How Zverev's First Serve Fixed His Second-Serve Woes
Fast forward to his next tournament, the 2020 Australian Open. He averaged hitting just one second serve per game, which was the tournament leader, and produced a career-best Grand Slam result in reaching the semi-finals. The moral of the story is simple: Too much exposure to second serves is lethal to your winning aspirations.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the average number of second serves hit per game by the current Top 10 through the Australian Open revealed that Zverev and Gael Monfils were the only two players who averaged less than two second serves per game. Zverev was at 1.61, while Monfils was at 1.91.
The Top 10 average was 2.18 second serves per game. The other four players that all sat below that average were Novak Djokovic (2.02), Rafael Nadal (2.03), Stefanos Tsitsipas (2.10), and Roger Federer (2.15). The four players above the Top 10 average of 2.18 were Dominic Thiem (2.34), Matteo Berrettini (2.38), Daniil Medvedev (2.52) and David Goffin (2.77).
Zverev’s two tournaments to start 2020 were polar opposites in this specific metric.
Zverev at 2020 ATP Cup
•Win/Loss = 0/3
•Service Games / 2nd Serves = 31 / 91
•Double Faults = 31 in 9 sets
•Average 2nd Serves Per Game = 2.94
Zverev at 2020 Australian Open
•Win/Loss = 5/1 (semi-finals)
•Service Games / 2nd Serves = 99 / 118
•Double Faults = 14 in 20 sets
•Average 2nd Serves Per Game = 1.19 (tournament leader)
John Isner has been the single-season leader since 2015 in hitting the fewest second serves per game, and currently sits in fourth place in 2020.
•2020 = Tie C. Moutet/C. Ruud 1.55
•2019 = J. Isner 1.71
•2018 = J. Isner 1.96
•2017 = J. Isner 1.78
•2016 = J. Isner 1.82
•2015 = J. Isner 1.82
Hitting second serves in a match is inevitable. Averaging only one per game is other-worldly. Averaging three per game can prove fatal. The sweet spot seems to be slightly over two.