Person with the best serve + return combo in history? [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Person with the best serve + return combo in history?

kooties
10-03-2009, 05:03 PM
I've always imagined a player with these qualities would really be quite somrthing. So I tried to recollect my vague memories, but couldn't really come up with one.

Sampras, Mcenroe and Federer's returns have been sometimes amazing, but consistently nothing special, Lendl, Borg and Agassi weren't exactly feared for their serves. Wilander was a pusher and didn't really have either. Also don't get me started on people who have nothing in one side of the spectrum (Nadal).

Honestly I really don't know, but if I had to pick someone, I dunno? Becker? :confused:

*edit*
In the title I meant return, BTW how do you change thread titles?

GlennMirnyi
10-03-2009, 05:26 PM
Chuck Norris.

Action Jackson
10-03-2009, 05:28 PM
Roddick.

Har-Tru
10-03-2009, 05:39 PM
Borg

Certinfy
10-03-2009, 05:50 PM
Monaco

Action Jackson
10-03-2009, 05:52 PM
Laver

rocketassist
10-03-2009, 06:03 PM
Bolelli

Certinfy
10-03-2009, 06:06 PM
C.Rochus

Black Adam
10-03-2009, 06:08 PM
Karlovic.


Then Dent.

oranges
10-03-2009, 06:11 PM
McEnroe?

born_on_clay
10-03-2009, 06:12 PM
Bolelli
:help:

Har-Tru
10-03-2009, 06:13 PM
Laver

Quite possibly.

selyoink
10-03-2009, 06:16 PM
Seppi

Foxy
10-03-2009, 07:31 PM
Roddick by far.

HKz
10-03-2009, 09:23 PM
Borg's serve was quite underrated I think, it was definitely solid. Roddick's return IMO is also pretty solid. I don't know, it is a tough question because usually you are good at one or the other, and if you are more even, you honestly don't become a top player in the pros. Davydenko has had some really god serving days, even almost serving his weight in pounds haha.

Not to mention, back when Safin was in good form, he had excellent serving pace and very solid returns. Currently, I think Del Potro or Murray take the title however.

alter ego
10-03-2009, 09:34 PM
*edit*
In the title I meant return, BTW how do you change thread titles?
First post of the thread -> Edit -> go advanced -> Title

Har-Tru
10-03-2009, 09:35 PM
Borg's serve was quite underrated I think, it was definitely solid. Roddick's return IMO is also pretty solid. I don't know, it is a tough question because usually you are good at one or the other, and if you are more even, you honestly don't become a top player in the pros. Davydenko has had some really god serving days, even almost serving his weight in pounds haha.

Not to mention, back when Safin was in good form, he had excellent serving pace and very solid returns. Currently, I think Del Potro or Murray take the title however.

Yup.

habibko
10-03-2009, 09:38 PM
Roger Federer the GOAT.

alter ego
10-03-2009, 09:39 PM
For active players I think 1.Del Potro, 2. Murray ... long gap... 3. Federer

Echoes
10-03-2009, 09:57 PM
From what I could see on Youtube I was amazed by the quality of Newcombe's returns. I don't know if he was famous for it. I think he's definitely famous for his serves, though.

Har-Tru
10-03-2009, 10:04 PM
From what I could see on Youtube I was amazed by the quality of Newcombe's returns. I don't know if he was famous for it. I think he's definitely famous for his serves, though.

His backhand was wobbly most of the time. Nah he's not up there.

Bilbo
10-03-2009, 10:31 PM
S. Bolelli

Roddickominator
10-03-2009, 11:00 PM
Lol...Roddick should not be mentioned here unless we're talking literally "Best serve+retrieve combo"....but the OP meant Best serve+return.

Murray has a chance at this before it's all said and done.

I think it's fairly interesting that there really isn't a great returner that also had a great serve. Good returners tend to also be solid from the baseline....which usually means that they've had to develop that baseline game due to a lack of a great serve.

Sampras' return was too streaky, Federer just chips everything back(even poor 2nd serves), Agassi and Connors were amazing returners but had only average serves,

I would have to say guys like Lendl and Becker are the best I can think of as a Serve+Return combination....and maybe Borg in his better serving years. Haven't seen enough of Laver to throw him in there.

