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Cesc Fabregas
04-19-2009, 04:19 AM
Who do you think is the best returner in the mens game?

maximo
04-19-2009, 04:24 AM
The title of this thread is by all means wrong. ;)

P_Agony
04-19-2009, 04:24 AM
Best aggressive returner I'd say Nalbandian.

Best defensive returner I'd say Federer (even though today his returns are crap, but overall in his career he's the best defensive one).

Cesc Fabregas
04-19-2009, 04:25 AM
The title of this thread is by all means wrong. ;)

Yeah just noticed sorry about that.

Cesc Fabregas
04-19-2009, 04:26 AM
Federer was the master of blocking back big serves then he realised he needed to do more against Nadal and it has sort of messed up his return game.

P_Agony
04-19-2009, 04:35 AM
Federer was the master of blocking back big serves then he realised he needed to do more against Nadal and it has sort of messed up his return game.

I think a part of it might be his age. Sounds funny I know, but his instincts aren't as sharp as in the past.

Clydey2times
04-19-2009, 04:44 AM
Murray. I think he's been the best returner for a few years now, but Rafa's return games won on clay put him top stats wise for a couple of years (less about quality of return on clay). Murray now leads the tour on return stats, I believe.

Even when he finished the year outside the top 15 in 2006, he finished 3rd in return statistics.

alonsin
04-19-2009, 05:05 AM
I'd say Murray. Nalbandian can be the best returner when he's on, but as we all know that doesn't happen that much. Federer is probably the best returner of a certain type of serve (ala Roddick) but with his shaky backhand we can't count him in at the moment. If we only take into account defense we should throw Ferrer in too.

jelle v
04-19-2009, 05:06 AM
Federer.. without doubt..

Chelsea_Kiwi
04-19-2009, 05:14 AM
Murray, Nalbandian can be great but far too inconsistent.

DejZ
04-19-2009, 10:04 AM
Nalbandian is best when he is on!Within the others ill say that Nadal and Djokovic are best returners...

deltox
04-19-2009, 10:25 AM
isnt this an aggresive service return poll?

maybe im misunderstanding, i was thinking it means hits aggressive winners on opponents serves.

EtePras
04-19-2009, 10:29 AM
Either Nadal is way ahead of everyone or Federer has the worst serve in the top 100, judging from their last match.

Serendipitous
04-19-2009, 10:35 AM
4 words:

An Dee Murr Ray

All-rounder
04-19-2009, 10:43 AM
murray at times nalbandian but his game is inconsistent

helloworld
04-19-2009, 10:45 AM
Mr. buttpicker.

Ballinbob
04-19-2009, 11:41 AM
I'm shocked that people think Nadal returns better than Nalbandian! This has got be a joke! No way in hell does Nadal have a better return, just no!

saram
04-19-2009, 12:03 PM
Murray/Ferrer....

Ferrer's return game last year was pretty incredible when it came to stats.

Benhur
04-19-2009, 12:12 PM
Murray/Ferrer....

Ferrer's return game last year was pretty incredible when it came to stats.

I also think Murray has probably the best return right now, followed by Ferrer and Nalbandian. Nadal may have the best returning *game* judging by last year's return statistics. By the way I can't find the serve statistics anymore on the ATP site, anyone knows if they are still there?

helloworld
04-19-2009, 12:32 PM
I'm shocked that people think Nadal returns better than Nalbandian! This has got be a joke! No way in hell does Nadal have a better return, just no!
Why not? It's more consistent. The fat Nalby may have the best return when he was on, but that's like once in a blue moon. :???:

P_Agony
04-19-2009, 12:44 PM
Nadal is a great returner? Since when? Hmmm....

Clydey2times
04-19-2009, 01:04 PM
Federer.. without doubt..

Why without doubt? Murray consistently breaks Karlovic and Roddick. Murray has broken Karlovic something like 7 times in the last 2 (total of 5 sets) matches they played. Players rarely get through a set against Murray without being broken.

Nadalfan89
04-19-2009, 01:07 PM
Statistically Nadal has the best return...

I'de say Nalbandian though.

Clydey2times
04-19-2009, 01:11 PM
Statistically Nadal has the best return...

I'de say Nalbandian though.

