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View Full Version : Maria's First Serve - In need of improvement?


xan
Jun 4th, 2005, 11:37 AM
I've noticed that although Maria has worked on her movement a lot this year, she seems to have neglected her first serve.

Her 2nd serve is one of the best in the game, but her 1st hasn't improved in speed or effectiveness since last year.

AT Wimbledon 2004 she was serving at up to 114 MPH, a speed she hasn't reached at the Australian open or Roland Garros. - where her best is about 111. Meanwhile the other girls have caught up - with Ivanovic serving 121 MPH at RG.

Maria didn't get into the Top 20 best server stats at either the AO or RG, and more importantly she didn't get into the Top 20 "Points won on 1st Serve" statistics either.

I think this has been Maria's main weakness this year. She is only winning an average of about 65% - 68% of points off her 1st serve - which is too low. This means she is getting broken too much, and getting fewer "free" points off her serve. A good figure for a top player is about 72% or more winning points off first serve. Alicia Molik is regularly up to 80%. That can make a big difference in ease of holding serve. That was very evident in the Justine match.

I think Maria needs to work on her serve more, and slowly build it up into a better weapon.

Andy Mac
Jun 4th, 2005, 01:40 PM
thats very true..and a very good point..i think she needs to greatly work on that 1st serve too!

Maria Croft
Jun 4th, 2005, 02:32 PM
well, her serve is really good, I don't like her second serve that much, I think she did improve it, she is not going for so much anymore on her second, trying different things, and on clay the serve isn't such a big weapon, just wait and see at Wimbledon !! her serve will be much better there

One thing I don't like is that every now and then Maria has a very weak game in a match and gets broken way to easy, that is something she should really improve

Sharapower
Jun 6th, 2005, 08:55 AM
Increasing her percentage is a must, that was one of the keys in her match against Justine in RG.

And then, yeah, there's probably something to do for the speed as well. When you see that Justine has banged a first serve at 194 kph (!!!), then sure a tall girl like Maria could have some improvement in that domain too, but more than speed, the most important is placement, effect and variation.

Dan23
Jun 6th, 2005, 10:13 AM
I agree Maria's serve hasnt been as big a weapon as it has been in the past. At Wimbledon last year her great serving made her very tough to break.
I think there may be a reason for the slow slower speeds early on this year...Maria did (or does) have the problem with her lower back which she said was affecting her serve at the AO as well as at Indian Wells and Miami. At RG the power on the 1st seemed to pick up a bit. I think Maria knows that being as tall as she is, her serve can be a big advantage and will do her best to improve it.

Maria Croft
Jun 6th, 2005, 10:18 AM
I also think that Maria doesn't wanna serve big every match, that could cause an injury in the long run, and I think she knows that, but I'm sure Maria will give it everything she's got in the importent moments, inculding a good and strong 1st serve

franny
Jun 9th, 2005, 05:59 AM
Yea, I've noticed that her serve has not been as effective as it had been last year. I remember at the Championships last year, it was so hard for people to break her. She was constantly serving big. I think she needs to improve the serve a lot, get it up to 115 average. Her second serve is good, but she does hit a lot of double faults. Every time she hits a second serve, I get really scare. If it goes it, it's hard to attack, but its because she really does go for it. At the French her serve was just not working, so hopefully it gets better at Wimbledon.

Szymanowski
Jun 9th, 2005, 09:17 AM
I also think that Maria doesn't wanna serve big every match, that could cause an injury in the long run, and I think she knows that, but I'm sure Maria will give it everything she's got in the importent moments, inculding a good and strong 1st serve
smart thinking

Maria Croft
Jun 9th, 2005, 11:01 AM
and I also think Maria doesn't want to focus to much on her serve alone, because if you do you become a player like Andy Roddick, very good, but if his serve is not going to well it's hard for him to get into the match, play long rallies etc, I think Maria wants a good serve but not so good that it's useless when it's not on, she wants to depend on her ground strokes more I think

Szymanowski
Jun 9th, 2005, 12:11 PM
true true, What I'd like to see though is an ability to cover greater distance, more serve vollying (perhaps not the greatest tactic vs. Justine, maybe above houlder high would have been better, but it was great to see such a positive gameplan) and not thinking she's hit a winner when it may be cut off. Sometimes the player is too good for the winner she's hit, and Maria thinking the point is over, then hits a lame shot.

I think if she can make this work, she will become no.1 by the end of '05. She should do great at wimbledon though.

Maria Croft
Jun 9th, 2005, 12:41 PM
but the problem was also that she played on clay the last 5 weeks, her serve isn't so big on clay, I think we will see a lot better 1st serve on grass

xan
Jun 9th, 2005, 11:55 PM
Some good points. I didn't know anything about a lower-back weakness. I hope its nothing harmful. I suspected there might be some reason Maria hasn't been powering up her first serve. I think the main concentration has been on her movement - which has certainly helped her on the hard courts compared with last summer.

But with tiny Justine serving 120 MPH, it should certainly be possible for Maria to reach the high teens - however she needs to do it by building naturally without straining and causing injury. I notice she's been up to 74% winning on 1st serve in her first two matches in Birmingham. That's more like what's needed.

Maria Croft
Jun 10th, 2005, 12:39 AM
also Maria has gained some muscles, I didn't know if you already noticed this ?? Maria is just developing so much, she doesn't wanna be the big serve girl, or the power shot girl, she wants to have a great serve, good footwork, amazing back and forehand shots and great movement, so that if one doesn't work you still have a lot of other different things you can use in a match

waratahsrock
Jun 13th, 2005, 09:57 AM
but the problem was also that she played on clay the last 5 weeks, her serve isn't so big on clay, I think we will see a lot better 1st serve on grass

exactly. i just saw her match against venus at miami a few months ago, and maria's serve was brilliant, she had excellent speed and placement (remembering that her final appearance against Clijsters was played in shocking conditions). As Maria adjusts to the grass and hardcourts i doubt her serve will really be much of an issue.
As was said earlier, i believe the main issue is maria 'switching off' after she believes she's hit a winner and seeing it come back and being forced into unforced errors.
nevertheless over the next few months we really will see maria come into her own good form again.