You can hardly find some reliable information, no statistics or rankings available.
First question – was it always so or is this relatively new?
I can only rely on my memories and on my own experience as a hobby player, both in learning and in playing in competition.
Some time ago it was default to choose to serve. This is supported by the experience, how difficult it is to break serve of the opponent. Substantially the server has always potential advantage and most od played games are won by servers. Of course if players are generally on the same level (pro players or hobby players).
What could have changed this “golden rule” in last years? Even top players and outstanding servers like Federer are mostly choosing to receive (but I believe to recall, he was earlier choosing to serve, just like most others). Don’t rely on their serve anymore?
I cannot recall, Sampras or Boris Becker or McEnroe or Agassi and all top players from these times to decline the option to serve first.
You may have good return, but return is always a defensive tool, when you play a good server (not necessarily the like of Karlovic or Isner).
You can compare percentages of breaks converted or saved but this does not give the answer if percentages of choosing to serve or to receive are not known.
Maybe a bit surprising – from the biggest current players only Nadal was always high in in the ranking of saving and converting breaks, not Federer or Djokovic, but so far I recall well, Nadal more often than not chooses to receive.
So what it is about?
Mind games! Irrational feelings. Mental strength. Last second instant spontaneous decision.
Are all these factors more important today, as tennis technology (rackets, strings, balls, training) made the game faster and more powerful? Servers mostly trying to hit an ace or winner at first serve, some also on second serve. So is the risk a factor in this choice?
There are so many possible answers. Feeling well or not with serve during warm-up – not the one on court, but the longer warm-up 1-2 hours before the match). Thinking about possible reaction of the opponent. Will he feel under pressure, when he must serve but it was not him, who decided to? Will he feel under pressure, when I choose to serve (the message “I’m big on serve today”). What when I choose to serve and get broken just on the start? What when I choose to receive (to get the opponent under pressure) but he can hold his serve and now I’m under pressure to hold mine? What’s better: to win first game but lose the second or the opposite?
Thousands of questions, no real answers. This is how mind games look like.
So what to do? The best YOU LOSE THE COIN TOSS and the problem stresses not you but the opponent. Or you ask ATP to give up with this part of the show and simply let some random system (computer program or similar thing) to decide, who serves and on what side of the court. One stressing factor less for everyone 🙂
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