Daily Data Viz: Sharapova's strategy: Is the best second serve a first serve?

Sunday May 31st, 2015

Is the best second serve a first serve? It is if you're Maria Sharapova. Coming into the 2015 French Open, Sharapova recorded the third most double faults on the WTA Tour (137 through 29 matches) yet she has the second best winning percentage on second serve points (51.8%). Sharapova goes big on her second serve, even if it means risking a double fault.

In her second round match vs. Vitalia Diatchenko, Sharapova hit just 60% of her first serves in play, so she had to hit a lot of second serves. Her average first serve speed was 102 mph and she won 69% of her first serve points, while her average second serve speed was 96 mph and she won 63% of her second serve points. Why is this strategy so effective for Sharapova? By going big on second serves, Sharapova maintains an offensive posture at the start of every service point, which allows her to dictate play and keep control of the rallies from the first shot.

How does Sharapova's approach compare with World No. 1 Serena Williams?

Check SI.com's French Open data hub page throughout the whole tournament for the latest data-driven infographics and charts from IBM, the official technology partner for the French Open. IBM captures and analyzes the data that powers all of the Grand Slams, as well as the digital platforms that extend the experience to fans around the world.

Sharapova's strong first and second serves show her mental toughness


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