There is a lot of discussion about that. Some people don’t think it makes sense to hit the first serve with 120-140 mph when the hit rate is relatively low (50-60%, sometimes even lower).
So why not a kick-serve, if the first flat one goes out too often?
The kick-serve is pretty safe and you can easily reach high hit rates. But then you start the rallies as if you didn’t open it at all. No aces, no winners, no free points.
Dominic has been teached so since his early years (see “Dominic-Thiem-Method”) and this has a good reason.
Then the second serve is the focus. And philosophy is behind it is like this. With the first serve you always try to win a direct point or to play Serve&Volley or to reach a good position for the attack before you hit the second shot in the game.
Unless your name is Karlovic, Isner, Raonic or Cilic. For them, the serve is much more important than for everyone else, because they have no other dangerous weapons. You have to win every game with the serve: either ace or double error.
Now Dominic is called THIEM:) He has to use the serve differently.
If you look at the statistics, you can quickly figure out that even the likes of Federer don’t have high 1. serve ratios but somehow mostly win their matches.
Dominic’s second serve is good enough (he usually has better hit ratios and score) to allow him to go with more risk on the first serve. What counts in the end is the number of points won. If you have a low 1. serve ratio, but relatively large number of aces and winners, it is well rewarded. After a first serve mistake you have to prepare for a longer rally and that’s not a Dominic’s weakness.
A serve with 130 mph is hardly returnable, even if it is not placed ideally. That’s why it makes sense to hit the first one so that the chance for an ace or winner is high. Even with a low hit rate and a relatively high number of double errors. Sometimes it’s even better to lose a point (preferably no match, set or match ball ;)) due to double error but to stay on the first serve, rather than having to defend the point after each serve, because after a slow serve the opponent gets the chance to play a return winner or to free himself from the potentially disadvantageous situation and to play the rally from the same good position. What would be the advantage of the service?
Fast 1st serve and high hit rate is of course better, but if you are not 2.10 m tall, you have to choose. Either a safe but not dangerous serve and then defense instead of attack. Or you risk more on the first set and win 10+ points in each set thanks to the serve. Ten points means almost three games won to zero. Puts some extra pressure on your opponent. This is especially important on hard surfaces where the rallies are not as long as on clay.
Everything can be improved and Dominic also does that with the serve.
So don’t worry. In a few years, Dominic serves as good as Federer, but faster. Not good enough?
And some update about Dominic’s serve on clay
What’s a bit strange, no Rafa in this ranking. Has Craig O’Shanessy forgotten him or is Rafa too big to be somehow classified? Or does he serve the same way on every surface?
Updated 11.05.2018, 15:38
Patrick Mouratoglu shows and explains the deadly power of Dominic’s kick serve on clay
Updated 31.05.2018, 08:46
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