March 28, 2024

Serena Williams’ former coach Rennae Stubbs recently gave her thoughts on Carlos Alcaraz’s supposedly underwhelming first serve.Alcaraz, ranked second in the world, is one of the most entertaining players at the moment, thanks to his tireless retrieving and baseline prowess. That said, the Spaniard is far from being up there with the best male servers. According to the ATP Tour’s data, he has won only 72.7% of his first-serve points, making his first delivery inferior to most of his top 10 peers.


Against that background, Serena Williams’ ex-coach and former doubles World No. 1 Rennae Stubbs recently sat down with former pro Andrea Petkovic on her Racquet podcast to discuss which departments of his serve Alcaraz is lacking in.Stubbs used Roger Federer, who won a whopping 77.3% of his first-serve points in 1,526 career matches, as an example, stating that he was far more proficient at hitting his spots on serve than the Spaniard despite being nearly of the same height.


“Carlos is not tall, neither was Roger Federer. Roger’s what, 6’1? He’s slightly taller than Carlos Alcaraz but very similar in height. But Roger was an amazing spot server. So they did a diagnosis of where they serve, as far as the Hawk-Eye. And Roger was always super close to the line,” Rennae Stubbs said (68:10). As is Novak’s. So when you’re talking about two guys of the same height, Roger and Carlos, Carlos’ spots are nowhere near as good.”


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The 52-year-old added that the World No. 2 should go back to the drawing board and work on his serve placement, arguing that his current delivery is fodder for elite returners like Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner.

“They are like a good foot from the sideline, right? So he’s hitting it good, he’s hitting it big and all that stuff, but he’s not hitting it close to the line. Because Roger would hit it really close to the lines,” she said (1:08:28). “So I think, one area that he can really improve on is his spot serving. And Jim suggested, ‘You just gotta take the cans, man!’ Put the cans down as we all do as professionals.”

“You gotta hit that can over and over and over and over again on the line. Or just before the line,” she added (1:08:47). “And not a foot from the line, because that allows a Sinner, Medvedev, Rune, Novak, it allows them to get the return back into the court.”


Rennae Stubbs maintained that Carlos Alcaraz can reap more rewards on faster courts if he irons out the kinks in his serve. However, she did concede that his serving performance was top-notch during his Wimbledon title clash against Novak Djokovic last year, which he won 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in around five hours.


“That is one area he can improve on and that’s how he’ll win more on a fast court. I mean, yes, he won Wimbledon, but to be honest, I was there live for that match,” Rennae Stubbs said (1:09:21). “He served incredibly well in that match against Novak. So that’s where he was getting free points.”


While Carlos Alcaraz’s 70% win rate on his first-serve points during the championship match at SW19 was normal for his standards, the fact that he came clutch in the fifth set and won 74% (14/19) of his points on first delivery was certainly impressive.


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