Murray is statistically the best this year. However, Nadal's stats are boosted by the clay. He breaks a hell of a lot on the clay, and we know that returns really are nowhere near as relevant on the dirt.

rubberduckies
04-19-2009, 01:33 PM
Statistically Nadal has the best return...

I'de say Nalbandian though.

His returns aren't spectacular, particularly his return of 2nd serve. His ground game is just that much better than everybody else's that he'll have the advantage in any neutral rally. Hence, he has extremely percentage of points won on return and on second serve.

My vote goes to Davydenko. He is very solid and can be aggressive when the moment is right. Nalbandian is a good returner if you want to watch a highlight reel. Federer is a good returner if you say so and don't care about the actual outcome of the point.

Nadal_Freak
04-19-2009, 01:47 PM
The best versatile returner is Murray. Djokovic is great as well.

egn
04-19-2009, 02:42 PM
Murray right now I think is best and is going to get better.

deltox
04-19-2009, 03:48 PM
i like the way davy takes the ball on the short hop and attacks with that off the serve... meakes him a really mean serve returner

deltox
04-19-2009, 03:49 PM
Why not? It's more consistent. The fat Nalby may have the best return when he was on, but that's like once in a blue moon. :???:

i think people are talking bout agressivly attacking the serve, which nadal doesnt do very well.

murray, davy, nalby, even jmdp and fed are strong when it comes to attacking a first serve

jelle v
04-19-2009, 04:08 PM
Why without doubt? Murray consistently breaks Karlovic and Roddick. Murray has broken Karlovic something like 7 times in the last 2 (total of 5 sets) matches they played. Players rarely get through a set against Murray without being broken.

Federer has broken Karlovic a couple of times too.. and Roddick.. well, no need to explain that Federer has broken Roddick a lot of times.

I'm not saying that Murray is far behind or something by the way, he is not. I am quite impressed by Murray's and Nadal's returning game. But there is no doubt in my mind that Federer is the best returner. Although I must add that you can have different opinions on what "the best sort of returning game" is. Is it meant aggressive for example? Is it meant as who breaks the most often? Is it meant as who who creates the most opportunities? Is it meant as who gets the most balls back? No clear definition I think..

For me it is Federer because he can do what he wants with practically every serve. People say Federer only pushes the balls back, but e can hit winners if he wants to. He just chooses to bring them into play because that is high percentage. But if he were to face an aggressive S&V'er he can just as easily hit winners, although in the early days he chose to give the server a very difficult first volley an then pass him. Before Federer came along, i was most impressed by Agassi's return, hitting a lot of winners. Now I'm most impressed by Federer's return because it pays of more and he has so much control, more than I have ever seen. (I've been watching tennis since 1989/1990 or so)

That's my view on it anyway.. probably not a lot of people will agree..

T1000
04-19-2009, 04:10 PM
Since hewitt isnt on the list, nalbandian

Emelia21
04-19-2009, 04:24 PM
Murray gets my vote

flyer
04-19-2009, 04:31 PM
there is a difference between the best return of serve and the best returner, the best return of serve is one shot (the return) and i would say andy murray has the best return of serve, but the best returner statistically is nadal, he wins the highest percentage of return games so its hard to make an argument that anybody else is a better overall returner...

building on that, nadals return of serve itself is not flashy nor agressive, but its damn effective, hes gets the ball back and gets it back deep, and usually for him thats all he needs to get himself in position to win a point.....so even if it doesnt looks the prettiest its better than being over agressive and committing a large number of unforced errors when going for return winners

Clydey2times
04-19-2009, 05:13 PM
Federer has broken Karlovic a couple of times too.. and Roddick.. well, no need to explain that Federer has broken Roddick a lot of times.

I'm not saying that Murray is far behind or something by the way, he is not. I am quite impressed by Murray's and Nadal's returning game. But there is no doubt in my mind that Federer is the best returner. Although I must add that you can have different opinions on what "the best sort of returning game" is. Is it meant aggressive for example? Is it meant as who breaks the most often? Is it meant as who who creates the most opportunities? Is it meant as who gets the most balls back? No clear definition I think..

