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View Full Version : Is Agassi really one of the top returners in the game.


Mr Topspin
02-15-2006, 08:11 AM
I just been watching a few classic AA matches curtesty of the Tennis Nexus. He provides good quality mayches at reasonable prices ----end of plug!

However, i noticed that AA tends to get aced a hell of a lot of time to be described as a great returner. In the 92 Wimbly final he was aced by Ivanisevic almost 40 times. At the 2000 semi match at the OZ open Pete aced AA over 40 times. Plus Joachim Johansson aced AA 50 times in the OZ open of 2005. These are but a few examples of the so called 'world's best returner being aced far too frequently.

It appears that Agassi guesses on his returns and committs fully to a position and usually when he connects he makes a winning return or puts the server under pressure. However, this appears to be at the expense of making frequent returns.

In comparison to say Henman who is also a good returner, but is not as famous as AA, Henman IMO makes more returns in play that neutralise the point as Federer appears to do by blocking the serve back. IMHO i find Henman and Federer's style to be more effective as they tend to be able to get a no. of returns back in, tend to reduce their opponents ace count and put more pressure on their opponent by forcing them to hit one more ball rather than AA;'s 'guess and hit approach'.

Another factor lies in the fact that AA hits a with a two handed backhand that is fairly flat and this limits the variety of returns he can make. Thus, AA's returns on his Bh are all driven with one pace and minmal variety.

Just my two cents.

BaseLineBash
02-15-2006, 08:22 AM
Yes, yes he is one of the top returners in the game if not the greatest.

tennissavy
02-15-2006, 08:28 AM
I just been watching a few classic AA matches curtesty of the Tennis Nexus. He provides good quality mayches at reasonable prices ----end of plug!

However, i noticed that AA tends to get aced a hell of a lot of time to be described as a great returner. In the 92 Wimbly final he was aced by Ivanisevic almost 40 times. At the 2000 semi match at the OZ open Pete aced AA over 40 times. Plus Joachim Johansson aced AA 50 times in the OZ open of 2005. These are but a few examples of the so called 'world's best returner being aced far too frequently.

It appears that Agassi guesses on his returns and committs fully to a position and usually when he connects he makes a winning return or puts the server under pressure. However, this appears to be at the expense of making frequent returns.

In comparison to say Henman who is also a good returner, but is not as famous as AA, Henman IMO makes more returns in play that neutralise the point as Federer appears to do by blocking the serve back. IMHO i find Henman and Federer's style to be more effective as they tend to be able to get a no. of returns back in, tend to reduce their opponents ace count and put more pressure on their opponent by forcing them to hit one more ball rather than AA;'s 'guess and hit approach'.

Another factor lies in the fact that AA hits a with a two handed backhand that is fairly flat and this limits the variety of returns he can make. Thus, AA's returns on his Bh are all driven with one pace and minmal variety.

Just my two cents.
Agassi is so over-credited, by the commentators, as the greatest returner in men's tennis. He does often get aced, very often. I watched him at the US Open, live, get aced many times by Kafelnikov who only served in the 80mph range that match! There are many players on the tour who return better than Agassi. He is definitely not one of the greatest serve returners and to call him the greatest returner is such a load of feces.

Grigollif1
02-15-2006, 08:28 AM
I agree with Mr. Topspin. I believe the Return of serve needs to be evaluated in quality and Consistance as well. I think agassi does really well in the quality departament making amazing returns but he lacks consistance at times...

Galactus
02-15-2006, 08:36 AM
I just been watching a few classic AA matches curtesty of the Tennis Nexus. He provides good quality mayches at reasonable prices ----end of plug!

However, i noticed that AA tends to get aced a hell of a lot of time to be described as a great returner. In the 92 Wimbly final he was aced by Ivanisevic almost 40 times. At the 2000 semi match at the OZ open Pete aced AA over 40 times. Plus Joachim Johansson aced AA 50 times in the OZ open of 2005. These are but a few examples of the so called 'world's best returner being aced far too frequently.

It appears that Agassi guesses on his returns and committs fully to a position and usually when he connects he makes a winning return or puts the server under pressure. However, this appears to be at the expense of making frequent returns.

In comparison to say Henman who is also a good returner, but is not as famous as AA, Henman IMO makes more returns in play that neutralise the point as Federer appears to do by blocking the serve back. IMHO i find Henman and Federer's style to be more effective as they tend to be able to get a no. of returns back in, tend to reduce their opponents ace count and put more pressure on their opponent by forcing them to hit one more ball rather than AA;'s 'guess and hit approach'.

Another factor lies in the fact that AA hits a with a two handed backhand that is fairly flat and this limits the variety of returns he can make. Thus, AA's returns on his Bh are all driven with one pace and minmal variety.

Just my two cents.
Agreed - I think he gets tagged as 'Great Returner of Serve' not due to his %of returns but the way he does return when he connects, as you stated, fully committed to the shot and often getting a winner off it.

Chadwixx
02-15-2006, 08:37 AM
Tagging agassi as the greatest returner was media made, just like sampras's greatest serve. Put them together and you have the greatest returner in history vs the the greatest server. A nice media made battle that puts buts in the seats.

Id take hewtts return over agassi's anyday. I also think federer has a better return than andre too.

Agassi just had that stand inside the service line and take the ball early that people thought was cool, he did get aced a ton using this style and probably could have beaten pete if he would return like everyone else who plays at that lvl. Instead he was caught with no time to cover the open court.

Moose Malloy
02-15-2006, 08:37 AM
Agassi is the most aggressive returner in the history of tennis. He never backs up from the baseline(& if he did he'd get more balls back & not get aced as much, but that's not his game, he wants to hit winners & intimidate his opponenent. Notice how often Goran double-faulted in that '92 Wimbledon final? They can't afford to not go for it on the 2nd serve vs Andre. Agassi can take away a great server's confidence when he rips winners by you. Yeah, he gets aced a lot, but he also hits more clean winners off the return than Federer, Hewitt, etc. He won 8 majors playing this way(including that '92 Wimbledon, played on fast grass, beating Becker & McEnroe as well as Goran-the most amazing wimbledon I think I've ever seen. Agassi played in an era of far more aggressive s&v type players than today. Just getting the ball back ala Federer wouldn't cut it vs Stich, Becker, Goran, Krajicek, Forget, Sampras, etc.

Lol at Henman having a better return. How many majors does Tiger Tim have?

DariusRaiden
02-15-2006, 08:40 AM
To compare Agassi to Federer makes it easy to see the trade offs in return style. Federer puts more balls in play because:

A) His One-Hander lets him stretch farther
B) He is 3 or 4 inches taller than Agassi, so his arm span as a whole is probably 5 or 6 inches longer.

In Agassi's prime, during the 90s, he was considered to be the greatest returner because the game was dominated by serve and volley players. His powerful returns put servers on the defensive since they were forced to hit low volleys.

Sampras was one of the few volleyers with the ability to dig out low volleys regularly(See the 1999 Wimby final or 2001 USO QF). Against players with weaker volley games like Krajicek, Ivanisevic, or Stich, Agassi's returns either won the point or put the server in a bad position to volley. This is evidenced by his strong record against these players(14-6 against the above names combined), but a bad record against Sampras especially in bigger matches.

In today's game, so few players serve and volley, so the return does not have to be as powerful. We can see the success that Federer and Henman have had chipping returns back in play, and then playing the point out with all-court tennis.

