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View Full Version : Sam Stosur's serve - a technical discussion


laurie
Aug 19th, 2011, 09:10 PM
I just watched Sharapova v Stosur on Eurosport via delayed coverage (recorded it to watch when I got home).

Easy win for Sharapova of course but I was pleased to hear Sam Smith constantly discuss the Stosur serve with Chris Bradnam. She said all the things Iíve been saying for the last 2 years. Iíve never understood Stosurís obsession with kick serves, sheís one of the strongest women on the tour and there is so much variation Stosur could do with that serve. Itís probably one of the key reasons why she has won only two tournaments and lost about 9 finals. Her serve is far too predictable at the top level of the game.

What serves should Stosur be using? Well, those who have read my posts over the years know Iím a bit of a guru when it comes to the serve because I studied guys like Sampras and Becker, the very best. Stosur first of all needs to develop a hammer serve and quick. She could win so many points on the deuce court by going for aces or unreturnables down the T. Stosur doesnít like tossing the ball slightly to the right, she loves tossing the ball to the left for topspin, thatís fine. With that ball toss, she could hammer the ball down at the opponent by tossing the ball straight above her head, or slightly to the left. With that type of ball toss, she could hammer it but still naturally come over it with topspin, but with much more pace. Thatís a difficult serve for anyone to deal with regardless of opponent because itís coming fast and direct with spin, that naturally draws framed returns often.

Stosur could also look to slice the serve out wide much more often than she does at the moment on the deuce court. And a really vital serve is the slice serve into the body, especially on the 2nd serve.

On the ad court, Stosur must start thinking of serving down the T much more often, she stands further away from the centre line, so she canít slice it like Serena and Davenport, where the ball moves away from the returner, but it can still be effective because she can get sidespin and the returner still has to get over there and make a play, a returner has to move her feet, thatís why the serve down the T is so effective in professional tennis ( and amateur tennis, all levels actually).

Once Stosur establishes that serve, then she should also start hammering the serve out wide with much more pace than she presently does. Stosur should also start serving into the body more, again with slice on the ad court.

Once Stosur gets these pattern of serves established, the kick serve would become even more effective because the opponent wouldnít know when itís coming, they wouldnít know what to expect next and it starts to get to their head. Stosur could get so many more aces if she used more variety to keep her opponents guessing, it would also give her more chances in the ensuing rallies.

Another player who had a similar issue a few years ago was Svetlana Kuznetosva. When I ran that website and forum a few years ago, I constantly pointed out that she was constantly serving topspin serves to the backhand and kept getting punished, especially by Jankovic and Ivanoic. Ivanovic was running around the backhand and crushing forehand returns, Jankovic was hitting the backhand down the line making her stretch. Kuznetsova lost about 11 finals in a two year period. Itís only in 2009 when she changed coaches and started serving down the T more, that she began to win tournaments again (Stuttgart and the French).

I feel Stosur should seek out the advice of fellow Aussie Pat Rafter. I feel Stosur has modelled her game after his in some ways and I think he could teach her variety because he had great variety on his serve, facing dangerous returners like Agassi, Sampras, Chang, Kuerten and Kafelnikov, he could teach Stosur much needed variety which could help transform her game.

Your thoughts

tennisbum79
Aug 19th, 2011, 09:20 PM
What good is it to have a serve if i does not show up when needed?

Frankly, I don't think Stosur belongs in the same class as Serena when to comes to serving.

Whenever she does well against some scrubs, which is nt very often, Pam Shriver MJF nd others automatically elevates her as the second "best way up there with Serena."

I am not againt creating this thread per se, I just hope we can put to rest once and for all, this preposterous notion that Stosur is up there with Serena in ther serve department.

We can agree that,yes Stosur can have good serving days, but they are not that many, and they do not not materialize under pressure conditions

laurie
Aug 19th, 2011, 09:30 PM
Well it's easy to say that isn't it because Serena is the best in the game.

But with respect that's not the point I'm making. The point I'm making is with Stosur's natural strength and technical ability, she should be a much better server. The issue is more either stubborness, or that she's not a good listener and constantly not a smart player tactically.

But it's not too late for her to improve and up her game strategically, starting with her serve.

DefyingGravity
Aug 19th, 2011, 09:38 PM
The issue is where she tosses the ball. Because she so often uses her kick serve, she doesn't seem to toss the ball that often for an aggressive serve. That's probably just how it will always be. She often tosses the ball a little too far towards her left shoulder to develop a big slice serve with a lot of true slice on it. And since most of the women don't see a kick serve coming at them every day, they don't necessarily know how to handle it unless they're tall, which is why it's abysmal against women who are a little taller than 5'11" and up to Sharapova and Kvitova kind of height.

If she were able to, like Serena, find a more neutral toss and adjust her technique a bit, she would be able to hit more variety of spins. Her placement could do with some variation as well, but she doesn't have to change technique for that. She would just be better suited to just try some kickers to the forehand and to the body every so often. She so often, especially on second serves, will just hit to the backhand. She needs to do more variation in general by using that strong body and shoulder.

