Is Murray the greatest hardcourt returner ever?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by batz, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. batz

    batz G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Messages:
    14,602
    ATP stats suggest he might be.

    Number 1 on the all time list for return games won

    Number 2 on the all time list for 1st serve return points won

    Number 3 on the all time list for 2nd serve return points won

    Only player to feature in top 3 of all 3 lists.
     
    #1
  2. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,335
    Hard to say best ever, but certainly it's a very strong part of his game. I guess those stats suggest he is....
     
    #2
  3. DragonBlaze

    DragonBlaze Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    3,654
    Weak era.

    (Sorry batz, someone had to do it lol. But I agree.)
     
    #3
  4. joeri888

    joeri888 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    13,120
    the weak era is absolutely NO argument. Because it's ridiculous to suggest that the average atp pro would get worse at any point in time. Why on earth would they?

    The real reason is slowing down of the surfaces and the fact that this made S&V that much harder. Murray would not be winning the amount of points on the return he's is winning today on the old faster surfaces.

    Another reason, of course, is the technology. Guys like Borg used a wooden racquet with which the serve is way harder to control. Murray is a master at that, but would probably not have a clue with a wooden racquet.

    So in an absolute sense he maybe is the best returner ever, but you can't really say that he did better at this than former ATP heroes who had a much tougher time returning.


    Also, a definition issue. What is a great returner? Someone who hits the RETURN OF SERVE well? or someone who wins a lot of points. Rafa is an average returner, but wins a lot of points because he's an AMAZING baseliner. Theoretically, one can have the best return of serve, yet still hardly win a point because his next ball is so poor. What do you mean by returner. Best return of serve or best return GAME?
     
    #4
  5. roberttennis54

    roberttennis54 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    Quite possibly and the argument can be made for him. Personally I think Agassi and Hewitt are better over the last 20 years or so. Would put Murray third. When it comes to punishing second serves they are better than Murray. Even when it comes to punishing average to good serves. Hewitt and Agassi could punish even the Federer serve in a way Murray cannot. Hewitt even now can punish Djokovic's serve. Murray and Federer are probably the two best defensive returners I have seen.

    The stats are telling, but not the be all for several reasons.
    1. You have to take into account that return stats are always going to favour the player with a better defence. Case in point Murray is always going to win more points that Agassi when he has been made to run.
    2. Murray plays on slower hard courts than Agassi and Hewitt did.
    3. Murray has yet to decline. Agassi had several years where he was playing terrible tennis and continued to play into an advanced age. Hewitt has been fighting on the tour for 6 years, after injuries finished him as a top player. Murray's numbers will no doubt fall if he is a 31 year old ranked in the 80s.
     
    #5
  6. batz

    batz G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Messages:
    14,602
    Good to see such reasonable responses so far. For my part - I can't see past Agassi in any 'best returner' debate.
     
    #6
  7. Monsieur_DeLarge

    Monsieur_DeLarge Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    492
    First thing to remember is that the "all time" stats only go back as far as about 1990, when IBM began compiling them. What numbers would Connors and Lendl have if their '70s and '80s performances were also recorded? What would Borg's numbers be?

    Second, as others mentioned, Andy is mid-career, i.e. his stats don't yet include the almost inevitable age-related decline in performance which is factored into retired rivals' numbers (e.g. Chang's).

    Third, stats only tell you so much, but they never take into account the opponent or the occasion. One of the reasons Sampras rates so highly as a server was his ability to ace when he was break-point down, or match-point up. Becker too was a guy who played better at critical junctures. And of course Djokovic had an uncanny ability in 2011 to hit the lines when it really mattered ~ as Roger Federer would attest to. I don't think Murray has a track record like that yet as a returner.

    Fourth, as raised by other posters, the changing technologies and court speeds of the last ten years mean that it's probably easier for returners than in the '70s or '80s (fast grass, wooden racquet, blah blah blah).

    But I do acknowledge that he is one of the very best over the past 20-25 years, no doubt about it.


    Regards,
    MDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
    #7
  8. monfed

    monfed Guest

    Agassi>Hewitt>Mugray
     
    #8
  9. Feña14

    Feña14 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Messages:
    5,436
    Location:
    England
    I agree, i'd put Murray ahead of Hewitt though.
     
