Madrid is known for its altitude and pop, and the ATP’s big servers are enjoying a hey day at the 2023 Mutua Madrid Open. Aces are up, speeds are up and serve ratings for the big servers are sky high.
Overall, through the early rounds as of this writing, men are averaging around 12 aces per match. Last year, that average was 11. That might not seem like a big difference, but in men’s tennis where the margins are reliably razor thin, an increase of one percentage point merits further investigation. Keep in mind, last year Madrid had self-professed “serve bots” John Isner and Reilly Opelka in the field. This year those two are absent, which makes an increase in aces even more notable.
But it’s the serve rating for the tournament’s defending champion and Madrid number one seed, Carlos Alcaraz that is truly conspicuous. Last year Alcaraz averaged a serve rating of 230 in his first two matches. This year? A whopping 294. Quite an improvement. Big servers Hubert Hurkacz and Stefanos Tsitsipas also greatly improved their service ratings in a year-over-year comparison.
As for speed, all eyes are on Alcaraz who impressively is averaging 220 km/h (137 mph) as a top serve speed through two matches.
Tsitsipas wowed the tennis world with a streak of 39 straight first serves in his match against Dominic Thiem, going over an hour without missing. Stef put 88% of first serves in the box during his 3-set win over Domi.
Likewise, Alexander Zverev went 35 minutes before missing a first serve in his win over Hugo Grenier and similarly put a redlining 86% of first serves in for the match.
As to the reason for a serving fiesta in Madrid in 2023, sometimes it relates to temperature, wind, humidity or other conditions. Other times, it’s simply reflective of the big servers in the field and their year-to-year improvement. Either way, the more free points, the better as the ATP season hits its peak clay court grind and the players try to remain injury-free ahead of Roland Garros.