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

Inside Maria Sharapova's strategy to hit her first and second serves at the same speed, plus how her approach compares with World No. 1 Serena Williams.

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?


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