SABR Shot In Tennis

SABR in tennis

One of the most exciting shots and movements in tennis is Roger Federer’s SABR. The way he attacks the net on the opponent’s second serve, creating trouble is well-known around the world.

If you have watched any of his games in the last decade, you’ll know how it’s done and below we will analyze step by step all the movements.

WHAT IS A SABR Shot in Tennis?

The SABR shot meaning the sneak attack by Roger is technique introduced by the 20 times Grand Slam winner, Roger Federer, in 2015. It started with Roger Federer moving up the court on his second serve to unsettle the opponent and force him to make a mistake.

With this shot, the opponent is unsettled and remains in trouble in the return. This happens due to the speedy half volley which forces the opponent straight after service to come towards the net.

Federer, when interviewed always says how the maneuver started, at the end of the training, He was tired and wanted to keep the rally short so his coach, Severin Lüthi encourage him to move forward on the court and he started to hit winnings with the volley.

The next day he came again to training and did the same, it was working every time, so Lüthi told him, ’’why don’t you try it in a match’’? Federer smiled and started to use it even at the US Open.


It’s pretty simple and can only be applied to the player who is returning the service and not vice versa. The steps to follow and achieve a winning point are the following:

  • Wait till the opponent toss the ball and have his eyes looking towards it in the sky
  • Move forward as quickly and silently as possible
  • Try to use the volley post bouncing just to return the ball to the other court, wherever
  • When the opponent hits the ball you will attack the net, trying to shorten the rally


When you decide to use the SABR you must consider many different aspects before risking the play.

Advantage of SABR

First, the advantages are:

  • Catching the opponent by surprise
  • Attack and force the opponent to return an unexpected shot
  • Gain court as you will move forward
  • The opponent mentally is destroyed if you hit a winner this way

Disadvantage of SABR

The disadvantages instead are:

  • If the opponent has a big serve also with the second you might not even catch the ball
  • Not easy to place the ball on the other side of the court with the half volley
  • If the opponent has a powerful shot, it will be easy for him to place a winning shot down the line
  • If you aren’t comfortable on the net, it will be an easy game for the opponent to make a point
  • If the opponent is a strong one and can lob you, it might not work


The shot as Federer does is to make the opponent unsettle by hitting the ball on the rise as soon as it hits the ground while the opponent is still in a defensive position.

By doing that the opponent doesn’t have the time to get ready for a winning shot and most of the time just manages to hit the point to the net.

Federer on his first attempt would move sneakily forward during the opponent’s toss, creating issues on their ability to cover the court as they are forced to move forward and finish the point while they have just finished serving and are still in the baseline.

While Federer does it only on the opponent’s second serve, one of his admirers, Nick Kyrgios, the Australian superstar does it also on the first serve of the opponent and tried to do it against Zverev in 2016.


Who created SABR in tennis?

The player that everyone acknowledges to be the creator of the SABR is Roger Federer, who instead gives the deserved honor to his coach, Severin Lüthi

What does SABR stand for tennis?

It means sneaky attack by Roger, as the inventor is Roger Federer

Is SABR against the rules of tennis?

The move itself it’s not against the rules of tennis as hitting the ball after it bounces on the opponent’s serve is legit. However, some legends such as John McEnroe, find it disrespectful toward the opponent. On this specific issue you can find more information below:

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