View Full Version : Does Jennifer need to work on her Serve?

Mar 31st, 2002, 01:59 AM
Just looking at Jen's loss to Serena, despite leading in and serving for BOTH sets. She had eight set points and converted NONE of them. This, despite Serena making constant errors on her forehand.

Stats for - Jennifer - - Serena

1st SERVE % - 66% - - 51%
ACES - 0 - - 9
WINNING % - 1st SERVE PTS. - 53% - - 63%
WINNING % - 2nd SERVE PTS. - 41% - - 45%
BREAK POINT CONVERSIONS - 5 of 11 = 45 % - - 6 of 15 = 40 %
NET APPROACHES - 6 of 8 = 75 % - - 19 of 32 = 59 %
TOTAL POINTS WON - 90 - - 100

What were the differences. 1. Both were nervous, but Serena went for her shots on the key points, and very often made them.

2. Serena had one big weapon that Jennifer did not have today - her damaging serve. In a close match like this, it was this that made the crucial difference.
Jennifer won virtually NO free points on her serve for most of the match, and so had to play testing rallies on every point. her serve was thus always vulnerable at critical points.

Serena, on the other hand could always come up with a string of big serves to save the day. When down 0-30 and two points from losing the second set, she suddenly served two huge aces at 117mph and two unreturnables to take the game and put the pressure back on Jennifer without having to play a testing rally in which mistakes might emerge, or nerves set in. Four straight points. Game over. On her next service game she again saved two break points with killer serves. Serena could always come up with a powerful serve at the crucial point to help her save some of the many break points her other errors bought.

The Stats tell the story. Nine aces to Serena (and far more free points on serve). No Aces to jennifer (and very few free points).
Winning points on 1st serve 53% Jen, to 63% Serena. Jennifers average and top serve speeds around 10mph slower than Serenas.

Now this is a big margin to give away at the top of the game. Jennifer is no powder-puff but her average serve speed of 93mph would not be considered respectable by a large number of girls on the tour, some a lot smaller than she is. Serena's nine Aces are over two games worth. If you added in her service winners (unreturned serves) the total would be around 5 games worth of free points!

Can Jennifer afford this sort of handicap? I don't think so. IMO if she intends to stay at No 1 for long, she needs to develop a more consistently damaging serve.

Mar 31st, 2002, 02:05 AM
Yes definetely as strong a girl as she is there is no reason why her serve should not be a weapon like Lindsays and the Williams'. It just amazes me that she would be better off returning. If she wants to win Wimbledon especially, she needs to serve more aces. She has the strength. I really dont understand the problem...Her serve has cost her and will cost her matches. Realistically, if her serve was ANYWHERE NEAR Lindsay's for example, she Would have won today.. But would a , could a, should a, Serena was just the better player today.

Congrats Serena

Tatiana Panova
Mar 31st, 2002, 01:29 PM
When her first serve is good it is very good, and very pacy. I just think the action can break down and I can't see her changing it!

Mar 31st, 2002, 01:44 PM
What exactly is wrong with her serve?

she made a lot of aces against other players.

consider that apart from Lindsay and Venus (both 6ft+) hardly anyone else makes aces against Serena

Mar 31st, 2002, 01:50 PM
Jennifer's serve is generally (surprisingly) very difficult to break. Basically like Tats says, when it's good it's pretty darn good - not up there with the best of course, but a genuine asset.

If we're looking at her serve from the point of view of yesterday's match. I don't think it was her serve per se that faltered at those crucial moments in the first and second sets. I don't think it was the flaw in the action that we have seen from Jennifer previously. I think that the 2 times she served for the second set, and the one time for the first, all those times she felt that she'd already won the set... done all the hard work. And mentally she let-up, which then impacted severely on her serve.

I can't see her changing it either, not sure that she really needs to. Everyone would love to get more consistent with their serve - Even Serena!!! I think Jen's doing OK with what she has there.

Mar 31st, 2002, 02:00 PM
Absolutely...I think the serve is the weakest part of her game right now...I actually think her serve was better in the early 90's. Although now she has more power and speed I still think she was more consistent back then.

