Is Agassi's 1st serve return overrated?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dropshot winner, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    His 2nd-serve return is probably the best ever, and he was able to punish mediocre 1st serves as effective as anyone, but against big 1st serves he often didn't do too well.

    Agassi was standing very close to the baseline and didn't have a big wingspan, so a lot of 1st serve bombs were outright winners.

    IMO this cost him a lot of close matches. He hit a great 1st serve return but then instantly got aced twice, so in the end he wasn't putting a lot of pressure on his opponents.


    Had he used a more defensive and consistent return he likely would've done better against the big serves, including Sampras.

    Unfortunately his block and slice return wasn't good enough against the net rushers, so all he could do was use his normal return and get aced a ton.

    I really think that Murray (as an example) has a better and more consistent return of big 1st serves. Obviously Murray is not in Andre's league from the baseline, but he doesn't give as much free points.

    Imagine Andre with Federer's defensive return...
     
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  2. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    In this forum, depending on how stars are aligned, which way wind is blowing, every aspect of a person's game is either overrated or underrated.

    Agassi's return, Federer's backhand, Nadal's serve, Sharapova's hot, etc

    The only thing that is consistently overrated is TW forum members ability to Play tennis and ofcourse their ability to dissect matches.
     
    #2
  3. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Andre led the ATP a number of times in percentage of breaking serve and was usually near the top so I don't think it hurt him that much.
     
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  4. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    This isn't a "Federer has the best backhand of all time"-kind of thread.

    Agassi is best known for his amazing hand-eye coordination, return and baseline-game.

    So it is kind of strange to see that a lot of players hit their career high of aces in a match against Agassi.

    As good as his return game was, it still was not the best in every aspect, that's my point.

    I really feel that Agassi could've done better had he been able to use a more traditional return on 1st serve.
     
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  5. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    which explains why he has:

    14 wins against sampras (14-20 record)
    10-4 record against Becker,
    4-3 record against Goran,
    6-0 record against Stich
    4-3 record against Krajicek
    9-2 record against Rusedski
    6-2 record against flipper
    5-0 record against Dent
    4-0 record against Mirnyi
    5-1 record against Roddick
    1-0 record against Ivo

    68 wins against "big servers"
     
    #5
  6. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    What's your point?

    I never said he couldn't return any serves from a big serving player, but his 1st serve return in particular was not as good as the rest of his (amazing) return game.
     
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  7. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    My point is, that contrary to what you state, he did have a good/great return against big servers.

    In other words, you have no clue.
     
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  8. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    Where did I state that Agassi's 1st return was not good?

    We're talking about the player with probably the best overall return in the history of the game, that's why I won't even start to compare his return game with that of some #400 player, but only with the best.

    And when you do that, you see that his 1st serve return was actually not that good (still very good compared to most players, but the weakest link in his return game).
    Murray, even peak Federer got way more 1st serves into play.

    But you obviously prefer to troll instead of discuss.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
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  9. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Agassi's return was so good that the only player you can compare is Jimmy Connors, who I believe was equally proficient in the return department.

    The short answer is Agassi's 1st & 2nd serve return game got less props than they deserved, they were that good.
     
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  10. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    I think Agassi's 2nd serve return is underrated, and his 1st serve return is overrated.

    Agassi put players under huge pressure on 2nd serves, mentally it was very demanding to play a 2nd serve on a bigpoint against Agassi.

    That's one of the reasons why Sampras did so well against him, his 2nd serve was very strong and reliable, so he didn't had to fear Agassi's return like the other players.
     
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  11. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    If he didn't get aced he usually had a great return.
     
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  12. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    14 wins against sampras (14-20 record)
    10-4 record against Becker,
    4-3 record against Goran,
    6-0 record against Stich
    4-3 record against Krajicek
    9-2 record against Rusedski
    6-2 record against flipper
    5-0 record against Dent
    4-0 record against Mirnyi
    5-1 record against Roddick
    1-0 record against Ivo

    68 wins against "big servers"
     
    #12
  13. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Dropshot Winner, I think you make some very good points above. When the ball was in his "wheelhouse", Agassi's return was pretty deadly off both sides. Yet, big servers like Sampras could often win many free points off of him by painting the lines and kicking serves out wide on the first serve especially. He was very consistent with his returns though, both on the 1st and 2nd serve in that he wouldn't make that many "unforced errors", unless he was going for one of his signature "bombs" on the forehand side, in particular. In today's game, Federer and Murray definitely have better range as far as returns, and Nadal is making adjustments as he continues to improve his return game.

    What Agassi did do very well was know when to be "on" as far as the return. On break points and especially late in sets, he was great at "dialing it up a few notches" on his returns as they tended to be bigger, more aggressive returns. Servers had to go for quite a bit and that would lead many to double fault more than usual.

