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View Full Version : Edberg... fastest to net?


Craig Sheppard
03-27-2007, 05:01 AM
So I have been re-watching that Davis Cup Classic Match from '89 they ran on TTC recently... the one where Becker destroyed Edberg (unfortunately). Not so interested in the outcome.

I've been trying to study Edberg's S&V technique and net game. Is he the fastest guy into net you can think of? If not, who would be? I swear I have to watch his serve points on slow motion (1/2 time) in order to follow what he's doing. In full speed, I watch him serve, and he already seems to be inside the service line!

Some time frames I've noticed: He's almost always at the service line by the time the returner strikes the ball. He's usually 2 steps within the service line by the time he hits his first volley. Such a fast mover--he almost springs off his left foot after landing from the serve.

sandy mayer
03-27-2007, 05:17 AM
He was a great mover. Good research. What about Cash? He was electrifying quick. And further back Emerson was also lightning fast and he was a serve-volleyer.

Sampras' speed was very underrated, but I don't think he's quite as quick as the guys above, though he was very very quick.

BiGGieStuFF
03-27-2007, 05:20 AM
Watching Edberg it seemed he just glided to the net. The effortlessness was unbelievable. The only part of his game that was hard to watch was his forehand. The rest was complete grace.

Craig Sheppard
03-27-2007, 05:21 AM
He was a great mover. Good research. What about Cash? He was electrifying quick. And further back Emerson was also lightning fast and he was a serve-volleyer.

Sampras' speed was very underrated, but I don't think he's quite as quick as the guys above, though he was very very quick.

I'll have to keep an eye out for a Cash match then... Sampras shouldn't be too hard to find, they'll probably throw one one at some point, although I'm not sure how much Davis Cup he played. My guess is Cash was a DC stalwart...

Craig Sheppard
03-27-2007, 05:23 AM
Watching Edberg it seemed he just glided to the net. The effortlessness was unbelievable. The only part of his game that was hard to watch was his forehand. The rest was complete grace.

Yes, glide indeed. Watching him closely, he has to have the quickest first step I've seen. He lands on his left foot and instantly springs ahead onto his right. I can't really even call it a step, it really is like a spring... I'll have to watch again to see how long his strides are. I didn't count to see if he takes really fast small steps, or larger ones... he really does just glide forward.

OrangeOne
03-27-2007, 05:23 AM
Just thinking: does Edberg seem even quicker than he is due to his big kicking serve that takes a little longer to travel through the air, thus giving him that apparent extra step of speed as it were?

NB: In no way am I saying he wasn't an absolutely amazing mover, so fast, so fluid, etc etc.... One of the best players to watch play the game. I could watch, say, Edberg play Rafter once a week and not tire of it! :)

Craig Sheppard
03-27-2007, 05:26 AM
Just thinking: does Edberg seem even quicker than he is due to his big kicking serve that takes a little longer to travel through the air, thus giving him that apparent extra step of speed as it were?

NB: In no way am I saying he wasn't an absolutely amazing mover, so fast, so fluid, etc etc.... One of the best players to watch play the game. I could watch, say, Edberg play Rafter once a week and not tire of it! :)

YES! That's what I've been trying to come to terms with by watching him in slo-mo. Is it that he just covers so much ground so quickly, or is it that his serve can just hang, giving him more time. They rarely showed a speed gun on tv back then, so I'm not sure what his avg. first serve speed was. I can't say that his serve was extraordinarily loopy--he really did have some juice on it from what I could tell.

More amazing: Dude S&V's on second serves almost all the time. That's madness. Well, at least seemingly in today's game.

sandy mayer
03-27-2007, 05:33 AM
In those days the surfaces were faster so you could serve volley on second serve. I remember Mac saying Edberg served less than 100mph yet was really tough to beat. He didn't serve very fast at all. When Goran beat him at Wimbledon hestarted saying he wished he had a bigger serve.

Craig Sheppard
03-27-2007, 05:36 AM
In those days the surfaces were faster so you could serve volley on second serve. I remember Mac saying Edberg served less than 100mph yet was really tough to beat. He didn't serve very fast at all. When Goran beat him at Wimbledon hestarted saying he wished he had a bigger serve.

Wow good info there. Thx.

BiGGieStuFF
03-27-2007, 05:38 AM
He didn't have a huge serve but the placement and the kick was monster. Not sure how that kick serve would hold up nowadays. I'd like to think one of my favorite players could play in today's game but the bombardment of powershots to him would definitely cause him some troubles at net.

OrangeOne
03-27-2007, 05:45 AM
He didn't have a huge serve but the placement and the kick was monster. Not sure how that kick serve would hold up nowadays. I'd like to think one of my favorite players could play in today's game but the bombardment of powershots to him would definitely cause him some troubles at net.

Unfortunately the advent of the poly, so helpful to baseliners and players who use plenty of spin everywhere, would benefit those same baseliners much more than they would benefit him. He'd get a little more kick on the serve, but the ball he'd be facing to volley is moving so much more....

I loved the explanation when I first heard it read that today's pros aren't significantly (or maybe at all) less competent volleyers than the pros of 10 & 20 years ago, it's just the fact that they are faced with the challenge of a very different ball coming at them....

