Serving the ball to the net is a tactic that is considered outdated, but Novak Djokovic uses it reasonably to defeat Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Paris Masters 2021.
Serving into the net once helped Novak Djokovic’s idol Pete Sampras dominate hard courts and grass in the 1990s. But then, this style of play fell out of favor. As the opponents returned better and better, the American players adjacent to Sampras suffered many defeats.
But on Sunday, November 7 in Paris, Djokovic proved serving into the net can still be useful in big fights. In the two hours and 15 minutes against Daniil Medvedev, Nole won 19 of his 22 serves, reaching a rate of 86%. By serving the ball to the net, Djokovic interrupted Medvedev’s late-court defense early – which helped the Russian player beat Djokovic to win the US Open 2021.
In 19 serves to the net to score points, there was one time Djokovic even served only two. Djokovic also tried to serve 17 more times, but was unable to do so because of various errors. In total, he wants to serve the ball to the net 39 times, a large number in a three-set match, especially against the number two opponent in the world.
Djokovic was consistent with this tactic from the start. He served to the net on the third point of the opening game, when he was 0-30 down. Djokovic’s intention was to serve to push Medvedev away from the court, and then finish on the net. Nole was unsuccessful in this game and let Medvedev take advantage of the first break-point. But, the owner of 86 ATP titles remains steadfast. He won five of the seven serve points into the net after that, before losing the first set 4-6.
Djokovic gradually improved his game plan in the following two sets. He concentrated on serving one. In many games, viewers can predict Djokovic will score if he serves one on the court. In contrast, he repeatedly lost points on the second serve. Djokovic increased the number of serves to the net to 12 in the second set, scoring seven points. The pressure on the net that Djokovic created made Medvedev somewhat confused. The Russian player was forced to return the ball with more spin, with a harder landing. That made him hit himself more and lose his knack for durable ball.
Djokovic won 27 points from 36 nets in the final in Paris. Medvedev won nine out of 13 times. Djokovic has 20 points more than juniors in the series of under nine touches and only one point less in the series of doubles over nine touches. The world’s number one tennis player has minimized Medvedev’s strengths, while promoting his own advantages.
To carry out the intention of serving the ball to the net, Djokovic adjusted the volley that is the most appreciated in the ATP. He always chooses short corners of the field, with the ball spinning sideways, almost not giving the opponent a chance to move. The fact that Medvedev stands to return the ball about 3-4 meters deep like in the US Open final helps Djokovic’s tactics work. “I watched the loss in New York and know where I went wrong,” Djokovic said after winning the Paris Masters for the sixth time.
Medvedev is the successful model of players playing deep below the baseline in ball games. This style of play gives the Russian player more time to catch the ball to limit return errors, and at the same time, a stronger racket makes the return look like a regular shot from the end of the court. Djokovic has found the solution by serving the ball to the net.
Without a good serve, Djokovic will lose to Medvedev for the second time in a row. He was forced to the left by Medvedev in a series of attacks at the end of the field. Djokovic had to make 188 left shots behind baseline and only 155 forehands. The Serbian made 12 self-destructive errors on his left and scored only one winner with a forehand from this position. The double attack with Medvedev after the baseline is what Djokovic has tried to avoid and succeed.
The world has tipped its hat many times to Djokovic’s dozens of records. But the way he has progressed at the age of 34 is equally admirable. “Serving to the net is an old-fashioned way of playing. We’ve all thought that,” said journalist Craig O’Shannessy of ATP identify. “Novak Djokovic has used it successfully, turning the net into a great shelter. Novak has renewed himself after a two-month absence. A veteran tennis player, an old style of play and new records made. “.