For me it is Federer because he can do what he wants with practically every serve. People say Federer only pushes the balls back, but e can hit winners if he wants to. He just chooses to bring them into play because that is high percentage. But if he were to face an aggressive S&V'er he can just as easily hit winners, although in the early days he chose to give the server a very difficult first volley an then pass him. Before Federer came along, i was most impressed by Agassi's return, hitting a lot of winners. Now I'm most impressed by Federer's return because it pays of more and he has so much control, more than I have ever seen. (I've been watching tennis since 1989/1990 or so)

That's my view on it anyway.. probably not a lot of people will agree..

Federer generally goes to a tiebreak with Karlovic. Murray breaks Karlovic something like 30-40% of the time. I think he broke Karlovic in 40% of the return games in Cinci. Federer breaks Roddick a lot too, but I think Murray breaks him a lot more. We tend to see 6-1 and 6-2 sets when Murray plays Roddick.

Clydey2times
04-19-2009, 05:15 PM
there is a difference between the best return of serve and the best returner, the best return of serve is one shot (the return) and i would say andy murray has the best return of serve, but the best returner statistically is nadal, he wins the highest percentage of return games so its hard to make an argument that anybody else is a better overall returner...

building on that, nadals return of serve itself is not flashy nor agressive, but its damn effective, hes gets the ball back and gets it back deep, and usually for him thats all he needs to get himself in position to win a point.....so even if it doesnt looks the prettiest its better than being over agressive and committing a large number of unforced errors when going for return winners

Murray has the best return stats this year, not Nadal. And Nadal's stats are boosted by his clay prowess. Return of serve is a non-factor on clay.

flyer
04-19-2009, 05:22 PM
Murray has the best return stats this year, not Nadal. And Nadal's stats are boosted by his clay prowess. Return of serve is a non-factor on clay.

he does this year your right i just looked at them, that will change on clay and it absolutely matters, watch nadal play, he consistantly puts returns within a couple feet of the base line and from then on hes in command of the point, its a huge factor, look at the great clay players/specialists, nadal, monaco, ferrer, they all have great return statistics

helloworld
04-19-2009, 05:30 PM
i think people are talking bout agressivly attacking the serve, which nadal doesnt do very well.

murray, davy, nalby, even jmdp and fed are strong when it comes to attacking a first serve
Fed is good at blocking a first serve, not attacking a first serve...

Beasty54
04-19-2009, 05:31 PM
Murray in my opinion. He works his way into return games.

Clydey2times
04-19-2009, 05:33 PM
he does this year your right i just looked at them, that will change on clay and it absolutely matters, watch nadal play, he consistantly puts returns within a couple feet of the base line and from then on hes in command of the point, its a huge factor, look at the great clay players/specialists, nadal, monaco, ferrer, they all have great return statistics

Of course they have great return statistics. Clay reduces the need for a good serve. 90% of serves are going to get returned because the surface takes all the pace out of the ball. That's what I mean when I say that return of serve is not really relevant. It's not something you can judge on clay, since returning first serves on clay is like returning a second serve on hard a lot of the time.

From which site did you get the return stats from? I only knew Murray was ahead on return stats based on what has said in television coverage. Wouldn't mind looking at the stats, though.

Mansewerz
04-19-2009, 05:37 PM
Andy Murray.

flyer
04-19-2009, 06:28 PM
Of course they have great return statistics. Clay reduces the need for a good serve. 90% of serves are going to get returned because the surface takes all the pace out of the ball. That's what I mean when I say that return of serve is not really relevant. It's not something you can judge on clay, since returning first serves on clay is like returning a second serve on hard a lot of the time.

From which site did you get the return stats from? I only knew Murray was ahead on return stats based on what has said in television coverage. Wouldn't mind looking at the stats, though.

the stats im referring too are for calendar year 2009, not including monte carlo, so its really based on hard courts...

http://www.atpworldtour.com/tennis/en/players/matchfacts/

The-Champ
04-19-2009, 06:39 PM
Murray, Hewitt and Nalbandian are better than any returner from the 90s imo

thalivest
04-19-2009, 06:59 PM
Murray, Hewitt and Nalbandian are better than any returner from the 90s imo

I tend to agree. Agassi is stil a great returner but IMO overrated for the main reason he is too prone to getting aced, and I am not just talking about vs Sampras or Ivanisevic.

