Best volleys among clay players.

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by I get cramps, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. I get cramps

    I get cramps New User

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    I remember Emilio Sánchez playing Mcenroe in the AO 92 4TH round, well, after loosing the first two sets Emilio started serving and volleying on every point for the netx two sets -unless my memory is playing tricks on me-, and he won them. He eventually lost in the fifth set in very long and contested match.

    Off the top of my head, i remember Emilio Sánchez doing it too against Kent Carlsson in a Hilversum (perhaps it was on Kithbuel) final. After he lost the first two sets he started to serve and volley, and won the following two sets -if memory serves me well- by serving and volleying.

    I'm not saying, by any means, that Sánchez's volleys were the best amongst players whose bread and butter was clay, and that had also been raised playing on clay. i was very young back then, but Emilio seemed to know what he was doing at the net. I haven't had the chance to watch those matches again but that's a lingering memory from them.

    Who were the best serve and volleyers amongst the guys who played the clay tournaments -Gstaad, baastad, Hilversum, Kithbuel, Palermo, Madrid, and so forth- and that learnt the game playing on clay?

    Any thoughts on this one?
     
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  2. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I watched that Mac-Sanchez match last year, Sanchez certainly didn't S&V every point the last 3 sets, but he did do it quite a bit - I had him at 22 of 44 on S&V attempts in the last 3 sets.
    For the match I had him with 2 fh volley winners, 11 bh volley winners & 1 overhead winner. He was part of a great doubles team, won some majors with Casal, I'm sure that's part of the reason he was so good at net in singles.

    I watched the 1991 Monte Carlo Final recently(Bruguera d Becker 57, 64, 76, 76) & was surprised by how much Bruguera came in & how soft his hands were. He actually came in off Becker's 2nd serve a few times.

    I had him at 13 of 26 at net in the last 2 sets.
     
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  3. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Panatta and Kodes would be possibilities.
     
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  4. I get cramps

    I get cramps New User

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    Thanks for your post and the correction, Moose Malloy.

    If you enjoyed the Mac-Sánchez 92 match be sure, in case you haven't done it already which is very likely, to watch their USO 90 4th round match.

    Incidentally, Emilio Sánchez said recently on TV that Casal's volleys were better than his.
     
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  5. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    7-5, 7-6, 4-6, 2-6, 8-6 to Mac. Yes, looks like a long tough match.
     
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  6. I get cramps

    I get cramps New User

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    If memory serves me well, which i doubt, Mac was extremely fatigued at the end of the match and lied down on the court just after the match was over -it was pretty hot in Melbourne that day-. Mac needed some kind of special rehydration afterwards. Conversely, Sánchez seemed to be in much better shape. It reminds me a bit -whitout that much drama- of Sampras Vs Corretja 96 USO. Corretja should have won that match and, perhaps, Sánchez too had the match in his racquet; but both Pete and Mac showed why they are ATG's.

    What really surprised me is how after loosing the first two sets playing from the baseline, Sánchez started to serve and volley with success, he had a plan B. We're talking here about a player with very little talent -however, a player with great work ethic- that could make adjustments during the course of a match. That's one of the reasons why i started this thread, i wonder which players who were raised as claycourters could held their own serving and volleying, aside of Wilander, Vilas (or so i was told), and i guess Gimeno, Panatta or Santana.
     
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  7. rosenstar

    rosenstar Professional

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    Nadal has great volleys. He doesn't come to the net much on clay, and his volley's aren't the prettiest, but he manages to sneak in at opportune moments and put himself in a good position to win the point.
     
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  8. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Yep, these two--plus Rosewall--come to mind.
     
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Panatta and Pecci in the 70´s, Noah and....¿Mc Enroe? in the 80´s, Laver and Rosewall in the 60´s.No other player has had success playing an agressive style on French red clay ever since Mac almost won the 1984 FO.Edberg and Stich were the last S&V guys to ever reach the FO final, but lost just as Mac in 84.
     
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  10. heathcliff

    heathcliff Rookie

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    henri leconte - though he was an all courter he had his biggest success on clay.
    martin jaite - another great clay courter who could hit some very nice volleys.
     
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  11. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Sanchez spent much of his time playing doubles with Sergio Casal.This one was one of the few clay court born players whose tactics were serve and volley.I´d say, in the 80´s other than Noah,Leconte ( sometimes) and Mac Enroe, he´s the only pure S&V player that played that style on clay.

