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Top 10 Serve Trends 2011-2020
Players got taller, serves got bigger
I was taking a look at serve and return trends for the Top 10 players over the last decade of tennis (2011-2020) and noticed a few interesting things. I’ll post the return data next week, and go into some more detail, but here’s a serve data dump:
Quick notes: These are all year end rankings apart from 2021 which is the current ranking. I’ve combined some of the 2020 and 2021 figures because the pandemic screwed up some of 2020’s numbers. Federer isn't included in the Top 10 for 2020 or 2021, despite being in the official rankings, because he hasn't played enough matches (there simply wasn’t enough performance data for him). He’s replaced by the next best player in each of those years.
All serve performance categories have improved from 2011-2020/21 (some meaningfully, others not), along with height, apart from 2nd serve points won (worse) and double fault rates (worse). The 2nd serve points won performance decrease is particularly interesting because 2nd serve speed has increased significantly on average (92mph avg in 2011 to 98mph avg in 2020/21). Zverev’s double fault rate (at least 5 per match in 2020/2021) and poor 2nd serve performance (he is the only player in the top 10 to be below 50% 2nd serve points won in 2019 & 2020/2021) actually manages to slightly skew both averages somewhat.
You can see some of the raw data here with the Top 10 rankings broken out for each performance category (it’s messy though).
More on this very soon (+ the WTA equivalent), as well as a look at the return trends and some bigger-picture stuff. I’ll try to do some ‘what does it mean’ sections in the next issue.
If you have any questions on the above, let me know in the comments. No question is dumb.
I’ll see paid subscribers on Sunday.
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