Har-Tru
10-03-2009, 11:07 PM
Lol...Roddick should not be mentioned here unless we're talking literally "Best serve+retrieve combo"....but the OP meant Best serve+return.

Murray has a chance at this before it's all said and done.

I think it's fairly interesting that there really isn't a great returner that also had a great serve. Good returners tend to also be solid from the baseline....which usually means that they've had to develop that baseline game due to a lack of a great serve.

Sampras' return was too streaky, Federer just chips everything back(even poor 2nd serves), Agassi and Connors were amazing returners but had only average serves,

I would have to say guys like Lendl and Becker are the best I can think of as a Serve+Return combination....and maybe Borg in his better serving years. Haven't seen enough of Laver to throw him in there.

With his piss poor second serve? Nah.

Roddickominator
10-03-2009, 11:09 PM
With his piss poor second serve? Nah.

The inconsistent first, and the poor 2nd are obviously what is holding him back. But he's the only great returner that can serve big enough....you'd assume that he'd improve some as he gets older but we'll see.

Echoes
10-04-2009, 12:43 PM
His backhand was wobbly most of the time. Nah he's not up there.

You mean backhand or backhand return?

kooties
10-04-2009, 01:20 PM
Roddick has a nice return (when he gets to the ball). The thing that makes him iffy is that he gets aced a lot. Against another big server he always seems to have less aces.

moon language
10-04-2009, 01:37 PM
Roddick's return is notoriously awful. Hopefully people mentioning him are joking.

Kolya
10-04-2009, 01:39 PM
Mayer.

Dougie
10-04-2009, 03:03 PM
Not many will agree with me, I know, but I´d put Agassi up there as well. His return-game was one of the best ever, and while his serve was never his biggest weapon, it got significantly better during his career. Obviously it was not as good as Sampras or Becker, for example, but he could hold his own and he kept improving it. So, as a combination of serve/return, I wouldn´t count Agassi out.

Clydey
10-04-2009, 08:00 PM
Federer, without question. At his peak, he is one of the best first serve returners ever.

Har-Tru
10-04-2009, 10:25 PM
You mean backhand or backhand return?

Both. They're pretty closely related, you know. ;) :p

I take it you've seen highlights from the 1969 Wimby final? He played very well that day.

Macbrother
10-04-2009, 10:47 PM
Federer, without question. At his peak, he is one of the best first serve returners ever.

I agree. People too often confusing the Federer return of now versus in his heyday. A big serve really meant nothing to Federer, which really contributed to so many of those straight set victories and amazing tiebreak records. What Federer may have lacked (especially now) is consistent aggression off the return, but that's not everything, the ability to neutralize a serve is also a huge part of the equation. And even so, he would change it up against S-Vers and give them all sorts of trouble.

Marat Safin is also a good one, his returns absolutely mauled Sampras in that '00 final, particularly on the backhand side, the ball would be racing past Pistol Pete before he even made it to the service line.

Lendl's first serve seems to be a little underrated here, he had a very fine serve in his day.

Har-Tru
10-04-2009, 11:21 PM
I agree. People too often confusing the Federer return of now versus in his heyday. A big serve really meant nothing to Federer, which really contributed to so many of those straight set victories and amazing tiebreak records. What Federer may have lacked (especially now) is consistent aggression off the return, but that's not everything, the ability to neutralize a serve is also a huge part of the equation. And even so, he would change it up against S-Vers and give them all sorts of trouble.

Marat Safin is also a good one, his returns absolutely mauled Sampras in that '00 final, particularly on the backhand side, the ball would be racing past Pistol Pete before he even made it to the service line.

Lendl's first serve seems to be a little underrated here, he had a very fine serve in his day.

Good post. Federer's return is great, not top excellent. Safin is a very good choice. Lendl's serve is indeed underrated as is Borg's, but Ivan's return wasn't that outstanding.

Haelfix
10-05-2009, 08:43 AM
Safin and Federer are petty solid picks. In both the serve and return you could make a case for both those guys having great balance.