BiGGieStuFF
03-27-2007, 06:00 AM
Unfortunately the advent of the poly, so helpful to baseliners and players who use plenty of spin everywhere, would benefit those same baseliners much more than they would benefit him. He'd get a little more kick on the serve, but the ball he'd be facing to volley is moving so much more....

I loved the explanation when I first heard it read that today's pros aren't significantly (or maybe at all) less competent volleyers than the pros of 10 & 20 years ago, it's just the fact that they are faced with the challenge of a very different ball coming at them....

I know...it hurts to come to that realization that we won't see S&V games like edberg, mcenroe, rafter anymore. Maybe they can come up with string technology for the volleyer :)

NoBadMojo
03-27-2007, 06:18 AM
Just thinking: does Edberg seem even quicker than he is due to his big kicking serve that takes a little longer to travel through the air, thus giving him that apparent extra step of speed as it were?

NB: In no way am I saying he wasn't an absolutely amazing mover, so fast, so fluid, etc etc.... One of the best players to watch play the game. I could watch, say, Edberg play Rafter once a week and not tire of it! :)

Good one..i think this wraps it up and you can include Rafter in there having a similar type of serve which allowed Rafter to get closer to the net on his first volley as well altho he did it more with raw athletisism and Edberg did it more with technique. Both players had to learn to play from the backcourt more as their careers started to come to a conclusion as returners got onto their serves and the service returns began out-advancing the serves. this was due in large part to the racquets.

As a sidenote, one of the things that was noticeable about Edbergs' movement if you saw him up close live, is that <like Nastase> you couldnt hear his feet when he moved..totally silent..almost eerie

urban
03-27-2007, 06:37 AM
Edberg did make a lot of foot faults, and often they weren't called. He was often trapping on the line, or inside the line, before he made contact with the ball.

andreh
03-27-2007, 06:38 AM
The kick definietly allowed him to get closer to the net. He also tossed and leaned way into the court, which gave him tremendous forward momentum. Actually, thats quite athletic. Hitting a kick normally requires one to contact the ball above or slightly behind your head. Edberg did that but still tossed way into the court. Look at the kneebend.

During his prime he was extremely difficult to break despite not having the "big" serve. The combo of a kicker that bounced 7 feet by the baseline and relative speed (he was normally around 100-112) obviously made the serve hard to return. He forced alot of return errors or else weak replies with it, even if he didn't hit a lot of aces.

Kirko
03-27-2007, 08:47 AM
1st time I saw Edberg was around 1983; he played Gerulaitis in a final in europe. it was really early in his career he still was using the wilson javelin tennis racket not the pro-staff .85. Edberg basically embarassed Gerulaitis. who looked so stunned at the end of each point Edberg finished off.

retrowagen
03-27-2007, 11:53 AM
1st time I saw Edberg was around 1983; he played Gerulaitis in a final in europe. it was really early in his career he still was using the wilson javelin tennis racket not the pro-staff .85. Edberg basically embarassed Gerulaitis. who looked so stunned at the end of each point Edberg finished off.
That's right, Edberg used the Javelin in part of his first pro season as the Pro Staff hadn't been released yet (anno late 1983).

We tend to forget that Edberg won the Junior Grand Slam in the 18's... the French, Wimbledon, US Open, and then the Aussie (on grass back then)... all in the same calendar year.

I think Edberg was one of the best forward-backward movers in the history of the game, but so was his longtime dubs partner, Anders Jarryd. He was not as fluid looking while in motion (he actually looked a little robotic and stiff), but he could skitter around with amazing speed.

Johan Kriek and Michael Chang were two guys bookending Edberg's career span who also had superlative footspeed on the court.

35ft6
03-27-2007, 12:08 PM
Yeah, and I think it's because he didn't use a pin point stance on serve. His right foot came over on the swing, acting as a first step.

insiderman
03-27-2007, 12:11 PM
Actually...if you think about it, most important is not just the fastest to get there that is of the most importance, (because if you have a HUGE serve, you can't run that fast to get there as quick as if the serve is slower)

So those guys in the past, who had great placement on their serve - albeit a bit 'slow', are the ones who were on "top-of-the-net" the fastest.

McEnroe was pretty good at this, and the "fastest" I've ever seen is doubles specialist Cyril Suk - his serve is so slow it's amazing it gets there, but the placemet is supurb! And his foot-speed to get to the net, as quick as anyone's - so it seems he is almost beating his own serve as it crosses the net...

If tennis had a player like in baseball where they had the 'nuckleballers', he'd be it!

AndrewD
03-27-2007, 01:33 PM
So those guys in the past, who had great placement on their serve - albeit a bit 'slow', are the ones who were on "top-of-the-net" the fastest.


I disagree. A bloke like Ken Rosewall had the type of serve you're talking about (slow, albeit 'heavy' and well directed) and was one of the quicketst players on tour but he hit a great deal of his volleys from around the service line or on the half-volley. Todd Woodbridge didn't have much on his serve and, again, hit a lot of his volleys down low because he couldn't get in to net quickly enough to be 'on top' of it.