Serve and volley tennis could make a comeback. We see players like Mirnyi, Dent, and Henman give players fits but never have a really big win. Those players serve and volley well, but lack baseline power. The thing that made Becker, Sampras, and Krajicek so great was that they could serve and volley all day, but then play very well from the baseline and hit good passing shots on their opponents serves to get a break.

It seems to me that really complete serve and volley players are lacking. Federer can serve and volley, but he doens't do it consistently. The players that do regularly serve and volley today don't have very powerful groundstrokes, so they are dead meat in long rallies. Oh well, I'm getting off on a tangent.

JediMindTrick
02-15-2006, 08:41 AM
Agassi was the best returner and even now he may be one of the best. The only problem is that even the best returner is going to lose most of the points when he is receiving serve from a great server like Sampras or Ivanisevici. That's why the serve is the most important shot in tennis and return of serve is the second most important.

Regarding the style of returns, for first serves I also think Federer's style of blocking the ball back is more effective and realistic against good servers. Agassi's agressive return style is good against people with lesser serves but, like you mentioned, against top servers it doesn't really work.

RadekStepanekTheKing
02-15-2006, 08:47 AM
Seeing who gets aced the least is not the best way to evaluate the return.When a player gets his racquet on the ball, it won't count as an ace. But this tells us nothing about whether the player was able to get it back over the net, or whether the return put any pressure on the opponent. A player who gets his racquet on every ball but simply floats them back will be toast against someone who moves in to put that ball away.
Agassi easily was/is the best returner of serve ever.
The way he hits the ball off a very fast serve is something to admire.

NoBadMojo
02-15-2006, 08:56 AM
First of all, Sampras and Ivo had many aces no matter who they were playing because their serves were that good. Agassi elected to guess more aganst these types of servers playng the oddsas a strategic move..often he would guess wrong
Kafelnikov never served 80mph serves unless injured..his first was reliably in the 110range..he just never could stick it and his placement wasnt so hot..it was a neutral serve...didnt win him cheap points but wasnt bad enough where it got picked on
Agassi does have the best return of serve since Connors..arguable whose was better.
Much of this is also strategy based. In Agassi's early days, his serve was kinda weak so he relied on his service returns to get enough service breaks to outnumber the times he was broken. Also in Agassi's earlier days, just blocking or chipping returns back wasnt such a good idea against many players because many players back then were playing S/V. Fed and Henman and many others can get away with it because there are so few serve volleyers these days.
To say that Henman has a really good service return or one that even approaches that of Agassi is pretty wrong in my opinion..it may be in the realm of fair for a top pro

omniexist
02-15-2006, 08:56 AM
Yeah, look what Hewitt did with the Sampras serve...

Federer and Hewitt..the two best returners imho..they don't get aced much.

Andres
02-15-2006, 09:00 AM
Agassi is the most aggressive returner in the history of tennis. He never backs up from the baseline(& if he did he'd get more balls back & not get aced as much, but that's not his game, he wants to hit winners & intimidate his opponenent. Notice how often Goran double-faulted in that '92 Wimbledon final? They can't afford to not go for it on the 2nd serve vs Andre. Agassi can take away a great server's confidence when he rips winners by you. Yeah, he gets aced a lot, but he also hits more clean winners off the return than Federer, Hewitt, etc. He won 8 majors playing this way(including that '92 Wimbledon, played on fast grass, beating Becker & McEnroe as well as Goran-the most amazing wimbledon I think I've ever seen. Agassi played in an era of far more aggressive s&v type players than today. Just getting the ball back ala Federer wouldn't cut it vs Stich, Becker, Goran, Krajicek, Forget, Sampras, etc.

Lol at Henman having a better return. How many majors does Tiger Tim have?

37 aces, 34 service winners and 8 double faults doesn't seem like he was double faulting THAT often as you say ;)

Grimjack
02-15-2006, 09:01 AM
Even for the biggest servers, aces are just a bonus. The way big servers win cheap points is by blasting such huge serves that the opponent can do nothing with the ball other than stab it back helplessly. That way, the server has complete control of the point, and is usually no more than one competent shot away from taking the point.

Agassi turns the tables.

He brings a server's aggression to the act of returning the serve. Yes, he gets aced a bit more often than the other guys, but the aces he gives up are still just a drop in the bucket. Servers are still hoping to draw weak returns on the huge majority of points, so that they can assert themselves and win easy points. But Agassi, by stepping up and cranking his returns with his unprecedented reflexes, wallops back serves that the Henmans of the world would puff back as floaters.

Agassi is playing a numbers game. Against a good server, the average "good" returner gives up maybe a half of an ace per game, puffs back three balls, and maybe gets one good lick on a return. This essentially gives the server three and a half easy points, gives the returner one point where he has an advantage, and leaves the rest of the points as essentially neutral -- with the returner having to get far the best of those neutral remainders to have a shot at the game.

Agassi gives up maybe a whole ace per game -- double. Additionally, by overcommiting, he probably puts himself in puffball territory another two returns per game. (These numbers are fabricated, of course, but probably representative, at least philosophically.) But then, through aggression, he also really gets into maybe three returns per game, which gives HIM the upper hand in those points. Unlike a passive strategy that gives the server the advantage in 3/4 or so of service points, Agassi's strategy puts him about even with the server, giving him solid break chances in most games. Higher risk, but far higher reward.

Why doesn't everyone do it, then? Because Andre has a combo of reflexes, hand-eye, and quickness that come along once a generation -- if that.

Greatest returner ever doesn't begin to describe the gulf between him and #2 on that list.

tennisboy21
02-15-2006, 09:13 AM
i dont think agassi is the best returner in the game.
yeah, He is probably the most aggressive returner and when he connects it goes well , but that is only if the ball is in his strike zone, ig he is streched he is not as good because he doesnt have a slice defensive return , this is why it was so easy for him to get aced against sampras.
i dont know about you but for me it looked like sampras enjoyed playing agassi and he always thought he could beat him in the end.

i definantly think as others have pointed out against sampras he should have stood further back sometimes and returned like hewiit, he might have had a chance then.

Turning Pro
02-15-2006, 09:33 AM
I just been watching a few classic AA matches curtesty of the Tennis Nexus. He provides good quality mayches at reasonable prices ----end of plug!

However, i noticed that AA tends to get aced a hell of a lot of time to be described as a great returner. In the 92 Wimbly final he was aced by Ivanisevic almost 40 times. At the 2000 semi match at the OZ open Pete aced AA over 40 times. Plus Joachim Johansson aced AA 50 times in the OZ open of 2005. These are but a few examples of the so called 'world's best returner being aced far too frequently.

It appears that Agassi guesses on his returns and committs fully to a position and usually when he connects he makes a winning return or puts the server under pressure. However, this appears to be at the expense of making frequent returns.

In comparison to say Henman who is also a good returner, but is not as famous as AA, Henman IMO makes more returns in play that neutralise the point as Federer appears to do by blocking the serve back. IMHO i find Henman and Federer's style to be more effective as they tend to be able to get a no. of returns back in, tend to reduce their opponents ace count and put more pressure on their opponent by forcing them to hit one more ball rather than AA;'s 'guess and hit approach'.

Another factor lies in the fact that AA hits a with a two handed backhand that is fairly flat and this limits the variety of returns he can make. Thus, AA's returns on his Bh are all driven with one pace and minmal variety.

Just my two cents.


LMFAO@henman having a good return.nothing else.

cruzersi99
02-15-2006, 09:35 AM
At this time Agassi and Conners are the greatest returners in the history of the game. HANDS DOWN.