    I liked this instructional link I looked up:
    http://www.tennisplayer.net/public/tour_strokes/bobby_bernstein/the_ pro_return/the_ pro_return.html

    Here is 1992 Agassi (v. Becker at Wimbledon). I've rarely seen a player "so dialed in":
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhAp5jB2IH4
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
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  14. MAX PLY

    MAX PLY Hall of Fame

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    Advantage, Mr. Drakulie -- as he has at least posted evidence of his position on the point alleged by the OP.
     
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  15. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    You still don't have a point.

    It's expected that the best overall returner and baseliner does well against big servers. It still doesn't mean that Agassi had the best ever 1st serve return. Don't you get that?

    Just look at the last one, Karlovic at the 05 US Open.

    Karlovic was 10 times worse 4 years ago, almost unable to hit a groundstroke, and yet won 80% of the points on his 1st serve (26 aces), but only 46% on his 2nd serve.

    Murray on the other hand usually wins 30 or more % of the 1st serve return points against Karlovic (who's much, much better these days behind his serve).
     
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  16. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    That's not evidence.

    It only shows that Agassi beat those players more often than not, which isn't exactly news.

    In no way do these numbers show how effective his 1st serve return was compared to the very best.
     
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  17. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    Well said.

    You phrased that way better that I could in english.

    I'll check those out as soon as I get home. I've not seen much from Agassi in 1992 apart from the Ivanisevic match.
     
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  18. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    Do you have any numbers to prove that Agassi's first serve return was poor against the big servers?

    Typically, great big servers win 78-82% of first serves. i.e. ~20% to the returner. What was Agassi's winning % against big servers first serves? Less than 20% or more than 20%?
     
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  19. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

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    No, Agassi's return is 1st serve return is not overrated.
     
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  20. dropshot winner

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    His 1st serve return was never poor, it was just not as good as the rest of his outstanding return game.

    "Overrated" doesn't mean that he couldn't get a 1st serve into play, it's just that on average he wasn't as effective as other, more defensive, returners.
     
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  21. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    And you're basing this on what? Your own opinion?
     
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  22. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    again, you need to have numbers to backup your statements.
     
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  23. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    You don't need numbers all you needed to do was see Agassi play which many of us did dozens of times and were amazed at how he would cream a player like Becker's 1st serves
     
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  24. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    I've seen enough matches from Agassi to make those statements.

    It's not a cooincidence that two of the 10 highest aces counts (51 and 46) happened against Agassi.
     
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  25. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    14 wins against sampras (14-20 record)
    10-4 record against Becker,
    4-3 record against Goran,
    6-0 record against Stich
    4-3 record against Krajicek
    9-2 record against Rusedski
    6-2 record against flipper
    5-0 record against Dent
    4-0 record against Mirnyi
    5-1 record against Roddick
    1-0 record against Ivo

    68 wins against "big servers"
     
    #25
  26. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Federer -

    13-1 vs Karlovic
    19-2 Roddick
    2-0 Ivanisevic

    Congratulations, by your logic Federer is a better returner than Agassi.

    Salutations.
     
    #26
  27. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Flat out owned the Germans
     
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  28. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    You forgot to add that Sampras had the better overall return than Agassi, which is irrefutably illustrated by the fact that he owned Ivanisevic and Rusdeski to even greater extent.
     
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  29. VGP

    VGP Legend

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    Perhaps not better but as good.

    Your response implies that Federer's not as good a returner as Agassi.
     
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  30. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Uhmmmm, and when did I say at any time Agassi or Federer have a better return than the other?? I'm pointing out that contrary to what the OP stated about not returning well against big servers, AA's record speaks for itself.

    Congratulations, as evidenced by your post, you have no clue how to follow a discussion.

    Thanks, and God Bless.
     
    #30
  31. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    against big servers:

    14 wins against sampras (14-20 record)
    10-4 record against Becker,
    4-3 record against Goran,
    6-0 record against Stich
    4-3 record against Krajicek
    9-2 record against Rusedski
    6-2 record against flipper
    5-0 record against Dent
    4-0 record against Mirnyi
    5-1 record against Roddick
    1-0 record against Ivo

    68 wins against "big servers"
     
    #31
  32. agassi has the best return ever, only connors and nalbandian come close.
     
    #32
  33. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    Maybe you should read my post instead of posting yours again and again.
     
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  34. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    no need to read it again. You're wrong.

    There is Connors, and then Agassi. Both, the best of the best returning.
     
    #34
  35. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    Yes Agassi's overall return is the best, I've written that like 10 times already, but his first serve return against big servers is not nearly as impressive as the rest of his return game.

