Brain Game

Zverev displayed a special service in the final in Rome

Brain Game analyzes this blow by the German in the conquest of the Foro Italico

May 19, 2024

Dan Istitene/Getty Images

By Craig O’Shannessy

Ace. Ace. Ace.

The first three points were untouchable missiles from Alexander Zverev, which served as the basis for beating Nicolás Jarry 6-4, 7-5 in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome this Sunday.

Zverev completed the best serving performance of his career, delivering just five serve points in the match. He won 37/38 points on first serve and 7/10 on second serve. He barely committed a double fault and hit six aces in 11 serves.

When Jarry won the toss and chose to start subtracting, you might think about an early break. However, the Chilean never managed to generate a breaking ball in the entire match, being forced to face nine with his own serve, managing to save seven.

Over the last year, Zverev has become the best server on tour, leading the team with a ratio of 293.5 on the Infosys ATP Stats Serve Leaderboard. He has the highest percentage of first serves landed at 72.2%, and he raised that figure even further in the final against Jarry, landing 80% (39/49). In the first set, Zverev had an impressive 90% (19/21) of first serves, winning all of them. He only had to connect two second serves in the first set, winning one.

In the second game of Zverev’s service, Jarry took three first serves but failed to win a single point. Zverev connected on his first nine consecutive serves to start the match and won four of his serves in the first set to love.

Zverev made the difference at the end of the first set and at the beginning of the second, winning 12 of 13 points to highlight his dominance in the match. He won the first game blank on serve in the second set, putting pressure on Jarry not to get lost with his own turns of serve.

Zverev went on to win 31 consecutive points on his first serve until 6-4, 4-4, 15/0, when Jarry managed to claw one back, landing an angled forehand in response to a dropshot.

Jarry reflected after the match on the specialness of Zverev’s serve. “I think his first serve percentage was very high,” said the Chilean. “I don’t know exactly the number, but I felt that I didn’t have too many options. His serve, apart from being very good, is quite different from other serves. He hits the ball very high, so the bounce is special. I have needed time to adapt to the trajectory”.

Another factor in Zverev’s dominance with his first serve was his ability to vary his position on the service box, preventing Jarry from anticipating the landing of the next missile.

In the Deuce box, Zverev connected 11 open serves, one over and body and nine on the T. He did not give up a point with a first serve in the Deuce box. In the Advantage box, he hit eight over 8s (winning them all) and caught eight of the 10 he threw open in the Advantage box.

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It is interesting to note that, when examining the speed of the serve, there are few differences in the performance of both players:

· 1st most powerful serve: Zverev 140 mph/Jarry 139mph
· 1st service average: Zverev 131 mph/Jarry 129 mph
· Average 2nd serve: Zverev 107 mph/Jarry 107 mph

When Jarry managed to put the rest on track, Zverev landed 13 serves + 1 forehand, winning 11 of those points, and 11 serves + 1 backhand, winning 10. In comparison, Jarry had to deal with 41 serves + 1 forehand (won 24) and 11 serves + 1 backhand, winning five.

Zverev’s first serve overwhelmed Jarry due to the volume he had to deal with and the angles to the outside of the court. Add in the clever variety Zverev employed and this shot ended up being the perfect storm for the German, who will rise to No. 4 in the PIF ATP Rankings on Monday.


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