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Interactive Forum October 2022: Carlos Alcaraz Serve

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  • Interactive Forum October 2022: Carlos Alcaraz Serve

    Carlos Alcaraz Serve

    So we’ve put up his amazing groundstrokes and also a forehand drop shot. But what about his serve? Here it is.
    Low arm position to start the toss. Pinpoint stance. A small amount of shoulder turn away from the ball. A little arm wiggle in the motion as he moves into the drop. A great drop. Full ISR on most of his serves. Different starting positions on the baseline.

    I had a hard time telling much difference between the 1st and the 2nd serves. Think I got all or most of the right…

    What do you guys say?

  • #2
    Looks about perfect to me aside from maybe he could use more turn away from the net (particularly in 2nd serves). It’s interesting how he flexes his dominant wrist a lot at the end of the follow through for at least a couple of the serves. John I agree not much difference in technique from 1st to 2nd serve. Seems like he may point his chest upwards a bit more so at lowest point of the racquet drop on 2nd serve. Also, 2nd serve he’s falling a bit to the left when landing. His left arm position during load reminds me of how Andy Roddick did that. He does a great job of keeping the racquet to the hitting side of the body till the legs start driving up. It’s unique how he has his hitting elbow outside the shoulders for so long (like a typical rec player) but he does get it in line with the shoulders at the last moment. Is it possible that doing this can add some speed?

    Comment


    • #3
      After watching quickly my first impression is he has the Roger Federer landing gear! You don't typically see this upright perfectly balanced landing as much with the pinpoint guys. Just one more reason he is faster and a better mover than everyone else

      Comment


      • #4
        Alcaraz Serve Stats

        I'm a bit perplexed by Alcaraz's serve. When I first saw him play I thought his serve was tremendous. Speed, huge kick, variety. But the ATP's serving stats show that Alcaraz has an effective, but NOT top tier service. Certainly not what one would expect from a top 10 player let alone the world number one.

        Perhaps these stats will be helpful.

        Points won on first serve, in particular, are not stellar. Points won behind his second serve is.

        Perhaps the lack of easy points on his first serve is one reason Carlos has had to play so many 5 setters in his short 'Slam career.

        Correction: The second row should read "1st Serve %" as in "serves in". Excel autofill at work Sorry.
        Looks like the BBS software won't let me replace that with the corrected one.

        While I'm on the ATP site, I note that Alcaraz's percent of service games won is now up to 84.1%, which ranks him 14th, a big jump since May.

        filedata/fetch?id=98707&d=1664995023&type=thumb

        This from the ATP's "Second Screen", shows Alcaraz's first serve placement in the deuce court, and winning percentages in each of 3 areas, for all matches this year through May 23. Hits more body serves on this side than in the ad court, and more than most players. But his results on body serves lower his overall winning percentage.

        filedata/fetch?id=98708&d=1664995043&type=thumb

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        You do not have permission to view this gallery.
        This gallery has 2 photos.
        Last edited by jimlosaltos; 10-06-2022, 09:20 AM.

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        • #5
          Alcaraz Serve Resources

          Here are some materials to support John's excellent video of Carlos Alcaraz's serve, including 2 other videos that might provide additional perspectives. I haven't done video in years, it's just too much of a time & resource hog, but I had to try my hand at features in my new camera. I experimented with two, different types of videos that might add to John's.

          It's above my pay grade to analyze Carlos' motion but I'll share what a friend that is a teaching pro said, "Alcaraz's motion is 'very muscular', tense not fluid like Sinner's.". Seems simple and repeatable to me. I'll just leave that there

          This 41 sec video is a bit of an experiment. I created a stop-action video from 24 still images of Alcaraz hitting what looks like a wide, slice serve into the deuce court. Perhaps this will help people see stages in his service. Let me know if this is helpful or not. Please click here to see.

          .
          Your Feedback Appreciated: Since this is an experiment I'd appreciate any feedback. Is it useful? I set how long each still used in the video plays. Is the pace good? Should I cause each still to play longer? Shorter? What about YT's new vertical 'Shorts" format targeting phones? OK?




          Second, I have a 38 second, slow motion video of Alcaraz's serve on YouTube at this link. I let the video run through his recovery and run-around forehand, since that is such a big part of the 19 yo's game. This is a straight on view from his match with Rafa, I believe it was, at Indian Wells.

          This is a frame capture from the first, stop acton video. Just FYI -- this is a new YouTube video format called "Shorts", which are presumably designed to compete with TikTok. Works well for vertical format tennis vids.



          filedata/fetch?id=98710&d=1664995482&type=thumb




          Finally, here is a sequence of 7 images of "Charlie", as he calls himself, serving. Again, from Indian Wells. Video and all photos (c)jfawcette, aka me.

          filedata/fetch?id=98711&d=1664995529&type=thumb

          filedata/fetch?id=98712&d=1664995545&type=thumb

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          Last edited by jimlosaltos; 10-05-2022, 11:03 AM.

