Djokovic’s Serving Master Class

Here’s an article and match summary written by Craig O’Shannessy about the recent Paris Masters Final, the full article can be found at https://www.atptour.com/en/news/djokovic-shapovalov-paris-2019-final-brain-game

Imagine a Novak Djokovic match where more than half the points played featured only a serve and a return. Impossible, right?

Djokovic defeated Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Rolex Paris Masters by dominating the really short points that featured no groundstrokes at all. Of the 104 points played, 56 of them (54%) featured only a serve and return, which played right into the Super Serb’s “first- strike” strategy.

No groundstrokes. No problem for Novak.

It’s important to note that rally length is dictated by balls landing in the court, not shots hitting the racquet. In rallies that lasted either zero (double fault), one or two shots, Djokovic collected 34 points, which represented more than half (56%) of the 61 points he won for the match.

More than eight points out of 10 in the final saw either player touch the ball a maximum of only two times. Djokovic’s initial touches simply went in the court a lot more than Shapovalov’s.

What mattered most to Djokovic in these ultra-quick exchanges? Extracting an error was the primary focus. Of the 34 points Djokovic won when the rally length was zero, one or two shots, only four were his winners, with 30 being errors from Shapovalov. The Canadian committed only three double faults, but 27 return errors were what sunk the ship.

2019 Paris Final: Rallies Without A Groundstroke

Rally Type Djokovic Won Point Shapovalov Won Point
Double Faults 3 1
Aces 2 12
Return Errors 27 9
Return Winner 2 0
Total Points Won 34 (61%) 22 (39%)

Djokovic’s serve was a major asset all week in Paris, and it was his primary weapon in the final. “It was tough for me to find a groove just because he was really, really picking his spots on the serve,” Shapovalov said.

We often think of Djokovic as a master of long rallies, but they had no bearing on this match at all, with only four points featuring in the nine-plus shot rally length and only two rallies maturing to double digits.


Total Points Played
0-4 Shots 84 (81%)
5-8 Shots 16 (14%)
9+ Shots 4 (5%)
Total Points 104

Djokovic’s game has morphed perfectly at the end of the season to excel on indoor hard courts, where striking first is dictated by the faster conditions. It must have been nice to put the lethal groundstrokes on the shelf for a day and let the serve and return collect the silverware.

Vida Tennis