When people talk about the biggest strengths of Novak Djokovic's game, they often refer to his movement, his return of serve, his groundstrokes and his fitness levels. However, one aspect of his game that is often overlooked is his serve itself.
The World No. 1 is among the Top 5 (he ranked fifth), when it comes to service games won % for 2019. Americans John Isner and Reilly Opelka, who is No. 1 and No. 3 in that same category, talk about what makes Djokovic's serve a big asset for the Serb.
Speaking to the ATP Tour website, Isner comments, "You actually don’t think about his serve, which is kind of disrespectful to him in a sense, just because he does everything so well. You immediately talk about his return and of course his movement around the court, and his groundstrokes are the best in the world.
He spot serves it very well. He won’t necessarily hit it 130 miles per hour, but he’s definitely improved that part of his game. He would even say probably six or seven years ago that his serve was a bit of a liability.
But now it’s not at all, and that’s why he’s the most dominant player in the game. He doesn’t have a weakness. He just doesn’t. That’s why he’s No. 1 in the world, he’s one of the greatest players of all-time.
He’s only a few Grand Slams now behind the all-time record. It’s pretty incredible what he’s doing”. Opelka comments, “I think it’s more so because of everything else in his game. He does serve very well.
But he’s breaking serve [more than 30 per cent] of the time, which is ridiculous. Obviously when you give him the first strike of the ball, it’s going to be even higher. He does serve well and it’s not talked about.
But it’s really the rest of his game that makes him impossible to break”. Djokovic says he has worked hard on his serve during the off-season, which is what has helped him go unbeaten this year. "I'm hitting everything I can in terms of the variety of spin, slice, flat, hitting the spots, body, wide, T.
I'm trying to mix it up all the time. Obviously depends who I play against. Obviously I have different tactics depending on the opponent. I feel that my serve this year so far in the ATP Cup and also the Australian Open has been terrific.
It's allowed me to win a lot of free points. When I'm serving well and getting a high percentage of first serves in, it allows me to feel more comfortable, more confident, step in and play at the higher level of tennis.
We worked a lot in the off-season on my serve. I'm feeling great. I have a great rhythm. Obviously I know that different surfaces, different times, require different adjustments. But in terms of the way I've been serving now, it has been some of the best serving I've had in my career”.