Number of times being ACED has nothing to do with a returners ability to return serve at a Professional Level. An ACE is an unreturnable serve, by AA, by Conners, by whomever. On occassion the great returners my take a calculated guess at location against a big server, but thats also part of returning. At the time Ivo set the record for most serves in a tournament. He has set that mark even before entering the final. If you want to talk about Sampras, that's fine too, as he has gone on record to say that every time he played AA he had to raise his level of play. Anyone who has every watched Sampras can attest to the fact that he always played his best against AA, hit more ACEs, hit more service winners.

A Servers job is to setup his point, returners job is to take control. No one has done a better job of taking control of a return point better then AA and Conners .

Players who stand farther back to give themselves time to return may get a few more balls back, at the expense of staying on the defensive. At high levels of competition staying in a point doesn't cut it.

In an age of serve and volleyers and big servers, AA and Conners won 8 grand slam titles. How many have Henman, Hewitt, Nalbandian combined?

To those trying to compare Roger's return style to AA it's un unfair comparison. Roger's is able to hold serve fair easier then Andre ever could. This allows him to play a different style. Roger can afford to block a few back and see what happens. You'll notice that like sampras when they need the break he goes for it every now and again. Sampras and Federer can win a set against anyone with one break. Against the top players Andre and Conners may have needed two breaks.

You also can't say that Andre's style is better or worse then Federers style against big servers or your average server. Again because of style of play.

Also keep in mind that Federer is far and away better then his competion right now. He can't take control of a point from positions no one else can.

Moose Malloy
02-15-2006, 09:38 AM
37 aces, 34 service winners and 8 double faults doesn't seem like he was double faulting THAT often as you say

2 of those doubles were in the last game of the match. Maybe it was (understandably) just nerves. But Goran also knew he couldn't afford to just spin in 2nd's vs Andre in that game.

cruzersi99
02-15-2006, 09:38 AM
i dont think agassi is the best returner in the game.
yeah, He is probably the most aggressive returner and when he connects it goes well , but that is only if the ball is in his strike zone, ig he is streched he is not as good because he doesnt have a slice defensive return , this is why it was so easy for him to get aced against sampras.
i dont know about you but for me it looked like sampras enjoyed playing agassi and he always thought he could beat him in the end.

i definantly think as others have pointed out against sampras he should have stood further back sometimes and returned like hewiit, he might have had a chance then.

If you stand farther back against Sampras you will see more slice and kick serves out wide. Sampras slice was often clocked at 110 mph and upI'd like to see any top player take this approach against Sampras in his prime and see how many times they would break him. You'd end up returning so far off the court your chances of winning a point would be nullified.

gully
02-15-2006, 02:33 PM
But certainly, AA is no longer the greatest returner "in the game." He gets aced too often in recent years, and his return is no longer the weapon it once was, at least not on a day-in, day-out basis.

I would agree that he may be the gretest returner in the history of the game, though, if we measure by his peak (94-99) prowess. His was a different return than Hewitt's or Fed's -- both of whom return more with a goal of consistency and neutrality than risk-taking.

Connors, Hewitt, and Fed should figure in any discussion of great returners, despite their different styles: Fed's return, for instance, is a "neutralizing weapon" against some players (esp. Roddick), one that limits the number of aces and winners and defuses his opponent's advantage to start the rally. I'd vote for his as currently the best.

127mph
02-15-2006, 02:36 PM
well, the reason he got aced alot by goran and pete, was he had the attidude of im andre agassi im not moving you can ace me. but hes changed that and now runs around. have you seen him hit winners off of huge serves? thats where it is, other good returners include safin and nalbandian

FalconX
02-15-2006, 02:51 PM
that baghdatis dude hit some agressive returns. It seemed like he was always well into the court on most of his return. But he also mixed it up and chipped a couple back as well. He might just be the best returner since andre.

West Coast Ace
02-15-2006, 02:57 PM
At this time Agassi and Conners are the greatest returners in the history of the game. HANDS DOWN.

Number of times being ACED has nothing to do with a returners ability to return serve at a Professional Level. I agree with you on almost everything - except I spell it 'Connors' - so did Jimbo. :-)

Getting aced isn't reason to believe someone is deficient. Returning is about tradeoffs - you can't get to them all. And as others have said, when AA gets to it he punishes it. Ditto with Connors.

Time will tell with Fed - hard to dispute that he's very very good considering what he does with Roddick's serve.

Tiger Tim's chip and charge on 2nd serves may seem good to those who weren't around when a lot of people had that shot. To paraphrase the famous quote "I saw Stan Smith - and Tim Henman is no Stan Smith!"

cruzersi99
02-15-2006, 03:05 PM
I agree with you on almost everything - except I spell it 'Connors' - so did Jimbo. :-)

Getting aced isn't reason to believe someone is deficient. Returning is about tradeoffs - you can't get to them all. And as others have said, when AA gets to it he punishes it. Ditto with Connors.

Time will tell with Fed - hard to dispute that he's very very good considering what he does with Roddick's serve.

Tiger Tim's chip and charge on 2nd serves may seem good to those who weren't around when a lot of people had that shot. To paraphrase the famous quote "I saw Stan Smith - and Tim Henman is no Stan Smith!"

Connors...touche....lol

arosen
02-15-2006, 03:10 PM
I would take Baghdatis or Nalbandian as best returners over Agassi any time. Andre used to be fantastic, but nowadays he is a tad slow, a bit too predictable with his 2hbh flat over the low part of the net. He used to be the best, but not anymore.

jings
02-15-2006, 03:17 PM
I'd always understood "best returner" to equate to ability to read an opponents serve and then do something about it. In effect how much pressure they were able to apply. The Connors / Agassi style worked as they pressured (past tense I know) the second ball very heavily, easier to read, and in turn put pressure to get the bigger first serve in play - almost reverse engineering the return game. A good guess/ read here or there and they can swing away at the first ball too on occasion. The Hewitt / Federer (or more modern route) is more of a grinding approach, playing the percentages. Knowing that it's unlikely the server is following in they can get the ball back in play and then take their chances with their ground games. In reality all of the top players are good returners - they have to be. It's how you choose to apply the pressure that has changed, because overall styles have changed. For some reason I got Jimbo's return game, but I've never really got the Agassi thing. Maybe Jimbo never had Sampras making his great return game look pretty ordinary on several occasions. Last point on aces - there is a difference between one and another. Returner can do nothing about the screamer catching a mm of the centre T and swiinging away, or a similarly well placed serve the other side of the box. But I've seen plenty of aces where guys just get wrong footed or have left one side of the service box more open and that is the side that gets hit. I see that second type less often nowadays.

Max G.
02-15-2006, 03:19 PM
Yeah, I agree with arosen - his return isn't the best ANYMORE.

Age takes it's toll...

dmastous
02-15-2006, 03:21 PM
It really depends on which Agassi showed up for a match, or played a point. Agassi let many points go, as well as games, sets and even matches when he was younger. If he couldn't put an aggressive return on the ball he let it go without trying. It was one of the measures of his imaturity at that time.
There were many matches where he tanked an entire set if he got down a couple breaks. He felt it was more important to conserve his energy for the next set. He got boo neumerous times for that.
But that was his mind-set at that time. He didn't have a problem giving up a point because he felt he would win the next one. Phase 2 of his career saw a change in his mentality. Now he grinds for every point and every point is precious.
So Agassi in '92 was still in the "if I can't rip it, I won't bother to hit it" phase.
When he did hit it, he changed the dynamics of the point, and he was, in his day, the only player who could say that the server didn't automatically have the advantage on every point. He was the first who returned serves faster than they came at him consistantly. He was one of the few who put the server on the defensive unless he had an outstanding serve.

jings
02-15-2006, 03:35 PM
Nice post dmastous - you recall him well.

splink779
02-15-2006, 03:50 PM
Not many people can step far inside the baseline to crush a backhand return off a 130+ serve, as Agassi did against JJ. Most players could barely get a racquet on a serve when they were that close to the service line, much less get it back in court, much less crush it to win the point.