Mar 31st, 2002, 02:09 PM
Xan is absolutely right, the serve is a relative weakness. Sorry to say it because i love Jen, but so is Tatiana Panova:( Like Tatiana says,

When her first serve is good it is very good, and very pacy. I just think the action can break down and I can't see her changing it!

She gets pace and plenty of aces on it-if she can only cut down on double faults! And I doubt she can easily change it. Perhaps stop the leg action-kick? I don't know, but it's hard to change old habits. Look at Hingis.

The one thing I wish she would do more of is come to net. last year at this time she was sneaking in more, something she stopped doing last summer.

The happy thing for Jen is this is clay season-where she should have an advantage vs. most of the other ladies. Wimbledo is is a different story.

Mar 31st, 2002, 10:43 PM
From Newspaper report by B Collins:
Williams in them golden slippers had a slight edge in speed and mobility, but both were remarkable retrievers and bangers. Williams's superior serve, averaging 100 m.p.h. on first balls, whizzed for nine aces and 11 service winners, and frequently extricated her from danger. Down, 1-3, 0-30, in the second set, Williams heated up with two aces and two service winners - three of the blows at 117 m.p.h., her top speed.

That kept her in the set, from which she almost fell at 3-5 and the first two set points. Two heavy serves canceled them, and Williams broke immediately to 5-5 on Capriati mistakes, one a double fault.

But Williams lost her serve to 5-6, the prelude to the most excruciating game of the tournament. For almost a quarter-hour, through eight deuces, Capriati labored to seize the set, five times so close she could taste it. But whatever she set up Williams knocked down. Only once, a double fault on the fourth set point of the game, did Capriati help her. Otherwise it was a tour de force of self rescue for Williams as she smacked winners to stay alive, one a difficult leaping overhead, the last a stinging swinging volley.

All in all Serena got 20 free points on her serve in a two set match. That's the equivalent of FIVE GAMES won by Serena without her having to do more than put in a serve. I don't think any top player can afford to give away that sort of advantage.
Jennifer's serve may be difficult for lower-ranked players to break - but so is Martina's. What a No 1 player needs is a serve that does damage to TOP players.

To freedesigner, and those who say Jennifer's serve is good enough, I don't think an average of around 90mph cuts it at all any more. not when Serena can put in three 117 mph serves one after another when she needs to. Imagine what might have been the result had Jennifer been able to put in a few service winners on her set points.

As for Jen coming to the net more, as Rollo suggests, I agree, it could produce results - but it often seems a very difficult tactic for many players to perfect and place confidence in. It seems to be a psychological barrier to a lot of players used to clinging to the baseline. Jennifer was running away from the net at almost every opportunity in Saturday's match.

Apr 1st, 2002, 01:17 AM
i just don't like jen's serve when she throws it too far to her side. i guess the problem is the ball toss sometimes. that's why she can hit aces and then double faults in one game. she loses all forward motion on her serve and that's it...

i think her serve could be and ShouLD be an asset to her game. i doubt it'll ever be as good as lindsay's IMO but she should certainly be get free points off it occasionally....

Apr 1st, 2002, 02:09 AM
what is that thing she now does kicking back her foot before she serves? it makes her look like Mr. Ed pawing the ground.

Apr 1st, 2002, 07:13 AM
Hmm... well thinking about it (with reference to the match against Serena), there were an awful lot of serves from Jennifer that did seem very lightweight. What I had always suspected about Jennifer was that although the serve was not particularly fast, it was heavy and hard to deal with.

I just still don't see it being her serve per se, that lost Jen the match (whereas it would be fair to say that Serena's won her the match). And I think that's what Bud Collins' point is. Serena's serve is something to be admired... particularly the fact that serving pretty atrociously as the first set wound up, she didn't double fault until the second set.

I had always been very sceptical of Capriati's serve which can get the severe 'yips'. Anybody know what the average speed of Jen's serve was during that match?