Raducanu Wimbledon 2024

Wimbledon 2024 analysis: Get your return in

With almost half of the Wimbledon first-round matches completed on day one, it’s time for some analysis around the relationship between winning matches and simply putting returns back in the court.

With the help of Craig O’Shannessy of Brain Game Tennis, Tennishead analyses the best strategy for grass court play…

Here are the numbers for the men and women.

Returns In Play (1st & 2nd Serves Combined)

  • Men = 66%
  • Women = 74%


In the men’s draw, the only match to finish is Ben Shelton (USA) against Matt Bellucci (ITA) on court 18. The Italian leads two sets to one, and both players were below the tournament average of returns in play. So, we have 31 completed matches involving 62 players.

Of the 32 players that beat the tournament average of 66% returns in play, only 10 lost in the first round. That speaks volumes about getting your return back in play and giving yourself an opportunity to break serve and win the match.

Of the 13 leading players to get the most returns back in play (between 73% and 82%), 12 of them won their match. It’s almost a lock!

Of the 21 players who made the least amount of returns (47% to 61%), only three players won their match. This analysis clearly shows an undeniable relationship between returns in play and winning matches. The leading six players, who all won their matches, were:

  1. 82% Daniel Altmaier
  2. 81% Brandon Nakashima
  3. 81% Tommy Paul
  4. 79% Alexandre Muller
  5. 79% Grigor Dimitrov
  6. 78% Miomir Kecmanovic

Putting returns back in play is a combination of small steps with the feet and shortening the swing to block the ball back in play. While some players stand much further back to return serve than others, the overarching fundamentals are to step forward and keep the swing short.


Putting returns back in play is considerably easier in the women’s draw, as the speed of the serve is generally less potent.

Of the 31 players who had a return percentage higher than the tournament average so far of 74%, 20 made it through to the second round. That’s definitely the majority, but not quite as much as the men.

The leading seven players were:

  1. 94% Daria Kasatkina (won)
  2. 89% Varvara Gracheva (won 89%)
  3. 89% Sara Sorribes Tormo (lost)
  4. 89% Elsa Jacqemot (lost)
  5. 87% Daria Saville (won)
  6. 86% Brenda Fruhvirtova (won)
  7. 86% Renata Zarazua (lost)

Of the seven leading women, who made between 86% and 94%, three lost their match. Of the 19 players that finished at the bottom of the list, making between 51% and 67%, only four won their match.

In general, players are being defensive in nature against a harder first serve, blocking the increased speed back down the middle at the server. But they switch to offense when facing second serves to try and immediately extract a Serve +1 error.

Players at all levels of our sport would be wise to carve out more time on the practice court to refine their return of serve. Blocking works. Standing back a little further can also work. Just make sure to get your hands and feet organized, keep contact in front and be balanced when hitting it.

Good luck with your returns!

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Craig O’Shannessy is the creator of Brain Game Tennis. For 20 years he’s been involved in tennis as a coach to players like Kevin Anderson and even Dustin Brown when he famously beat Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon. More recently Craig’s been working as a match analyst at Wimbledon and for the ATP Tour. He has also used the unique insights from his match analysis software dartfish to guide players such as Novak Djokovic with analysis of opponents and performances.

Visit to read the latest and best selling course ‘Getting Tight’ where Craig teams up with Jeff Greenwald to combine their specific skill sets to help you with the universal problem all players struggle with in matches.

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.