True, a fast, flat serve can be a liability for a net-rusher because it doesn't give you enough time to get good position inside the service box. However, a slow serve, even when well placed, is going to see you hit a lot of half-volleys and low volleys. The serve that allows you to get 'on top of' the net is one with enough pace to be forcing but enough spin to force your opponent to wait that extra split second before hitting their shot. The ball doesn't just hit and come through the court, it hits then moves off the court.

The three best I've seen are Edberg, McEnroe and Navratilova. None of them had the fastest serve on tour but none had a serve you would call slow. The key ingredient for all of them, apart from a large dose of athleticism, is that their serves pulled them into the court far more efficiently than other players (look at pictures of them serving and you'll see how far they're leaning in before they strike the ball) and their stock in trade was a heavily spun serve hit with good pace.

sandy mayer
03-27-2007, 02:04 PM
What is the Wilson Javelin? is it graphite?

Kirko
03-27-2007, 02:19 PM
What is the Wilson Javelin? is it graphite?

yes. it had a "V" at an angle looked like a spear point. I thought it was a recreational racket until I saw Edberg use it. its appearance had beginner written all over it.

WillAlwaysLoveYouTennis
03-29-2007, 09:35 AM
With his service motion, and forward momentum, Edberg absolutely had to keep running, getting to net faster than anyone else, otherwise he would have fallen on his face. Also surprisingly enough I would say he rathered preferred to have someone give him a ball back just so he could stutter step and hit the next out of their range.

haerdalis
03-29-2007, 02:23 PM
Cash did not close in as fast as Edberg did. He covered the net very well and was very hard to pass but didnt have as lethal a volley as Edberg.
Have you ever seen Leander Paes play singles? He almost walks to the net after his serve, atleast he did in the beginning of his career, and almost always had to play half-volleys and low volleys.

Rabbit
04-03-2007, 12:02 PM
Sorry, I don't see the disagreement. You basically said the same thing except for the server's postition once the service motion is complete.

sloe_torture
04-03-2007, 12:22 PM
I remember watching Agassi own Edberg at the Lipton Final in Key Biscayne in the early 90's. Agassi played the ball very well that day taking Edberg's serves early on the rise and not giving Edberg much time to get to the net or to even react to Agassi's hard returns. Eventually Edberg submitted to playing at the back and then approach but Agassi didn't give Edberg many good chances to get in by rolling over a lot of wide shots.

I don't know if it was the slow surface (hard court), Bollitierri's on-court coachig, or Agassi's return game but Edberg's typically effective, fluid S&V game was neutralized that day.

andreh
04-03-2007, 12:46 PM
I remember watching Agassi own Edberg at the Lipton Final in Key Biscayne in the early 90's. Agassi played the ball very well that day taking Edberg's serves early on the rise and not giving Edberg much time to get to the net or to even react to Agassi's hard returns. Eventually Edberg submitted to playing at the back and then approach but Agassi didn't give Edberg many good chances to get in by rolling over a lot of wide shots.

I don't know if it was the slow surface (hard court), Bollitierri's on-court coachig, or Agassi's return game but Edberg's typically effective, fluid S&V game was neutralized that day.

Just a few weeks earlier they played the Indian Wells final. That one Edberg won.

stormholloway
04-03-2007, 12:52 PM
Just thinking: does Edberg seem even quicker than he is due to his big kicking serve that takes a little longer to travel through the air, thus giving him that apparent extra step of speed as it were?

NB: In no way am I saying he wasn't an absolutely amazing mover, so fast, so fluid, etc etc.... One of the best players to watch play the game. I could watch, say, Edberg play Rafter once a week and not tire of it! :)

Absolutely. His serve spends a long time in the air, then spins like mad. Couple that with his lightning quick steps and you've got one of the best of all time.

Edberg might be the best tennis player to watch of all time.

Moose Malloy
04-03-2007, 12:58 PM
like others have said edberg foot faulted a lot, that's part of why he seemed so fast to the net.

they rarely called them on him, I remember the '89 French Open final, NBC had a camera on his feet, he basically foot faulted everytime, but they didn't call them

stormholloway
04-03-2007, 01:02 PM
I'd say that's negligible. Pull him back an inch or two and he's still there very quickly.

andreh
04-03-2007, 11:35 PM
I'd say that's negligible. Pull him back an inch or two and he's still there very quickly.

I agree. He sometimes drew his right foot up to the baseline, just grasing the outside of it. It made no difference for his proximity to the net for the first volley. I think standing close to the baseline was more psychological for him, than any actual advantage.

And BTW, I've seen the tapes where Bud Collins yaps on and on and on again about Edberg foot faulting. IMO he's wrong at least half of the times. Saying that Edberg foot faulted "most of the time" is balony.

According to an old interview with Picard he footfaulted when he went for a flatter serve. He then tossed a little further into the court.

michaellashan
04-04-2007, 03:32 AM
Edberg=Awesome. I was extremely sad when he retired. As a fan of the serve and volley game, we were spoiled back in those days. Back on topic....yes....Edberg was fast. :D