    As for Gimeno, he could play s&V ( was a W SF and AO F) but he seldom did it on clay.Pecci and Panatta ( and even Gerulaitis when he was playing great cc tennis) were the guys that always S&V´d on the cc of the 70´s... with success, of course (Ashe,Smith and Newcombe too, but never had any success on red clay).
     
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  12. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    I'm assuming Edberg grew up on clay given his background.
     
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  13. I get cramps

    I get cramps New User

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    What about Nystrom and Andrés Gomez's volleys, were they any good? Gómez was a good doubles player.
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I liked Gomez a lot, but his volleys were just Ok.He is an underrated one, even if he blew off Muster and Agassi in the SF and F of the 1990 FO.Big serve, one of the best overheads of the 80´s, great reach at the net, a very good BH ( slice dor top spin)...and, on top of that, the second or third best clay court forehand of the 80´s ( just behind Lendl and as good as Arias).

    In addition to his FO title, he also took 2 times the Italian Open, wipping out Krickstein and Arias, and won 2 times in a row Barcelona ( beating Lendl also).

    He was a nice guy but a bit shy, so he´s left few memories on the " go for the flash" fans, but some great ones for the real tennis fans of that decade.
     
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  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I was just thinking... if a guy like Gomez is barely talked of when people mentions the greats of the 80´s...how brilliant must have that decade have been???...and people still talks about Nalbandian or Roddick so much... what a big, big difference¡¡¡
     
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  16. I get cramps

    I get cramps New User

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    Agreed. it would be nice to have more info about Andrés Gómez from the pundits on this board. ;-);
     
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  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I remember Lendl once said, after one of his rare loses to Gomez, that on the few days that Andres let his mind off and tunned up his timing, nobody could beat him on clay.I´ve seen few moments of this fantastic play.
     
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  18. Ludwig von Mises

    Ludwig von Mises Banned

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    nastase was a great volleyer but of course was more than just a clay courter.

    yannick noah won his only gs on clay, was a pretty good volleyer
     
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  19. gpt

    gpt Professional

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    check you tube videos of Vilas serving and volleying on the kooyong grass in the 1974 masters and at the 77 and 78 AO. great stuff
     
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  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Noah was a 1980´s Panatta with more physichal power, but less inspired.However, they both enjoyed live off the court as much, if not more, than in the court (I´d say more, definitely)
     
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  21. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    the complete match is available free to watch online here!

    http://vault.australianopentv.com/

    very entertaining stuff, I'm sure more so than any match will be at this year's AO
     
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  22. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Juan Carlos Ferrero never came to net a lot, but when he does he always seems to have the right solution. Very good form and touch. Though not often in the spot lights anymore, he's still one of most stylish and technically sound players around.
     
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  23. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    Alex Corretja
     
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  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    while not just a clay court, Ramirez and Gottfries had terrific volleys.Ramirez won the Italian open in 1975 and Gottfried lost the 1977 FO final.
     
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  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Nystrom seldom volleyed, was possibly the most backcourt player of the 80´s, along countrymen Kent Carlsson...Gomez had great hands and good touch, but he was very tall and had difficults on the low volley.

    His doubles assets were a big lefty serve and a terrific forehand - only second to Lendl and better than Arias, IMO-
     
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  26. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He was a great returner, that is also a very important weapon in doubles, and Nystrom certainly had one of the most effective returns of the game...but, I cannot recall him being what I consider a great volleyer ( not saying he was lousy, just that his volleys would be around average)
     
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  27. heathcliff

    heathcliff Rookie

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    gerulaitis was quite succesful on european clay
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I fully agree.To me, the best volleyers that succeded on clay were Laver,Roche,Emerson,Panatta and Gerulaitis.Noah succeded on clay and was a fine but not great volleyer; Pecci didn´´t win it all, but was a clean better volleyer than Noah.

    So was Gottfried, who reached and lost a FO final but was considered one of the best volleyers in the world...and Raul Ramirez was a very good clay courter and an excellent net player.
     
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  29. heathcliff

    heathcliff Rookie

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    still i think henri leconte belongs to the list
     
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  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mac and Edberg lost in 5 sets FO finals after the most spectacular display of S&V the french people had seen in years...and Rafter reached the semifinals of the french playing excelent S&V.Stich was a FO runner up and a FO sf and was also a prime S&V.Those guys could win playing that kind of game; it is a matter of confidence and accepting that you are gonna lose many points, but counts are made at the end.

    BT, Laver defeated the ultime cc player, Rosweall in three sets, Panatta defeated the ultime cc player Borg twice and a great backcourter like Solly to win the title...Pecci destroyed the likes of Barazutti,Solomon,Vilas and Connors and lost in a very close match to Borg.Noah defeated the best CC player of the 80´s, Mats Wilander in straight sets ( altough I think he took drugs, but still a great achievement).
     