Grimjack
02-15-2006, 04:04 PM
I do feel that Federer might just be the best defensive returner of all time. His ability to read a server, react to a direction, and get a ball deep and in play is better than anybody I've ever seen. Roddick's serve was child's play to him while the rest of the ATP still viewed it as a weapon of mass destruction.

mr.fitch
02-15-2006, 04:07 PM
It's true that AA gets aced alot. That has to do with his lack of reach. But when he steps into the court and makes contact...WOW

Hewitt rulez
02-15-2006, 04:11 PM
This is getting a little off but at the Arther Ash Kids day Agassi was standing on the baseling and returned a Roddick serve I think between 145 and 150 for a winner. Roddick didn't have a chance.

That said I would take Hewitt's or Federers return of serve over Agassi's.

fastdunn
02-15-2006, 04:17 PM
During Sampras' prime years, AA was the only guy who came pretty
close to truely threatening Sampras' service games, IMO.
So he went for 2 1st serves a lot of times. You do not want get
AA's hand on your serve period. All the other great servers of 90's
feel truely powerless against AA at the other side of the court.

When people say AA is the greatest returner of game, it implys
"against serve-and-volleyers" behind, IMHO.
AA with his oversized racquet truely is the symbol that
explains the extinction of serve-and-volleyers thru out 90's...

dmastous
02-15-2006, 04:33 PM
During Sampras' prime years, AA was the only guy who came pretty
close to truely threatening Sampras' service games, IMO.
So he went for 2 1st serves a lot of times. You do not want get
AA's hand on your serve period. All the other great servers of 90's
feel truely powerless against AA at the other side of the court.

When people say AA is the greatest returner of game, it implys
"against serve-and-volleyers" behind, IMHO.
AA with his oversized racquet truely is the symbol that
explains the extinction of serve-and-volleyers thru out 90's...
It's true.... you do not want to be hitting a second server against Agassi in his prime.
Serve & Volleyers were meat to Agassi when he was "on". He had the most trouble against counter punchers until he became one himself. Chang, when he still had good wheels really made Agassi work because he couldn't overpower Chang, or other patient players like Chang like Clemont. These guys didn't give Agassi a target to hit at.

legolas
02-15-2006, 05:00 PM
Y E S !!!!!!!!!!

ta11geese3
02-15-2006, 05:29 PM
Now that I think about it, Agassi gave Fed a good scare at last year's us open. For the first two sets, he was really ripping those returns, even on Fed's first serve.

superman1
02-15-2006, 08:21 PM
There's no doubt that he is. Just because you can ace him doesn't mean a damn thing. You can't win a match with aces, just ask Joachim Johansson. He beat the greatest server of all time 14 times and is 5-1 against Roddick. Unless you have a huge serve with unbelievable placement, you will be scampering sideways immediately after finishing the serve motion.

Federer gets all his returns back, true, but if he didn't have the baseline game to back up those slice returns, he'd be useless and I doubt anyone would be calling him a great returner. They'd be saying things more like, "what a terrible returner."

devila
02-15-2006, 08:38 PM
Roddick's a fat pig. Agassihole and Roddick played tight (7-6 7-6 7-5 sets). It's not like Agassi faced a fighter. As he did many times, Roddick kept hugging Agassi and joked in their matches. Embarrassing.

Hewitt and Federer are fighters.

urban
02-15-2006, 11:46 PM
Leaving aside pre-open players like Rosewall or Laver, who had a pretty good return, i would say Connors and Agassi in that order. Agassi has great hands, to play attacking returns. But he tended vs Sampras, to do too much with his return, rushing his shots and playing them hard and often straight down the line. Hewitt, who played many low cross court returns to the feet, had much more success against Sampras. Connoras was dangerous, because he could clobber serves, but also could play it safe and bring the ball into play. Federer is very solid, makes few mistakes, but often floates the ball back and let you play the second shot. This second shot is vital, if you can attack with it, you have a chance, if you stay defensive, Federer gets the initiative and will dictate the point, ultimately with his forehand.

superman1
02-16-2006, 12:05 AM
Federer's return, given the rest of his game, is a major strength. With anyone else, that return would be a weakness. The commentators during the 05 US Open were talking about how he wasn't doing anything with those returns, and Agassi was punishing him as a result.

Whether or not we're talking about the return itself or the return as a part of the entire game, Agassi is king.

Galactus
02-16-2006, 02:02 AM
During Sampras' prime years, AA was the only guy who came pretty close to truely threatening Sampras' service games, IMO.
So he went for two 1st serves a lot of times. You do not want get
AA's hand on your serve period. All the other great servers of 90's
feel truely powerless against AA at the other side of the court.

When people say AA is the greatest returner of game, it implys
"against serve-and-volleyers" behind, IMHO.
AA with his oversized racquet truely is the symbol that
explains the extinction of serve-and-volleyers thru out 90's...
Hmmm - good points:
Agassi 6-3 Edberg
Agassi 10-4 Becker
Agassi 6-0 Stich
Agassi 4-3 Krajicek
Agassi 8-2 Rusedski
Agassi 4-2 Ivanisevic
Agassi 10-5 Rafter
Agassi 2-1 Henman
Agassi 5-0 Dent
Agassi 4-0 Mirnyi

I guess I stand totally corrected from my earlier post disputing Agassi :mrgreen: (but gradual decrease of court-speeds since the 1980's has to be taken into account).

Mind you, this also goes to show you what a fantastic player Sampras was, and not just a great serve-and-volleyer...

superman1
02-16-2006, 02:08 AM
Sampras' serve gets talked about most, but he had a great ground game and a killer forehand. One of the best running forehands ever. You can't just rely on the serve, just ask Ivo Karlovic. I've seen plenty of Sampras/Agassi baseline rallies where Sampras was the one hitting the sharp angles and running Agassi off the court.

gully
02-16-2006, 04:19 AM
Federer's return, given the rest of his game, is a major strength. With anyone else, that return would be a weakness. The commentators during the 05 US Open were talking about how he wasn't doing anything with those returns, and Agassi was punishing him as a result.Remember, though, that Fed changed his tactics midway through the third set and steamrolled Agassi as a result.

Slicing back serves to Agassi plays to HIS strength -- grinding rallies -- but attacking them (and the 2nd serve is not what it used to be) turns the exhanges into a battle of angles and athleticism, favoring Fed.

For Fed against a stronger server -- but weaker rallier -- like a Roddick, slicing deep or angled is simply the high-percentage, smart play, favoring Fed's consistency and opportunism.

BiGGieStuFF
02-16-2006, 05:03 AM
I don't know about you guys but for me when I'm playing against someone who can smack a few of my returns especially on the 2nd serve is much more dangerous to me then someone who just gets it back consistently. I may ace the guy a few times but that happens less then how much constant pressure he is putting on my serve by taking it early cutting my preparation time in half.

