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Roger Federer remains clutch when delivering his second serve under pressure.

Serving Under Pressure? No Problem For Federer

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers examines which players serve best under pressure

Double faults are a necessary evil of our game.

Missing a second serve tends to sting a lot more than missing a forehand or a backhand, especially if the double fault occurs at an influential moment during a match. Double faulting on break point represents the worst timing, but it still happens even at the elite level of our sport.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of double faults, and their timing in a match, illuminates an incredible strength of former World No. 1 Roger Federer -– the ability to get his second serve in the box under pressure.

From the beginning of the 2015 season up to Roland Garros this year, Federer was committing a double fault on break point only once every 22 matches. That is head and shoulders above his peers in the Elite Eight, and speaks equally to his fluent, graceful motion as well as the mental fortitude required to get the ball in play with the match on the line.

Below is a table outlining double faults on break points for the current Top Eight players in the world.

No.  Player Matches Per Double Fault on Break Point
1 Roger Federer 21.8
Novak Djokovic  11.4
Kei Nishikori 7.4
Stan Wawrinka 6.5
Rafael Nadal 5.5
Andy Murray 5.2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4.3
8 Tomas Berdych 4.0

In the past 52 weeks, Federer is averaging only 1.9 double faults per match, which is identical to his career average. He has been a Top 10 performer in this specific area in 10 of the past 13 years, since he won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003.

Federer’s record of 65 consecutive Grand Slam appearances stopped at Roland Garros this year, as he was not able to compete with a back ailment. He is scheduled to return to the tour next week in Stuttgart and then Halle the following week, where he is an eight-time champion.

Federer’s ability to not beat himself is a major key to his success. The Swiss maestro typically targets the opponent’s backhand jam location with his second-serve delivery, staying away from the more potent forehand return, and equally as important, staying away from the singles sideline and center line, where second serves can easily miss wide.

Federer is ranked No. 1 all-time with second-serve points won at 57 per cent through 1,254 matches. Nobody can totally eliminate double faults, but Federer is the best in the business at minimising them, particularly in the big moments where legend status in our sport is forged.

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