    #9
  10. BigboyDan

    BigboyDan Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    769
    1. Andre Agassi
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
    #10
  11. tank_job

    tank_job Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Messages:
    991
    Murray is not even close to Djokovic on hard-court return.
     
    #11
  12. Frying Pan Forehand

    Frying Pan Forehand Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    Fanboy approved thread!!!!
     
    #12
  13. seattle_1hander

    seattle_1hander Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    154
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Yes those glorious returns got him 0 sets in hardcourt GS finals
     
    #13
  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Ever heard of Connors,Budge,Agassi?
     
    #14
  15. NikeWilson

    NikeWilson Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2008
    Messages:
    683
    Agreed.

    Infact, I still think Djokovic is the best returner in the game today, not Murray.
     
    #15
  16. batz

    batz G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Messages:
    14,602
    Thank you for your approval, Fanboy.
     
    #16
  17. batz

    batz G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2009
    Messages:
    14,602
    And you could well be right - there is no definitive basis for establishing 'best returner' - I was being a bit naughty in the thread title. I just thought it noteworthy that Murray appeared so high on the 'career' lists - I didn't expect that.
     
    #17
  18. roberttennis54

    roberttennis54 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    I don't see how this can be a Fanboy thread when it is topic up for discussion. Murray IS one of the best returners of the last 20 years. Most people would agree he was in the top 5 at the least.
     
    #18
  19. decrepitude

    decrepitude Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Messages:
    239
    To those who think he would not have returned as well on the faster courts - don't forget that the players then were not facing 140+mph serves a lot of the time. The courts may be slower now, but the modern technology aids much faster serves.

    In other words, you can't compare eras.
     
    #19
  20. Prisoner of Birth

    Prisoner of Birth Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,786
    Two words. Andre Agassi.
     
    #20
  21. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Messages:
    8,318
    IVO KARLOVIC.
     
    #21
  22. kaku

    kaku Professional

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2011
    Messages:
    1,137
    Stats for returning are harder to use in terms of judging a players return ability. Nadal has high return stat numbers, but his return isn't great; he puts lots of balls back in and it's what he does to defend the point that wins him a lot of them
     
    #22
  23. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Messages:
    20,051
    Location:
    Relax folks, ...
    I highly doubt it, but one of the best.
     
    #23
  24. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    5,567
    I thought Djokovic was supposed to be the best returner on tour?
     
    #24
  25. Frying Pan Forehand

    Frying Pan Forehand Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    those returns brought him more than 1 set in 4 gs finals....oh wait...!?
     
    #25
  26. Hawkeye7

    Hawkeye7 Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,003
    Location:
    Cologne
    He's behind Murray in every statistic. Same era too.

    He's 2 ranks above Murray on Clay, but that's it.

    I still think Agassi was the best with Murray second, on hard court at least.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
    #26
  27. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    608
    Why not? It's almost like you have some singleminded monomania that tennis players MUST get better even though we've frequently seen athletes in certain sports get worse. (HW boxing, basketball)
     
    #27
  28. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,441
    I agree. He also did it in much harder conditions for returners since the surface got much slower in the early to mid 00s.

    murray is a great returner but he would have had a much harder time doing that on the 90s hardcourts then he has now.
     
    #28
  29. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    608
    He would have an easier time because people were rushing the net.
     
    #29
  30. Evan77

    Evan77 Banned

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,745
    Agassi is the best returner if I have to chose. He was able not just to return but to literally punish you hitting crazy winners.

    Murray is a great returner, no question, but he doesn't do much with it, he simply put the ball back. I think that Djokovic is more agressive with his ROS and that's why some experts think that he is a better returner than Murray (both JMac and Agassi claimed that in their interviews).
     
    #30
  31. MichaelNadal

    MichaelNadal Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Messages:
    30,423
    Location:
    Orlando FL
    Agassi is a better returner as far as what he does with the ball. But stats don't lie do they?
     
    #31
  32. Hawkeye7

    Hawkeye7 Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,003
    Location:
    Cologne
    Murray wins more points on return and more return games (on hard). If he only put the ball back into play, surely that wouldn't be possible.
     
    #32
  33. Romismak

    Romismak Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Messages:
    295
    Based on stats he is up there with Agassi, hard to tell, but it is easier to return serves in this era than it was before, bu he is top 3 for sure, he is i believe best 1st serve returner. Andre was small guy and prone to be aced a lot and Nole is not such great 1st serve returner how people thinks - those guys were great at 2nd serves, agressive returners, while Andy is able to give back anything on 1st serve, but too passiv on 2nd serves.
     
