Why the fascination with the world fastest serve? The science behind it. - UBITENNIS
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Why the fascination with the world fastest serve? The science behind it.



TENNIS – Commentators and fans love statistics and new records. In tennis people often think about how many Grand Slams have players won? What was the longest match in history? But there is also a fascination about who in both the men’s and women’s game have hit the fastest serves. By Jonny Fraser (iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist, Owner Science in Tennis), Mike James (GPTCA International Tennis Coach)


Commentators and fans love statistics and new records. In tennis people often think about how many Grand Slams have players won? What was the longest match in history? But there is also a fascination about who in both the men’s and women’s game have hit the fastest serves. The serve itself is an incredibly complex technical skill requiring large amounts of practice. Tactically players change the serve to provide variety and the importance of the point will also be a deciding factor. Three types of serve can be hit, these include the slice, flat or topspin serve all which have varied bounces, trajectories and the amount of speed which can be hit on the ball. The fastest serves tend to be hit flatter, with both slice and spin slowing the ball down slightly to improve control. The recently improving Samuel Groth of Australia hitting a recorded 163.4mph (262.3kph) currently holds the title in the men’s game. Despite this record not officially being recognised by the ATP it appears to be the suggested fastest speed. Last week Sabine Lisicki broke a new record in the women’s game at Stanford hitting a 131mph (210.8kph) in the first round. Despite her losing the match many sports websites and national newspapers reported about her new world record and this led to the question why the fascination? Reading through a number of the articles online and news reports there simply appears to be an amazement that the human body can produce so much force and speed. This leads onto another question, how can players effectively and consistently hit serves at those kind of speed and avoid injuries.

Mark Kovacs, Executive Director of International Tennis Performance Association (www.itpa-tennis.org) and Todd Ellenbecker (2011) released an article considering the 8 stages of the serve. Kovacs and Ellenbecker (2011) consider the following three phases and eight stages of the serve. The first phase, preparation consists of the period from when the player starts to the point in which the player is in a position with the non dominant arm fully extended with the ball released and the racket tip pointing down behind the body. This include four smaller stages which include start, release, loading and cocking. The second phase is acceleration, which is the point when the racket accelerates and contacts the ball for a very short period of time (Kovacs and Ellenbecker, 2011). Finally the last phase is the follow through which consists of the deceleration of the racket across the opposite side of the body and the finish, where the player will be ready for their next shot. Ultimately the eight stages of the serve as identified by Kovacs and Ellenbecker (2011) demonstrate the importance of the body to be synchronised and to be fluid optimising the bodies kinetic chain. This is the ability to transfer weight and distribute force evenly from the floor through the whole body to contact.

There is no doubt that an understanding of biomechanics providing excellent technical coaching is important, alongside giving the player the opportunity to find their own individual style and rhythm. However from a conditioning point of view, strength, power, robustness and proprioception of the body are all critical to allow players to reach these exceptional speed as show by Lisicki last week. Strength exercises which use the kinetic chain of the body such as deadlifts, squats and single leg squat varieties are certainly great exercises to develop strength for any tennis player. It is important to note however that dramatic increases in strength will benefit the serve but may only lead to marginal gains in the service speed. To coincide with this the ability to transfer strength in a high velocity action exercises may involve the use of medicine ball throws, jump based exercises with some form of initial rotation and the use of Olympic lifting. To reduce the risk of injury players must have robustness around common areas of injury which in the tennis players include the shoulder, ankles, hips and wrists. This includes the use of exercises which address imbalances such as weakness and tightness in the shoulder, or alternatively work on proprioception (the sense or feel of the body within a certain position) to help improve effective loading and landing for example in the ankle if players are looking to prevent ankle sprains.

Overall the ability to hit serves at these high speeds is not uncommon, but involves excellent coaching including a strong understanding of the biomechanics and motions of the serve as explained in the three phases (Kovacs and Ellenbecker, 2011). Furthermore a physical program which focuses on developing strength and power through the kinetic chain and improving robustness to particular areas of common injury is also important. However it must be said that for all this to happen the body must be fluid and synchronised to maximise every part of the nervous system and every muscle required, otherwise the bodies true potential will never be found.


Jonathan Fraser (iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist and Owner www.scienceintennis.com)


Kovacs, M. and Ellenbecker, T. (2011). An 8-stage model for evaluating the tennis serve. Implications for performance enhancement and injury prevention. Sports Health, 3 (6), 504-513.


