Every week, Tennis Analytics dives deep into the data, bringing you a stat of the week to help you understand tennis better and become a little smarter on court.
Stat of the Week: 48%
From what position or zone are most return errors made?
Instead of looking at this from the server’s point of view – serve placement (where the serve landed) – let’s look at it from the returner’s side of the court.
The knowledge of where opponents will be most likely to make errors can then drive our strategy.
Note: This data is for right-handed men from R16 through the finals at the 2021 Australian Open.
48% of return errors occur on the forehand side, which contradicts “conventional wisdom” of targeting the weaker backhand side.
Even if the return is made, serving out wide in the deuce court generates a return angle that is more likely to give the server a serve+1 forehand, which is what you should be looking for.
On the ad side, serving down the T limits the returner’s angles.
Where are most return errors hit? Out or in the net?
Almost twice as many return errors are hit out (long or wide) compared to in the net.
Next week we will take a look at this same data for the women. Sign up for our newsletter in the sidebar so you don’t miss out.
Point of the Week
In order to capitalize on the above information though, the server needs to have full control of the serve.
The three main variables to master on the serve are:
- Direction (Wide, Body, T)
- Spin (Flat, Slice, Kick)
While “Block” or “Specificity” training – hitting the same serve to the same target area – has its value, research has shown that “Random” training – serving at different targets, and using different spins and pace – is more effective.
A great game to play is “LAVER” which is similar to basketball’s “HORSE”. Have a partner select the spin and direction for you to serve. If you miss, it’s their turn. If you make it, gain a letter and keep serving. 1st to spell LAVER wins.
You could also play DJOKOVIC or FEDERER, but it takes longer 😉
Photo of the Week
Karen Khachanov’s backhand.
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