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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2013, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Ana's serve, then and now

Remember when Ana used to have one of the best serves in the game?

WHEN IVANOVIC SERVES, YOU BETTER DUCK
By PETER BODO
Published: June 1, 2008



Quote:
Last June, the ascendant Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic hit a serve 124.9 miles per hour, one of the most powerful blasts ever by a woman. And this was after injuries and maturity had convinced her that, when it comes to serving, it’s about more than how hard you hit the ball. The 20-year-old Ivanovic has shot up to No. 2 in the world rankings in part because she has transformed her serve into a multifaceted stroke that overwhelms opponents with its unpredictable speed and spin. Here, a closer look at one of the most dangerous shots on the women’s tour.

BIGGER IS BETTER

Like all powerful servers, Ivanovic is tall: 6-foot-1. “Taller means a greater margin for clearing the net, and longer levers [arms] mean that endpoint velocity is increased,” says Bruce Elliott, the head of the School of Sports Science, Exercise and Health at the University of Western Australia, who has studied the serve extensively. Her height also allows her to hit a flat serve with less spin and, therefore, get better service speed than her smaller rivals. Ivanovic has developed an unusually good balance of speed, spin and consistency, enabling her to control points and neutralize the major weakness of taller players: “Mobility is not as much of a weapon for Ana as for smaller girls,” says her coach, Sven Groeneveld, “so you look to compensate for that by making your serve a weapon.”

REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT

“The key to great serving is consistency,” says Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, who owns the women’s serve-speed record of 130 m.p.h. “The minute you have to adjust your motion, you lose speed as well as placement.” Ivanovic is a model of consistency. Schultz-McCarthy likes the way Ivanovic’s serve pulls her feet off the ground: “That tells you she’s had a good knee bend and great [arm] extension.” Ivanovic’s delivery has a simplicity common to all great servers, and Groeneveld also stresses the importance of allowing her stroke to flow naturally. When practicing, Ivanovic often hits her serve while walking — an exercise, Groeneveld says, that helps maintain a fluid arm motion.

BEND, DON’T BREAK

Great servers share three biomechanical features, according to Bruce Elliott: “Leg-drive, high levels of internal rotation at the shoulder and large wrist flexion.” And Ivanovic, among other genetic assets, has an unusually flexible rotator cuff. “She’s actually too flexible in that area,” says Scott Byrnes, a physiologist who travels at her side full time. “She tends to get unnatural movements in that area, resulting in irritating tears in the small muscles. We’ve had to do a lot of work on stability there.” Of course, that flexible rotator cuff also enables her to do more with her serve, like make last-moment directional changes or adjust her swing to create the various spins a server relies on.

THE POWER OF DECEPTION

Ivanovic also has a strong, flexible wrist, which helps her to disguise what type of serve is coming. Generally, the three main serves — the hard, flat one; the slice, which, for a right-hander, lands and moves left; and the kicker, which veers right — require slightly different tosses, all easily read by an experienced opponent. But Ivanovic has learned to hit these serves with minimal changes in her stance or toss. “Ana used to line up more parallel with the base line, which made it easier for opponents to read her,” Groeneveld says. “It’s harder now, because she also tosses more into the court, and that also means that when she lands after the serve she’s in a better position to deal with the return.”

THE LONG VIEW

Because Ivanovic is still young, her coaches haven’t tapped into the power workouts yet. “So far, we’ve just been thinking about longevity and maintenance,” Byrnes says. Her training includes working with cable weights and bands, frequent ice baths to rehabilitate muscles and keeping her core strong. Groeneveld also continues to fine-tune her mechanics in the quest for the effortless big serve. But Ivanovic is getting itchy. “I would prefer if I could hit some more flat serves, but I need to be patient,” she says. Schultz-McCarthy thinks the patience will pay off. “A big server gets seduced by the chance to hit aces,” she says. “A great server knows there’s more to it.”
ARTICLE: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/sp...e/601gift.html

VIDEO: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...C_GRAPHIC.html


So what happened? Is it mental or physical change (or both)? Notice in the article, it mentions Ana's career-fastest serve at 124.9 mph (201 kph). I don't see Ana hitting serves anywhere near that speed for a long time now. But it's not just speed. We all know how much she struggles with her toss and how "bad serving days" are now the norm. At this year's French Open, Chris Evert says her toss is lower and motion is quicker than it was before. I've heard others say she has a higher ball toss now. It's hard to say without a side-by-side comparison, but what do you think are the main reasons for the loss of effectiveness of Ana's serve?

