Beyond The Numbers

Medvedev Mixes It Up: Where Do Top-10 Players Serve At 15/0 Versus 0/15?

When trailing 0/15, Medvedev hits 64 per cent of serves out wide
March 08, 2023
Daniil Medvedev enters Indian Wells with a 14-match winning streak.
Daniil Medvedev enters Indian Wells with a 14-match winning streak. By Craig O'Shannessy

Do players change first serve strategy when serving at 15/0 versus 0/15?

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the current Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings from the 2022 season uncovers a wide variety of first serve strategies when ahead or behind on the scoreboard after only one point is played in the game. Players clearly factor in where they prefer to serve and where the opponent may be anticipating. Having a clever mix out wide, at the body, and down the T is all about staying a step ahead in the guessing game of first serve location.

But nobody flipped the switch more than Daniil Medvedev.

The 27-year-old former No. 1 is the hottest player on tour after winning Rotterdam, Doha, and Dubai leading into Indian Wells this week. He is on a 14-match win streak and has won 19 of 21 matches to start the season. His different first serve strategy at 15/0 versus 0/15 provides an insight into how he goes about his business of holding serve.

Serving 15/0

According to the Infosys ATP Stats Serve Tracker, Medvedev led the current Top 10 going down the T with his first serve at 15/0. He hit 56 per cent there, which was just slightly higher than Holger Rune at 55 per cent. The players who went the least down the T at 15/0 were Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz, who only went there 36 per cent of the time.

Andrey Rublev was the most prolific going out wide at 15/0, with 54 per cent of first serves hitting that location. The other two players at or above 50 per cent out wide were Taylor Fritz (52%) and Novak Djokovic (50%).

What’s fascinating is that five of the Top 10 hit their first serve down the T more, while the other five targeted out wide more.

Current Top 10: First Serve Location at 15/0 (2022 Season)

HTML Table Generator

Player Wide Body T
 D. Medvedev 41% 3% 56%
 H. Rune 34%  11%  55% 
 C. Ruud 41%  6%  53% 
 S. Tsitsipas 41% 7%  52% 
F. Auger-Aliassime  46%  5%  49% 
N. Djokovic  50%  4%  46% 
T. Fritz  52%  5%  43% 
A. Rublev  54%  3%  43% 
C. Alcaraz  40%  24%  36% 
R. Nadal  46%  18%  36% 

Serving 0/15

Medvedev switched lanes at 0/15 and became the player that served wide the most - the exact opposite of what he did at 15/0, being the most prolific with T serves. Medvedev hit 64 per cent of first serves out wide at 0/15 while only hitting 41 per cent at 15/0. When Medvedev needed the point at 0/15, initially pulling the returner wide off the court with his first serve was his primary strategy.

Nadal was the only other player to serve more than 50 per cent out wide at 0/15, at 54 per cent. You can certainly understand that logic with Nadal being left-handed. While the split was even at 15/0 with five players going more wide and five players going T, eight of the 10 players preferred to go down the T at 0/15. The most prolific down the T was Stefanos Tsitsipas at 64 per cent. Players at 50 percent or above down the T were Felix Auger-Aliassime (55%), Andrey Rublev (55%), Djokovic (53%) and Fritz (50%).

Current Top 10: First Serve Location at 0/15 (2022 Season)

HTML Table Generator

Player Wide Body T
 D. Medvedev 64% 0% 36%
R. Nadal 54%  15%  31% 
C. Ruud  48%  0%  52% 
T. Fritz  47%  3%  50% 
N. Djokovic  41%  6%  53% 
F. Auger-Aliassime  41%  4%  55% 
H. Rune  41%  10%  49% 
A. Rublev  39%  6%  55% 
C. Alcaraz  31%  22%  47% 
S. Tsitsipas  31%  5%  64% 


Overall, five players (Medvedev, Djokovic, Fritz, Rublev and Alcaraz) changed their primary first serve location between wide and T when serving at 15/0 versus 0/15. The five players that kept the same primary location were Rune (T), Ruud (T), Tsitsipas (T), Felix Auger-Aliassime (T), and Nadal (wide).

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It’s fascinating to see the variety of serve locations at the two point scores based on preferred locations and the desire to hit it where the opponent does not think it is going to go. Medvedev will look to add to his 14-match win streak at Indian Wells starting this week. Winning the guessing game of serve location will once again be a part of his winning formula.

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