Benhur
04-19-2009, 10:20 PM
Murray has the best return stats this year, not Nadal. And Nadal's stats are boosted by his clay prowess. Return of serve is a non-factor on clay.

If it were a "non-factor," then the server would have no advantage on clay. Yet the server on clay still holds serve anywhere between 70 and 75 percent of the time, so clearly it still has a big advantage, so clearly your ability to return serve is still crucial if you hope to break serve, even on clay. Of course the serve is not *as big* a factor as on faster surfaces, where servers generally hold serve closer to 80 percent of the time, or even higher, but it is still a very significant factor even on clay, and therefore the return of serve cannot be a "non-factor".

In addition to not being a "non-factor," the notion that his return results are heavily "inflated" by clay is untenable for the simple reason that he only plays about 26% of his matches on clay (25 matches out of a total of 93 in 2008, by my counting).

In addition to that, everybody breaks serve more often on clay than on faster surfaces, that's why the average break of serve statistics are higher on clay by a few percentage points, so by that account everybody's return statistics would also inflated by clay if they play on clay.

Nadal breaks more often than the rest of the field on clay. But he also breaks more often than others on all the other surfaces. He simply has to, in order to win. Especially because his own serve is not as big a weapon as many of the others top players.

praetorean
04-19-2009, 10:32 PM
it's still double a, andre agassi to me... though, i saw hewitt's during his prime

maverick66
04-19-2009, 10:34 PM
agassi was great at putting the server on defense when he hit it. but he got aced so much it was ridiculous. right now its nadal. murray is closing in on that stat as he is a very smart returner and very good at placing the return. both of them are great returners as well because of there speed. they get the ball back and get back into position faster than the rest of the field.

luckyboy1300
04-19-2009, 10:35 PM
it has to be andy murray. he can read serves, especially federer's which is tough to read, pretty well.

thalivest
04-19-2009, 11:34 PM
Nadal is a great returner? Since when? Hmmm....

Nadal is a very good returner. He is very tough to get the ball past with the serve, he gets so many returns in play, he gets them either deep or with the right amount of spin or pace, what is best for a particular point in match or opponent. People seem to think the only thing that matters about the return of serve is attacking the 2nd set consistently. Hence why so many think Agassi is the best returner ever even when he gets aced 50 times a match by big servers.

Clydey2times
04-20-2009, 04:44 AM
If it were a "non-factor," then the server would have no advantage on clay. Yet the server on clay still holds serve anywhere between 70 and 75 percent of the time, so clearly it still has a big advantage, so clearly your ability to return serve is still crucial if you hope to break serve, even on clay. Of course the serve is not *as big* a factor as on faster surfaces, where servers generally hold serve closer to 80 percent of the time, or even higher, but it is still a very significant factor even on clay, and therefore the return of serve cannot be a "non-factor".

In addition to not being a "non-factor," the notion that his return results are heavily "inflated" by clay is untenable for the simple reason that he only plays about 26% of his matches on clay (25 matches out of a total of 93 in 2008, by my counting).

In addition to that, everybody breaks serve more often on clay than on faster surfaces, that's why the average break of serve statistics are higher on clay by a few percentage points, so by that account everybody's return statistics would also inflated by clay if they play on clay.

Nadal breaks more often than the rest of the field on clay. But he also breaks more often than others on all the other surfaces. He simply has to, in order to win. Especially because his own serve is not as big a weapon as many of the others top players.

I exaggerated when I said that it's a non-factor. It's a minor factor. I'd like to know where you pulled some of those figures from. The server holds 70% of the time? That's actually pretty low, but I'd like to know where you got that figure from, since I get the feeling you pulled it from your ***.

Of course his return stats are inflated by the clay season. He breaks a hell of a lot based on his baseline game, not his return of serve. Yes, it's the same for every player, but he is the best player from the baseline on a clay court. He is going to break more often because of that fact, not because he has a supreme return of serve. Why do you think Murray gets better return stats on a hard court than Nadal? We can agree that they are pretty even on a hard court, yet Murray does better on return. How do you explain that if clay doesn't inflate his stats?

Murray is second on points won returning first serve (Juan Monaco is first, having played fewer matches at a lower level and on clay), whereas Nadal is 8th. Murray is first on points won returning second serve and in return games won. Murray wins 41% of his return games and Nadal, at second, wins 35% of his. That's a huge gap between first and second. It's pretty clear who the better returner is.

