Tennis is a sport with razor-thin rules. A few points here and there can frequently determine a game. Even a straightforward victory will have had multiple crucial moments that could have turned a game, set, or even the match on its head, even though it may not always seem that way.
As a result, winning the crucial points rather than just the overall number of points frequently determines the outcome of a game. Break points are among the most critical moments in any tennis match.
So, precisely what is break point tennis, and how should it be played? Do you need to make tactical or psychological adaptations to play a break point as a server or returner?
Let’s investigate these inquiries in greater detail, then!
What Is ‘Break Point’ In Tennis?
A player receiving a service game is considered to have reached their “break point” when they are just one point away from winning that game. Let’s use an illustration.
Novak Djokovic is receiving a serve from Roger Federer, but Djokovic just changed the game’s score to 30-40 in his favor with an incredible backhand shot. Djokovic now has a break point and needs only one more point to win a game that Federer is serving in.
Djokovic would have a double-breaker point if he played even better in this game and changed the score to 15–40. Due to Federer’s serve, Djokovic had two chances to win the game by converting a break point.
The same reasoning holds if Djokovic converts a game score of 0-40 to give himself a triple break point. Additionally, if Djokovic led in a deuce game on Federer’s serve, that would also count as a break point.
See our page for additional details on the tennis scoring system if you are unsure how players achieve scores of 15, 30, or 40. Once you realize that these numbers are merely another way of saying one, two, or three points, it is pretty easy!
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Do Break Points Really Matter?
It is understandable how break points may be dismissed as “just another point.” The outcome of break points, though, can drastically change how a game plays out.
Empirical research has been done, like a study titled “Winning matches in Grand Slam men’s singles: An examination of player performance-related characteristics from 1991 to 2008.” This study shows that winning a match and converting break points are strongly correlated.
Several well-known players may be found among the players at the top of the “break points converted” statistic. Several examples taken from the ATP Tour website are provided below:
- 3rd: Rafael Nadal, 44.95%
- 7th: Novak Djokovic, 44.36%
- 18th: Andy Murray, 43.6%
- 20th: Andre Agassi, 43.32%
- 45th: Ivan Lendl, 42.4%
As you can see, the statistic for “break points converted” has many massive fish towards the top. As we will see later, converting a break point can result in a significant shift in momentum in favor of the player who was able to do so.
Look at the players who can save the most break points by moving to the server’s side of the internet. This occurs when a server is one point from going out of the match but can rally to keep the receiver from getting a break point:
- 1st: Ivo Karlovic, 71.19%
- 2nd: John Isner, 70.64%
- 3rd: Milos Raonic, 69.36%
- 4th: Pete Sampras, 67.9%
- 7th: Roger Federer, 67.31%
You can see how crucial it can be to safeguard your own service game and avoid securing a break point by looking at the list of tennis greats who have saved the most break points. The top three players on this list are widely known for their powerful serves, which is perhaps not unexpected.
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The Psychology Of Break Points In Tennis
Now that we know, we can win more tennis matches by saving or winning break points. They frequently mark a turning point and can show precisely how to win a set.
Generally speaking, you should try to save a break point by serving a strong, aggressive, high-percentage first serve. This explains why powerful servers like John Isner and Milos Raonic are in the top three in the “break points saved” metric.
Additionally, making a mental note of your opponent’s weaknesses is a good idea before trying to secure or save a break point. For instance, you may save up a good lob for when you need to secure a break point if you notice a sluggish response to lobbed shots during a rally.
You can also decide to concentrate on being patient, returning correctly, and watching for a high-probability opportunity to attack if you do not know much about your opponent.
You will face opponents who depend on their powerful serves to carry them through a game. These players will feel uncomfortable if you can get them to serve to a break point.
If you succeed in taking the breaking point, you can increase that! A quick start in your next service game may give you a psychological edge that helps you win the game.
We have included some well-liked tips on how to approach crucial moments in a match, such as break points, serves to stay in the match or serves to win a set:
- Do not rush your play: Newcomers frequently rush the start of an important point to get over the associated sensations of anxiousness. You may be confident that carrying out your customary pre-point ritual will give you the highest chance of success. Even top athletes like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been known to take a moment to themselves before crucial points to gather their thoughts and ensure they are in the right frame of mind.
