Nick Kyrgios Serve Analysis
Nick Kyrgios has made big statements on the professional tennis scene in recent years.
The controversial young player had a breakout win against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014, beating the king of clay in the fourth round.
The fact that Kyrgios was ranked only 144 in the world at the time, coupled with him being just 19 years old made this a major upset.
However, for Nick it was a breakthrough moment. His performance on that summer’s day captivated the tennis audience on the biggest of stages, centre court at Wimbledon.
There were a few factors that helped Nick win against such a decorated opponent that day.
One was his powerful game, overwhelming Nadal with blistering forehands, flat backhands and early struck returns.
Nick also had youthful inexperience on his side, not letting the occasion get to him and simply going out there to have fun, a stand out feature in the Australian’s career so far.
But the main weapon that Kyrgios brought to the court that day was his massive serve.
Nick served 37 aces across the nearly 3 hour match, against one of the greatest returners of all time.
This was incredible to witness and really shocked Nadal as there was not much he could do as he saw aces flying past left and right.
Couple this with the fast grass courts of Wimbledon and Nick’s relaxed attitude on court and you have a performance that defined the player.
Although this was the first time many tennis fans had come across Kyrgios, he has certainly not been a quiet figure during his life on the professional circuit.
His multitude of controversies surrounding verbal abuse, lack of effort and poor sportsmanship have often overshadowed his outstanding performances on court.
However, despite the fact Nick Kyrgios divides opinions, he certainly is one of the most entertaining and exciting players on tour.
And whether you like him or not, one thing that all tennis fans can agree on is just how good his serve is!
Let’s take a look at the Nick Kyrgios serve, and learn the secrets that make it so great!
Why Nick’s Serve is so Good
There are a number of factors that contribute to Nick Kyrgios’ serve being such a dominant force in men’s tennis.
He has honed his game around this lethal weapon, often being the sword by which he lives or dies by on court.
Nick centres his game predominantly around his big first and second serves, looking to use the rest of his creative game around these big weapons.
He has caused some major upsets over the years and when you really break down how he uses his serve, it’s easy to see why!
Mentality and Tactics
Nick is known for being very relaxed and loose on the tennis court.
This leads to him coming up with outrageous plays that many top players could not even comprehend attempting, but can also get him into trouble if the chips are down and he is not trying his hardest.
Despite this, when he is in the mood Nick can get himself pumped up and string a few quick service games together with his big serving and dominant groundstrokes.
Needless to say, his serve plays a major part in how he feels on the court. If Nick is serving well, generally speaking he is playing well.
He has a lot of confidence in his serve and backs himself to come up with bombs in pressure situations.
Countless times we have seen Nick hunker down and serve himself out of trouble, owing to his supreme confidence in his serve.
Having such a quick service action helps with this, as not only is it very fluid and mechanically sound, but it does not give Nick too much time to think about the situation.
He will serve quickly and have the point over and done with one way or another.
We have also seen Kyrgios send down some massive second serves to get him out of trouble.
Back in 2018, he saved a match point in the final set tie break against Denis Kudla with a 133MPH ace… on his second serve!
Nick likes to go big or go home on his serve. In a high pressure situation, you won’t see him hitting a slower second serve or a conservative first serve just to start the point.
Nick would rather hit an ace or a double fault than give his opponent any rhythm.
Like most aggressive players, he prefers to win or lose points on his terms.
In terms of tactics, Kyrgios likes to use his variety a lot. He has unbelievably good hands, strong groundstrokes and can move very well.
But the tactic he centres his whole game around is the one-two punch combination. A big first serve followed by a big, heavy forehand.
Nick is just as happy going cross court as he is inside out with the forehand, and often has a slow, mid-court ball to attack after sending down a booming serve.
He will often have his opponent in a defensive position from the very start of the point, allowing him to step inside the court and take the ball extremely early.
This takes his opponent’s time away and puts them under immense pressure.
So, as we can see, Nick Kyrgios is very effective behind his serve due to his mentality and tactical approach to the game.
If he is pumped up and feeling competitive, he can bludgeon opponents into submission with his consistent big serving and aggressive ground strokes.
Whereas, even if he is feeling relaxed or simply not showing his best effort, he can still rely on his big serve to win him easy points, allowing him to show his more creative side.