In this situation I know I cannot throw him any creampuff serves ever. Guys who stand way back I know I can roll a couple serves in slowly and grind it out afterwards.

erik-the-red
02-16-2006, 05:33 AM
Agassi is 35 and if he plays one more USO he'll be 36 by the end of 2006.

He is not the best returner right now, but he was for a long, long time.

I believe statistically Rafa Nadal was the best returner in 2005.

Bryan Aldridge
02-16-2006, 05:42 AM
Sampras' serve gets talked about most, but he had a great ground game and a killer forehand. One of the best running forehands ever. You can't just rely on the serve, just ask Ivo Karlovic. I've seen plenty of Sampras/Agassi baseline rallies where Sampras was the one hitting the sharp angles and running Agassi off the court.

Yep. Sampras' running forehand was nasty. If he got a racquet on it - point over pretty much. There was no comparision with his backhand. Watch all the games where agassi was serving playing sampras. Almost every second serve goes to the backhand, every groundstroke goes to his backhand, unless the court is so open andre can hit the winner. The forehand was so heavy and skidded so much no one wanted any of it.

Andres
02-16-2006, 08:54 AM
Agassi is 35 and if he plays one more USO he'll be 36 by the end of 2006.

He is not the best returner right now, but he was for a long, long time.

I believe statistically Rafa Nadal was the best returner in 2005.

No, Nadal wasn't the best returner. He went so up with those stats not because of his return of serve, because it's pretty hard to win a point over him.

He may slice the serve back, and then, chase down every ball, and rip a winner 14 feets beyond the baseline...

fastdunn
02-16-2006, 10:01 AM
Sampras' serve gets talked about most, but he had a great ground game and a killer forehand. One of the best running forehands ever. You can't just rely on the serve, just ask Ivo Karlovic. I've seen plenty of Sampras/Agassi baseline rallies where Sampras was the one hitting the sharp angles and running Agassi off the court.

Exactly. Sampras could not use much of volleys against AA.
He went more for 2nd serves and won from baselines via
his killer forehand. S&V could not win AA period...

I remember Fred Stolle once screamed after seeing Rafter
demolished by AA "NO S&Ver can win against AA !!".

joesixtoe
02-16-2006, 10:56 AM
i forgot which year it was, but i remember the ouncers saying that brad gilbert was scouting pete sampras and he noticed sampras hits about 15 mph harder on his second serve against AA than he did against other players.

!Tym
02-16-2006, 11:35 AM
Actually, Bruguera returned Sampras' serve better than Agassi ever did in my opinion...and NOT just in that Lipton semi. He in fact came within two points of bageling Sampras indoors at the year ending championships in the second set when the courts were still lightning fast many years befoore, and Sampras was not playing bad or tanking. I've never seen Agassi be able to do that against Sampras' serve, but I have from Hewitt and Safin...but then again, those guys unlike Agassi stood just far back enough and/or had just enough length to prevent aces.

It is in my opinion a total myth that Agassi was somehow a good match-up style wise against Sampras, simply because others haven't seen others really match up against Sampras as much due to the fact that Agassi-Sampras matches were hyped up so much in the US...in fact, when they played, that was just about the ONLY time tennis got any hype in the US.

Honestly, guys like Ferreira and Bruguera were better returners and matchups against Sampras even though they didn't get the hype. Agassi's problem as a returner against Sampras was not so much that he couldn't smack it, it was that he's not a very lanky guy. This has always been Agassi's problem with regards to preventing aces. Hand-eye coordination, OS racket? All that's true, and NOT overhyped. If he got his racket on the ball, was in the right place at the right time, no matter how hard you smacked it, he would kill it...witness how he absolutely pummeled that one Roddick serve at US Open kids day. This was even more true during his younger days, where he really did try and smack it and intimidate you.

These days, Agassi no longer tries to do that nearly as much; in fact, he NEVER tries to do it at all anymore. He goes for at best 3/4 agression returns now, never the all or nothing, shove it down your throat, missiles of mass destruction he used to. That US Open kids day, that look you saw in his eyes of child's glee right before he made that return? That was the look Agassi USED to get in his eyes during matches; now he has the eyes of a rock star who went to college and got a degree in economics. Agassi's main goal before was to try and send a message; he was all hair cut and forehand as Lendl used to say. The scary thing about him then was that player's knew that he had the timing to go all out for it AND still make it. If he was on, he could do that all day long, in fact...or so it SEEMED. And that's why some players back then would see if Agassi was on early on, if he was; they'd simply tip their hat, bow down not worthy, fold their cards, yawn, take down the tent, and then look forward to lunch. The past few years, you would NEVER hear anyone say or imply that about Agassi (the way the older generation would say, hey, when you're on, you're the best player in the world); because Agassi never puts himself on the line anymore.

You live by the tightwire, you die by the tightwire. But either way, it creates a certain awe and mystique about the guy. Guys like Stich and Becker were in my opinion spooked by that mystique, and Agassi shoved it to them as a result. Meanwhile, guys like Lendl and Sampras were not. That's huge against Agassi. Because back in his electric youth days, the way you beat him, even if he was on, was to NOT get intimidated, not show that fear and/or awe in your eyes. Lendl's attitude regarding Agassi was basically let the kid have his fun, smoke winner after winner forever however long, act like it was nothing, show that you weren't impressed, yawn a little; and THEN, once the little kid had got the slightest bit tired or lost even just a little sharpness or concentration; then and only THEN, step on the accelerator yourself, step in, and clean out the saloon in two seconds flat like Clint Eastwood walking into town with that no, nonsense death glare of his...easy pickings. By that point in a match, Lendl owned Agassi MENTALLY rather than so much physically.

Agassi USED to be the best returner on the game according to so many, because he was so intimidating as a returner and had the loudest bark and the biggest stick so to speak. Doesn't mean he was EVER the best at preventing aces. From that perspective, he was simply too short and stood way too far in to really prevent that.

The thing is, in my opinion, the key to returning Sampras serve effectively was to neither stand tooo far back like a Muster, but neither tooo far in like an Agassi. Getting the ball back, even just floating it back, was in my opinion key against Sampras. Sampras was a thoroughbred type who in gun slinging exchanges never flinched. But draw him into longer exchanges and you could now put a chink in his MENTAL armor. Sampras could be spooked only one way on a tennis court in my opinion, and that was by surprising him by returning what he had already smirked off as certain winner.

From that perspective, having good length or great wheels (i.e. being able to rundown Sampras certain winner running-forehands which Ferreira, Bruguera, and Hewitt had the speed to do but Agassi never did...if you made Sampras hit one more running forehand, then he might miss. He wasn't really a ball machine out there, he was a canon of mass destruction that got one or two shots off, before tending to go powderless) was critical. Against, Sampras your goal should always be to never let him get comfortable, to feel like he was on cruise control on his serve; at which point, his ingratiating (to Rafter at least) smug arrogance would take over...you know, that "air" I'm talking about that he would at his best tend to exude like Peter Gallagher in the nude (haha, sorry guys...).

Making him play more balls on the return was important, because Sampras could get careless in my opinion; if you kept on challenging him that way. Just getting aced left and right and then occasionally hitting a big winner against him I think just secretly made him smirk inside. Too often, Sampras' "clutch" reputation went unchallenged, because he knew all he had to do was concenctrate a little harder on these points and paint a line with an ace. Clutch? Yeah. But still, I think it requires less nerve to concentrate hard on one shot knowing that if you concentrate well enough, it'll probably win you the point outright than to be like say Chang and know you're going have to play that point out to its bitter end. That to me, requires more nerve; and it's a big part of the reason Chang burned out so early. Think about it this way, you all saw what a HUGE impact nerves had on Coria and Gaudio during the French Open final. Knowing that given the surface and their puny serves; that they wouldn't be able to simply end points when they got nervous with one shot? Huge difference guys, huge.