Last edited by RU90; May 31st, 2015 at 02:09 PM.
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2013, 07:22 PM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

Don't even talk about this...
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2013, 09:32 PM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

Let's forget this, and pretend like this never happened, it will be easier to us

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 12th, 2013, 01:21 AM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

That's depressing..

Mental Strength is an underrated ability, it sets champions apart

Making mistakes is human, repeating them is dumb.

What I write is my opinion, and my opinion only.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old Sep 1st, 2013, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

Ana's fastest serve for this U.S. Open is 110 mph.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old Sep 1st, 2013, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by RU90 View Post
Ana's fastest serve for this U.S. Open is 110 mph.
McHale's was 111 today


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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old Oct 12th, 2013, 10:40 AM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

Ana still has a good enough first serve that she'll win the vast majority of points when it goes in. Percentage has been an issue for a while.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old Oct 14th, 2013, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

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Originally Posted by Pops Maellard View Post
Ana still has a good enough first serve that she'll win the vast majority of points when it goes in. Percentage has been an issue for a while.
Yeah, the consistency of first serve is abysmal because of the toss.

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old Oct 14th, 2013, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

Found this video of Ivanovic vs. Jankovic, Tokyo 2007



Ana is so different in many ways.

Does the serve look different to you?

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old Nov 19th, 2013, 01:34 PM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

Is it anything to do with her weight loss? Loss of muscle mass = loss of power.

Her forehand used to be one of the best in the game, now its just very good...

Has her ball toss always been this bad?

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old Nov 19th, 2013, 03:25 PM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

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Originally Posted by venusinfurs View Post
Is it anything to do with her weight loss? Loss of muscle mass = loss of power.

Her forehand used to be one of the best in the game, now its just very good...

Has her ball toss always been this bad?
No, her ball toss hasn't been this bad, everything has started in summer/fall of 2008, IIRC, when the guys from Adidas training team tried to fix something which hasn't been broken and training with different-weighted balls to make her serve more unpredictable, and Ana lost confident in her serve because of new way of training, maybe this is not the main reason, but I suspect it was...

And yes, I agree that she lost power when she started losing on weight, but her FH is still one on the Tour IMO.

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Last edited by Milan.; Nov 19th, 2013 at 03:32 PM.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old Nov 19th, 2013, 08:35 PM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

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Originally Posted by AjdeAna! View Post
No, her ball toss hasn't been this bad, everything has started in summer/fall of 2008, IIRC, when the guys from Adidas training team tried to fix something which hasn't been broken and training with different-weighted balls to make her serve more unpredictable, and Ana lost confident in her serve because of new way of training, maybe this is not the main reason, but I suspect it was...

And yes, I agree that she lost power when she started losing on weight, but her FH is still one on the Tour IMO.
Wasn't there a bad thumb injury after Wimbledon 2008,or am I remembering things incorrectly?

I remember her losing the toss badly against Henin in the RG final. Put it down to nerves but perhaps there was a deeper problem?
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old Nov 19th, 2013, 08:48 PM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

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Wasn't there a bad thumb injury after Wimbledon 2008,or am I remembering things incorrectly?

I remember her losing the toss badly against Henin in the RG final. Put it down to nerves but perhaps there was a deeper problem?
Yes, you're right, everything has started after that thumb injury and withdrawal from the Olympics, also those trainings as I wrote in my 1st post...
That video of her training was really scary, Ana was lost in space while she was throwing different-weighted balls in the air, I still can't forget 'em

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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old Nov 19th, 2013, 10:15 PM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

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Originally Posted by AjdeAna! View Post
Yes, you're right, everything has started after that thumb injury and withdrawal from the Olympics, also those trainings as I wrote in my 1st post...
That video of her training was really scary, Ana was lost in space while she was throwing different-weighted balls in the air, I still can't forget 'em
Groeneveld really needed fired for that cock-up. I never understood why it was so important to learn a different toss,surely the point was to be able to hit different serves off the same toss. It's what Sampras did.
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 2013, 11:40 AM
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Re: Ana's serve, then and now

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Originally Posted by RU90 View Post
Found this video of Ivanovic vs. Jankovic, Tokyo 2007



Ana is so different in many ways.

Does the serve look different to you?


Are you sure thats Ana, maybe its someone who just looks like her?

Simona [14] - Kasatkina
Aga [18] - Beck [2] - Kvitova [17]
Cetkovska - Bencic [2] - Gasparyan [1] - Cîrstea [1]
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