I lost a one set match the other day to a guy who was about 5 years younger than me and weighed about 100 pounds less. He was clearly a better player and I wish I would have had another set against him, but we ran out of time.
My mistake was not knowing that we had a finite time on the court because the guy was physically deteriorating right before my eyes and I don’t think he would have made it through another set. AND if I had gotten him to three sets, I really think he would have just given up.
None of this was the point of this post. During the first set I was getting a really good percentage of first serves in and winning most of those points. When I did have to hit a second serve I gave him a very high bouncing top spin serve and he muffed the first couple of those. By that time we were 3/3.
Then, my first serve percentage went down and he caught on to my second serve and started clocking it for winners. Before I had the chance to hit him some low bouncing second serves, the set was over.
My other mistake here was that I did not test him on low bouncing second serves early in the match. I’m not sure if he would have handled them just as easily, but now I’ll never know because I didn’t test it early in the match.
As I look back, it was pretty easy for him to adapt to my relatively slow, high bouncing second serve. He just backed up, and easily took it in his wheelhouse. Had I been able to keep him guessing whether I was going to hit a low bouncing slice second serve or a high bouncing top spin serve he would not have been able to stay back to hit those easy second serve winners for fear of getting second serve aced with the low bouncing serves.
The point is, even if things seem to be going good (as in his muffed second serve returns), you should still test other shots not only to see how your opponent handles them, but to keep them guessing about what kind of shot you are going to hit.