Best volleys among clay players.

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

  1. TennisNiche

    TennisNiche New User

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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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  2. 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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  3. 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.
     
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  4. Clay lover

    Clay lover Hall of Fame

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

    kiki Banned

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    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?
     
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  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    As a matter of fact, if Mac really believes it, then I will start to believe that his net game was just a matter of chance, because he´d knew absolutely nothing about it..thus, he´d be like the 30 or 40 best all time volleyer instead of a top five.
     
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  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think McEnroe reacts emotionally and says things on the spur of the moment. He says things and somethings takes it back. I really believe McEnroe thinks Nadal is a very good volleyer for today's game.
     
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Well, in that case we shall give him the benefit of the doubt :)
     
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  9. TennisNiche

    TennisNiche New User

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    Agreed on Mcenroe, he seems in general a spontaneous person who doesn't think before he speaks and lacks perspective at time (surprising, given how many years he's been in tennis now).

    I do think that his hyperbole about modern players might be because he loves the sport and wants to promote it - but perhaps this is me being too optimistic :)

    ClairHarmony, I read your post with pleasure - in fact, it reminds me a lot of a former member here called Tym whose posts I used to actively seek out. He/she also had an affinity for Bruguera and in general had a very detailed and technical knowledge of the game, particularly from the late 80's/90's.

    In particular loved the bit about Sergi growing up in plush West London as Henman's step brother ;)

    On a side note regarding 'sticking' the volley - I caught a bit of Wozniacki vs Jankovic and was quite offended at the shocking lack of power on both women's volleys... seems oversized frames and poly strings can't help you finish a point at the net.
     
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  10. TennisNiche

    TennisNiche New User

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    Ok, slightly off topic here as Henman is NOT a clay player, but does anyone remember Timmay's run to the Semi Finals of Roland Garros back in 2004?

    Found a highlights vid of his QF vs Chela - some seriously sexy tennis from Henman here, in fact the first rally of the video shows Tim finishing the poiint at the net with a beautiful crisp volley and continues much in the same fashion.

    Enjoy =)

    http://tennisniche.wordpress.com/20...nacio-chela-roland-garros-2004-quarter-final/
     
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  11. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Henman was probably the last true volleyer on the tour.On the other hand, he had that clean, solid, sharp volley ( and pretty unconsistent mind) which remains me a lot of Brian Gottfried.
     
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  12. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    chris said after playing Martina in the RG final in 75, that she could not believe anyone could volley on clay as well as Martina did. This was after she had played court, Evonne and BJK on clay a couple of times each. Martina grew up playing on clay. Is that enough to make her a 'clay courter'?
     
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  13. jean pierre

    jean pierre Semi-Pro

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    Yes. I think Gottfried was better. Final at the French, semi-final at Wimbledon, won 25 tournaments.
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, Gottfried had one of the best FH volleys that I can recall of.He was very smooth, indeed.
     
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