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  31. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Noah has sepnt his whole life acussing others of taking drugs, he is such a bigot...being the first one to fulfill his ass with it in a GS final¡¡¡
     
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  32. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I don't consider Rosewall to be any more of a clay court player than a grass, hard, carpet or wood court player. He was equally great on all surfaces because his game was balanced and complete.
     
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  33. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    Guillermo Coria was surprisingly good at the net. Exquisite volleying.
     
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  34. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    Back then, clay players had little incentive to become more rounded since there were enough clay tournaments to keep them busy most of the year. It was not a big deal for clay specialists to skip Wimbledon. I feel like Gomez would have been an even better player in this era. He was great from both sides, big serve and could move well. He took giant cuts from both forehand and backhand and the slower courts and new equipment would have really benefited him.
     
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  35. I get cramps

    I get cramps New User

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    Moose, the link led me to an adress that made me update Adobe Flash player, but i couldn't see the link to the match.

    Anyways, here's an appetizer from that match in good quality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQqxEIK5f9Q

    Moose Malloy, wrote: "very entertaining stuff, I'm sure more so than any match will be at this year's AO." I fully agree, Moose.
     
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  36. SusanDK

    SusanDK Semi-Pro

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    Not to mention a Wimbledon doubles title with Mats Wilander, and reached both the US Open and Australian Open finals in doubles.
     
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  37. SusanDK

    SusanDK Semi-Pro

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    Noah covered the net very well, great reach and had a great overhead smash. He was a good, but not great, volleyer, I thought. Excellent doubles player, often partnering Leconte or Forget.
     
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  38. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    Yannick Noahs net game was very solid !
     
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  39. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Other than Edberg, I think the best swedish volleyer was Jarryd, so fast and volleyed well over the ball, similarly to Jimbo Connors..
     
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  40. TennisNiche

    TennisNiche New User

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    Regarding some of the modern nominations (Coria, Ferrero, Nadal) - they might be good volleyers relative to their era but I wouldn't place them in this list.

    None of them serve-volley with anything approaching regularity, for starters. Coming in off an opponents second serve is also a no-no.

    In my opinion their volleying ability may appear exaggerated as they were all the dominant player on clay at one point or another. It follows that they were able to control and win a high percentage of baseline rallies (I say baseline rallies as none of these three are renown for their ace count on clay). From this they obviously produce a great number of short balls when they have their opponent far off the court and it is here when they will approach the net and mop up any easy floated returns.

    To my recollection all three players approach the net almost exclusively under these conditions and therefore had/have a high percentage of points won at the net. Their net game may appear to have a touch of class/ guile as the drop volley is very effective on clay and it seems to suggest to people that the player has 'soft hands'.

    To me, the mark of a good volleyer is more the angles on which they approach, their anticipation at the net and of course the ability to come in on a well-placed serve and really punch the first volley into the corner. I haven't seen this from either Coria, Nadal or Ferrero.

    Having read through this thread and seen a lot of knowledgable posts on the matter my nomination would go to Gomez. I can't claim to have seen much of him but even from this brief youtube clip you can see a few decent volleys (and a beautiful backhand technique!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSs0dJU05vI
     
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  41. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    When I look at this thread I really find it hard to separate who is a clay court player and who is not. Henri Leconte is mentioned here and while he won a number of clay court titles he also was an excellent fast court player with a serve and volley style which normally isn't the definition of a typical clay court player.

    Noah has been mentioned and while his volley was good because his range at the net was superb he really didn't have the most penetrating volley in the world.

    I think the best volleyers who were excellent clay court players were Rosewall, Laver, Roche and Newcombe. Roche won the French and Newcombe won a number of clay titles including the Italian and what is now called the Rogers Cup which used to be played on clay.

    In recent years I would say Nadal is a very good volleyer, Panatta was superb and Ilie Nastase. Nastase was a great touch volleyer and very hard to pass at the net because of his superb anticipation.
     
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  42. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    One of my favorite players but he was much better on fast surfaces. His best results were on grass and indoor. Very good strokes but did not move that well so he was often out maneuvered on the baseline. Jarryd had a strange kind of footwork. Explosive first step, quick and agile but he tended to bob, lunge, and bounce around the court. This might have been the result of his doubles game (one of the best all time doubles players). His doubles partner, Edberg, was also not that smooth moving side to side on the baseline but was incredibly smooth moving forwards and backwards.
     
