Mark Petchey, Andy Murray’s former coach, has told The Tennis Space how the world No 4 will deal with Ivo Karlovic’s first serve. Karlovic is the tallest man in the Wimbledon draw at 6ft 10in, and his first serve has a top speed of 156mph. Petchey shared some of his thoughts.
Karlovic doesn’t have a lot of movement on his serve.
“Karlovic has a big serve, but he doesn’t have a lot of movement on his serve, so it doesn’t swing out of your hit-zone. He doesn’t have a great curving serve; he hits it pretty flat. After a while, you will get a read on the ball-tosses. So if Andy can pick it, and he has such great hands, he can get involved in a lot of points.”
Murray must adjust where he stands to try to take the ball at a comfortable height.
“A lot of it with Karlovic is trajectory. It’s difficult to practise for playing an opponent who hits the ball down from that height. The ball is going to come through to Andy at shoulder height some of the time, so you have to vary where you stand to try to get the ball at a comfortable height. That can take a while to get used to. But he’s played him before so he’s got a rough idea of what’s going to be coming at him. It’s very difficult to replicate this in practice. Lendl’s a tall guy – he can stand in the service box and bang it down, and that will sharpen your reaction time, but it won’t be the same.”
Murray has great balance.
“Andy knows how to return big serves. He’s always had that ability. He’s always had great balance. He’s always had that vision you can’t really teach. He always sees the ball earlier than others. If you look at the way he springs left or right, he’s got great defensive returns. He holds his balance well. He doesn’t over-commit one way or the other. He can also reach further with one step than most players.”
Murray won’t try to do too much when returning first serves.
“The key when returning the first serve is not to be too aggressive, but to think, ‘I need to make this’.”
The mental approach is key against Karlovic – Murray mustn’t allow himself to become frustrated.
“Mentally, you have to go into a match against a big server knowing that, however well you return, and however well you see it, there’s a good chance you will be in a couple of tiebreaks. That’s one of the keys, to not be mentally frustrated, and to be mentally ready for that challenge. You have to mentally prepare yourself for having a lot of pressure on your own service games. So put a lot of focus on the first two points of your service games – don’t allow the other guy to get into a position where he can just swing freely.”