Beyond The Numbers

World-Best Returner Djokovic Is Now Topping Serve Stats Too!

Djokovic is holding serve 94 per cent of the time in 2023
February 28, 2023
Novak Djokovic is winning 94 per cent of service games in 2023.
Novak Djokovic is winning 94 per cent of service games in 2023. By Craig O'Shannessy

Novak Djokovic has been a serving machine so far in 2023.

Returning to action this week in Dubai as he notches a record-breaking 378th week at World No. 1, the Serbian is 12-0 on the young season, with titles at the Adelaide International 1 and the Australian Open. He leads the Tour with Service Games Won at 94.38 per cent (151/160) and sits third with Return Games Won at 32 per cent (48/150). When the world’s best returner is also the hottest server on Tour, it’s lights out for anyone standing on the other side of the net.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Djokovic’s serving prowess in his unbeaten run reveals three specific areas where the Super Serb creates significant separation from his opponents

1: Holding From 15/0 & 0/15
The first point of a service game helps to “set the weather” for the rest of the game. Djokovic is head and shoulders above his 12 opponents in securing a 15/0 lead and holding serve, and also holding serve when he drops the opening point.

Winning The First Point Of The Game
• Djokovic = 75 per cent (120/160)
• Opponents = 66 per cent (99/150)

Djokovic was far more likely to sprint to a 15/0 lead in his service games versus his opponents. He surged to a 15/0 lead 75 per cent of the time, which was considerably higher than the 66 per cent mark from his opponents.

Holding From 15/0
• Djokovic = 95 per cent (114/120)
• Opponents = 74 per cent (73/99)

Djokovic has held serve a jaw-dropping 114 times out of 120 (95 per cent) after winning just the first point of the game. Opponents are nowhere close to that mark, holding just 74 per cent (73/99) of the time.

Holding From 0/15
• Djokovic = 90 per cent (36/40)
• Opponents = 55 per cent (28/51)

This is where the rubber meets the road holding serve for the Serb. Djokovic trailed 0/15 40 times in Adelaide and Melbourne and was still able to hold serve a staggering 90 per cent (36/40) of the time. Opponents could only manage to hold 55 per cent (28/51) of the time. This speaks to superior strategy, mental strength and the unwavering ability to conquer any and all moments of adversity in the match.

2: 2nd Serves To Position 5


The common strategy for almost all players on tour when hitting second serves in the Ad court is to target the backhand with a jam second serve or kick out wide. Not Djokovic. He launches a sneak attack at the forehand return with slice.

Ad Court 2nd Serve Location/Won
• Position 5 = Won 60 per cent (43/72)
• Position 6 = Won 65 per cent (13/20)
• Position 7 = Won 53 per cent (21/40)
• Position 8 = Won 53 per cent (20/38)

Djokovic hit 72 second serves down the T in the Ad court, winning an eye-opening 60 per cent of those points. He impressively collected four second serve aces and 12 return errors to Position five. Djokovic’s 72 second serves to Position five was almost double the amount to the more traditional location out wide to Position eight, with 38. That’s essentially a strategy flip from the rest of the Tour.

You May Also Like: Record Breaker: Djokovic Surpasses Graf With 378th Week At No. 1

3: Serve +1 Performance
Djokovic is widely regarded as having one of the best backhands of all time, but his forehand still outshines it on a stats sheet. Djokovic hit 56 per cent forehands as the first shot after the serve, while his opponents were slightly higher at 59 per cent. While the totals were somewhat similar, the win percentages were not.

Serve +1 Forehand Win Percentage
• Djokovic = 67 per cent (216/323)
• Opponents = 47 per cent (202/427)

Serve +1 Backhand Win Percentage
• Djokovic = 61 per cent (156/256)
• Opponents = 40 per cent (117/291)

Overall, Djokovic hit 59 Serve +1 winners, with 50 following his first serve and nine following his second serve. Forty five were Serve +1 forehands and 14 were Serve +1 backhands.

Djokovic’s return strategy and execution have always been a hallmark of his game. Now he is leading the Tour is Service Games Won percentage. It’s an unbeatable combination.

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