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Who is the better returner?

  • Federer

    Votes: 17 53.1%
  • Nadal

    Votes: 15 46.9%
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A thread about tennis, that's refreshing to see!

Can't really answer the question, because I think they are different returners.

Nadal returns by thinking where to hit the shot to put pressure on the opponent. Rafa likes to hit the crosscourt return to open up the court or towards the baseline with heavy topspin.
Federer returns by thinking how to hit the shot to surprise the opponent not giving them any rhythm. For example, his slice returns (neutralise big serves as well) and the half volley BH returns.
 

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I think Federer is better at reading the opponents serve. This results in him receiving significantly less aces (5.8%) compared to Nadal (7.3%), despite Nadal playing more on clay where aces are less frequent. On the other hand, I think Nadal's return is somewhat more effective on average. All in all, I'd say it's about equal. Nadal of course wins more return games, but that's not primarily because of the return.
 

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Their returns are very different; it's tough to tell. Federer returns close to the baseline, Nadal stands extremely far back.

Nadal breaks his opponents service games more often, but I think that is more to do with him being better in the rallies once he actually gets the ball back into play - rather than being better than Federer at the actual return shot itself.

On both hardcourts (32.3% vs 31.7%) and grass courts (30.7% vs 27.7%), Federer has a higher winning percentage on first serve returns than Nadal. This suggests that the defining difference is that Federer has a better "reflex return" - that is, he can block a big serve back into play better. Nadal, on the other hand, has a higher winning percentage on second serve returns on all 3 surfaces - which suggests his advantage arises when points begin in a more neutral position and he can get into a rally.

I think their head-to-head records against big servers support my argument. Federer has a winning record of 87.5% against the top 10 players who hit most aces on tour (Karlovic, Opelka, Isner, Raonic, Kyrgios, Querrey, Anderson, Bublik, Copil, Lopez). Nadal's record against the exact same players is 81.1% - lower than his overall career winning percentage, which suggests that he dislikes playing big servers more than Roger.
 

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Tough to judge. Fed on average is more offensive on his return (especially FH) but Nadal is super effective with his positioning far behind the baseline (especially on clay). Fed would win more short ROS points but Nadal would win more long rallies after neutralising opponent’s serve. For me it’s Nadal by far better ROS on clay but Fed better on HC and grass.
Good thread BTW.
 

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I prefer Federer. I feel he has more anticipation on the initial return and a more aggressive stance that will give him advantage in the point. Federer is also excellent against big servers but that is aided by his strong game management and own serve so not sure how much can be read into that.

Nadal's stats are inflated by his baseline presence. Nadal doesn't need to be as aggressive on return to win the point. There is a difference between return game stats and the shot itself.
 

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Pocahontas returns better
 

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Federer, he has a great defensive slice and now a strong block return, I feel Nadal's is safer but can still be effective in neutrailising the ball.
 

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Nadal by a mile.
 

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Federer is a better returner but Dull is better at winning return games. Federer has more skill and variety at returning serves and excels at returning big serves plus is better offensively as well. Dull’s return itself isn’t anything special as he generally just tries to start a neutral rally with it but he is pretty damn good at doing that not to mention it’s smart considering he is better than just about anyone in neutral rallies bar Djokovic and Federer on a good day.
 

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Federer is a better returner but Dull is better at winning return games.
Classic MTF logic right there.

Of course the question can be answered by % of return games won, which is the only relevant fact. And this tell us that Fed is better on hard and grass, and Nadal on clay. Just as expected.
 

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Classic MTF logic right there.

Of course the question can be answered by % of return games won, which is the only relevant fact. And this tell us that Fed is better on hard and grass, and Nadal on clay. Just as expected.
I’m just speaking in terms of the actual return of serve shot itself. The return games won percentage has more to do with what happens after the return of serve which Dull is a little better at than Fed.
 

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The question is who's the better returner not who was the best first return shot.

The fact that this is a serious question is incredible, it's Rafa by a mile.

You mean to tell me Roger lost 24 times against a guy with a worse serve and return game than him.

Classic MTF logic right there.

Of course the question can be answered by % of return games won, which is the only relevant fact. And this tell us that Fed is better on hard and grass, and Nadal on clay. Just as expected.

Return Games Won

Overall
: Nadal (33.54%) - Federer (26.70%)
Clay : Nadal (42.99%) - Federer (28.06%)
Hard : Nadal (29.38%) - Federer (27.26%)
Grass : Nadal (23.18%) - Federer (24.01%)

Roger only barely edges out Rafa on Grass and is due to the low amount of matches they both have on the surface. With a bigger sample size like on Clay or Hard the history might be different

Rafa is a better returner everywhere else.
 

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Nadal is better at getting into a decent position off the return, Federer is better at blocking big serves back. They both tend to leave it a bit short. I'd say it depends on the surface.

I don't think the return games won is a great way to compare it. We all know Nadal is better at defending, which is a big part of what that amounts to.
 

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The question is who's the better returner not who was the best first return shot.

The fact that this is a serious question is incredible, it's Rafa by a mile.

You mean to tell me Roger lost 24 times against a guy with a worse serve and return game than him.




Return Games Won

Overall
: Nadal (33.54%) - Federer (26.70%)
Clay : Nadal (42.99%) - Federer (28.06%)
Hard : Nadal (29.38%) - Federer (27.26%)
Grass : Nadal (23.18%) - Federer (24.01%)

Roger only barely edges out Rafa on Grass and is due to the low amount of matches they both have on the surface. With a bigger sample size like on Clay or Hard the history might be different

Rafa is a better returner everywhere else.
The return of serve shot itself is what we’re comparing and that’s what we mean by who’s the better returner. After the return, it turns into a rally where Nadal edges Federer and that’s why his return games won percentage is better.
 
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