In the modern game, Blake, Hewitt, Murray and maybe DP/Djoker as well. Kuerten to a certain extent too, on clay in particular.

Sampras and Agassi were too streaky in their weak points.

madmax
10-05-2009, 09:14 AM
Currently it's Del Potro by far with Murray coming the second, as far as all time goes, not having seen all Laver's and Borg's, I could go with personal favorite - Kafelnikov. Dude had some amazing retrieving skills and not so shabby serve as well.

8pNADAL
10-05-2009, 09:14 AM
serve or return, whatever gets the ball into a rally allows nadal to win the point with his groundies

name_change
10-05-2009, 09:28 AM
Serena Williams. ;)

bjurra
10-05-2009, 11:04 AM
Aggressive returns on 2nd serve = Delpo is the best.

Being able to return 1st serve rockets = Murray is the best.

Best combo of both = Roger (when is was at his best)

I think Safin was good at aggressive returns on weak serves but his ability to stretch out and block rockets back was never that good.

leng jai
10-05-2009, 11:15 AM
Tommy Haas.

bokehlicious
10-05-2009, 11:19 AM
Tommy Haas.

This

adee-gee
10-05-2009, 11:24 AM
Are the people suggesting Safin serious?

His returning was very good for a couple of years, but his first serve % has always been shocking.

8pNADAL
10-05-2009, 11:35 AM
the x midpoint registers highest on the y midpoint between the midpoint of the sampras serve and return.

Echoes
10-05-2009, 12:15 PM
Both. They're pretty closely related, you know. ;) :p


The way I see it is that a return is usually blocked, with a very short preparation, as opposed to a normal backhand in a rally. But OK!


I take it you've seen highlights from the 1969 Wimby final? He played very well that day.

Yeah and I've re-watched when I saw this thread. :lol:
16" of great quality tennis.

I was however more impressed by his victory over Connors at the AO 1975.

But as I said earlier I'm fully aware that you can't make an opinion on just two matches.

paseo
10-05-2009, 01:01 PM
Fed.

Johnny Groove
10-05-2009, 01:36 PM
Safin was far too inconsistent in his career, but on his day, his serve was untouchable and his returns devastating. Too bad he didn't play like that for as long a time as Roger did. And Marat's first serve % was always slacking as mentioned earlier.

Agassi I think is the greatest returner of all time, but his serve was average. I know this thread is about strictly the return and serve combo, but Agassi's returns were so good, he forced the opponent to change up how they served lest they get blasted off the court.

I'd probably have to go with Federer.

His serve was never overpowering, but his placement and consistency is always effective.

On return, his ability to neutralize a big serve always did him good. 140 mph bombs were nothing to him and in his heyday, he just put a high % of returns in play and let his ground game do the rest. He didn't have to clobber 2nd serves although he did do it occasionally.

However, I think Roger's ground game aided his ability to serve that well and return so efficiently because he knew he was better from the baseline than 99% of the players in any given match.

stebs
10-05-2009, 01:37 PM
Aggressive returns on 2nd serve = Delpo is the best.

Being able to return 1st serve rockets = Murray is the best.

Best combo of both = Roger (when is was at his best)

I think Safin was good at aggressive returns on weak serves but his ability to stretch out and block rockets back was never that good.

Federer has never been good at attacking 2nd serves imo. Not for a player of his standard anyway. On the BH almost always just a slice or rally ball. On the FH, almost only strong when inside out on an AD serve return.

Many players were and ar far superior in this department. Nalbandian, Hewitt, Murray, Djokovic, Davydenko to name just a few.

As far as Agassi goes, he was a great returner offensively but his first serve returns sucked big time. It's not coincidence that many of Sampras highest ace counts are vs Agassi. The same is true for Federer and Karlovic and many other players. Agassi always stood too close to the baseline and without good reach he let a lot of big ones fly past him.

Echoes
10-05-2009, 02:01 PM
I was also surprised to see that Sampras' highest ace counts were against Agassi.

