovic, along with Andy Murray, possesses one of the best returns of serve in tennis today.

Here is proof of what I mention above.

If you observe closely, out of the four semi-finalists at the 2011 US Open (these four semi-finalists also happen to be the top 4 ranked players in the world today) – three possess great return of serves – that is to say, their return of serve is a weapon.

And even in the finals, the person with the better return of serve won!

So with all this hype and hoopla about serve being the major weapon, it is there for everyone to see that in this battle between the best servers and the best returners, the best returners are winning!

So what do we learn from it?

One, is clearly that one needs to work more on the return of serve. Practice it more- do not neglect it in practice. In my earlier blog, I had given a host of reasons why return of serve is not the same as your ground strokes.

In Brad Gilbert’s classic book-‘Winning Ugly’- while stressing on the importance of return of serve, he mentions that ‘reacting’ is easier than ‘acting’ – which is very true.

Also this thought occurred to me – that even though on the serve, the server is in complete control – yet he/she has (approximately) only a quarter of the court to aim at. A significant disadvantage.

While as a receiver, the player has the whole court to hit the ball into. A very big advantage. Isn’t it?

No wonder, receivers are coming out on top. Djokovic broke Nadal a total of 11 times in 4 sets in the US Open finals.- which is a tell-tale sign (Normally, it is a solitary break of serve that decides the set in a player’s favour)

So if you want to come out on top, get serious about working on the return of serve.

I have already started working on it with my students. Work with me and take your game to a higher level.

Request for an appointment here.

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