The Djokovic Secret Weapon Hiding In Plain Sight In Melbourne
The Serbian superstar has hit 47 aces in his first three matches of the tournament, the most he has struck in the first three rounds of any Grand Slam in his career. When he arrived in Melbourne, Djokovic had hit at least 14 aces in a match 33 times (not including Davis Cup), tallying a 29-4 record. He has now accomplished the feat three times (3-0), with a battle against Argentine Diego Schwartzman looming in the fourth round.
“I think in terms of service rhythm that I have at the moment, winning percentage from the first serves is really high,” Djokovic said after his third-round win against Yoshihito Nishioka. “So that's probably as best as my serve can actually be in the moment, which I'm very pleased with. It allows me to go quicker through my games and win more dominantly my service games and put additional pressure on the service games of my opponents. That's definitely something that's useful going towards the second week of the Grand Slam.”
Djokovic's Serving In Melbourne Through Three Matches - 2019 vs. 2020
|First-Serve Percentage||67.8% (164/242)||69.7% (152/218)|
|First-Serve Points Won||77.4% (127/164)||86.8% (132/152)|
|Second-Serve Points Won||64.1% (50/78)||56.1% (37/66)|
|Break Points Saved||6/12||2/6|
Djokovic won this tournament last year. Through three rounds, he is winning a significantly higher percentage of first-serve points in 2020 compared to 2019. Last year, the Serbian won 77.4 per cent of points behind his first delivery through three matches (127/164). This year he is up to 86.8 per cent (132/152).
The 16-time Grand Slam champion is also well ahead in the aces department. Djokovic struck only 23 aces through three matches last year. And perhaps what fans will be most impressed by is his performance in his second and third-round matches combined.
Djokovic lost only six total first-serve points against Japanese Tatsuma Ito and Nishioka (86/92) for a 93.5 winning percentage. In those two clashes, Djokovic held all of his service games, saving the only break point he faced.
The 32-year-old had hit at least 16 aces just 12 times in his career, with all but two of those matches coming on grass. Djokovic matched that total against Ito and Nishioka, hitting 16 and 17 aces in those matches, respectively. The Australian Open is played on hard court.
“I think my serve was, again, very efficient and giving me a lot of free points, a lot of aces and service winners, which was the case in also the opening two matches of Australian Open,” Djokovic said.
The World No. 2’s serve will be put to the test against Schwartzman, who has proven himself one of the world’s best returners in recent years. The Argentine began the Australian Open ranked fourth among active players in return games won at 31.1 per cent, trailing only Rafael Nadal (33.5%), Djokovic (32%) and Andy Murray (31.7%), each of whom has reached the No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking.
Did You Know?
Both Djokovic and former World No. 3 Milos Raonic have played three matches thus far at this year's Australian Open. Each man has hit 47 aces. Entering the tournament, Raonic averaged more than 15 aces per match for his career, while Djokovic has averaged just more than five.
- Statistical assistance provided by Joshua Rey and McCarton Ackerman