The break of the serve. A moment decisive for the set, and perhaps the match. We in this article look at whether the break of the serve really holds such significance as it is conventionally deemed, by exploring certain factors which might negate this assumption.

Speed of the court surface

We believe that the breaking of serve would be a more significant factor in deciding the match when the courts are faster, or to get to the essence of our point, when it is harder for the opponent to break back. On a fast surface such as grass, the successful breaker of a serve would enjoy two advantages: 1) the obvious one of momentum, 2) and the psychological one of knowing that it would be very hard and unlikely for his opponent to neutralize his or her breaking of the serve, which would no doubt fuel confidence. On the clay court, where the balls are slower, this is not the case because servers are relatively disadvantaged given the ability for opponents of the serve to have relatively plenty of time to return the ball, and even direct it (a particular play of Nadal). As such, breaking the serve would seem, rather run-of-the-mill...

Very tight and in-the-zone gameplay

Rare as this may be in professional tennis today, there have been moments when both sides are playing so well, they successfully neutralize the opponent's serve in general, with the result that both sides constantly break back and forth. This is best exemplified in the last set of the US Open 2011 mens' singles final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, which was probably the best tennis I have seen in my life so far, in spite of the less-than-ideal scoreline (given how spectacular the gameplay was, I wanted the match to go up to five sets).

Two un-deadly servers

We are not saying that some top-tier tennis players have serves worse than others, but such is the law of nature that some players would have more harmless serves than the rest. For instance, imagine pitting Dimitrov against Murray. Both of their serves are good, but not good enough to be not susceptible to frequent attacks which they have suffered from in real life. The perfect example of this is Djokovic's breaking of Murray's serve in the 4th set of their semi-final clash at the 2012 Australian Open (shown in the video below).

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