Clydey2times
04-20-2009, 04:45 AM
agassi was great at putting the server on defense when he hit it. but he got aced so much it was ridiculous. right now its nadal. murray is closing in on that stat as he is a very smart returner and very good at placing the return. both of them are great returners as well because of there speed. they get the ball back and get back into position faster than the rest of the field.

Murray is way ahead of everyone else on return stats this season, actually.

deltox
04-20-2009, 05:27 AM
Fed is good at blocking a first serve, not attacking a first serve...

watch a few roddick - fed matches, roddick hits a 140+ and fed returns it deep into the corner hard and flat. i have to disagree here and im not a fed fan

Benhur
04-20-2009, 11:07 AM
[QUOTE=Clydey2times;3337861]I exaggerated when I said that it's a non-factor. It's a minor factor. I'd like to know where you pulled some of those figures from. The server holds 70% of the time? That's actually pretty low, but I'd like to know where you got that figure from, since I get the feeling you pulled it from your ***.


Keep the posterior properly covered for decorum on these boards.

There are many threads here involving research on break percentages on different tournaments for the entire field over the years, a painstaking and very useful research. You can search for them at your own leisure. RG keeps pretty steadily at around 25% (meaning 75% holds) and Rome has a lower break percentage (meaning itís a faster court) and Hamburg up to around 28%. Hard courts start just below 25% down to about 21. Grass is in the upper teens to very low 20s. Faster indoor surfaces like Lyon are in the low teens.

Of course his return stats are inflated by the clay season.

He played 25 matches out of a total of 93 on clay last year. The percentage should be similar for other players. He plays more matches *on all surfaces*, not just on clay, and he played more matches than anyone else last year, for the simple reason that he goes deeper in tournaments than anybody else. I repeat: breaking serve is indeed easier on clay (see percentages above) but not just for Nadal.

He breaks a hell of a lot based on his baseline game, not his return of serve. Yes, it's the same for every player, but he is the best player from the baseline on a clay court. He is going to break more often because of that fact, not because he has a supreme return of serve. Why do you think Murray gets better return stats on a hard court than Nadal? We can agree that they are pretty even on a hard court, yet Murray does better on return. How do you explain that if clay doesn't inflate his stats?

Murray is second on points won returning first serve (Juan Monaco is first, having played fewer matches at a lower level and on clay), whereas Nadal is 8th. Murray is first on points won returning second serve and in return games won. Murray wins 41% of his return games and Nadal, at second, wins 35% of his. That's a huge gap between first and second. It's pretty clear who the better returner is.


You are working with 3 months statistics. That's fine. I am working with a year's worth, a more majestic view.

There is indeed a valid distinction between the return as a shot and the return game as a whole, and I've talked about that elsewhere, months ago. If you wish to define quality of return by, for example, frequency of winners hit off the return + frequency of returns that induce a forced error on the opponent, then he does not have the best return by any means. Murray has a better one. Nadal seldom hits winners off the return. Still, the ultimate job of the returner is to win return *games* and to do this (short of hitting winner after winner off the return) he needs to try to bring the point to neutral as soon as possible. And in order to do this, you *have* to have an effective enough return to begin with, or youíll never get out from against the ropes. Sure Nadalís defensive skills help him bring the point to neutral in three or four shots more often than others (but again: across all surfaces, not just clay) but the ability to return well is still key to initiating that process on any surface.

If you look at the stats for the whole of 2008, Nadal has as I remember the highest percentage of points won on receiving both first and second serve, and the highest percentage of games won receiving serve. You canít do that unless you have a pretty decent return. But again, I agree that Murray has a better return, as an individual shot if you define it by the above criteria. No question.

Another statistic that would be rather useful to evaluate quality of return would be the number of missed returns (aces + service winners received). I don't have that stat. Tennis would be so much more fun to analyze if we had at our disposal half the numbers that baseball fans enjoy as free gifts with no personal effort.

helloworld
04-20-2009, 11:28 AM
agassi was great at putting the server on defense when he hit it. but he got aced so much it was ridiculous. right now its nadal. murray is closing in on that stat as he is a very smart returner and very good at placing the return. both of them are great returners as well because of there speed. they get the ball back and get back into position faster than the rest of the field.
You're thinking about 35 year old broke-back Andre who can barely move. Young Andre didn't get aced that often at all and he could put the ball back consistently with pace.