    #33
  34. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    608
    No it's not. These days, nobody really charges the net. Agassi looked good because he faced guys like Stich, Ivanisevic and Becker, who would rush the net after the served and it would come back just as fast, so they would naturally miss the point whenever Agassi got a good return. These days, getting a good return back doesn't help you as much because the servers stay behind and it's much harder to hit outright return winners or forced errors with your return.

    His return would look a lot less devastating if his opponents stayed behind.
     
    #34
  35. kishnabe

    kishnabe G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Messages:
    17,223
    Location:
    Toronto
    Murray is a great returner....but the best noooo way.

    Andre Agassi had to deal with the best servers on the fastest courts. This era with its homogenized courts give Murray more chances than Andre had.
     
    #35
  36. Romismak

    Romismak Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Messages:
    295
    Yes they rushed the net all the time, but i mean it is easier to return - give it back, because of slower balls, slower surfaces and better racquets, it is easier to get big serve back. Many guys were SV-ing all the time after 2nd serve too- there were those stats better for guys like Agassi, it was almost stupid to rush net after 2nd serve vs good returner, but on 1st serve i am not so sure.
     
    #36
  37. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    608
    Honestly, considering how Hewitt demolished Sampras repeatedly, Agassi probably isn't even the second best returner.
     
    #37
  38. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    608
    I think his era made him look better than he is. An aggressive return is brilliant against a serve and volleyer, as the chances of hitting a return winner is high and the chance of forcing an error is even higher. Acting like the surfaces were so much more against him doesn't make up for that fact.
     
    #38
  39. sonicare

    sonicare Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2010
    Messages:
    1,733
    Location:
    london
    Djokovic > all

    deal with it
     
    #39
  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    The OP never heard of guys named Connors,Agassi,Mecir,Laver,Lendl,Borg.Kafelnikov to name a few...
     
    #40
  41. Evan77

    Evan77 Banned

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,745
    yeah Kiki, you are right. the only thing is that they started collecting these stats in 90s I believe so it's impossible to compare these stats with players from 60s, 70s and 80s as they didn't exist.
     
    #41
  42. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    Messages:
    6,541
    Location:
    Sweden
    How does Hewitt being karlovic' little pigeon damage his credibility as a returner?
     
    #42
  43. The Bawss

    The Bawss Banned

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Messages:
    2,829
    Location:
    Lyon, France.
    I knew the OP would get torn apart by the Agatards. It's true though, his success is a product of the slow era and the "Federer making everyone improve to be able to compete era" most probably.
     
    #43
  44. Polaris

    Polaris Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,316
    Huh?? Batz is the OP. Batz clearly admitted that he considers Agassi the best returner.

    For heaven's sake, read properly before being a patronizing historian.
     
    #44
  45. TheF1Bob

    TheF1Bob Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2011
    Messages:
    9,473
    Location:
    NON-Pigeon City
    Very true, Murray is more consistent of the two but Novak, when on song, attacks like there is no tomorrow.

    60/40 for Novak. :)
     
    #45
  46. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    608
    In the current era, returning aggressively isn't as important since people don't come in. Murray can beat most people off the ground anyway, so his best bet is to neutralize the serve. It gave Federer fits at Wimbledon and led to Murray crushing him in the Olympic final. Do you think Djokovic would've given Federer the near bagel that Murray gave him in the second set? Djokovic, even at his best couldn't neutralize Federer's return like that, even if Federer was tired. Murray was doing to Federer, what Federer typically does to Roddick.

    That is why I woud consider Murray superior to Djokovic.

    Besides, what about Ferrer? Guy clearly has worse groundies than Djokovic, but still is ahead of him in return statistics.
     
    #46
  47. RF20Lennon

    RF20Lennon Legend

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    7,304
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Murray definitely more consistent!!
     
    #47
  48. sonicare

    sonicare Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2010
    Messages:
    1,733
    Location:
    london
    terrible post. full of holes
     
    #48
  49. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    608
    yes sir, trollface sir :twisted:
     
    #49
  50. oy vey

    oy vey Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Messages:
    711
    According to J McEnroe, Agassi and Sampras, it's Novak.
     
    #50

Share This Page