Looking at the Nick Kyrgios serve in more technical detail, he clearly uses a massive transfer of weight between his front and back leg to really help him drive up into the ball.
This generates a lot of force and is a key element of Nick’s serve being so powerful.
Nick is able to create a rocking motion as he first leans forward onto his front foot in the preparation phase of his serve.
As he steps back far behind the court with his back foot, he loads up his weight onto this back foot, allowing him to build up a lot of momentum and kinetic energy behind the ball.
Nick then brings both of his feet together whilst bending his knees, as he tosses the ball up.
This again helps him to generate power from his feet together ‘pinpoint’ stance.
The fact that both his legs are together and bent means that he can push up off the ground with explosive force, allowing him to jump higher into his serve and contact at a higher trajectory.
This is a massive advantage as he is already 6”4 to begin with!
Therefore, his weight transfer, forward motion inside the court and incredibly fast arm movement all combine to give Nick one of the fastest serves of all time.
The Nick Kyrgios serve falls in the category of one of the best of all time.
However, it is not necessarily the most conventional.
Nick uses a relatively low ball toss and a very quick upward motion to generate power.
Most conventional servers will toss the ball in the air, allow it to reach its peak and then fall back down slightly before striking it.
This allows the ball to be at its most stable in the air. Nick on the other hand hits the ball at the peak, and sometimes even before the peak.
This is a tactic that great servers of the past like Goran Ivanisevic used to great effect. Although it may not work for everyone, it works for Nick in a number of ways.
First of all, the fact that he is effectively taking the ball early in the air, means his service motion is quickened up.
There is no pause or delay in Nick’s swing, meaning that he can explode up and into the ball with maximum force.
Secondly, the fact that his ball toss is low and way out in front of him means he can lean forward inside the court.
This pushes his body weight forward and allows him to add more power and forward momentum into his serves.
This ball toss position works well for Nick as his height allows him to get away with a ball toss that is both lower and further inside the court.
A shorter player would have to throw the ball higher and straighter in order to have enough margin for error to hit big serves consistently.
Additionally, Nick’s ball toss is great for disguise.
Having a low ball toss and a very quick service motion gives an opponent virtually no time to gauge where the serve is going.
Usually, returners can take a guess as to where the server will be serving, or the different types of spins they may be using based off of their ball toss placement.
However, in Kyrgios’ case it is virtually impossible to tell from his ball toss alone where or how he will be serving.
Couple this with the fact that Nick is a very unpredictable player, that could just as easily hit an underarm serve as bomb down a 140MPH ace, and you can start to understand just how effective Nick’s serve really is.
The Nick Kyrgios second serve is another huge weapon in his arsenal.
He has the ability to bomb down huge flat serves with incredible accuracy, hit with kick or slice and even use the underarm serve to surprise his opponents.
It is the variety and confidence that Kyrgios hits his second serve with that makes it such an effective part of his game.
He always keeps his opponents on their toes, never knowing what he will do next.
This can force simple unforced errors later down the line in a match simply from the doubt that Nick creates in his opponent’s heads.
Nick uses a heavy kick serve most of the time on his second serve, which gets up high to his opponent’s backhand (if they are right handed).
This opens up the court for him and makes it easy for him to step in and be aggressive.
Nick will also change up his second serve a lot, particularly if he is playing a left hander.
He has had great success against Rafael Nadal but mixing up the placement, speed and spins of his first and second serves throughout the match.
This really helps to take Rafa’s rhythm away, negating one of the Spaniard’s key strengths.
Nick Kyrgios’ serve is undoubtedly one of the best in the men’s game today.
He uses it to great effect with his creative, unpredictable and aggressive playing style.
He uses a lower ball toss and fast service action to compliment his body shape, making the most out of his tall, strong frame.
Nick likes to centre his game around his serve, making it a barometer for how well he is playing.
His serve is a great weapon that has saved his skin many times in tight matches.
It is certainly one of the most lethal shots in tennis and a major reason behind Nick’s success against the game’s elite players.
Oct 14, 2021 • Serve
What’s With The Underarm Serve?
It was something of a theme last year on the ATP Tour to talk about the underarm serve and particularly, the question of whether or not it is unsporting. Of course, the main perpetrator was Nick Kyrgios, who routinely threw it in. As someone who was already quite a divisive…Read More