Novak Djokovic On Why He Didn’t Post Details Of Lockdown Training

The Serbian tennis star has shed some light on his recent training routines as he outlines plans for a Balkan tennis tour.



World No.1 Novak Djokovic has been training almost daily since the world of tennis came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic but opted to keep his activities out of the limelight to avoid any potential backlash from fellow players.


The ATP Tour has been suspended since March due to the Pandemic with officials hoping to restart the sport in some capacity during the summer ahead of the US Open. Nevertheless Djokovic, who started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row, has been able to continue practicing in Marbella. He and his family were staying in a house located next to a tennis court.

Speaking with Serbian reports on Monday, the 17-time grand slam champion admitted that he didn’t want to ‘anger’ others by posting updates on social media of him training. Showing that he has been able to stay active more than other players during the lockdown.

“I had the opportunity to train almost every day during coronavirus because we stayed in a house next to a tennis court. I played a lot of tennis on a hard surface, but I didn’t upload anything on the net so as not to anger other players,” he told The Telegraf.
“I started recently on clay, I had two training sessions here, I feel good physically. I was quite active, I followed my program. Of course, the intensity decreases because I was not preparing for tournaments.”


With uncertainty surrounding when the Tour may start again, numerous countries have created their own domestic tournaments. In Djokovic’s case, he is the founder of his own event that will be played across the Balkan region. The Adria Tour is set to take place between June and July with three top 20 players set to participate. Besides Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov are also taking part.

“I started the whole idea of ​​the project and I communicate every day with TSS (Serbian Tennis Federation) and the company that organizes all this,” said Djokovic.
“The current international competitions, ITF and ATP will not happen before the first of August, and even that is uncertain. Afterwards, I will have time again if things resume on a hard surface in America, because I will have a month to prepare for the continuation of the season.”

Should it all go to plan, the clay-court tournament is set to be played in Belgrade (Serbia), Zadar (Croatia), Montenegro and Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Although it has been confirmed that the locations of the Bosnian and Montenegrin events are still not fully confirmed with the possibility of Sarajevo hosting one leg of the tour. Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Prior to the Tour suspension, Djokovic was unbeaten in 2020. He started the season by winning three consecutive titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships. Those triumphs enabled him to earn prize money of $4,410,541. He also earned just over $70,000 from playing doubles so far this year.

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Nikoloz Basilashvili Domestic Abuse Case: Extraordinary Claims Emerge From Both Sides

One journalist says she has ‘inside knowledge’ that the tennis pro has a history of domestic abuse, but his family has issued a statement claiming the accuser has a record of making false allegations.



On what has been a dramatic day for tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili, his family has now issued a statement in which they have made a series of allegations against his ex-wife.


The world No.27 was arrested on May 22nd over allegations that he ‘physically attacked’ Neli Dorokashvili during a confrontation on the outskirts of Tbilisi. Prosecutors have launched charges against him under the article ‘Domestic violence in the presence of a minor against a member of his family.’ Officials have confirmed that the alleged incident took part in front of their son.

After his initial hearing on Sunday, Basilashvili denied any wrongdoing and paid for a bail. His lawyer, Irma Tchkadua, has said that there is ‘no evidence’ in this case. However The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia is demanding a pre-trial detention of the 28-year-old.

In a new twist to the case, Basilashvili’s family has now issued a statement to news agency IPN in which they have accused Dorokashvili of deliberately making false allegations. Claiming she has made similar claims in the past in order to damage the reputation of the tennis star. Revealing that Basilashvili’s mother, Natalia, have previously faced child abuse accusations.

“We want to respond to the allegations made against Nikoloz and our family today,” the statement begins.
“First of all, we want to apologize to the fans for the false allegations. We declare with full responsibility that the information about violence is not true and there is no evidence that would prove any violent action.’
“It is not happening for the first time that Neli Dorokashvili, Nikoloz’s ex-wife, is trying to inflict moral, financial and reputation damage on Nikoloz and his family’
“After the divorce, Neli Dorokashvili sued Nikoloz Basilashvili’s mother about child abuse. The court considered the complaint and acquitted Basilashvili’s mother.”

Touching on the incident that is alleged to have taken place, the Basilashvili family has said that Dorokashvili broke into the property and tried to start a fight. However, the family statement didn’t address reports that Nodar Basilashvili, who introduced his son to tennis at the age of five, was issued with a restraining order.