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          • #6
            Alcaraz has a great serve but it does not seem fluid to me. He has a bit of a pause before going up to the drop. Maybe Feli Lopez is the only one of the Spaniards that has a nice fluid motion to me. He also hits with more slice than kick in my eyes.

            Alcraraz probably played a lot more soccer than baseball or American Football as a child. So the throwing motion is not as fluid as it could be.

            Alcaraz seems to be following more of a Dominik Thiem rubric. More emphasis on the kick and weight than on the fluidity and slow build up of power. Of course, there is Sampras and Fed who used fluidity to its maximum effect.

            My guess is that it is good enough to get Carlitos to the top. But he will never be the pinpoint server that a more fluid and "easy" motion would afford him. But that is just nit picking. It is definitely good enough and he can probably improve like Nadal to ease the burden on his body as he gets older.

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            • #7
              On Tuesday, I watched Goffin beat Alcaraz 7-5, 6-3 in Astana. At no point did Goffin look troubled by the Alcaraz serve.

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              • #8
                Jim- I'd much rather see that as the short clip that comes across my smart phone than the other crap that they think I want to see hahaha. I thought the timing was perfect!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Great stuff, Jim...all of it. You do this stuff like no other.

                  The serve is one the shot of his I don't like. He muscles it down and to me that's rarely a recipe for a good serve. It tends to go wrong right at the start during the wind-up phase for me. He doesn't turn his shoulders away from the net anywhere near enough. Also it's so much better to have relaxed 'trailing' racket head during the wind-up than have the racket head cocked and stuck up in the air as Alcaraz does. Then there's the hitch around the trophy position which just about everyone jumps up and down about...certainly doesn't help.
                  Stotty

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                  • #10
                    Jim, your stills time and pace seems about right to my eye. I especially like the 41 second service frontal view which is excellent in capturing the leading edge of the racket aimed at the ball immediately before contact. That image, in my opinion, helps beginners to realize that opening of the racket face at the very last millisecond to make contact is created by forces generated from external rotation of the shoulder through to the hand. One does not need to try to consciously force that movement. A natural throwing motion developed early in life would seem to help fluidity.

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                    • #11
                      In second 17 of your 41 sec video, the hand still hasn’t rotated yet. I would like to see more images from second 17 to ball contact. So much naturally happens during that short period.( same in golf/ baseball pitch when hands begin to rotate until contact/ release, but I rarely see that time period visually expanded except in a lab).

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by glacierguy View Post
                        On Tuesday, I watched Goffin beat Alcaraz 7-5, 6-3 in Astana. At no point did Goffin look troubled by the Alcaraz serve.
                        I had exactly the same thought.

                        Similarly, when Sinner beat Alcaraz at Wimbledon, the big kicker to Sinner's backhand did nothing. So much reach to go with a great backhand return.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jthb1021 View Post
                          Jim- I'd much rather see that as the short clip that comes across my smart phone than the other crap that they think I want to see hahaha. I thought the timing was perfect!
                          Great. Thanks for your input.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by stotty View Post
                            Great stuff, Jim...all of it. You do this stuff like no other.

                            The serve is one the shot of his I don't like. He muscles it down and to me that's rarely a recipe for a good serve. It tends to go wrong right at the start during the wind-up phase for me. He doesn't turn his shoulders away from the net anywhere near enough. Also it's so much better to have relaxed 'trailing' racket head during the wind-up than have the racket head cocked and stuck up in the air as Alcaraz does. Then there's the hitch around the trophy position which just about everyone jumps up and down about...certainly doesn't help.
                            Thanks. You made my morning <g>.

                            Interesting analysis.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by doctorhl View Post
                              In second 17 of your 41 sec video, the hand still hasn’t rotated yet. I would like to see more images from second 17 to ball contact. So much naturally happens during that short period.( same in golf/ baseball pitch when hands begin to rotate until contact/ release, but I rarely see that time period visually expanded except in a lab).
                              Yes. The camera was capturing 120 frames per second (.JPEG stills for one of the posts, video for the other). Most high end mobile phones can do video at 240 fps (albeit at lower resolution, and good luck getting a close up of the hand).

                              It might take 1,000 FPS to capture the motion you want.

                              The camera I think John is currently using ( Sony DSC-RX100 IV ? ) can get 1,000 fps but then resolution goes down as the frame rate goes up.

                              Maybe we can talk John into the project. Somehow talk an ATP pro into serving for the video and have a camera about at impact level focused on the hand and racket.

                              I lack those powers of persuasion <g>

                              ​​​​​​​Thanks for the input.

                              Comment

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