Clydey2times
04-20-2009, 11:29 AM
Keep the posterior properly covered for decorum on these boards.

There are many threads here involving research on break percentages on different tournaments for the entire field over the years, a painstaking and very useful research. You can search for them at your own leisure. RG keeps pretty steadily at around 25% (meaning 75% holds) and Rome has a lower break percentage (meaning it’s a faster court) and Hamburg up to around 28%. Hard courts start just below 25% down to about 21. Grass is in the upper teens to very low 20s. Faster indoor surfaces like Lyon are in the low teens.



What was the method behind obtaining those stats? Also, are we disregarding the number of variables involved? A better idea would be to compare how often Nadal breaks on clay compared to how often he breaks on hard. We could compare that to Murray.

He played 25 matches out of a total of 93 on clay last year. The percentage should be similar for other players. He plays more matches *on all surfaces*, not just on clay, and he played more matches than anyone else last year, for the simple reason that he goes deeper in tournaments than anybody else. I repeat: breaking serve is indeed easier on clay (see percentages above) but not just for Nadal.

You're missing the point. Yes, breaking is easier for all players. However, Nadal has a better baseline game than anyone else on clay. He is going to break more often because of that, not because of his return of serve. That is undeniable.

You are working with 3 months statistics. That's fine. I am working with a year's worth, a more majestic view.

I'm working with this year's statistics. I haven't just isolated 3 months at random. These are more relevant. If you look back 12 months, Murray is half the player he is now. Taking into account Murray's form back then doesn't really give us a good indication of where they stand now.

There is indeed a valid distinction between the return as a shot and the return game as a whole, and I've talked about that elsewhere, months ago. If you wish to define quality of return by, for example, frequency of winners hit off the return + frequency of returns that induce a forced error on the opponent, then he does not have the best return by any means. Murray has a better one. Nadal seldom hits winners off the return. Still, the ultimate job of the returner is to win return *games* and to do this (short of hitting winner after winner off the return) he needs to try to bring the point to neutral as soon as possible. And in order to do this, you *have* to have an effective enough return to begin with, or you’ll never get out from against the ropes. Sure Nadal’s defensive skills help him bring the point to neutral in three or four shots more often than others (but again: across all surfaces, not just clay) but the ability to return well is still key to initiating that process on any surface.

Nadal is a good returner. I've never disputed that. However, I think it's clear that his return of serve has less to do with his success on return games than does his baseline game and his athleticism. I'd definitely say that he is an effective returner, but despite the stats people rarely cite his return as a major strength.

Another statistic that would be rather useful to evaluate quality of return would be the number of missed returns (aces + service winners received). I don't have that stat. Tennis would be so much more fun to analyze if we had at our disposal half the numbers that baseball fans enjoy as free gifts with no personal effort.

Well, that is something that I'm interested in. I'm not sure those stats exist, however.

helloworld
04-20-2009, 11:32 AM
watch a few roddick - fed matches, roddick hits a 140+ and fed returns it deep into the corner hard and flat. i have to disagree here and im not a fed fan

I have seen that 'Federer isn't human' crap video. It's more of a blocking shot than blasting shot. Roddick's serve has so much pace that Federer could block it back with pace. We already know Fed can read Roddick's serve very well. If he's so good at attacking serves, why couldn't he bully Nadal's first AND second serve then? That's right. He sucks at attacking serves.

deltox
04-20-2009, 11:39 AM
I have seen that 'Federer isn't human' crap video. It's more of a blocking shot than blasting shot. Roddick's serve has so much pace that Federer could block it back with pace. We already know Fed can read Roddick's serve very well. If he's so good at attacking serves, why couldn't he bully Nadal's first AND second serve then? That's right. He sucks at attacking serves.

sigh, debating with you is so boring anymore.

your so up nadals butt your opinions dont even matter to me and some others anymore.

winning points of the other persons serve is well, deceiving. nadal puts the serve back and in and then outhustles his opponents the rest of the point. he doesnt HIT WINNERS ON the return often at all.

besides murray is without question the best aggressive returner in the game today.