If I remember well Agassi in his later days was very often anticipating his opponent's serve. If he chose the right side he was returning great but if he anticipated poorly then it would have been an easy ace for players like Sampras who didn't ask for so much. If I remember well Sampras even hit easy second serve aces against him, quite often.

Clydey
10-05-2009, 05:47 PM
Safin was far too inconsistent in his career, but on his day, his serve was untouchable and his returns devastating. Too bad he didn't play like that for as long a time as Roger did. And Marat's first serve % was always slacking as mentioned earlier.

Agassi I think is the greatest returner of all time, but his serve was average. I know this thread is about strictly the return and serve combo, but Agassi's returns were so good, he forced the opponent to change up how they served lest they get blasted off the court.

I'd probably have to go with Federer.

His serve was never overpowering, but his placement and consistency is always effective.

On return, his ability to neutralize a big serve always did him good. 140 mph bombs were nothing to him and in his heyday, he just put a high % of returns in play and let his ground game do the rest. He didn't have to clobber 2nd serves although he did do it occasionally.

However, I think Roger's ground game aided his ability to serve that well and return so efficiently because he knew he was better from the baseline than 99% of the players in any given match.

Agassi was a great aggressive returner. He wasn't even close to being the best first serve returner out there.

Start da Game
10-05-2009, 06:11 PM
sampras.......

undoubtedly the best serve in the history by a country mile........return of serve was excellent too.......it seemed inconsistent because he was not too keen on breaking the opponent's serve too many times coz he knew he was not going to lose his serve too many times.......but i remember him so many times breaking at will when he needed to.......someone can check, i think he won most sets by 6-4 scoreline.......

federer's return of serve is excellent too and is just as good as pete's.......but his serve isn't though.......so, my choice is sampras.......laver and becker aren't that far behind with the combo........

Johnny Groove
10-05-2009, 06:12 PM
Agassi was a great aggressive returner. He wasn't even close to being the best first serve returner out there.

Depends on your definition of great first serve returner.

Clydey
10-05-2009, 06:28 PM
Depends on your definition of great first serve returner.

Someone who, firstly, gets more first serves back than your average player. Agassi didn't do that. As has already been mentioned, he had a tendency to get aced an awful lot. Secondly, someone who returns the first serve well enough to win a lot of points off of the return. Again, Agassi didn't do that. You could argue that he is the best second serve returner in history and I wouldn't necessarily debate that. He wasn't particularly outstanding on first serve returns, though.

yonexforever
10-05-2009, 06:34 PM
I submit one Richard Kraijchek(sp) or Michael Stich!

scarecrows
10-05-2009, 06:55 PM
Agassi usually used intuition in his first serve returns that's why he was moving slightly before he even saw the direction of the ball, if he got the right side he was making great returns, otherwise he was getting aced even from mediocre first serves

jonathancrane
10-05-2009, 06:57 PM
Borg

Johnny Groove
10-05-2009, 06:59 PM
Someone who, firstly, gets more first serves back than your average player. Agassi didn't do that. As has already been mentioned, he had a tendency to get aced an awful lot. Secondly, someone who returns the first serve well enough to win a lot of points off of the return. Again, Agassi didn't do that. You could argue that he is the best second serve returner in history and I wouldn't necessarily debate that. He wasn't particularly outstanding on first serve returns, though.

Fair enough.

So where would you rate Agassi's place in terms of overall return? I recall watching Agassi matches where he would tear up a player's 2nd serve to the point where they would have to take some off the first to just get it in, especially if they weren't serving at a high enough %.

He did get aced a whole lot on 1st serves, though.

LoveFifteen
10-05-2009, 07:38 PM
Are we talking about players at their peak or their average over the course of their entire careers?

straitup
10-05-2009, 08:32 PM
The question definitely is based on whether you value the serve or the return more. Because most of the big servers can't return well at all (I can't believe Roddick was mentioned as a good returner :lol: ). Vice versa, some of the best returnerss don't have very good serves...like a Ferrer, who's return is very solid, but he often uses the serve to start the point.

Haelfix
10-07-2009, 06:05 AM
Haas and Kafelnikov are also pretty good picks. Both good (but not great) serves and good (but not great) returns. I'd put Blake in that sort of balanced middle category as well.