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  43. TennisNiche

    TennisNiche New User

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    In respect to what I've written above, I'm curious to know what you find impressive about Nadal's volleying ability. Personally I cringe whenever I see him hitting a forehand volley about net height..
     
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  44. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    Its not the put away volley that's tough. Its the half volley. Just about anyone can take a weak stab and have a decent shot at making a drop volley winner if they are 2 feet from the net. If you practice, I am sure its almost automatic.
     
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  45. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Of course being a clay courter doesn't mean you are necessarily a baseliner but I was wondering what the person who started the thread defined as a clay court player. Being that the players today approach the net far less frequently than in the past you would tend to think the clay court players from a few years ago would be better net players from just more practice at the net.

    Nadal like a lot of players misses some easy volleys but I think he's actually a superior net player than most today. I know John McEnroe raves about his net ability which doesn't really prove anything.
     
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  46. TennisNiche

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    Maybe he is above average for today's standard, but I think that might just be because (like Agassi) he rarely comes to net unless his opponent is really in the sh**.

    Wilander Fan, agree that the half-volley is a very good barometer of a players soft hands and skills at the net. This is a shot which really can't be taught and instead is completely dependant on how good the hand-eye coordination and touch of the player is
     
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  47. SusanDK

    SusanDK Semi-Pro

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    Actually Jarryd's results on grass were not all that good. Other than his semi-final showing at Wimbledon in '85, his grass results were below average in singles, having lost in the first round of Wimbledon all his previous appearances, and never did repeat anything close to the '85 appearance. Of course, he won a few doubles titles on grass (Wimbledon twice, Queens, Australian Open).

    I agree his best surface was indoors (on carpet), but I'd say second best was clay, having won a couple of his singles titles on clay, was a finalist on clay many times, plus 3 French Open doubles titles among many clay court doubles titles. I heard an interview with him once where he stated his best surface was clay (go figure).

    I'm wondering if the 'explosive' first step and awkward movements were a result of having played bandy growing up in Sweden.

    But, back on topic, I agree he's an exceptional volleyer.
     
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  48. ClairHarmony

    ClairHarmony Rookie

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    While there is a lot of truth to this, there is still a difference that is rather obvious in say comparing Bruguera to Agassi at net. Agassi has BRICK hands, and always looked rushed, clumsy, and awkward up at net. He looked in short, downright...*scared* at net.

    Like most dominant baseliners, whether fast or slow court oriented, when came in, it was usually only when he was in *clear* control of the point, and the conlcusion was all but foregone. However, guys like Agassi and Enqvist to me had stone hands at net, you could feel that they felt like they were doing the funky chicken dance up there..."*What* am I doing here?"

    How did I get myself into this mess?

    Bruguera, however, had soft as a feather hands. He was quite comfortable coming in, had a very good insinct for when to sneak in an approach, good reach, and anticipated well. Even McEnroe, who briefly coached him, remarked that he was a good volleyer with soft hands...his primary criticism of Bruguera, however, was why couldn't this guy serve BIG! To him, he had the height, the racket head speed everywhere else, great wrist action everwhere else, BUT he was stubborn. And to him, "You know what they say, about how you can't teach an old dog new tricks...I *tried* to get him to get more legs (shoulder turn, etc.) into his serve."

    Bruguera's serve remained a spot placement serve...he obviously never really looked to make the major changes that were needed to turn it into a far more DYNAMIC serve.

    This is HUGE, when it comes to volleyers. If you've got an amazing kick, slice, or flat serve you're automatically setting up the approach *perfectly* with no need for actually *constructing* the point, and possibly making an error along the way, before you even get to the net.

    The volley is the simplest stroke in the game, if you want a formidable volleyer...there are three factors FAR more important than natural talent.

    1) Crazy, awesome, good serve. 2) The wing span of Big Bird. 3) Crazy, awesome, good athleticism.

    The rest is gravy...the "normal" sized guys who've been tremendously effective volleyers like Cash, McEnroe, Pozzi, Santoro, and Hingis? To me, they are of another level entirely in terms of having a natural talent and instinct for the net game. Chang had very good volleys from a technical perspective, he practiced them relentlessly, was tactically superior to most players, did not make "dumb" approaches like Roddick over and over again...and yet, he wasn't really intimidating anybody out there when he came in. Time and time again, I saw other baseliners perk up, knowing how limited his reach was. It takes so little to get the ball out of a smaller specimen's reach.

    Cash was exceptionally athletic, but he also had EXCEPTIONAL *instinct* at net as well.