“As for the May 21 incident, Neli Dorokashvili broke into the property of the parents of Nikoloz Basilashvili without permission, where she deliberately tried to provoke a conflict. Nevertheless, there was no any violent action against her, not even an attempt. Fortunately, there is evidence for this and the court will consider it on July 16, 2020,” the family insists.
“The trial continues. We believe that Nikoloz will prove his innocence very soon.”

The claims made by a journalist

Despite the calls to dismiss the case, one Georgian journalist has made an extraordinary claim in which she said that Basilashvili has a history of domestic abuse. Magda Kldiashvili, who is the former editor-in-chief of goal.ge, has claimed that the two have been separated for some time and there was a contract drawn up in which he has to pay his ex-wife 100,000 Georgian Lari per month. Their contract is said to be kept confidential according to the journalist. Furthermore, Kldiashvili claims the argument between the two started when Dorokashvili asked for her monthly payment to be increased from 100,000 to 300,000 Lari.

“I have behind-the-scenes information that Nikoloz Basilashvili has been abusing his wife for many years and they have been separated for many years,newsreport.ge quoted Kldiashvili as writing on Facebook.
“Neli Dorokashvili had a formal contract with her husband, according to which Basilashvili paid her one hundred thousand GEL every month. Basilashvili saw the child with the permission of a social worker and rarely!”

‘It might have been an axe’

The Recorder is one of the first news outlets to obtain a testimony from Dorokashvili herself on the incident. Contradicting a comment previously made by Kldiashvili, she said she has no idea as to why the alleged confrontation occurred. Although she claims that she was chased after by Basilashvili’s father Nodar who was holding what she ‘thought was an axe’ but is unsure.

“The reason for the controversy is still unclear to me, I just went to fetch my son,” Kldiashvili told The Recorder.
“An examination (investigation) has been conducted and is still ongoing. I was not expecting (him) to be released on bail.’
“At my sight, when I visited my son, I don’t know what happened, he (Nodar) was drunk or what he needed, I don’t know, he and his son chased me with some weapons.”
I can’t confirm what it was, because it had some big tarry, I think it was an axe.” She later added.

It is important to note that all three statements have not been verified and the police investigation is ongoing. The Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, is examining the case.

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World No.27 Nikoloz Basilashvili Facing Domestic Violence Charges

Multiple reports have confirmed that the former top 20 player has been released on bail ahead of a court hearing later this year.



Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili has been arrested and will face court later this year over allegations of violence against his ex-wife.


The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that the tennis star was arrested on May 22nd. A day after he allegedly attacked his former partner, according to an official statement from the prosecution. The incident is said to have taken place on the outskirts of Tbilisi where Basilashvili has been accused of ‘physically attacking’ his ex-wife.

In the wake of the allegation, the world No.27 was hit with a 100, 000 GEL bail, which equates to just over $30,000 in US dollars. Although it has since been confirmed that the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia is demanding a pre-trial detention. Following the initial court session, lawyer Irma Tchkadua has said that Basilashvili denies any wrongdoing.

“He denies charges, as he has not committed anything. There is no evidence in the case”, Inter Presse News quoted the lawyer as telling reporters.

Radio Tavisupleba, which is the Georgian branch of Radio Free Europe, have obtained a statement from the head of the country’s national tennis association. Former Soviet player and 1973 Wimbledon finalist Alexander Metreveli has stated the organisation is firmly against all cases of violence.

“Everyone condemns the fact of violence. For us, because we all know Niko, it is an incredible topic … When a husband and wife leave (separate), there is always some disagreement, not only with Niko. I knew there was a problem,” he said.

The same news network has also reported that the father of Basilashvili has been issued with a restraining order in the wake of the alleged incident. It is unclear how that order is connected to this situation.

Basilashvili peaked at a career ranking high of 16th in the world last year. He has won three ATP 500 titles with two of those occurring in Germany where he won back-to-back titles in Hamburg. His best run at a grand slam was back in 2018 when he reached the fourth round of the US Open.

According to Georgian criminal code, if Basilashvili is found guilty he could face 200 to 400 hours of community service or between one and three years in prison.

A photo of Basilashvili attending his initial court hearing can be seen in the below tweet.


Since the publication of this article, The Public Defender of Georgia has confirmed that the alleged incident involving Basilashvili and his ex-wife took place in front of their child. Nino Lomjaria has already started to examine the case.

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