Hewitt at his best told Sampras that I'm going to get all your serves back, I'm not spooked...add that Sampras himself by then had lost a little of his own self-belief, and lost a step as Rusedski said? It makes all the difference at this level.

Against a guy like Becker, if you could stun him a few times with huge returns; you could really shake him and his psyche up in my opinion...witness what Stich did to him in that Wimbledon final. Sampras didn't get psyched out that way and he didn't get spooked. He was I think a less emotional player than Becker in that sense, far less of that mental roller coaster out there. To me, Sampras was more like Lendl in that he had that "big picture" mentality in a match. He was more of an out of body experience player so to speak, than Becker who was more of a Liono from Thundercats roaring, wearing his emotions on his sleave and at times losing perspective...i.e. Becker's "cover-up" of trying to beat Agassi at his own game from the baseline, which he would always lose at. The thing is, I think that deep down, Becker knew he couldn't beat Agassi from the baseline, but he pretended he could to cover up for his own insecurity, because his pride was more hurt getting pummeled by Agassi coming in "on his terms" than it was by him trying to beat Agassi, hail mary, style from the baseline where he and everyone else knew he was the underdog. That way, if he lost; it wasn't HIS game, his ego, his pride and joy; that lost. No, it was that other Becker, Becker #2, the baseliner, the carpenter, the plumber.

Notice, however, what happened when that one Wimbledon, Becker finally decided to just come in, put himself on the line, and let the chips fall where they may. He turned the match around, and eventually won. See, Agassi for all his implied might on the return of serve, the key was to keep on challenging him, over and over, and not flinch when he started off hot and smoking balls by you left and right and making you look like a bloody fool. If he saw you starting to look like the fool, like you were embarrassed or something; they he'd treat you like a fool. However, if like Lendl you shrugged a few wowza shots off, even if it went on for a set or two; eventually, you WOULD show the REAL Agassi. The one who Lendl rightfully believed back then had NO SUBSTANCE. He stared Agassi right in the eye, and said no matter how many times you stuff a winner down my throat; I'll not change one iota. I'll call your BLUFF.

And really, that's what Agassi used to be. All bluff, all huff...but no substance to last a race.

These days, Agassi's too far off to the other side to be #1. Federer, I think more than any player I've ever seen, has the perfect balance between the accountant and the stock raider, between the careful, covert, tip-toeing mouse and the bold and brash Lion who knows just went to pounce and go in for the kill.

Grimjack
02-16-2006, 11:46 AM
Actually, Bruguera returned Sampras' serve better than Agassi ever did in my opinion...and NOT just in that Lipton semi. He in fact came within two points of bageling Sampras indoors at the year ending championships in the second set when the courts were still lightning fast many years befoore, and Sampras was not playing bad or tanking. I've never seen Agassi be able to do that against Sampras' serve, but I have from Hewitt and Safin...but then again, those guys unlike Agassi stood just far back enough and/or had just enough length to prevent aces.

It is in my opinion a total myth that Agassi was somehow a good match-up style wise against Sampras, simply because others haven't seen others really match up against Sampras as much due to the fact that Agassi-Sampras matches were hyped up so much in the US...in fact, when they played, that was just about the ONLY time tennis got any hype in the US.

Honestly, guys like Ferreira and Bruguera were better returners and matchups against Sampras even though they didn't get the hype. Agassi's problem as a returner against Sampras was not so much that he couldn't smack it, it was that he's not a very lanky guy. This has always been Agassi's problem with regards to preventing aces. Hand-eye coordination, OS racket? All that's true, and NOT overhyped. If he got his racket on the ball, was in the right place at the right time, no matter how hard you smacked it, he would kill it...witness how he absolutely pummeled that one Roddick serve at US Open kids day. This was even more true during his younger days, where he really did try and smack it and intimidate you.

These days, Agassi no longer tries to do that nearly as much; in fact, he NEVER tries to do it at all anymore. He goes for at best 3/4 agression returns now, never the all or nothing, shove it down your throat, missiles of mass destruction he used to. That US Open kids day, that look you saw in his eyes of child's glee right before he made that return? That was the look Agassi USED to get in his eyes during matches; now he has the eyes of a rock star who went to college and got a degree in economics. Agassi's main goal before was to try and send a message; he was all hair cut and forehand as Lendl used to say. The scary thing about him then was that player's knew that he had the timing to go all out for it AND still make it. If he was on, he could do that all day long, in fact...or so it SEEMED. And that's why some players back then would see if Agassi was on early on, if he was; they'd simply tip their hat, bow down not worthy, fold their cards, yawn, take down the tent, and then look forward to lunch. The past few years, you would NEVER hear anyone say or imply that about Agassi (the way the older generation would say, hey, when you're on, you're the best player in the world); because Agassi never puts himself on the line anymore.

You live by the tightwire, you die by the tightwire. But either way, it creates a certain awe and mystique about the guy. Guys like Stich and Becker were in my opinion spooked by that mystique, and Agassi shoved it to them as a result. Meanwhile, guys like Lendl and Sampras were not. That's huge against Agassi. Because back in his electric youth days, the way you beat him, even if he was on, was to NOT get intimidated, not show that fear and/or awe in your eyes. Lendl's attitude regarding Agassi was basically let the kid have his fun, smoke winner after winner forever however long, act like it was nothing, show that you weren't impressed, yawn a little; and THEN, once the little kid had got the slightest bit tired or lost even just a little sharpness or concentration; then and only THEN, step on the accelerator yourself, step in, and clean out the saloon in two seconds flat like Clint Eastwood walking into town with that no, nonsense death glare of his...easy pickings. By that point in a match, Lendl owned Agassi MENTALLY rather than so much physically.

Agassi USED to be the best returner on the game according to so many, because he was so intimidating as a returner and had the loudest bark and the biggest stick so to speak. Doesn't mean he was EVER the best at preventing aces. From that perspective, he was simply too short and stood way too far in to really prevent that.

The thing is, in my opinion, the key to returning Sampras serve effectively was to neither stand tooo far back like a Muster, but neither tooo far in like an Agassi. Getting the ball back, even just floating it back, was in my opinion key against Sampras. Sampras was a thoroughbred type who in gun slinging exchanges never flinched. But draw him into longer exchanges and you could now put a chink in his MENTAL armor. Sampras could be spooked only one way on a tennis court in my opinion, and that was by surprising him by returning what he had already smirked off as certain winner.

From that perspective, having good length or great wheels (i.e. being able to rundown Sampras certain winner running-forehands which Ferreira, Bruguera, and Hewitt had the speed to do but Agassi never did...if you made Sampras hit one more running forehand, then he might miss. He wasn't really a ball machine out there, he was a canon of mass destruction that got one or two shots off, before tending to go powderless) was critical. Against, Sampras your goal should always be to never let him get comfortable, to feel like he was on cruise control on his serve; at which point, his ingratiating (to Rafter at least) smug arrogance would take over...you know, that "air" I'm talking about that he would at his best tend to exude like Peter Gallagher in the nude (haha, sorry guys...).