    Now post your head-to-head list again, maybe it makes more sense the 5. time.
     
    #35
  36. nalbandian should be there too. His return is quite like agassi's where he can punish the ball off both sides, but can get aces a few times too - just like agassi.

    OP, monfils is the hardest player to ace on tour - even karlovic didn't ace him in one particular match. Does this mean that monfils has the best return ???
     
    #36
  37. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    Of course not, returning is not about who touches the ball the most with the racquet.

    It's about getting the sever back in play as often as possible, and placing it well.
    In every case, a weak 1st serve return is better than getting aced.

    The perfect returner attacks every attackable serve, and puts every non-attackable ball back into play with a defensive return.

    Agassi was the best at doing the former, but he wasn't the best at the later.

    When you can outplay everyone from the baseline it would make sense IMO to get as many balls back into play as possible.
     
    #37
  38. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    yes it is. When you have arguably the greatest server in the history of the game, basically hitting two first serves against him, because as he has said himself (his second would get creamed), and yet, AA was still able to manage 14 wins, that in itself says a lot.

    secondly, name me one player who dominates big servers on the big servers first serve?

    You are clueless.
     
    #38
  39. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    I think occasionally Agassi's return would get him into trouble, but that's just him being off. On a normal day Agassi crunches most 1st serves, including Goran's and Pete's.
     
    #39
  40. agassi did say that wayne arthurs' was the only serve he had difficulty with.
     
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  41. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    and yet he went 2-0 against him, including a win on grass (Wimbledon).

    That's 70 wins against "big servers".

    I suppose the OP thinks in all of these wins, these servers hit zero first serves into play. :roll:
     
    #41
  42. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Quick update:

    against big servers:

    14 wins against sampras (14-20 record)
    10-4 record against Becker,
    4-3 record against Goran,
    6-0 record against Stich
    4-3 record against Krajicek
    9-2 record against Rusedski
    6-2 record against flipper
    5-0 record against Dent
    4-0 record against Mirnyi
    5-1 record against Roddick
    1-0 record against Ivo
    2-0 record against Wayne Arthurs

    70 wins against "big servers"
     
    #42
  43. I'm not talking about h2h, for example, federer has a winning record over karlovic, but karlovic's serve gives him trouble.
     
    #43
  44. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    You keep mixing all kind of facts together. Agassi beat Sampras 14 times because he has amazing groundstrokes, can take the ball as early as anyone and returns very agressively.

    It doesn't change the fact that Agassi lost a lot of close games because he had a too agressive approach on the 1st serve return, not giving himself enough time to react and lacking reach to put some of the wide serves back.

    No one has ever regularly "dominated big servers on the big servers first serve", that just doesn't happen regularly.

    It's obvious, just by watching, that Murray gets back more big 1st serves than Agassi did.

    Now it's very difficult to find the right balance between quantity and quality on the return.
    Agassi did it extremly well on the 2nd serve return, Nalbandian is also up there, but guys like Murray or peak Federer did it better on 1st serves.

    Anyway, that was probably too much text for a troll like you. How old are you btw? For your sake I hope you haven't passed 10, otherwise all hope is lost.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
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  45. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Please prove both of these statements.

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  46. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    To bet any player, one has to win points off their serve. There is no way around it. You don't win points off their serve, you lose.

    This concept seems to be getting away from the OP.
     
    #46
  47. dropshot winner

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    I gave you one example with the Karlovic match, Murray usually wins 10% more points on 1st serve return against the vastly improved Karlovic than Agassi did against newbie-Karlovic in 2005.

    There are a lot of other examples, unfortunately there aren't many players that have played both Agassi and Murray at a similiar level. Maybe Roddick, but he was a very different player a few years back.

    But if you actually watched Agassi and Murray play you would've noticed it too. Murray and Agassi have very different strategies on return, Agassi focusses on getting the upperhand as fast as possible while Murray wants to play as many points as possible. A combination of that would be the perfect returner.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
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  48. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Sampras beat Agassi more than the other big servers because he had alot more game to backup his tremendous serve. The rest of the big servers got exposed pretty badly by Agassi.



    I certainly hope that is something you can understand.
     
    #48
  49. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    Sampras had a better 2nd serve than all the other player (except Goran on a good day), and was mentally very strong, but you're right that Sampras was able to back up his game very effectively.

    Agassi exposed most of the big servers with his 2nd serve return, his 1st serve return was also good, but it wasn't nearly as devastating as his 2nd serve return. He did hit very impressive returns of 1st serves, but it wasn't the kind of constant pressure Murray applies.

    If he had had that dimension he would've won a lot more.
     
    #49
  50. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    I'm pretty sure that's the case with everyone except maybe Federer.
     
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