Stich is an interesting choice, b/c I can recall some great return matches he played. Ditto for Rafter and even Sampras (although frankly his return would go on hiatus for long segments of his career and sometimes was downright atrocious). But generally I wouldn't say those guys are known for their return games.

So Safin and Roger are sort of the safe picks. Safin was inconsistent with both his serve and return, but when they were on, they won him slams. Roger's serve wasn't always as good as it is today, and his return is purely defensive and less good than in his prime, but still I wouldn't want anyone else in the world returning Karlovic or an Isner serve.

BlueSwan
10-07-2009, 11:16 AM
I think Federer should be in serious consideration here. He is neither the best server in the game or the best returner but he's got a very good blend. His serve is very strong, varied and difficult to read. He might rarely blast return winners past his opponents, but I can't think of anyone who can neutralize a big server as well as Federer. He reads serves so well and neutralize is with his sliced returns. His weakness as a returner is that he too rarely punishes weak serves. Which is a bit strange since he's perfectly capable of doing this.

If Murray can improve his second serve, then he's definitely in the running.

zicofirol
10-07-2009, 12:46 PM
Borg's serve was quite underrated I think, it was definitely solid. Roddick's return IMO is also pretty solid. I don't know, it is a tough question because usually you are good at one or the other, and if you are more even, you honestly don't become a top player in the pros. Davydenko has had some really god serving days, even almost serving his weight in pounds haha.

Not to mention, back when Safin was in good form, he had excellent serving pace and very solid returns. Currently, I think Del Potro or Murray take the title however.

:o:o. Is this a joke?

from the players I saw Federer, Safin (when he was not shit). Sampras would break when he needed to but his consistency was not up there...

pray-for-palestine-and-israel
10-07-2009, 01:19 PM
2006 Fed was probably the best serve and Return combo of all time

Dini
10-07-2009, 01:24 PM
2006 Fed was probably the best serve and Return combo of all time

He was a sponge for big serves.

These days, he still kind of is, but nowhere near his peak powers on return. Although I do remember two stunningly gorgeous return winners against Karlovic in Wimbledon this year off of first serves.

Sophocles
10-18-2009, 02:30 PM
Good question. If you exclude the great servers whose returns aren't quite up there - Richard Gonzales, Sampras, Becker, Newcombe, Vines, Ivanisevic, and today, Karlovic, Roddick, Tsonga - and the great returners whose serves aren't quite up there - Connors, Agassi, Rosewall, Crawford, Hewitt, and today, Murray (let down by 2nd serve), Nalbandian, Davydenko - you're left with something along the lines of Tilden, Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Federer, Safin. Of these, I don't know enough about Tilden to comment. Safin was good at both when playing well, but how often was that? McEnroe had great variety, accuracy, & disguise on the serve; with a wooden racquet he obviously wasn't serving as many aces as today's players, but he had a lot of service winners and countless easy first volleys. When returning, he had incredible reflexes taking the ball on the rise & without hitting it particularly hard, frequently had baseliners on the run with excellent placement on the sideline and serve-volleyers digging the ball up from around their shoelaces. But he had one major vulnerability: he was poor at returning big serves. This wasn't exposed in the wooden racquet era, when the biggest serves he faced were probably Tanner & Curren (who destroyed him at Wimbledon '85 with a graphite racquet), but once he had to face the likes of Becker, Sampras, & Ivanisevic, he found them close to impossible to break. From 1976 onwards, Borg had a powerful serve and always had a superb return, but possibly his serve lacked guile & variety. Laver's service is rather under-rated: it wasn't huge, but it was by no means weak, and by the standards of his era, he served a lot of aces, particularly considering his height. He had great variation and disguise and like most left-handers, caused right-handers no end of problems with wide-swinging serves to their backhand. When returning, he got a lot of balls back and was well able to smack weak serves away for winners off either wing, particularly the backhand. Federer similarly has great variety, accuracy, and disguise on his serve, as well as more pace than the likes of Laver & McEnroe, and a consistently deep 2nd serve with a good kicker. At his peak he was magnificent at getting huge serves back in play with deep floating returns that were hard for baseliners to attack; serve-volleyers he would pass at will (see Sampras 2001) - and if he'd played in an era with more serve-volleyers, his return would probably be more highly regarded. He was never as good at attacking weaker serves, but he is perhaps a bit under-rated here: he didn't often hit winners, but even now, he frequently gets the server on the back foot, as in his better matches against Nadal. So I'd say it's between Laver and Federer, with Laver having an edge on the return and Federer on the serve.

