Watching the Laver Cup last weekend has made it pretty obvious that tennis (at all levels) comes down to combining consistent serving with consistent returning over the course of the match.
This is the case in both singles and doubles. Europe did this better than the World in this year's event. Even though the World has great servers (Isner, Kyrgios, Opelka, Shapavalov, etc.), Europe executed the serving and returning serve skills better. They controlled more of the points from the start, putting pressure on the opponent to come up with too many points requiring on the run shots, or almost impossible defensive skills. This resulted in more success for the European players when faced with game point and at crucial times in the tiebreakers. It is human nature to remember the incredible long points (think Djokovic-Medvedev 53 shot point in 2021 US Open final) in a match, but the two, three, four shot points are the ones that determine who will actually win.
The serve and the return are the shots that have the most impact on the outcome in these shorter points and are the reason the best players seem to come out on top more often than not. The players who do a better job of combining serving skills and returning skills point after point have a better percentage on the "crucial points'' at crunch time. This results in a higher level of success in the pressure situations and a lot of victories in tight matches. Focus on serving and returning serve to put yourself in a position to win.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com) and MyHamptonsPro based in Sag Harbor, NY (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Tennis Professional at Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at email@example.com or call 865-300-7323