Making him play more balls on the return was important, because Sampras could get careless in my opinion; if you kept on challenging him that way. Just getting aced left and right and then occasionally hitting a big winner against him I think just secretly made him smirk inside. Too often, Sampras' "clutch" reputation went unchallenged, because he knew all he had to do was concenctrate a little harder on these points and paint a line with an ace. Clutch? Yeah. But still, I think it requires less nerve to concentrate hard on one shot knowing that if you concentrate well enough, it'll probably win you the point outright than to be like say Chang and know you're going have to play that point out to its bitter end. That to me, requires more nerve; and it's a big part of the reason Chang burned out so early. Think about it this way, you all saw what a HUGE impact nerves had on Coria and Gaudio during the French Open final. Knowing that given the surface and their puny serves; that they wouldn't be able to simply end points when they got nervous with one shot? Huge difference guys, huge.

Hewitt at his best told Sampras that I'm going to get all your serves back, I'm not spooked...add that Sampras himself by then had lost a little of his own self-belief, and lost a step as Rusedski said? It makes all the difference at this level.

Against a guy like Becker, if you could stun him a few times with huge returns; you could really shake him and his psyche up in my opinion...witness what Stich did to him in that Wimbledon final. Sampras didn't get psyched out that way and he didn't get spooked. He was I think a less emotional player than Becker in that sense, far less of that mental roller coaster out there. To me, Sampras was more like Lendl in that he had that "big picture" mentality in a match. He was more of an out of body experience player so to speak, than Becker who was more of a Liono from Thundercats roaring, wearing his emotions on his sleave and at times losing perspective...i.e. Becker's "cover-up" of trying to beat Agassi at his own game from the baseline, which he would always lose at. The thing is, I think that deep down, Becker knew he couldn't beat Agassi from the baseline, but he pretended he could to cover up for his own insecurity, because his pride was more hurt getting pummeled by Agassi coming in "on his terms" than it was by him trying to beat Agassi, hail mary, style from the baseline where he and everyone else knew he was the underdog. That way, if he lost; it wasn't HIS game, his ego, his pride and joy; that lost. No, it was that other Becker, Becker #2, the baseliner, the carpenter, the plumber.

Notice, however, what happened when that one Wimbledon, Becker finally decided to just come in, put himself on the line, and let the chips fall where they may. He turned the match around, and eventually won. See, Agassi for all his implied might on the return of serve, the key was to keep on challenging him, over and over, and not flinch when he started off hot and smoking balls by you left and right and making you look like a bloody fool. If he saw you starting to look like the fool, like you were embarrassed or something; they he'd treat you like a fool. However, if like Lendl you shrugged a few wowza shots off, even if it went on for a set or two; eventually, you WOULD show the REAL Agassi. The one who Lendl rightfully believed back then had NO SUBSTANCE. He stared Agassi right in the eye, and said no matter how many times you stuff a winner down my throat; I'll not change one iota. I'll call your BLUFF.

And really, that's what Agassi used to be. All bluff, all huff...but no substance to last a race.

These days, Agassi's too far off to the other side to be #1. Federer, I think more than any player I've ever seen, has the perfect balance between the accountant and the stock raider, between the careful, covert, tip-toeing mouse and the bold and brash Lion who knows just went to pounce and go in for the kill.

So wait a minute...did they ever catch Raskolnikov or not?

Brettolius
02-16-2006, 12:41 PM
Dude busted out Liono from freaking Thundercats? You've gotta be kidding me...

fastdunn
02-16-2006, 01:22 PM
Actually, Bruguera returned Sampras' serve better than Agassi ever did in my opinion...and NOT just in that Lipton semi. He in fact came within two points of bageling Sampras indoors at the year ending championships in the second set when the courts were still lightning fast many years befoore, and Sampras was not playing bad or tanking.

As I recall, this was meaningless round-robin match : Sampras already
advanced to semi as #1 and Bruguera already disqulified for semi's..

Hal
02-16-2006, 01:59 PM
So wait a minute...did they ever catch Raskolnikov or not?
LOL!

156MPHserve
02-16-2006, 10:36 PM
The way I see it is, Andre COULD have been like Hewitt and stayed back, got a few more balls in. Can HEWITT be like Andre no? In fact not many people can. Even Federer with his amazing sense and anticipation will rarely hit returns as agressive as Andre. Also considering Andre is a bit smaller of a guy compared to most on the tour, his returns are amazing.

chrismaylor
02-16-2006, 10:39 PM
Is this really a question, he is hands down the best, best eyes the game has ever seen. The man was made to return serve.




Christopher Maylor



http://www.********.com
Serendipity Shoe Lifts ~ Be Taller Now

superman1
02-16-2006, 10:57 PM
It is not a question, but people are mislead by the fact that you can ace Agassi more than you can Federer. Players would rather receive Federer's return than Agassi's, hands down.

Can Federer do this? - http://www.tennisserver.com/wtt/movies/andre3f.mov

Andres
02-17-2006, 05:35 AM
The best return of serve i've ever seen was by James Blake, a month ago.
The guy served at 115 mph, and the forehand return was as fast as the serve. Right on the middle. The server had nothing to do. He had just finished the service motion, and the point was already over :)

I'll post a link for the video, if I find it.

tenalyser
02-17-2006, 05:50 AM
It is not a question, but people are mislead by the fact that you can ace Agassi more than you can Federer. Players would rather receive Federer's return than Agassi's, hands down.
Can Federer do this? - http://www.tennisserver.com/wtt/movies/andre3f.mov

are you serious :???:

ChipNCharge
02-17-2006, 07:01 AM
Agassi elected to guess more aganst these types of servers playng the oddsas a strategic move..often he would guess wrong

Good point. I once heard a tv commentator say this too. He said Sampras was too good at disguising his serve and Agassi was just guessing wrong too much. This commentator, I can't remember who it was, suggested Agassi just return "straight up" against Pete and not try to guess as much.

Moose Malloy
02-17-2006, 11:49 AM
He are some comments from Agassi after beating Philippoussis at Wimbledon 2000:

Q. A lot has been said and written about the Philippoussis serve in the last few days. You got aced a few times, but you still did the number on it when it had to be done. What is your take on his serve?

ANDRE AGASSI: Oh, he has a fantastic serve. I mean, you know, it's certainly one of the best in the game. But to me, I feel like you've got to make a distinction in this sport between a great serve and a great hold game. In his case, he has a great serve, and he has a really good hold game. You take somebody like Pete, who has a great serve and has a great hold game. The difference is how you follow it up. You know, if you're not quick enough to get to net behind a 135 mile-an-hour serve, and if it does come back, it can present some problems. I don't get distracted by people acing me. I try to just make sure I do well with the opportunities I will get, knowing that they're eventually going to come - that's all assuming I'm taking care of my own serve. So there's a lot going on out there that kind of helps you get around one guy's particular weapon.

Q. The break in the second set, the double-fault off the net cord, you stepped back about ten feet behind the baseline. Do you think that might have distracted him just enough to throw his serve off a little bit?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I think "distract" is the wrong word to use. It wasn't like I was, you know, waving my arms as he tossed it, trying to get him to look at me. The idea was just to give him a different look, period. You're standing up on the plate, he's a big guy who can blow in serves at 130 plus. If he can hit the centre of the box, that's an effective serve. You tend to give yourself the margin for error. If he happens to miss-hit his serve a little bit, maybe he hits it on the line. I felt like if I backed up, he's going to have to take a little bit off of that and try to get in tight behind it. If he hits it 130, I'm on it, I'm going to return it at his feet. It was about giving him a different look. Sometimes you get a little lucky and receive a double-fault in a big situation. But he also hits a lot of aces in big situations. You know, it washes out. But that one worked well.

bobby
02-17-2006, 02:03 PM
However, i noticed that AA tends to get aced a hell of a lot of time to be described as a great returner. In the 92 Wimbly final he was aced by Ivanisevic almost 40 times. At the 2000 semi match at the OZ open Pete aced AA over 40 times. Plus Joachim Johansson aced AA 50 times in the OZ open of 2005. These are but a few examples of the so called 'world's best returner being aced far too frequently.
He won all three of these matches. Iīd say he did something right during the return games.