    Roddick, all things considered...1) superior serve, 2) superior reach, and 3) average athleticism. Given 2 of 3, he should at least be an *effective* volleyer...but he's not. To me, that indicates a truly *sub-par* volleyer like an Agassi or Enqvist.

    Most players, however, generally fall into the decent to good level of natural ability at net.

    Muster and Courier to me were competent to sometimes good volleyers for baseliners, Bruguera, however, clearly had more feel for the net game than either. With a tarantula monsoon kick serve like Rafter's? And he could have grown up in posh London as Tim Henman's Spanish step-brother...in between krumping at the disco, and tea to wake up from the hangover at noon, they would practice their "net master" game everyday, and both would have ended up achieving similar levels of success. I truly believe that. Bruguera with a stunning serve, would have been able to hack it as a serve and volleyer on tour. He had the innate natural knack for it to do so.

    This said, guys like Becker, Stich, Forget, Pioline, Noah, and Leconte who grew up playing amply on clay...you can bet that, their coaches took one look at their beautiful, Christie Brinkley seducing Chevy Chase, level of beauty serves...and said, man, let's skoot you up to the net some more today. Now, if you had an ugly biztard looking level serve, like Berasategui and Bruguera? You'd probably strap a bungee rope around their waste, and everytime they tried to run to the net when seeing the popsicle man push-cart approach...you'd yank on it! NO!!! Just where do you think you're going? "Meh-meh, mah-mah, mommmm-yyy!!!" they'd cry. But it'd be no use.

    Bersategui wanted to grow his hair long, and wear board shorts like Rafter, but no...his handlers wouldn't allow his inner-serve and volley, child come out. Pretty sad, if you ask me. With his innate pro level talent, I think he could have made a pretty darn good, college level, serve and volleyer. And become a real estate agent working for his dad later.

    But that's just my opinion. I guess that's why you need the right coaches, to ground you in reality. Alberto's coach: "You, pipsqueak. No volley for you. Hold my hand (crank it)..." Alberto: "AhHHHH!!!!!!!" And, that is how the world famous, Alberto-crank, forehand came into place. No one has done it any better, before or since, and the rest is history...we all know Alberto's name, and the chicks in the Spanish clubs think he's got game. Everybody in the club's got tips.

    But to me, it's CLEAR AS DAY: 1) Bruguera has the best soft hands among the pure claycourters of the 90s at net. 2) Corretja had the most well-rounded ability to actually STICK a volley at net firmly that so few clay courters lack. He's clearly the best all-around volleyer of the 90s clay courters. 3) Moya and Kuerten's threatening serves, splashy, speductive, mesmerizing eyebrows...plus their big serves, and generally good hands, and long limbs, made them handle the net game with relative aplomb. 4) Ferrero's so swashbuckling and handsome, that, that, sometimes the other player's forget to pass him...the girls behind him like to bend over, and smile, to get his attention. Implants, courtesy of the Spanish federation...wait, actually I think I'm talking about Marat Safin here.

    Horse-shovel, stone hands at net, when he *first* came up...but long reach, combined with big serve, good athleticism, and a lot of work; and he became = an automated, highly competent, slightly intimidating, somewhat effective, mostly high-percentage, "ok," so-so, so what's for lunch today? decent volleyer, but that don't exactly impressa me much...nor did his...what, Shania Twains?

    Ya know, I think Roger Federer must have really loved Mirka, and that's why though he grew up mostly on clay, he volleys sublime (considering that it's the modern era). Rule #1: Don't get distracted while up at net, you'll bite an Ivan Lendl bullet straight through the center of your teeth everytime. Snoop Dogg said of him, "...but Ivan was the truth." And, I concur. In this day and age, players are afraid to face the truth. It used to be that it took saw dust to intimidate players, now, all it takes is a little bit of Luxilon magic. Rule #1 of fancy net work: "We can't boo you at the net, if you never try," sayeth Yoda-Miyagi-son. Best teacher I ever had. Charges $1000 an hour like Bolletieri, but sooooo...worth it. That's a lot of zeroes, but not when you consider how you're average academy teacher won't even let you volley...for fear of trying, the same as failing.
     
    #48
  49. Clay lover

    Clay lover Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    1,942

    Haha, LOVE this post, especially the part about Guga and Moya's eyebrows and Ferrero LOL. Coria is a decent vollyer too.
     
    #49
  50. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
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    18,705
    That one of the all time great volleyers accomplishes Nadal´s net game is something that goes far beyond my understanding capabilities....or is JMac taking up a new stuff that completely reverses reality?
     
    #50

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