- Maintain consistency: Throughout the point, continue to play the same way you have in the past. It is normal to witness a forced attempt at a large winner or something risky like a drop shot in beginners and juniors.
- The wisest course of action during a break point or any other crucial moment is to stick to what you know. Keep doing what is effective for you and resist the need to accelerate the point.
- Play on your terms: It is not enough to hope for an unforced blunder from your opponent, especially if you are up against a formidable foe. Even if saving a break point, you should still carry out your intentions and approach the point with a moderately attacking mindset. In this case, having the services will let you initially control how the rally develops.
Tennis players frequently repeat strategies that have been successful for them during the match to win or save break points.
Break Point – Serving
When you are a server, and you are at a break point, it is crucial to attempt to remain composed and use a logical strategy to get through the problem.
Getting your initial service is the most crucial element in saving break points. You must do this if you want to maximize your chances of holding your serve and avoiding a break point.
To be sure, this is easier said than done. Being break point down can be uncomfortable, revealing any anxiety a player may be experiencing.
If a match is close and evenly matched, one minor mistake on a break point could be all it takes for your opponent to win. Few professional players can match, much less outperform, their average first serve % on break points.
Professionals understand break points’ value and focus on making them matter. You can decide whether the point will be played on your terms or your opponent’s, like the server.
If you do your initial service, your opponent will probably be hurried, out of position, or compelled to play a defensive shot. This drastically changes the odds in your favor and makes salvaging a break point far simpler than hustling and straining to stay in a point.
However, your chances of saving that break point plummet if you miss your first serve and are then obliged to hit a second serve. Your opponent has a fantastic opportunity to apply pressure and attack your second serve because you are now on the defensive and will most likely not take any significant risks on it.
Since they do not lose the game if they lose a point, your opponent may afford to play recklessly and take most chances. As a server, making your first serve while you are at a break point is crucial.
You will still have a much higher chance of winning the point by hitting the first serve than a second serve, even if you slow down a little and concentrate more on placement.
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Break Point – Returning
As a returner who has scored break points, you should take a calm yet determined approach to the issue. This chance should not be missed because it might not appear again soon. However, that does not imply that you should play idly.
Simply getting the return into play is crucial for returners with break points. Trying to block the ball deep in the middle of the court when receiving the first serve is frequently a wise move.
This forces your opponent back but also allows you lots of room for error, and your opponent will probably give you a weaker response. You can try to hit a more forceful and aggressive shot and rush them off the court if they serve again.
This is a calculated risk worth taking because just entering the court and letting your opponent know you are there can be enough to frighten them off and even force a double fault.
So, if you are a returner with break points, try to be aggressive and apply pressure to your opponent while tapering your approach.
Always remember that the player serving will probably be under more significant pressure than you are, so do your best to make them miss!
What Is the Advantage of Break Point in Tennis?
#1. Winning A Game
You win the game if you take the breaking point. Therefore, a break point gives you the chance to advance to the next point in the set and the match. When your opponent serves, it is frequently harder to win the game since a skilled server has several advantages.
First off, the server can hit a shot so well that you will not be able to return it. Additionally, a well-placed or strong serve could physically put you on the defensive and put you out of position for your subsequent stroke. One service break can frequently mean the difference between success and failure in a match between two robust servers.
You can choose from several strategic options when you reach a break point. The approach that brought you to the breaking point can be continued. You might play more aggressively to win the game by attempting to hit a rapid winner.
Alternately, you can play more cautiously and wait for your opponent to make a mistake under the stress of the breaking point. When you encounter a break point as a server, you might be inclined to go all out for a service winner. Because you do not want to double fault and lose a service game, this is only a wise move if you are confident in your second serve.
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What Is Break Point Tennis? In a tennis match, break points are generally of the utmost importance. They frequently decide a game’s fate and can present fantastic possibilities for the tide to turn.
By being aware of this, servers and returners can modify how they play break points and eventually strive to play their best tennis at the most critical times.
When facing break points as a server, it is crucial to make your initial serve as frequently as possible. If you have to hit a second serve, try to concentrate on spin and placement and have an aggressive rather than a defensive stance.
It would be best if you tried to make your opponent make a mistake when you return and have earned break points since they will be feeling the pressure. Do not miss your chance, but be prepared to take measured risks to press the matter and increase pressure.