Andy Murray defended the use of the underhand serve he deployed during his first-round win at Wimbledon over Australia’s James Duckworth.
After his 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory, Murray explained in his post-match press conference that the decision to use the uncommon shot, more often used by his friend and fellow tennis star Nick Kyrgios, was a tactical one.
Funnily enough, Murray’s execution of the serve wasn’t especially pinpoint, with the shot too high and too long, but he won the point regardless.
“He [Duckworth] changed his return position, that’s why I did it,” Murray told reporters. “He was standing very close to return. He was struggling a little bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two meters further back. As soon as I saw him step further back, I threw the underarm (underhand) serve in.
“I personally have no issue with players using it. I never have. Certainly, more and more players have started returning from further, further behind the baseline now to give themselves an advantage to return.
“The underarm serve is a way of saying, ‘If you’re going to step back there, then I’m going to possibly throw that in.’”
There seems to be the unusual notion among a small minority of tennis fans that the underhand serve is in some way disrespectful to the opposing player. Murray disagrees.
“I don’t know why people have ever found it potentially disrespectful,” he said. “I’ve never understood that. It’s a legitimate way of serving. I would never use an underarm serve if someone was standing on the baseline because I think it’s a stupid idea because they’re going to track it down and it’s easy to get.
“If they stand four or five meters behind the baseline, then why would you not do that to try to bring them forward if they’re not comfortable returning there? Tactically, it’s a smart play. No one says it’s disrespectful for someone to return from six meters, whatever, five meters behind the baseline to try to get an advantage.
“So I used it not to be disrespectful to him but to say: ‘If you’re going to step further back to return the serve to give yourself more time, then I’m going to exploit that.’”