NinaNina19
10-19-2009, 02:45 AM
Right now it's probably Del Potro followed by Murray.

crude oil
10-19-2009, 03:10 AM
puerta

isner

enuf said.

Il Primo Uomo
10-19-2009, 07:00 AM
Serena Williams. ;)

Was about to say that and I'm dead serious :)

Julio
10-19-2009, 07:45 AM
Ryu.

latso
10-19-2009, 08:19 AM
This combo is eventually the key for the best doubles players but not only.

It's clear that the guy with the best combo is one of the best players on the circuit and it hardly could be else than Roger.

His return is not spectacular but very good still + the great serve makes him the best one.
Second i'd put Safin as he had an even better return but not as sofisticated serve as Roger.

The rest could be digged from the double players. I'm not sure about the Brians as i haven't watched them that much - do they serve good?

Har-Tru
10-19-2009, 09:41 AM
Good question. If you exclude the great servers whose returns aren't quite up there - Richard Gonzales, Sampras, Becker, Newcombe, Vines, Ivanisevic, and today, Karlovic, Roddick, Tsonga - and the great returners whose serves aren't quite up there - Connors, Agassi, Rosewall, Crawford, Hewitt, and today, Murray (let down by 2nd serve), Nalbandian, Davydenko - you're left with something along the lines of Tilden, Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Federer, Safin. Of these, I don't know enough about Tilden to comment. Safin was good at both when playing well, but how often was that? McEnroe had great variety, accuracy, & disguise on the serve; with a wooden racquet he obviously wasn't serving as many aces as today's players, but he had a lot of service winners and countless easy first volleys. When returning, he had incredible reflexes taking the ball on the rise & without hitting it particularly hard, frequently had baseliners on the run with excellent placement on the sideline and serve-volleyers digging the ball up from around their shoelaces. But he had one major vulnerability: he was poor at returning big serves. This wasn't exposed in the wooden racquet era, when the biggest serves he faced were probably Tanner & Curren (who destroyed him at Wimbledon '85 with a graphite racquet), but once he had to face the likes of Becker, Sampras, & Ivanisevic, he found them close to impossible to break. From 1976 onwards, Borg had a powerful serve and always had a superb return, but possibly his serve lacked guile & variety. Laver's service is rather under-rated: it wasn't huge, but it was by no means weak, and by the standards of his era, he served a lot of aces, particularly considering his height. He had great variation and disguise and like most left-handers, caused right-handers no end of problems with wide-swinging serves to their backhand. When returning, he got a lot of balls back and was well able to smack weak serves away for winners off either wing, particularly the backhand. Federer similarly has great variety, accuracy, and disguise on his serve, as well as more pace than the likes of Laver & McEnroe, and a consistently deep 2nd serve with a good kicker. At his peak he was magnificent at getting huge serves back in play with deep floating returns that were hard for baseliners to attack; serve-volleyers he would pass at will (see Sampras 2001) - and if he'd played in an era with more serve-volleyers, his return would probably be more highly regarded. He was never as good at attacking weaker serves, but he is perhaps a bit under-rated here: he didn't often hit winners, but even now, he frequently gets the server on the back foot, as in his better matches against Nadal. So I'd say it's between Laver and Federer, with Laver having an edge on the return and Federer on the serve.

Good post, but paragraphs are your friends.

I'd put Borg in the mix.

Sophocles
10-19-2009, 11:45 AM
Good post, but paragraphs are your friends.

I'd put Borg in the mix.

Thank you. I'd been reading Balzac. Borg probably does deserve to be up there with Laver & Federer.