How is the serve clock used in tennis?

The shot clock or serve clock in tennis is used to keep a count on how much time a player takes between points. According to the rules, the players should be ready within 25 seconds of the last point. This time begins after the chair umpire announces the score after the last point. By the 25th second, the server must be performing his or her service motion.

In case the first serve is a fault, then the server prepares for a second serve. According to the previous rules, players were allotted 20 seconds before a first serve and 10 seconds before the second serve. However, based on the revised rules, there are no specifications on how much minimum time a player must take between the first and second serve.

The time of 25 seconds does not only focus on the server, but also the returner. A code violation can be given to the returner if he or she intentionally or unintentionally delays the game play even when the server is ready. For the server and returner, any delay in 25 seconds can result in a code violation or point penalty.

By 2020, each of the four majors employed the 25-second serve clock. This was done in order to fasten the gameplay. However, according to Stephanie Kovalchik, two factors drive the pace of the match. The first is called recovery, Recovery refers to the act of returning back to the baseline for the next point. The second is called game pressure. Depending on the situation of the game, a player can feel the pressure of the match. This can lead to him or her spending a considerable amount of time in thinking about his or her tactics for the next point.

The serve clock’s addition can at times make the entire situation more stressful. Many players have spoken against the shot clock. Some others have voiced their opinion in its favour, while some others do not feel it affects their style of play. Love it or hate it, the serve clock is here to stay and will remain a key component in maintaining the pace of the match.

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