2nd serve Win % is one of the major indicators of success in a tennis match. In recent times we have been seeing second serve average speeds from players like Nick Kyrgios and Dani Medvedev that are close to matching their first serve averages. Using this as a mix-up strategy to keep their opponents off guard and stay unpredictable.
2nd serve win percentages are often close to a 50/50 battle between the server and returner. High level players immediately look to exploit second serves and take advantage of the opportunity and this can create a problem for the server. Do I go bigger and risk missing the serve? Do I serve to the weaker wing? Do I take something off to get it in?
Not everyone possesses a monster serve with the confidence to pull a Kyrgios or Medvedev, but there is another way to stay on offense and keep the returner uncomfortable.
Jamming the body. Whether you use a slice, kick or flatter serve the location of your second serve is very important. Knowing your opponent is looking to have a free swing at your second serve, you can use the body serve to handcuff their attack and force them to neutralize or even defend the serve.
A player returning a good body serve must create space with their feet to hit it well, or compromise the swing to get the ball in.
If you choose to go bigger with the serve, the larger target (middle of the box) will give you more room to play with and if you are a little bit off a higher chance of getting the ball in play.
If you are a more advanced player and have good command of your serve, look to jam the weaker wing of the returner with slice or kick. You have two options, forehand body or backhand body. Going for bigger serves to these targets will keep your opponent uncomfortable.
Advanced players need to keep the score in mind also. Going for a big second serve at 40-0 or 40-15 can be worth the risk, even if you lose the point or double fault you are sending a message to your opponent that your second serve is not predictable. This can pay off later in the match at a more important time.
Whether you go bigger with pace or spin or you stay safe. Using the body serve on 2nd is an underrated tactic. Throw it into your match in singles and doubles and keep your opponent guessing.
Good Luck and See you on the Courts!
USPTA Elite Professional