BuTtErFrEnA
Aug 19th, 2011, 09:53 PM
one word...PREDICTABLE


for a taller people like vinas and martha we can see why she gets trounced by them on ANY surface...it sits there waiting to be hit by them and they will CRUSH it...hard flat deep..everything stosur hates to play against because of how big her swings are...

she gets away against a shorter player (in serena) but three matches stand out for me where serena was dialed in: Olympics 2008, Aussie Open 2010 and Toronto Final 2011...2008 & 2010 Serena's returns were just ON, and therefore her footwork attack the serves resulted in two blow outs...RG 2010, mentally RG presents a whole new challenge to Serena (being in winning positions and not closing out), yet it's the fact that even then she was STILL in a winning position against stosur despite the mental problems (not discussing coulda shoulda woulda)...Toronto final just gone - Serena's return is nowhere near where it was before she left, yet the predictability in Sam's serve made her groove Serena's return...hence why she's still losing that h-2-h

The toss hides nothing...she doesn't position herself on the baseline to give herself a plethora of options on serve...so there's really nothing she can do once her opponent is used to her serve...and i'll use serena in the same toronto tournament vs jie - Jie was picking the kick 2nd serve, so on a couple big points serena sliced down the T...she didn't do it often enough for my liking, but she did it when it mattered and THAT'S what separates great servers from a good server "on her day"..you have GOT to be able to change it up if for some reason your go to serve is not working

Sammo
Aug 20th, 2011, 12:01 AM
Well thankfully not too many women are amorphous giants Sharapova's height

JCTennisFan
Aug 20th, 2011, 12:24 AM
Sams problems are entirely mental, in my opinion. There is no question that she should work on producing more variety on her serve... but her predictability might simply be a culprit of her weak mental strength. A mentally strong player like Serena is more apt to keep a constant variety on her serve, where as Stosur feels (my guess) that she can only get away with executing her "a game" serve effectively. She might be less able to execute her "plan b" and "plan c" serving games as compared to say, Serena.

I think a good example to prove my point was Dementieva. Commentators constantly would comment on how on the practice court her serve was FINE but once she got on court, and the mental aspect crept in, that she almost always went back to her structurally wrong serve which netted her notorously high levels of DFs. Stosur very well might be able to produce the incredible variety of serve which we see from Serena, but mentally she is blocked from properly executing on a consistent basis.

JCTennisFan
Aug 20th, 2011, 12:26 AM
Well thankfully not too many women are amorphous giants Sharapova's height

I know right? Davenport and Venus shouldnt of eaten their wheaties either, I mean over 6 foot tall for a woman?!? how dare them! :tape:

Caesar1844
Aug 20th, 2011, 03:31 AM
Sams problems are entirely mental, in my opinion. There is no question that she should work on producing more variety on her serve... but her predictability might simply be a culprit of her weak mental strength. A mentally strong player like Serena is more apt to keep a constant variety on her serve, where as Stosur feels (my guess) that she can only get away with executing her "a game" serve effectively. She might be less able to execute her "plan b" and "plan c" serving games as compared to say, Serena.

I think a good example to prove my point was Dementieva. Commentators constantly would comment on how on the practice court her serve was FINE but once she got on court, and the mental aspect crept in, that she almost always went back to her structurally wrong serve which netted her notorously high levels of DFs. Stosur very well might be able to produce the incredible variety of serve which we see from Serena, but mentally she is blocked from properly executing on a consistent basis.
This. Stosur is the kind of player who falls back on her strengths under pressure, and her weaknesses get worse. Look at her groundstrokes - she has a relatively solid backhand, but under pressure it falls apart and she just wants to hit forehands all the time. She has a good bomb and even a decent slice on her serve, but when she's up against someone who's testing her she inevitably falls back on the kicker.

This is a massive problem because (unless you have a big matchup advantage) you can't beat top players just by playing your best shots. They test every facet of your game, which means you need to employ variation and have a degree of allround consistency.

If she had more confidence to play her other shots against the big players, I think she would be a lot more successful.

Caesar1844
Aug 20th, 2011, 03:33 AM
Slightly OT: I'm surprised that more women don't develop a good kicker serve. Regardless of whether you think she over-uses it, Stosur has shown it's an incredibly successful tactic with the limited wingspans and shorter heights on the WTA Tour.

duhcity
Aug 20th, 2011, 03:45 AM
What good is it to have a serve if i does not show up when needed?

Frankly, I don't think Stosur belongs in the same class as Serena when to comes to serving.

Whenever she does well against some scrubs, which is nt very often, Pam Shriver MJF nd others automatically elevates her as the second "best way up there with Serena."

I am not againt creating this thread per se, I just hope we can put to rest once and for all, this preposterous notion that Stosur is up there with Serena in ther serve department.

We can agree that,yes Stosur can have good serving days, but they are not that many, and they do not not materialize under pressure conditions

Frankly, Serena isn't exactly serving consistently well these days either. Yes it's early in her season, but even then, her peak serve abilities don't exactly show up too often.

A discussion of best (insert shot type here) has always been about the potential we've seen in the shot rather than what it is at the point in time.

Plus, I think Sam's second serve is better and more consistent than Serena's. A lot better actually. But Serena can actually move her feet and defend a return. Sam seems resigned to having her second serve attacked against better returners.

bandabou
Aug 20th, 2011, 08:20 AM
:lol: Okay...if you say so. I guess we should tell Sharapova that it's Stosur on the other side of the net when she faces Serena?! :lol:

If you're even talking about this after witnessing Wimbledon'10, then there's no hope for you. Really.