BaseLineBash
02-17-2006, 03:05 PM
"Andreís hand-eye coordination I think is unmatched in anyone that Iíve ever seen either on tape or in person, male or female," said former No. 1 Jim Courier, who trained with Agassi at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy when the pair were promising juniors. "I just donít think anyoneís ever seen the ball the way that he sees it. And picked up the ball earlier and been able to time it. Itís cool man. Where have we ever seen a guy consistently over his career have (such great) ground strokes and be able to half volley from the baseline? Itís just that kind of ability is really once in a generation if not once in a century. Now that has been baffling to me to watch over the years, having seen him since he was 12 years old do it. You know, that is incredible."

Chadwixx
02-17-2006, 03:41 PM
They did some test on him and he has like 1 in a billion eyesight. They tested many athelete's and only six were like him, ken griffey was the only other one i remember. He can see the ball and react to it faster than oridinary men, from what i heard.

Hewitt beat pete 6-0, id still put hewitt at the top of that list.

Mr Topspin
02-20-2006, 03:47 AM
I have been away for a week!

I come back and see you folks have been busy.

The points submitted are all well made.

In conclusion i guess the term 'best' or 'greatest' is essentially relative especially when being judged by subjective means. We all have our reasons for judging one style over another. In my defence i will agree that being aced frequently IMHO is not the determining factor of 'best' or 'poor' return. The argument then falls on two camps. Agassi is on the quality of return camp, whose powerful and usually 2nd serve retuens intimidate the server to either go for more on his 1st and thus pressuring his 2nd serve delivery.

Federer and Hewitt for example are from the high percentage of serves put in category. This allow's them to do the following:

Get a no of serves back

Neutralise the point (if server stays back and the return is deep)

Get a rhythm on return allowing a potential rocket when possible.

Puts pressure on the server i.e not much cheap points.

IMHO the Fed or Hew style is far more effective and efficient for the returner. Even if the server is adept at the net - they still have to make the volley, smash etc. The pressure is firmly on the server and in a tight situation IMHO the percentage of winning the point is far higher than gambling on a screaming winner dtl on the highest part of the net.

Agassi style however, is effective for putting the server's 2nd serve under complete pressure as the server is acutely aware that the chances of winning their second serve is slim as they will most like surrender the serving advantage to the weight and force of the Agassi return. Agassi's style is however becomes redundant if the server puts in a high percentage of first serves, hits the angles frequently and serves with spin and variety. This was the problem Agassi faced against Pete who usually had a good first serve percentage especially in big matches (Pete is 4 - 1 in grandslam finals over AA).


The Agassi gamble return game as i call it did not work in those matches as he was not able to generate enough winning 'quality' returns back in play. the other drawback for Agassi style is the amount of mental pressure he is under. AA's style of taking the ball early and waiting for the opportune moment is tremendously stressfull as aces and service winners go by. It puts a lot of pressure on your groundstokes which after several love game may have lost its rhythm especially when you attempt to blast a big return on
break point.


Therefore, although effective - I find the Agassi style to be high risk and high pressure and very much determined by the server. Fed, Hewitt and or Henman may produce a 'higher' quantity of returns which may be as others have said appear creampuff - but it places the pressure on the server having to put it away. Don't commentators always say that on big points it is imperative that the returner makes the server play - after all in the days of wooden racket when they could not hit the blazes of the ball - the players simply did that and made the server play.

And in response to a poster talking about the preference of returner they like. I always prefer to play the person who goes for high risk returns as i know that the chances of me winninging are significantly higher (as long as i'm serving a high no of first serves and getting decent kick on my second) unless the guy i play is having an out of body experience I know that i will win my fair share of cheap points than the consistent floated or defensive return that makes me hit one more ball and forces me to either close the net or stay on the offensive.

cruzersi99
02-20-2006, 07:25 AM
You are forgeting a very important factor in your assessment. At the professional level, and particularly in the upper echelon's of men's tennis, servers hold server 80 to 90% of the time. Throwing back a floater or a sitter is just that, sure you play one more ball, but it's mute. Next time you see Roger play roddick, agassi, nalbandian, safin, etc. pay attention to his returns on the games where he breaks. He's more far more aggressive. Roger and Sampras know that they only need one break to win, and as a result that dictates their style of return.

Agassi's return style forced players to serve their best at all times. They either had to hit a high number of first serves in or be punished for missing. This mentality also resulted in Andre's high percentage of service holds. Players facing Andre knew that they had to be more aggressive in order to get break opportunities back. As a result they also tended to go for more, and they made more unforced errors. Andre's return style was developed as a result of his talent and style of game and certainly is not meant for everyone.

Lastly, everyone keeps looking to the Agassi vs. Sampras, or Agassi vs. Federer match-ups as reasons to knock his style. How many times did Andre and Pete play outside of a finals? How many finals did Pete lose in general? How many matches has Federer lost in the last two or three years?

Federer and Sampras don't/didn't lose late in tournaments. Both know/knew how to peak at the right times, and both are better all-around players then Andre, and the rest of the tennis world to begin with.

I will agree with you that at most other levels of tennis, just getting the ball back may be the better of the two styles. Club players are far more likely to miss a few floaters here and there. In general, you also don't see a lot of club players serve and volleying effectively. Returning serve can simply be as easy as getting it back because there is no real consequence.

BiGGieStuFF
02-20-2006, 07:49 AM
You are forgeting a very important factor in your assessment. At the professional level, and particularly in the upper echelon's of men's tennis, servers hold server 80 to 90% of the time. Throwing back a floater or a sitter is just that, sure you play one more ball, but it's mute. Next time you see Roger play roddick, agassi, nalbandian, safin, etc. pay attention to his returns on the games where he breaks. He's more far more aggressive. Roger and Sampras know that they only need one break to win, and as a result that dictates their style of return.

Agassi's return style forced players to serve their best at all times. They either had to hit a high number of first serves in or be punished for missing. This mentality also resulted in Andre's high percentage of service holds. Players facing Andre knew that they had to be more aggressive in order to get break opportunities back. As a result they also tended to go for more, and they made more unforced errors. Andre's return style was developed as a result of his talent and style of game and certainly is not meant for everyone.

Lastly, everyone keeps looking to the Agassi vs. Sampras, or Agassi vs. Federer match-ups as reasons to knock his style. How many times did Andre and Pete play outside of a finals? How many finals did Pete lose in general? How many matches has Federer lost in the last two or three years?

Federer and Sampras don't/didn't lose late in tournaments. Both know/knew how to peak at the right times, and both are better all-around players then Andre, and the rest of the tennis world to begin with.

I will agree with you that at most other levels of tennis, just getting the ball back may be the better of the two styles. Club players are far more likely to miss a few floaters here and there. In general, you also don't see a lot of club players serve and volleying effectively. Returning serve can simply be as easy as getting it back because there is no real consequence.

In complete agreement